Modern Turns of Phrase and Archaic Language

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Now that we have actual scripts, the question of what style of language our characters use takes on more relevance. We've moved this from a hypothetical question to a practical concern.

A modern audience has some familiarity with more historic forms of English, but often in a humorous context, like so:

Tony Stark teases Thor's get-up as being 'Shakespeare in the Park' and then delivers this line. And while Thor's diction is mildly formal and archaic in comparison to Iron Man's, he does not actually talk like that. Rather, he talks like this:


Not all of our characters will use the same turns of phrase or mode of language - the hobbits will sound very different from the High Elves, or at least they should! The Shire is set in Diamond Jubilee English countryside, and thus has a bit more Victorian feel. The dwarves Bilbo interacts with come out of Norse myth. It's clearly a different culture. 'I am Aragorn, son of Arathorn; and if by my life or death I can save you, I will," is not a modern greeting...and thus we shouldn't put modern turns of phrase in his mouth, either.

It is much easier to identify something that doesn't work rather than to articulate what you do think they would say, unfortunately. So, in Peter Jackson's LotR films, a few lines that stand out to me as jarringly modern and thus completely out of place in the mouths of the characters who say them are:

Aragorn: Let's hunt some orc. (FotR)
Gimli: Because he's got my axe embedded in his nervous system! (TTT)

In the first case, it's the phrasing. It sounds way too much like it was written for a film coming out in the year 2001, if you know what I mean. It's not actually too far off from something that Aragorn would actually say, so it's so close to being acceptable, and yet...I find it very jarring. Perhaps "Let us hunt these orcs!" would have worked for me. In the second case, I really don't expect 'nervous system'. 'Brain' or 'head' would have been fine. Not that someone with an axe in the brain would twitch like that, but that's neither here nor there, and it's best that entire scene was cut.

Any other examples that pulled you out of those films with a 'come on, they don't talk like that!'?


I think that our standard should be the quotations of dialogue in the published Silmarillion. So, if we're going to have those conversations appear nearly verbatim, then we have to make the rest of the dialogue fit around that so it blends in seamlessly. Easier said than done! You can put a lot of nuance into a character's diction, really differentiating them based on culture, personality, age, sense of humor, etc.
 
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Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
As far as cases of films with a 'come on, they don't talk like that!", the Romeo and Juliet adaptation starring Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth made in 2013 was made with modern dialogue with period-type costumes, which is the reverse of the 1996 Baz Luhrman version where everyone speaks in iambic pentameter in a modern setting.

I’m a little nervous about people speaking in the iambic pentameter type because people might think it sounds silly.
 
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MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Yeah...that's a choice. I think that with Shakespeare, so many different versions of his work have been staged, that people do hunt for new ways to portray his work. But since the language is often richer than the underlying story...it makes sense to preserve the words while shifting the setting and context more than the other way around. But I suppose someone had to try that!

I more meant, that in a film or TV show with a certain setting and established mode of speech...there is one line that jumps out as being jarringly out of context from the rest of the show. But yes, mismatched historical costumes/setting with modern dialogue would be jarring in its own way!
 

amysrevenge

Well-Known Member
I'm very interested in this discussion. It's another of those Obscenity issues, in that you can't define it, you just know it when you see it.
 

MithLuin

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Staff member
Examples of Speech
Elves in Valinor (ie, all the elvish dialogue in chapters 6-9; chapter 5 has no dialogue). Dialogue of the Valar, Melkor, and Ungoliant are omitted here. To the surprise of no one, Fëanor has the most to say.

Míriel:
"Never again shall I bear child; for strength that would have nourished the life of many has gone forth into Fëanor."
"It is indeed unhappy, and I would weep, if I were not so weary. But hold me blameless in this, and in all that may come after."

Finwë:
"Surely there is healing in Aman? Here all weariness can find rest."
"While the ban lasts upon Fëanor my son, that he may not go to Tirion, I hold myself unkinged, and I will not meet my people."

Fingolfin:
"King and Father, wilt thou not restrain the pride of our brother, Curufinwë, who is called the Spirit of Fire, all too truly? By what right does he speak for all our people, as if he were King? Thou it was who long ago spoke before the Quendi, bidding them accept the summons of the Valar to Aman. Thou it was that led the Noldor upon the long road through the perils of Middle-earth to the light of Eldamar. If thou dost not now repent of it, two sons at least thou hast to honour thy words."
"I will release my brother."
"As I promised, I do now. I release thee, and remember no grievance. Half-brother in blood, full brother in heart will I be. Thou shalt lead and I will follow. May no new grief divide us."

