Thursday, March 6, 2014

Random Musings on Orcs and Goblins

I was surfing the web in a rather random fashion this morning, and stumbled into a couple items of trivia that I knew at some point, but had long since forgotten.

First, is the fact that Azog the orc is mentioned by name in both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I had thought that this character was invented just for The Hobbit movie trilogy, but it turns out that Azog really did kill Thorin's grandfather, Thrain. Of course, Azog plays a far greater role in The Hobbit movies than he did in the books, but that's the kind of creative license that really doesn't bother me much. I was just pleasantly surprised to be reminded that he had been a real character in the original stories.

Second, is the fact that the term goblin is simply the English translation of the Elvish orc. I had thought that goblins and orcs were essentially the same thing, but was not absolutely certain of that. As it turns out, Tolkien borrowed from older languages (as he often did) to create the word orc, and made it part of the Elvish languages. As with Azog, I knew this to be the case, but had forgotten.

So why do I bring all of this up? Because I then started discussing these things with the GeekWif, and we talked about my use of goblins and trolls in the Balfrith story. In the world of Aerde, there are no orcs, because that word has its origins in Tolkien's Middle Earth, and I'm not writing stories about or set in his Middle Earth. Rather, I write about goblins, which are of course the exact same creature, but the word goblin has a better history in the English language and also has the advantage of not appearing to be a rip-off of Tolkien.

And what can we learn from all of this? Well, for one thing, it turns out that I'm a bit of a language snob, in much the same way that Trekkies are a little bit into Star Trek. And for another thing, I can spend the better part of a morning losing myself in the minutia of a fictional world and its pseudo-history, and consider it time well spent.