J.R.R. Tolkien Invented the Pluralization "Dwarves"

Tolkien, in addition to establishing the genre of modern fantasy (I've just had a lengthy discussion with my English major wife about the legitimacy of this attribution), also created the word "dwarves" as a plural form of "dwarf". Tolkien explains why in one appendix to LOTR:

It may be observed that in this book as in The Hobbit the form dwarves is used, although the dictionaries tell us that the plural of dwarf is dwarfs. It should be dwarrows (or dwerrows), if singular and plural had each gone its own way down the years, as have man and men, or goose and geese. But we no longer speak of a dwarf as often as we do of a man, or even of a goose, and memories have not been fresh enough among Men to keep hold of a special plural for a race now abandoned to folk-tales, where at least a shadow of truth is preserved, or at last to nonsense-stories in which they have become mere figures of fun. But in the Third Age something of their old character and power is still glimpsed, if already a little dimmed: these are the descendants of the Naugrim of the Elder Days, in whose hearts still burns the ancient fire of Aule the Smith, and the embers smoulder of their long grudge against the Elves; in in whose hands still lives the skill in works of stone that none have surpassed.

Link via Ace of Spades HQ | Photo: Baylor University

Previously: J.R.R. Tolkien Reads and Sings Lord of the Rings

Newest 5
Newest 5 Comments

Agricola, while I'm sure the fantasy genre wouldn't be the same without Tolkien, I don't know if it would be necessarily diminished, at least not greatly: for all we know, someone like Poul Anderson would've taken his place, and "The Broken Sword" would be "the" fantasy epic. I agree that the post-LotR fantasy genre is heavily influenced by Tolkien, but I reject the idea that without Tolkien there would *be* no fantasy genre.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
@Al Harron, he's not saying Tolkien invented fantasy, he's (rightly) saying that without Tolkien we wouldn't have the modern fantasy genre - or it would be greatly diminished. The release of the Lord of the Rings was a major literary event that influenced fantasy writing so much that without it our biggest fantasy series' and authors would not exist.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
"Tolkien, in addition to establishing the genre of modern fantasy (I’ve just had a lengthy discussion with my English major wife about the legitimacy of this attribution)"

Would you mind elaborating on how you came to this conclusion? If any one man could be considered the man to establish what we now know as fantasy, it would be Lord Dunsany (who inspired not just Tolkien, but pre-Tolkien fantasists like Howard, Smith, Merritt, Moore and Leiber).
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.

Email This Post to a Friend
"J.R.R. Tolkien Invented the Pluralization "Dwarves""

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More