Mister Baggins

One of the great pleasures I have taken in joining the ranks of Tolkien scholarship is meeting and working collegially with such wonderful folks as Emily Austin, a scholar and visual artist.  Ms. Austin is in the middle of a project considering when Bilbo is called “Mr. Baggins” in the narrative, and I think she has caught on to something.

Ms. Austin, here are all the instances of “Mr. Baggins” (or the possessive form, or “Mister Baggins”) in the work. I think that with the help of the Hobbit Paragraph Index, your instinct is going to pay off.  Look to see who is calling him that – is it almost always Gandalf?  and not the narrator?

If you’d like the list of “Baggins” with or without “Mister”, or the list of “Bilbos”, I am, dear friend, at your service.

  • 1.012 said our Mr. Baggins,
  • 1.016 Mr. Bilbo Baggins.
  • 1.017 that Mr. Baggins was not quite so prosy
  • 1.043 Throng!’ thought Mr. Baggins.
  • 1.050 but poor Mr. Baggins said he was sorry so many times,
  • 1.058 thought Mr. Baggins,
  • 1.083 and very quickly he was plain Mr. Baggins
  • 1.090 Gandalf, dwarves and Mr. Baggins!
  • 1.091 To the estimable Mr. Baggins,
  • 1.096 Then Mr. Baggins turned the handle
  • 1.099 and I chose Mr. Baggins.
  • 1.100 I have chosen Mr. Baggins
  • 2.004 “What message?” said poor Mr. Baggins
  • 3.016 What brings Mister Baggins
  • 4.042 and here’s Mr. Baggins: fourteen!
  • 4.045 said poor Mr. Baggins bumping up
  • 5.009 in Mr. Baggins’ place,
  • 5.019 I am Mr. Bilbo Baggins.
  • 6.006 leaving Mr. Baggins
  • 6.018 Mr. Baggins,’
  • 6.024 Mr. Baggins has more about him than you guess.’
  • 6.05 near Mr. Baggins’ hole at home,
  • 6.056 and give Mr. Baggins a hand up!’
  • 7.022 Don’t be a fool Mr. Baggins if you can help it;
  • 7.03 Come on Mr. Baggins!
  • 7.039 That is Mr. Baggins,
  • 7.079 that Mr. Baggins had been mislaid.
  • 7.088 Mr. Baggins saw then how clever Gandalf had been.
  • 7.121 and he poked Mr. Baggins’ waistcoat most disrespectfully.
  • 7.136 Mr. Baggins’ eyes are sharper than yours,
  • 7.142 and I am sending Mr. Baggins with you.
  • 7.149 Mr. Baggins.
  • 8.016 Mr. Baggins is talking about.’
  • 8.041 Poor Mr. Baggins had never had much practice
  • 8.062 I shall send Mr. Baggins alone first to talk to them.
  • 8.076 made a great difference to Mr. Baggins.
  • 8.104 but Mr. Baggins was
  • 8.125 From which you can see that they had changed their opinion of Mr. Baggins very much,
  • 8.127 Mr. Baggins?
  • 9.011 Poor Mr. Baggins –
  • 9.012 it would have to be done by Mr. Baggins,
  • 9.015 until in fact the remarkable Mr. Invisible Baggins
  • 9.036 said Mr. Baggins to himself.
  • 9.061 In this way at last Mr. Baggins came to a place
  • 10.004 It might have been some comfort to Mr. Baggins
  • 10.016 and Mr. Baggins.
  • 10.016 Mr. Baggins.
  • 10.023 and Mr. Baggins who has travelled with us out of the West.’
  • 10.040 though doubtless Mr. Baggins remained a bit of a mystery.
  • 10.045 dwarves, Mr. Baggins,
  • 11.013 Mr. Baggins had more than the others.
  • 12.002 Now is the time for our esteemed Mr. Baggins,
  • 12.026 Get inside Mr. Baggins12.036 Mr. Baggins?’
  • 12.078 Mr. Baggins’ one idea was to get away.
  • 12.092 Mr. Baggins!’
  • 12.095 Mr. Baggins,
  • 13.010 At length Mr. Baggins could bear it no longer.
  • 13.017 Mr. Baggins was still officially their expert burglar
  • 13.036 Mr. Baggins!’
  • 13.039 All the same Mr. Baggins kept his head
  • 16.014 Mr. Baggins,
  • 16.022 I am Mr. Bilbo Baggins,’
  • 16.043 Well done! Mr. Baggins!’
  • 19.037 The return of Mr. Bilbo Baggins
  • 19.037 before Mr. Baggins was
  • 19.042 that Mr. Baggins’ waistcoat was more extensive
  • 19.047 Mr. Baggins,


A thank-you to Tom Shippey!