Fëanor:
"So it is, even as I guessed. My half-brother would be before me with my father, in this as in all other matters. Get thee gone, and take thy due place! See, half-brother! This is sharper than thy tongue. Try but once more to usurp my place and the love of my father, and maybe it will rid the Noldor of one who seeks to be the master of thralls."
"Get thee gone from my gate, thou jail-crow of Mandos!"
"I hear thee. So be it."
"For the less even as for the greater there is some deed that he may accomplish but once only; and in that deed his heart shall rest. It may be that I can unlock my jewels, but never again shall I make their like; and if I must break them, I shall break my heart, and I shall be slain; first of all the Eldar in Aman."
"This thing I will not do of free will. But if the Valar will constrain me, then shall I know indeed that Melkor is of their kindred."
"Why, o people of the Noldor, why should we longer serve the jealous Valar, who cannot keep us nor even their own realm secure from their Enemy? And though he be now their foe, are not they and he of one kin? Vengeance calls me hence, but even were it otherwise I would not dwell longer in the same land with the kin of my father's slayer and of the thief of my treasure. Yet I am not the only valiant in this valiant people. And have ye not all lost your King? And what else have ye not lost, cooped here in a narrow land between the mountains and the sea? Here once was light, that the Valar begrudged to Middle-earth, but now dark levels all. Shall we mourn here deedless forever, a shadow-folk, mist-haunting, dropping vain tears in the thankless sea? Or shall we return to our home? In Cuiviénen sweet ran the waters under unclouded stars, and wide lands lay about, where a free people might walk. There they lie still and await us who in our folly forsook them. Come away! Let the cowards keep this city!"
"Fair shall the end be, though long and hard shall be the road! Say farewell to bondage! But say farewell also to ease! Say farewell to the weak! Say farewell to your treasure! More still shall we make. Journey light: but bring with you your swords! For we will go further than Oromë, endure longer than Tulkas: we will never turn back from pursuit. After Morgoth to the ends of the Earth! War shall he have and hatred undying. But when we have conquered and have regained the Silmarils, then we and we alone shall be lords of the unsullied Light, and masters of the bliss and beauty of Arda! No other race shall oust us!"
"So! Then will this valiant people send forth the heir of their King alone into banishment with his sons only, and return to their bondage? But if any will come with me, I say to them: Is sorrow foreboded to you? But in Aman we have seen it. In Aman we have come through bliss to woe. The other now we will try: through sorrow to find joy; or freedom, at the least."
"Say this to Manwë Súlimo, High King of Arda: if Fëanor cannot overthrow Morgoth, at least he delays not to assail him, and sits not idle in grief. And it may be that Eru has set in me a fire greater than thou knowest. Such hurt at the least will I do to the Foe of the Valar that even the mighty in the Ring of Doom shall wonder to hear it. Yea, in the end they shall follow me. Farewell!"
"You renounce your friendship, even in the hour of our need. Yet you were glad indeed to receive our aid when you came at last to these shores, fainthearted loiterers, and wellnigh emptyhanded. In huts on the beaches would you be dwelling still, had not the Noldor carved out your haven and toiled upon your walls."
"We have sworn, and not lightly. This oath we will keep. We are threatened with many evils, and treason not least; but one thing is not said: that we shall suffer from cowardice, from cravens or the fear of cravens. Therefore I say that we will go on, and this doom I add: the deeds that we shall do shall be the matter of song until the last days of Arda."
"None and none! What I have left behind I count now no loss; needless baggage on the road it has proved. Let those that cursed my name, curse me still, and whine their way back to the cages of the Valar! Let the ships burn!"

Olwë:
"We renounce no friendship. But it may be the part of a friend to rebuke a friend's folly. And when the Noldor welcomed us and gave us aid, otherwise than you spoke: in the land of Aman we were to dwell for ever, as brothers whose houses stand side by side. But as for our white ships: those you gave us not. We learned not that craft from the Noldor, but from the Lords of the Sea; and the white timbers we wrought with our own hands, and the white sails were woven by our wives and our daughters. Therefore we will neither give them nor sell them for any league or friendship. For I say to you, Fëanor son of Finwë, these are to us as are the gems of the Noldor: the work of our hearts, whose like we shall not make again."

Maedhros:
"Now what ships and rowers will you spare to return, and whom shall they bear hither first? Fingon the valiant?"

Unspecified Noldor:
(via Melkor) "Beware! Small love has the proud son of Míriel ever had for the children of Indis. Now he has become great, and he has his father in his hand. It will not be long before he drives you forth from Túna!"
"Nay, let us be gone!"


[I include Maedhros and Fëanor's exchange at Drengist because they *just* landed in Middle-earth, and thus their speech should still be examples of 'talking in Valinor.']
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
I guess what I'm saying is that there is a danger that an audience would think that someone speaking in more historic styles of speech sounds ridiculous (hence the appeal of the Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet); in The Hobbit, it's a reflection of Thorin's pomposity that he has a rather flowery style of speech, and this is treated as a mark against him.
 
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Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
I guess what I'm saying is that there is a danger that an audience would think that someone speaking in more historic styles of speech sounds ridiculous (hence the appeal of the Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet); it's a reflection of Thorin's pomposity that he has a rather flowery style of speech.
I agree that there is a point at which that can happen. The Silmarillion dialogue stops short of that, I think.
 

