S-s-s-s-s

Sometimes it is spelled strung together with no hyphens.  Sometimes it is spelled with double Ss and spaces.  Twice, however, it is spelled with hyphens, and if I’m trying to be scrupulous about the hyphens, then here we are – Gollum’s signature sound:

  • 05.066 S-s-s-s-s,’ hissed Gollum.
  • 05.070 S-s-s-s-s,’ said Gollum

Both of these sounds are in the 1937 edition of The Hobbit, for those of you who have been tracking the differences between the elder and younger editions with me.

Were-worm

This word escaped our original edition of the concordance because I lemmatized it under “worm”, a common word.  But now that we’re thinking about hyphens, I’ve returned to rescue this delightful word from the shadows.  If anyone knows of a good paper about were-worms, I would love to link it here –

  • 01.097 and fight the wild Were-worms

The word does not appear in OED.

Hobbit-smell

A one-of-a kind scent, I’m sure!  This tells us about the refinement of Smaug’s olfactory sense and the distance of Lonely Mountain from The Shire.

  • 12.062 that there was one smell he could not make out at all, hobbit-smell;

Although “Hobbit” is listed in OED – and an invention of Tolkien’s – no hyphenated forms are.

“hobbit, n.” OED Online, Oxford University Press, June 2017, http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/87449. Accessed 14 September 2017.

Hobbit-legs

This is one of the clearest clues that these hyphenated words are Tolkien’s putative translation artifacts.  If I were decsribing this scene about a person of my own species, I would say that the steps were not made, all the same, for a child’s legs, or for a middle-aged woman’s legs…

[13.044] The steps were not made, all the same, for hobbit-legs, and Bilbo was just feeling that he could go on no longer, when suddenly the roof sprang high and far beyond the reach of their torch-light.

I believe that “hobbit-legs” indicates a single word like “shank”, in Westron, meant to convey “the legs of a hobbit” – a very specialized word indeed.  The passage takes place as Bilbo and the dwarves clamber through the Mountain to the chamber of Thror.

  • 13.044 for hobbit-legs,

Although “Hobbit” is listed in OED – and an invention of Tolkien’s – no hyphenated forms are.

“hobbit, n.” OED Online, Oxford University Press, June 2017, http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/87449. Accessed 14 September 2017.

Hobbit-lands

The best way to become familiar with the hobbit-lands is with The Atlas of Middle-earth by Karen Wynn Fonstad, a professional cartographer who turned her skills to charting the maps of fictional worlds based on close reading of the texts.

  • 02.028 At first they had passed through hobbit-lands,

Although “Hobbit” is listed in OED – and an invention of Tolkien’s – no hyphenated forms are.

“hobbit, n.” OED Online, Oxford University Press, June 2017, http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/87449. Accessed 14 September 2017.