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The JRR Tolkien Pronunciation Poll

How to you pronounce TOLKIEN?

  • 1. tol-kine

    Votes: 1 1.4%
  • 2. tol-keen

    Votes: 39 54.9%
  • 3. tol-kin

    Votes: 27 38.0%
  • 4. tol-kun

    Votes: 1 1.4%
  • 5. ly-ber

    Votes: 1 1.4%
  • 6. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered!

    Votes: 2 2.8%

  • Total voters
    71
  • Poll closed .

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DrunkonDuty

Adventurer
I thought this thread would be about pronouncing Sauron, Smaug, etc. Then it would eventually morph into an argument about the correct pronunciation of Drow.
 






Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
"Bow" to rhyme with "row" and "sow".

"Sow" as in seeds, or as in female pigs? Gotta think these pronunciation things through, folks, because "English" is not a synonym for "consistent".

Which do you like more? "Oh, wow! It is a drow!" or "Oh, no! It is a drow!"
 






After a few raucous hours at a pub it is likely that all but #5 would be game.

23534548253_547c6f0d7c_z.jpg
 

DrunkonDuty

Adventurer
I used to pronounce Sauron and Smaug such that the "au" were said like "oar" with a soft "r." Then I learnt the "au" was pronounced as in "ow," the noise you make when you stub your toe.
 


It never occurred to me that anything other than #2 was even a possibility.
Yup it was a household name growing up in the UK for me, as I expect it was for many, and never heard anyone, IRL, on the radio (the BBC radio 4 production of LotR was pretty great), or on TV say it any way other than Tol-keen.
Also Lewis's nickname for Tolkien, "Tollers" which suggests to me a pronunciation like TALL-keen.
C.S. Lewis had a posh British accent by the time he met Tolkien (overwriting his previous Irish accent).

In the UK at the time, and still today, there's a class distinction about how people pronounce the letter a in some words (including place names and people names), though this is also influenced by regional accents where present. Speaking very broadly (I know with other British people we could probably have an entire thread on this and its precise nuance), many middle-class (esp. upper-middle Southerners) and virtually upper-class people/accents tend to pronounce a as a broad sound in a lot of words, like the a in y'all unless you absolutely can't (like "cat", which you can only say with a short a, at least without sounding so like a lunatic even rich people notice). Whereas working-class people/accents tend to make the a distinctly shorter, and in some it can even become an o-like sound.

As C.S. Lewis had the archetypical "posh" accent (confirmed by recordings) by this point, he would have used a broad a for something like "tall", so kind of like like y'all but with a t. Whereas a Cockney, say, would have said something more like "tol" like doll. I've heard Americans go both way in regional accents on this. Tollers is thus congruent with pronouncing it as "Tol-keen" (with "tol" as in "told") not "Tall-keen", which would have been written "Tallers" or something.

However the complicating factor is that loads of people back then (and this certainly continued at least into the '90s), especially posh ones, had nicknames that didn't actually sound like their names (not even using the same phonemes, even if you'd write them down with the same initial letter) and indeed were often pretty ridiculous, so god knows!
 
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Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
Yup it was a household name growing up in the UK for me, as I expect it was for many, and never heard anyone, IRL, on the radio (the BBC radio 4 production of LotR was pretty great), or on TV say it any way other than Tol-keen.

C.S. Lewis had a posh British accent by the time he met Tolkien (overwriting his previous Irish accent).

In the UK at the time, and still today, there's a class distinction about how people pronounce the letter a in some words (including place names and people names), though this is also influenced by regional accents where present. Speaking very broadly (I know with other British people we could probably have an entire thread on this and its precise nuance), many middle-class (esp. upper-middle Southerners) and virtually upper-class people/accents tend to pronounce a as a broad sound in a lot of words, like the a in y'all unless you absolutely can't (like "cat", which you can only say with a short a, at least without sounding so like a lunatic even rich people notice). Whereas working-class people/accents tend to make the a distinctly shorter, and in some it can even become an o-like sound.

As C.S. Lewis had the archetypical "posh" accent (confirmed by recordings) by this point, he would have used a broad a for something like "tall", so kind of like like y'all but with a t. Whereas a Cockney, say, would have said something more like "tol" like doll. I've heard Americans go both way in regional accents on this. Tollers is thus congruent with pronouncing it as "Tol-keen" (with "tol" as in "told") not "Tall-keen", which would have been written "Tallers" or something.

However the complicating factor is that loads of people back then (and this certainly continued at least into the '90s), especially posh ones, had nicknames that didn't actually sound like their names (not even using the same phonemes, even if you'd write them down with the same initial letter) and indeed were often pretty ridiculous, so god knows!
I grew up in Southern California, so tall and doll rhyme for me, and we never said y'all, but I would say that with the same vowel sound as the others. It was the double-l in the nickname that suggested to me a short o, as in doll, but I've long suspected that either it was really pronounced with a long o, as in dole, that something like in your last paragraph here was in play, or that there was something about the German pronunciation of Tolkien that I was missing, since I'm not too familiar with the German language at all.
 
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Yup it was a household name growing up in the UK for me, as I expect it was for many, and never heard anyone, IRL, on the radio (the BBC radio 4 production of LotR was pretty great), or on TV say it any way other than Tol-keen.

C.S. Lewis had a posh British accent by the time he met Tolkien (overwriting his previous Irish accent).

In the UK at the time, and still today, there's a class distinction about how people pronounce the letter a in some words (including place names and people names), though this is also influenced by regional accents where present. Speaking very broadly (I know with other British people we could probably have an entire thread on this and its precise nuance), many middle-class (esp. upper-middle Southerners) and virtually upper-class people/accents tend to pronounce a as a broad sound in a lot of words, like the a in y'all unless you absolutely can't (like "cat", which you can only say with a short a, at least without sounding so like a lunatic even rich people notice). Whereas working-class people/accents tend to make the a distinctly shorter, and in some it can even become an o-like sound.

As C.S. Lewis had the archetypical "posh" accent (confirmed by recordings) by this point, he would have used a broad a for something like "tall", so kind of like like y'all but with a t. Whereas a Cockney, say, would have said something more like "tol" like doll. I've heard Americans go both way in regional accents on this. Tollers is thus congruent with pronouncing it as "Tol-keen" (with "tol" as in "told") not "Tall-keen", which would have been written "Tallers" or something.

However the complicating factor is that loads of people back then (and this certainly continued at least into the '90s), especially posh ones, had nicknames that didn't actually sound like their names (not even using the same phonemes, even if you'd write them down with the same initial letter) and indeed were often pretty ridiculous, so god knows!
Yes, this was an era where Lord Louis Mountbatten gets the nickname "Dickie" despite not having Richard among his many names. (Allegedly it was because they were going to call him "Nicky" (Nicholas was one of his names) but that caused confusion with many of his Russian relatives, including the Tsar.)
 

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