Rhiannon

Well-Known Member
I guess what I'm saying is that there is a danger that an audience would think that someone speaking in more historic styles of speech sounds ridiculous (hence the appeal of the Baz Luhrmann Romeo + Juliet); in The Hobbit, it's a reflection of Thorin's pomposity that he has a rather flowery style of speech.
But Thorin is also speaking several thousand years after the First Age. To his contemporaries in The Hobbit, he is using archaic speech.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
I am definitely not suggesting we use Lost Tales style English! Tolkien could be very archaic when he wanted to.

Now, we aren't 'lifting' every conversation out of the published Silmarillion verbatim. As an example, Olwe's conversation with Feanor at Alqualonde is meant to be part of a longer argument, and thus that block of speech may not be delivered all at once in a script, but broken up and scattered throughout their dialogue. In the end, bits of it may be cut, and some of it would be reordered, and some expanded upon.

But I am very much fine with basing their dialogue in the Season 3 Episode 2 script on this conversation as written by Tolkien.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Just had a minor lightbulb moment. One of the ways in which the language of the Fëanoreans is differentiated from the language of the other Noldor is the 'shibboleth' of Fëanor - they continue to use the 'th' when most of the other Noldor switch to 's'. Fëanor is stubborn and a language purist, but his reason for sticking to this one is deeply personal - his mother's name is Míriel Serindë. But...it wasn't pronounced 'Serindë' in her lifetime. It was þerindë (þ=thorn=th) So, that shift now 'butchers' his mother's name.

Putting "th's" in place of "s" in someone's speech generally makes it sound like they have a lisp. Same with 'w' for 'r'. Great for humor...not so great for characters you want to take seriously.
Life of Brian - the Romans struggle with 'r's, though there are some lisped s's in there as well:
Elmer Fudd hunts 'wabbits':
The Impressive Clergyman of the Princess Bride lisps both r's and l's into w's, and flat out butchers 'Buttercup':

So, yeah, that's apparently hilarious, but it's hard to do that in a serious sense. So, I didn't think we were going to get any shibboleth stuff into this project outside of word choice in the Oath of Fëanor that Phil Menzies is working on.

BUT....it occurred to me that an archaic variation of 's' on the end of the word is to use 'eth' So, in the example above with 'weareth' in Tony Stark's mock-archaic sentence. Certainly understandable, and instantly recognizable in both meaning and in how old-fashioned it is. So, perhaps we could have the Fëanoreans (and ONLY the Fëanoreans) use that in their dialogue post-Season 2?
 
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MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Dialogue of the Elves in Beleriand during the early First Age
Season 4 content (in the published Silmarillion Chapters 13, 15 [Ch. 14 has no dialogue])
Skipping Ulmo's dialogue; Melian is included as she is Queen of Doriath and thus speaks as the Sindar do.

Noldor
Fingon:
"O King to whom all birds are dear, speed now this feathered shaft, and recall some pity for the Noldor in their need!"

Maedhros:
"If there lay no grievance between us, lord, still the kingship would rightly come to you, the eldest here of the house of Finwë, and not the least wise."
"A king is he that can hold his own, or else his title is vain. Thingol does but grant us lands where his power does not run. Indeed Doriath alone would be his realm this day, but for the coming of the Noldor. Therefore in Doriath let him reign, and be glad that he has the sons of Finwë for his neighbors, not the Orcs of Morgoth that we found. Elsewhere it shall go as seems good to us."

Caranthir:
"Yea more! Let not the sons of Finarfin run hither and thither with their tales to this Dark Elf in his caves! Who made them our spokesmen to deal with him? And though they be come indeed to Beleriand, let them not so swiftly forget that their father is a lord of the Noldor, though their mother be of other kin."

Galadriel:
"For that woe is past, and I would take what joy is here left, untroubled by memory. And maybe there is woe enough yet to come, though still hope may seem bright."
"Near, save that we were not driven forth, but came of our own will, and against that of the Valar. And through great peril and in despite of the Valar for this purpose we came: to take vengeance upon Morgoth, and regain what he stole."
"Maybe, but not of me."

Finrod:
"What ill have I done you, lord? Or what evil deed have the Noldor done in all your realm to grieve you? Neither against your kingship nor against any of your people have they thought evil or done evil."
"An oath I too shall swear, and must be free to fulfill it, and go into darkness. Nor shall anything of my realm endure that a son should inherit."

Angrod:
"Lord, I know not what lies you have heard, nor whence; but we came not red-handed. Guiltless we came forth, save maybe of folly, to listen to the words of fell Fëanor, and become as if besotted with wine, and as briefly. No evil did we do on our road, but suffered ourselves great wrong; and forgave it. For this we are named tale-bearers to you and treasonable to the Noldor: untruly as you know, for we have of our loyalty been silent before you, and thus earned your anger. But now these charges are no longer to be borne, and the truth you shall know."
"Wherefore should we that endured the Grinding Ice bear the name of kinslayers and traitors?"