  • 1.117   even a Hero.
  • 1.117   and in this neighbourhood heroes are scarce,
  • 3.032   and heroes of the North for ancestors,
  • 12.006   dwarves are not heroes,
  • 18.002   ‘At any rate I am not yet one of the fallen heroes;

Works Cited so Far For Hyphen Project

Good morning, Word Fans!

It will be my pleasure to talk about hyphens at the Tolkien in Vermont conference in early April with fellow scholars – perhaps I’ll see you there?  Folks can find my references right here for their convenience.  The slides are posted here as well.

Works Cited

Alden, L. F. S. “A Tolkien Concordance”. Words That You Were Saying: An adventure through the words of The Hobbit.  WordPress, 2015. https://wordsthatyouweresaying.blog/concordance/

Alden, L. F. S. “Hyphen Mini-Concordance”. Words That You Were Saying: An adventure through the words of The Hobbit.  WordPress, 2017. https://wordsthatyouweresaying.blog/2017/05/13/hyphen-mini-concordance/

Alden, L. F. S. “Uncommon Words Revealing Adventures in Mirkwood” Words That You Were Saying: An adventure through the words of The Hobbit. WordPress, 2015.  https://wordsthatyouweresaying.blog/2015/06/14/uncommon-words-revealing-adventures-in-mirkwood/

Burroughs, F. G., Jr. Old English. Bowdoin College. Autumn, 1984. Lecture.

Carroll, Lewis. Through the Looking-Glass. Project Gutenberg, 2016. E-book.

Drout, Michael. “Germanic languages allow compounding…” Michael Drout: Timeline.  Facebook, September 19, 2017.  Informal post with disclaimer.

Flieger, Verlyn (2002-01-28). Splintered Light: Tolkien’s World, Revised Edition (Kindle Locations 931-940). Kent State University Press. Kindle Edition.

GIMP: GNU Image Manipulation Program. Open source software. Web. https://www.gimp.org/

LeBlanc, M.D., Drout, M., Kahn, M., Kleinman, S. Lexomics Tools. Wheaton College, 2013.  Web. http://lexos.wheatoncollege.edu/

OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2015, http://www.oed.com. Various dates 2015-2017.

Olsen, Corey. Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012. Print.

Parsons, Catriona NicIomhar.   Gàidhlig Immersion Week. Colaisde na Gàidhlig.  August, 1996.  Lecture.

Tolkien, J. R. R.  A Secret Vice: Tolkien on Invented Languages, edited by Dimitra Fimi and Andrew Higgins. HarperCollins Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Tolkien, J. R. R. “On Faerie Stories.” The Tolkien Reader. New York: Ballantine Books, 1966 (first Printing). Print.

Tolkien, J.R.R. The Annotated Hobbit.  Revised and expanded edition annotated by Douglas A. Anderson. Houghton Mifflin Company. Boston. Print.

Tolkien, J.R.R. The Hobbit: or There and Back Again. The Children’s Book Club.

Tolkien, J.R.R. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Humphrey Carpenter. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

Hyphenated Food Words

Just for the record, Word Fans, the map for the hyphenated food words closely follows the graph of all the food words:

FoodGraph.003Do you see that tiny little red dot at the very end?  “Tobacco-jar”.

The food graph, if you recall, also indicates a dearth of food in Chapter 6 and plenty of crockery at the end of Chapter 1 – as well as plain eggs and ham in Chapter 1 for the dwarves and plain food (mostly flagons, jugs, and casks) for the elven feast:

2015.06.14 Food Preview


Would you like a little menu of Hobbit-specialty food words?


