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May 11, 2012

AN SIONNACH FIONN

The J.R.R. Tolkien fansite, TheOneRing.net, carries some news on the release of An Hobad, the Irish language version of Tolkien’s children’s classic the Hobbit. Very interesting it is, including details on some of the issues around finding a suitable word to translate the term Elf as Tolkien employs it.

“Part of the evening was taken up by media interviews with the extraordinary people involved in the translation. Professor Nicholas Williams (who previously translated Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass) explained that a particular difficulty in the translation was the absence in Irish mythology of an exact equivalent of Tolkien’s Elves. The search for a suitable word resulted in a years-long delay while Professor Williams and the publisher, Michael Everson (himself a formidable linguist, typesetter and font designer) sought to find common ground on the matter. In the end, a new word was created, Ealbh, based on…

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