Sindar
Thingol:
"Thus shall you speak for me to those that sent you. In Hithlum the Noldor have leave to dwell, and in the highlands of Dorthonion, and in the lands east of Doriath that are empty and wild; but elsewhere there are many of my people, and I would not have them restrained of their freedom, sill less ousted from their homes. Beware therefore how you princes of the West bear yourselves; for I am the Lord of Beleriand, and all who seek to dwell there shall hear my word. Into Doriath none shall come to abide but only such as I call as guests, or who seek me in great need."
"Now at last I understand the coming of the Noldor out of the West, at which I wondered much before. Not to our aid did they come (save by chance); for those that remain in Middle-earth the Valar will leave to their own devices, until the uttermost need. For vengeance and redress of their loss the Noldor came. Yet all the more sure shall they be as allies against Morgoth, with whom it is not now to be thought that they shall ever make treaty."
"What is that to me? Of Fëanor I have heard but report, which makes him great indeed. Of his sons I hear little to my pleasure; yet they are likely to prove the deadliest foes of our foe."
"Ill have you done to me, kinsman, to conceal so great matters from me. For now I have learned of all the evil deeds of the Noldor."
"I marvel at you, son of Earwen, that you would come to the board of your kinsman thus red-handed from the slaying of your mother's kin, and yet say naught in defence, nor yet seek any pardon!"
"Go now! For my heart is hot within me. Later you may return, if you will; for I will not shut my doors for ever against you, my kindred, that were ensnared in an evil that you did not aid. With Fingolfin and his people also I will keep friendship, for they have bitterly atoned for such ill as they did. And in our hatred of the Power that wroght all this woe our griefs shall be lost. But hear my words! Never again in my ears shall be heard the tongue of those who slew my kin in Alqualondë! Nor in all my realm shall it be openly spoken, while my power endures. All the Sindar shall hear my command that they shall neither speak with the tongue of the Noldor nor answer to it. And all such as use it shall be held slayers of kin and betrayers of kin unrepentant."

Melian:
"There is some woe that lies upon you and your kin. That I can see in you, but all else is hidden from me; for by no vision or thought can I perceive anything that passed or passes in the West: a shadow lies over all the land of Aman, and reaches far out over the sea. Why will you not tell me more?"
"I believe not the the Noldor came forth as messengers of teh Valar, as was said at first: not though they came in the very hour of our need. For they speak never of the Valar, nor have their high lords brought any message to Thingol, whether from Manwë, or Ulmo, or even from Olwë the king's brother, and his own folk that went over the sea. For what cause, Galadriel, were the high people of the Noldor driven forth as exiles from Aman? Or what evil lies on the sons of Feanor that they are so haughty and so fell? Do I not strike near the truth?"
"Now much you tell me, and yet more I perceive. A darkness you would cast over the long road from Tirion, but I see evil there, which Thingol should learn for his guidance."
"This is a great matter, greater indeed than the Noldor themselves understand; for the Light of Aman and the fate of Arda lie locked now in these things, the work of Fëanor, who is gone. They shall not be recovered, I foretell, by any power of the Eldar; and the world shall be broken in battles that are to come, ere they are wrested from Morgoth. See now! Fëanor they have slain, and many another, as I guess; but first of all the deaths they have brought and yet shall bring was Finwë your friend. Morgoth slew him, ere he fled from Aman."
"Truly for these causes they came; but for others also. Beware the sons of Fëanor! The shadow of the wrath of the Valar lies upon them; and they have done evil, I perceive, both in Aman and to their own kin. A grief but lulled to sleep lies between the princes of the Noldor."
"Their swords and their counsels shall have two edges."
"Yet the shadow of Mandos lies on you also."
 
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MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
The one character we agreed not to put dialogue into the mouth of unless Tolkien wrote it that way is Eru Ilúvatar. Because, yeah - God should only say what the books say he says ;).

Which is quite a lot, actually:

