A real world equivalent for "Ranger"

Lincoln Alpern

Active Member
Still why some group would consider victimisation empowering and be ready to disinherit themselves from their ancestors' contribution to the world's culture baffles me.
Again, I can't comment on Roma peoples, either here in North America or in Europe. I know a bit more about Black Americans and Indigenous Americans, and perhaps there are some useful parallels to draw, at least as far as other marginalized groups in North America go. (Again, I understand the conversation in Europe is quite different, and I'm not educated enough to comment on it, with the possible exception of the UK.)

My understanding is that Black and Indigenous Americans are, on the whole, proud of the contributions their respective groups have made to North American and world cultures, as well they should be. They do not, to my knowledge, find their histories of persecution and victimization empowering in any way; I'm not sure how that idea came into the discussion.

However, because of this history of victimization, they do strongly object to being associated with certain words that have been associated with their persecution (the "n" word for Black Americans, the "r" word for Indigenous Americans, for example), and demand to be referred to by the words they use to refer to themselves (which can change over time, as the preference shifts between "Black" and "African Americans" and back in one case, and no strong consensus among "Indigenous," "American Indian," "Native American," etc. in the other). There's also a great deal of controversy over certain cultural artifacts created by members of the dominant - in the case of North America, white American - culture, which either misrepresent crucial aspects of their culture, or depict them in a demeaning light, or both. The infamous caricatures of Indigenous peoples in Disney's animated Peter Pan are an obvious go-to example. This is a very different question from the many contributions Black and Indigenous artists and storytellers and philosophers have made to local and world cultures on their own terms. What we do with difficult artifacts like Peter Pan which perpetuate harmful portrayals of Indigenous peoples is a sticky question all around.

As a matter of fact, we had a group of Polish exchange students on campus my first year of undergraduate studies, but I never did interact with them much, and I certainly never learned their ethnic backgrounds. In the event I ever do find myself in that situation again, I would, of course, do my best to use whatever language they find most comfortable.

[By the way, if the word "American" is to be used as a slur, an initial "H-" is added before it. So if you hear a Polish person saying "Hameryka" "hamerykański" instead of normal "Ameryka" or "amerykański" it is meant to be dismissive - just FYI. ;-),
Thanks for the tip. And that actually brings me around to the original topic of this thread, in that there are levels of slur. While "hamerykański" may be a rude word for people from my country, I doubt it would rise to the same level as the "n" word for Black people, the "r" word for Indigenous peoples, or - in North America, at least, if not in Europe - the "g" word for Roma peoples and their kindred. Kinda like how the US slang word for Germans in World War II, "Kraut," is certainly rude, it's not on the same level as the words they used for the Japanese, which I won't repeat here.

It was this kind of differentiation in slurs and how they operate I was trying to tease out in my initial post about the word "Ranger" in Lord of the Rings and how it might or might not compare to the "g" word as its used here in North America.

I'm not sure if it is still much current, but when I was younger the dismissive counter-cultural spelling of "America" here in the US was "Amerika". I never did know why, exactly, or where this came from, but Merriam-Webster online says this spelling represents the "racist or fascist aspect of American society".
I would presume it derives from "Amerikkka," which I still see bandied about occasionally, though infrequently. This being a reference to the notorious white supremacist terrorist organization, with the intended implication of the phrase being that the US government is just a more sophisticated version of the Klan. [Insert *The More You Know* musical cue here]

Kate Neville

Well-Known Member
I wonder whether there was a point of pride in the northern Dúnedain calling themselves "Rangers of the North" -- after all, the Rangers of Ithilien were established before the birth of either Denethor or Aragorn, and I expect that Aragorn might have spent some time with them when he was serving Ecthelion as Thorongil. Both are guarding the borders of the civilized world against the forces of evil, but I doubt any Ranger of Ithilien was called 'Longshanks.'


Not quite on topic, but sort of ...

Back when we were discussing Bilbo's fairwell song I thought quite a bit about other music in the story, beginning with the Unexpected Party. Other than Thorin's harp, the other instruments seem very much like what I would find with a wandering gypsy band, or perhaps wandering jews. And they are itinerant tinkers whose ancestral lands are far in the east. LOTRO often shows them using wagons that look like gypsy wagons to me. They play their music and Bilbo is woven into their spell long before they begin to sing.

So... I think there is a group in the story that is like gypsies, but it is not rangers, it is the wandering dwarves. And I suspect that the LOTRO folks who show their wagons agree with me.
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Well-Known Member
In the hobbit Tinkers are briefly mentioned...
I always loved the idea there was a real tinkersubculture going on in Eriador