Hyphenated Words of the Landscape

I’ve spent a good deal of yesterday and today assigning functions to the 407 hyphenated words.  I’ve also beaten myself up a bit for not preserving the inflected forms of the words on my spreadsheet and went back to re-capture that information.  Then there was that little capitalization inconsistency problem.  I know, I could have asked Tech Support to make the script I was using case-insensitive, but I hate to bother them too many times per week.  On the Big Plus side, I discovered ConvertCase.net for all your Latin alphabet capitalization needs!

Sorry, I’m nattering.

In the course of labeling the functions of words, I found a big old whack of natural landscape descriptions, “bee-pastures”, “fir-trees”, and similar.  Let’s look at the graph!


Do you like it?  Descriptions in early Chapter 2, as Bilbo is leaving his home territory; very few descriptions in the dark of the goblins’ and Gollum’s caverns until the side-passages and similar formations on Bilbo’s way out; a steep peak for the “pine-needles”, “forest-gloom”,  “forest-silence”, and “sea-sighing”, all of paragraph 6.045, as we leapt out of the “frying-pan”.

Landscape words taper off as we see Bilbo at a loss for words to describe Mirkwood, then suddenly, Smaug discovers the theft of the cup!  We take the dragon’s perspective as he shakes the mountain-roots, exits the mountain-palace, settles on the mountain-top, licks the mountain-sides with flame, and leaves rock-shadows dancing in paragraphs [12.021] through [12.032].   Finally, during the battle-scenes of Chapter 17, there is no looking about at the landscape: that pleasure can only resume in Chapter 18, The Return Journey.

JRRT’s Original Hyphenated Words

Good morning, Word Fans.  I hope it doesn’t intrude on your peace over the next three days, but the blog is going into overdrive to fulfill its other primary role as my lab notebook.  Please practice good self-care: if you need to, unsubscribe until Sunday afternoon, when things should return to normal.

Just over half of the hyphenated words in The Hobbit are perfectly ordinary English words, per the OED.  Some of them may have no hyphen  in the preferred spelling, some may have a space instead of a hyphen between the elements, but the hyphenated forms are found at least in the example sentences of the OED.

The other part of the hyphenated words have received the JRRT tag.   Of these, some are given by OED specifically as creations of Tolkien, such as “elf-king“!  Others are credited to Tolkien for introducing the hyphenated form, for example “riddle-game”.  Some, like “raven-messenger” are in the OED just so, but Tolkien has used them with a completely new meaning, earning the tag.  The majority, including Middle-earth specific names like “Foe-Hammer” as well but many more plain words such as “thunder-battle” are simply not found in OED at all.

In what pattern did Tolkien use these inventions?  Is there anything to be discerned from the map of them?


Fascinating.  OK, I’m going to compare it to yesterday’s graph of all hyphenated words:

HyphenGraph.010As the Tolkien Professor would say, “What do we see?”  Here’s a clue we can use to compare the charts: Lexos makes the chart fit the space, even if the height of the red line is on a different scale from chart to chart.  Since the JRRT words number just under half of the total hyphenated words, know that the scale is doubled.  In other words, the “pretty full in the beginning of chapter five” appearance of the red line on the first, JRRT, graph would be equal to “filling up just about half of the available height” on the second, All Hyphens graph.

  • The big Chapter One peak of hyphenated words is not driven by JRRT originals.
  • The peak in JRRT words at the end of Chapter 3 is driven by all the doings in Rivendell of Elrond the elf-friend, fair as an elf-lord, his house full of story-telling, and who explains that the swords just found are not troll-make but made for the Goblin-wars: Goblin-cleaver and Foe-hammer.
  • I observe that the first half of Chapter 5 – full of sound words like drip-drip-dripping – is about half-full on the All Hyphens graph and quite full on the JRRT graph; in other words, Tolkien created the hyphenated words which set the stage and open the action for Gollum’s chapter.
  • I see that there’s a dip in the JRRT graph at the end of Chapter 6 which is not echoed in the All Hyphens graph.  Although there are JRRT words there, there are also pine-needles and frying-pans, quite ordinary words.
  • After Chapter 6, the JRRT graph roughly parallels the All Hyphens graph; his original hyphenated words take up their expected proportion of all hyphenated words.