"Of the theme that I have declared to you, I will now that ye make in harmony together a Great Music. And since I have kindled you with the Flame Imperishable, ye shall show forth your powers in adorning this theme, each with his own thoughts and devices, if he will. But I will sit and hearken, and be glad that through you great beauty has been wakened into song."​
"Mighty are the Ainur, and mightiest among them is Melkor; but that he may know, and all the Ainur, that I am Ilúvatar, those things that ye have sung, I will show them forth, that ye may see what ye have done. And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined."​
"Behold your Music!"​
"Behold your Music! This is your minstrelsy; and each of you shall find contained herein, amid the design that I set before you, all those things which it may seem that he himself devised or added. And thou, Melkor, wilt discover all the secret thoughts of they mind, and wilt perceive that they are but a part of the whole and tributary to its glory."​
"Seest thou not how here in this little ream in the Deeps of Time Melkor hath made war upon thy province? He hath bethought him of bitter cold immoderate, and yet hath not destroyed the beauty of thy fountains, nor of they clear pools. Behold the snow, and the cunning work of frost! Melkor hath devised heats and fire without restraint, and hath not dried up thy desire nor utterly quelled the music of the sea. Behold rather the height and glory of the clouds, and the everchanging mists; and listen to the fall of rain upon the Earth! And in these clouds thou art drawn nearer to Manwë, thy friend, whom though lovest."​
"I know the desire of your minds that what ye have seen should verily be, not only in your thought, but even as ye yourselves are, and yet other. Therefore, I say: Eä! Let these things Be! And I will send forth into the Void the Flame Imperishable, and it shall be at the heart of the World, and the World shall Be; and those of you that will may go down into it."​
"Behold I love the Earth, which shall be a mansion for the Quendi and the Atani! But the Quendi shall be the fairest of all earthly creatures, and they shall have and shall conceive and bring forth more beauty than all my Children; and they shall have the greater bliss in this world. But to the Atani I will give a new gift."​
"These too in their time shall find that all that they do redounds at the end only to the glory of my work."​
"Why hast thou done this? Why dost thou attempt a thing which thou knowest is beyond thy power and thy authority? For thou hast from me as a gift thy own being only, and no more; and therefore the creatures of thy hand and mind can live only by that being, moving when thou thinkest to move them, and if thy thought be elsewhere, standing idle. Is that thy desire?"​
"Thy offer I accepted even as it was made. Dost thou not see that these things have now a life of their own, and speak with their own voices? Else they would not have flinched from thy blow, nor from any command of thy will."​
"Even as I gave being to the thoughts of the Ainur at the beginning of the World, so now I have taken up thy desire and given to it a place therein; but in no other way will I amend thy handiwork, and as thou hast made it, so shall it be. But I will not suffer this: that these should come before the Firstborn of my design, nor that thy impatience should be rewarded. They shall sleep now in the darkness under stone, and shall not come forth until the Firstborn have awakened upon Earth; and until that time thou and they shall wait, though long it seem. But when the time comes I will awaken them, and they shall be to thee as children; and often strife shall arise between thine and mine, the children of my adoption and the children of my choice."​
(from Manwë's vision): "Do then any of the Valar suppose that I did not hear all the Song, even the least sound of the least voice? Behold! When the Children awake, then the thought of Yavanna will awake also, and it will summon spirits from afar, and they will go among the kelvar and the olvar, and some will dwell therein, and be held in reverence, and their just anger shall be feared. For a time: while the Firstborn are in their power, and while the Secondborn are young."​
Naturally, Ilúvatar's voice sounds a bit remote, like his words are recorded in books long after he spoke them. And the use of words in other languages (Eä, kelvar, olvar) reminds the reader that this is all in translation, adding to that more remote feeling. But he is also very fatherly towards his Ainur, speaking to them one-on-one, personally, and teaching them how the world works, etc.

But for the purposes of this thread, I can point out that he sounds very formal and archaic. His language, at least, is full of 'hath' and 'thinkest' and 'attempteth.' Ye and thee and thou and thy.... Certainly, if *ANY* character in our TV show is going to speak this way, it is going to be Ilúvatar!
 
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Rhiannon

Well-Known Member
The one character we agreed not to put dialogue into the mouth of unless Tolkien wrote it that way is Eru Ilúvatar. Because, yeah - God should only say what the books say he says ;).

Which is quite a lot, actually:

"Of the theme that I have declared to you, I will now that ye make in harmony together a Great Music. And since I have kindled you with the Flame Imperishable, ye shall show forth your powers in adorning this theme, each with his own thoughts and devices, if he will. But I will sit and hearken, and be glad that through you great beauty has been wakened into song."​
"Mighty are the Ainur, and mightiest among them is Melkor; but that he may know, and all the Ainur, that I am Ilúvatar, those things that ye have sung, I will show them forth, that ye may see what ye have done. And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined."​
"Behold your Music!"​
"Behold your Music! This is your minstrelsy; and each of you shall find contained herein, amid the design that I set before you, all those things which it may seem that he himself devised or added. And thou, Melkor, wilt discover all the secret thoughts of they mind, and wilt perceive that they are but a part of the whole and tributary to its glory."​
"Seest thou not how here in this little ream in the Deeps of Time Melkor hath made war upon thy province? He hath bethought him of bitter cold immoderate, and yet hath not destroyed the beauty of thy fountains, nor of they clear pools. Behold the snow, and the cunning work of frost! Melkor hath devised heats and fire without restraint, and hath not dried up thy desire nor utterly quelled the music of the sea. Behold rather the height and glory of the clouds, and the everchanging mists; and listen to the fall of rain upon the Earth! And in these clouds thou art drawn nearer to Manwë, thy friend, whom though lovest."​
"I know the desire of your minds that what ye have seen should verily be, not only in your thought, but even as ye yourselves are, and yet other. Therefore, I say: Eä! Let these things Be! And I will send forth into the Void the Flame Imperishable, and it shall be at the heart of the World, and the World shall Be; and those of you that will may go down into it."​
"Behold I love the Earth, which shall be a mansion for the Quendi and the Atani! But the Quendi shall be the fairest of all earthly creatures, and they shall have and shall conceive and bring forth more beauty than all my Children; and they shall have the greater bliss in this world. But to the Atani I will give a new gift."​
"These too in their time shall find that all that they do redounds at the end only to the glory of my work."​
"Why hast thou done this? Why dost thou attempt a thing which thou knowest is beyond thy power and thy authority? For thou hast from me as a gift thy own being only, and no more; and therefore the creatures of thy hand and mind can live only by that being, moving when thou thinkest to move them, and if thy thought be elsewhere, standing idle. Is that thy desire?"​
"Thy offer I accepted even as it was made. Dost thou not see that these things have now a life of their own, and speak with their own voices? Else they would not have flinched from thy blow, nor from any command of thy will."​
"Even as I gave being to the thoughts of the Ainur at the beginning of the World, so now I have taken up thy desire and given to it a place therein; but in no other way will I amend thy handiwork, and as thou hast made it, so shall it be. But I will not suffer this: that these should come before the Firstborn of my design, nor that thy impatience should be rewarded. They shall sleep now in the darkness under stone, and shall not come forth until the Firstborn have awakened upon Earth; and until that time thou and they shall wait, though long it seem. But when the time comes I will awaken them, and they shall be to thee as children; and often strife shall arise between thine and mine, the children of my adoption and the children of my choice."​
(from Manwë's vision): "Do then any of the Valar suppose that I did not hear all the Song, even the least sound of the least voice? Behold! When the Children awake, then the thought of Yavanna will awake also, and it will summon spirits from afar, and they will go among the kelvar and the olvar, and some will dwell therein, and be held in reverence, and their just anger shall be feared. For a time: while the Firstborn are in their power, and while the Secondborn are young."​
Naturally, Ilúvatar's voice sounds a bit remote, like his words are recorded in books long after he spoke them. And the use of words in other languages (Eä, kelvar, olvar) reminds the reader that this is all in translation, adding to that more remote feeling. But he is also very fatherly towards his Ainur, speaking to them one-on-one, personally, and teaching them how the world works, etc.

But for the purposes of this thread, I can point out that he sounds very formal and archaic. His language, at least, is full of 'hath' and 'thinkest' and 'attempteth.' Ye and thee and thou and thy.... Certainly, if *ANY* character in our TV show is going to speak this way, it is going to be Ilúvatar!
On a kind of related note, when speaking (or swearing oaths) to Iluvatar, characters refer to him with the informal second person (thee, thou), which is how characters in a lot of translations of the Bible refer to God.
 

MithLuin

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The corpus of all dialogue of the Valar in the published Silmarillion.

I've been separating the elvish dialogue based on location, ethnic group, and time in the history of the story to get a feel for how it changes with context. But for the Valar...they're not exactly changing. They don't care whether they're in Valinor or Beleriand, or whether it's the Timeless Halls, let alone 'when' in the First Age the dialogue happens. I'll still separate it by character, so any distinctive nuances can come out. I am also aware that they have dialogues recorded elsewhere in HoMe (such as the debate in the Statute of Míriel and Finwë)...but...let's start here, shall we?

I'm leaving out Melkor/Morgoth. The Valaquenta tells us he's not counted among the Valar, so I'm content to deal with him separately. Likewise, Melian's dialogue is included with the elves of Doriath.

Ulmo
"Truly, Water is become now fairer than my heart imagined, neither had my secret thought conceived the snowflake, nor in all my music was contained the falling of the rain. I will seek Manwë, that he and I may make melodies for ever to thy delight!"​
"Now thou shalt go at last to Gondolin, Turgon; and I will maintain my power in the Vale of Sirion, and in all the waters therein, so that none shall mark thy going, nor shall any find there the hidden entrance against thy will. Longest of all the realms of the Eldalië shall Gondolin stand against Melkor. But love not too well the work of thy hands and the devices of thy heart; and remember that the true hope of the Noldor lieth in the West and cometh from the Sea."​
"Thus it may come to pass that the curse of the Noldor shall find thee too ere the end, and treason awake within thy walls. Then they shall be in peril of fire. But if this peril draweth nigh indeed, then even from Nevrast one shall come to warn thee, and from him beyond ruin and fire hope shall be born for Elves and Men. Leave therefore in this house arms and a sword, that in years to come he may find them, and thus shalt thou know him, and not be deceived."​

Manwë
"This kingdom thou shalt not take for thine own, wrongfully, for many others have laboured here no less than thou."​
"It is true. But why dost thou ask, for thou hadst no need of the teaching of Aulë?"​
"If thou hadst thy will what wouldst thou reserve? Of all thy realm what dost thou hold dearest?"​
"This is a strange thought."​
"O Kementári, Eru hath spoken, saying: ..."​
"But dost thou not now remember, Kementári, that thy thought sang not always alone? Did not thy thought and mine meet also, so that we took wing together like great birds that soar above the clouds? That also shall come to be by the heed of Ilúvatar, and before the Children awake there shall go forth with wings like the wind the Eagles of the Lords of the West."​
"Nay, only the trees of Aulë will be tall enough. In the mountains the Eagles shall house, and hear the voices of those who call upon us. But in the forest shall walk the Shepherds of the Trees."​
"This is the counsel of Ilúvatar in my heart: that we should take up again the mastery of Arda, at whatsoever cost, and deliver the Quendi from the shadow of Melkor."​
"Hearest thou, Fëanor son of Finwë, the words of Yavanna? Wilt thou grant what she would ask?"​
"So shall it be! Dear-bought those songs shall be accounted, and yet shall be well-bought. For the price could be no other. Thus even as Eru spoke to us shall beauty not before conceived be brought into Eä, and evil yet be good to have been."​

Aule
"I did not desire such lordship. I desired things other than I am, to love and to teach them, so that they too might perceive the beauty of Eä, which thou hast caused to be. For it seemed to me that there is great room in Arda for many things that might rejoice in it, yet it is for the most part empty still, and dumb. An in my impatience I have fallen into folly. Yet the making of things is in my heart from my own making by thee; and the child of little understanding that makes a play of the deeds of his father may do so without thought of mockery, but because he is the son of his father. But what shall I do now, so that thou be not angry with me for ever? As a child to his father, I offer to thee these things, the work of the hands which thou hast made. Do with them what thou wilt. But should I not rather destroy the work of my presumption?"​
"May Eru bless my work and amend it!"​
"That shall also be true of the Children of Ilúvatar; for they will eat and they will build. And though the things of thy realm have worth in themselves, and would have worth if no Children were to come, yet Eru will give them dominion, and they shall use all that they find in Arda: though not, by the purpose of Eru, without respect or without gratitude."​
"Nonetheless they will have need of wood."​
"Be not hasty! We ask a greater thing than thou knowest. Let him have peace yet awhile."​

Yavanna
"Eru is merciful. Now I see that they heart rejoiceth, as indeed it may; for thou hast received not only forgiveness but bounty. Yet because thou hiddest this thought from me until its achievement, thy children will have little love for the things of my love. They will love first the things made by their own hands, as doth their father. They will delve in the earth, and the things that grow and live upon the earth they will not heed. Many a tree shall feel the bite of their iron without pity."​
"Not unless Melkor darken their hearts."​
"King of Arda, is it true, as Aulë hath said to me, that the Children when they come shall have dominion over all the things of my labour, to do as they will therewith?"​
"Because my heart is anxious, thinking of the days to come. All my works are dear to me. Is it not enough that Melkor should have marred so many? Shall nothing that I have devised be free from the dominion of others?"​
"All have their worth, and each contributes to the worth of the others. But the kelvar can flee or defend themselves, whereas the olvar that grow cannot. And among these I hold trees dear. Long in the growing, swift shall they be in the felling, and unless they pay toll with fruit upon bough little mourned in their passing. So I see in my thought. Would that the trees might speak on behalf of all things that have roots, and punish those that wrong them!"​
"Yet it was in the Song. For while thou wert in the heavens and with Ulmo built the clouds and poured out the rains, I lifted up the branches of great trees to receive them, and some sang to Ilúvatar amid the wind and the rain."​
"High shall climb the trees of Kementári, that the Eagles of the King may house therein!"​
"Eru is bountiful. Now let thy children beware! For there shall walk a power in the forests whose wrath they will arouse at their peril."​
"Ye mighty of Arda, the vision of Ilúvatar was brief and soon taken away, so that maybe we cannot guess within a narrow count of days the hour appointed. Yet be sure of this: the hour approaches, and within this age our hope shall be revealed, and the Children shall awake. Shall we then leave the lands of their dwelling desolate and full of evil? Shall they walk in darkness while we have light? Shall they call Melkor lord while Manwë sits upon Taniquetal?"​
"The Light of the Trees has passed away, and lives now only in the Silmarils of Fëanor. Foresighted was he! Even for those who are mightiest under Ilúvatar there is some work that they may accomplish once, and once only. The Light of the Trees I brought into being, and within Eä I can do so never again. Yet had I but a little of that light I could recall life to the Trees, ere their roots decay; and then our hurt should be healed, and the malice of Melkor be confounded."​

TBC...
 

MithLuin

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Oops, I hit the word limit!

Tulkas
"Nay, let us make war swiftly! Have we not rested from strife overlong, and is not our strength now renewed? Shall one alone contest with us forever?"​
"Speak, O Noldo, yea or nay! But who shall deny Yavanna? And did not the light of the Silmarils come from her work in the beginning?"​

Námo/Mandos
"In this age the Children of Ilúvatar shall come indeed, but they come not yet. Moreover it is doom that the Firstborn shall come in the darkness, and shall look first upon the stars. Great light shall be for their waning. To Varda ever shall they call at need."​
"So it is doomed."​
"Thou speakest of thraldom. If thraldom it be, thou canst not escape it; for Manwë is King of Arda, and not of Aman only. And this deed was unlawful, whether in Aman or not in Aman. Therefore this doom is now made: for twelve years thou shalt leave Tirion where this threat was uttered. In that time take counsel with thyself, and remember who and what thou art. But after that time this matter shall be set in peace and held redressed, if others will release thee."​
"Not the first."​
"Thou hast spoken."​
"Tears unnumbered ye shall shed; and the Valar will fence Valinor against you, and shut you out, so that not even the echo of your lamentation shall pass over the mountains. On the House of Fëanor the wrath of the Valar lieth from the West unto the uttermost East and upon all that will follow them it shall be laid also. Their Oath shall drive them, and yet betray them, and ever snatch away the very treasures that they have sworn to pursue. To evil end shall all things turn that they begin well; and by treason of kin unto kin, and the fear of treason, shall this come to pass. The Dispossessed shall they be for ever. Ye have spilled the blood of your kindred unrighteously and have stained the land of Aman. For blood ye shall render blood, and beyond Aman ye shall dwell in Death's shadow. For though Eru appointed to you to die not in Eä, and no sickness may assail you, yet slain ye may be, and slain ye shall be: by weapon and by torment and by grief; and your houseless spirits shall come then to Mandos. There long shall ye abide and yearn for your bodies, and find little pity though all whom ye have slain should entreat for you. And those that endure in Middle-earth and come not to Mandos shall grow weary of the world as with a great burden, and shall wane, and become as shadows of regret before the younger race that cometh after. The Valar have spoken."​
"And yet remain evil. To me shall Fëanor come soon."​

Herald of Manwë
"Against the folly of Fëanor shall be set my counsel only. Go not forth! For the hour is evil, and your road leads to sorrow that ye do not foresee. No aid will the Valar lend you in the quest; but neither will they hinder you; for this ye shall know: as ye came hither freely, freely shall ye depart. But thou Fëanor Finwë's son, by thine oath art exiled. The lies of Melkor thou shalt unlearn in bitterness. Vala he is, thou saist. Then thou hast sworn in vain, for none of the Valar canst thou overcome now or ever within the halls of Eä, not though Eru whom thou namest had made thee thrice greater than thou art."​
Do let me know if I missed any lines! I compiled this by skimming through the Ainulindalë, Valaquenta, and Silmarillion proper.
 

MithLuin

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Staff member
A comment on thee/thou/thy vs you/ye

I do think that is an easy way to make text appear archaic to a modern audience, while at the same time adding a layer of depth to the dialogue by differentiating between formal and informal speech. It is likely no mistake at all that the Valar are consistently familiar in their address of others (unless addressing an entire group of elves or something). And likewise it relays some of the tension in the story to have the Melian/Galadriel and Angrod/Finrod/Thingol conversations use 'you' - they may be relatives, but no one is losing sight of the fact that these Noldor are 'foreign guests' in this kingdom, and Melian and Thingol are Queen and King. There is a distance/coldness/formality to these interactions that show they are at odds with one another.

Of course, it's unfortunate that the "thee/thou" dialogue will sound more formal, while the "you" dialogue will sound more familiar to the audience.

It is my understanding that in French, one reaches a point in a relationship with another person where you actually discuss whether you may now call the person by "tous" (informal you) rather than "vous" (formal you). Ie, that there is a verb for 'calling someone by informal tous' that is used when transitioning from acquaintances to friends or what have you. We may have to have a conversation like that on screen at some point - for instance, the first time Celeborn/Galadriel use "thee/thou" with one another or something may be the time to highlight that this is the intimate/friendly version of you, not the King James Bible (or whatever other associations the audience may have) version.

And obviously we can have Fëanor refuse to ever use thee/thou with Indis (except perhaps for when they nearly reconcile at his wedding to Nerdanel).

Certainly, we can have people address their subordinates as thee/thou, while the subordinates always carefully respond with the more formal "you."

But I do think that this distinction between you/your and thee/thou/thy is one that will carry through all seasons of the project and most of the cultures we present. Except for hobbits, of course.

Another option is to flip the meaning - to have 'you' be informal/familiar and 'thee/thou' be formal/distant. Obviously that's not how it was used historically, nor does that mirror what Tolkien did throughout his stories....but it may be a way to 'cheat' and get the audience to have the reaction we want them to have when they hear the distinction between the voices. Because the reality is that the archaic version that has fallen out of use is going to sound remote/distant no matter how we prime the audience to understand the distinction. It's more-or-less what Tolkien did with Pippin and Denethor. I think we should consider that option, at least.

By late Third Age, we will need nearly everyone to be speaking with "you" and for "thee/thou" to be rare and only used in special occasions.
 
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