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Tolkien and Welsh

Jason Fisher—the editor of Tolkien and the Study of His Sources (McFarland, 2011), and the host of the blog ‘Lingwë: Musings of a Fish’ — says:

Tolkien and Welsh “should be pretty accessible to most readers.” Mark gets “into some of the particulars of Welsh (and Sindarin) phonology—especially on the matter of mutation, a prominent feature of both languages—but Mark writes primarily for the lay person.” Where Carl Phelpstead’s book Tolkien and Wales “presents a broad survey of the forest as a whole, Mark’s book is down at the level of the trees within it, even single leaves, grappling with individual words and names. If you are familiar with his previous books, it is much like those, but with the driving thread being the influence of Welsh on Tolkien’s nomenclature and storytelling. I think Mark’s book and Carl’s complement each other and could be profitably read together.”

Michael Cunningham, writing on Amazon, and in Amon Hen no. 238, November 2012, says: "Tolkien and Welsh provides a fascinating and complimentary bookend to Carl Phelpstead's Tolkien and Wales in that Hooker concentrates on the linguistic landscape, successfully teasing out philological details which have hitherto to been sadly lacking in constructive Tolkien studies, merely by their absence. Hooker's essays warrant rereading, not merely for the minutiae of his arguments but for his in-depth revealing of this region with its legend, language and landscape that informed Tolkien; one that Tolkien was keenly passionate about …"

You can read the whole of his lengthy, and interesting review on Amazon here.

John Good (Sioni Dda), writing at The Welsh-American Bookstore, says: "I like this book. It is challenging but accessible, clear and intellectually good fun. … Tolkien aficionados and linguists will be in their natural habitat although, being neither, I was thoroughly at home between the covers. Though not essential, as everything is translated, a familiarity with Welsh is useful, but the native Welsh, novice and monoglot American/English speaker will all find plenty to entertain/inform them, the chapters calling to mind short detective stories with often similarly surprising developments; the whole thing suitable for browsing or immersion."

You can read the whole of his lengthy, and interesting review here.

Hither Shore, the German Tolkien Society's peer-reviewed annual, says: “the book falls into a crack between the popular and the scholarly. … [Hooker] manages to find an origin for Goldberry in Celtic mythology. All of this is done by means of readable arguments aimed at the non-specialist reader. … In short, this is a book that is well worth dipping into for the interesting sidelights that Hooker offers into the possible influence of Welsh on Tolkien’s creative faculties …” Hither Shore, volume 9 (2012), pp. 182-183. Review by Allan Turner.

Troels Forchhammer—the host of the blog Parmar-kenta—says that the article on the name Bolger, which will be included in Tolkien and Welsh, was "From a purely Tolkien perspective, the highlight of [the October 2011] issue of Mythprint [No.351]." He calls it "another of these little word-studies that I so love. In this case I was interested to find that the Danish ‘bælg’ (these days only used in the compound ‘blæsebælg’ - a bellows (lit. a ‘blow-bag’), but it can also be found in archaic contexts as a word for a sword scabbard) is cognate with the proud hobbit name."

A reader on Amazon's site in Spain writes [thanks to Google Translate]: "A Great Linguistic Study: A full, fun and simple book where we can find to detail, curious and fascinating facts about the Welsh words Tolkien used in his works. The only thing I missed was a guide to the pronunciation of words but otherwise very interesting book."

Writing in The Ryder, Bloomington Indiana's free magazine of the arts and popular culture, Rick Nagy says: "Tolkien and Welsh, is a fine explication of just how Tolkien drew upon that language to help create such a convincing world. … Despite the blurb on the back cover that Hooker 'writes primarily for the lay person,' meaning people who are not professional linguists, presumably, you still have to be pretty far down that Tolkien rabbit hole to appreciate the book."

You can read the entire article—which is primirily about The Hobbit Movies—here.

Listen to the You-Tube video about Tolkien and Welsh posted by SciFiAudioBooks.

Despite the fact that the “Preface” explicitly advises the reader that:

“The focus is on sources that were current at the time in which Tolkien lived and wrote. Modern theories may have supplanted the theories of Tolkien’s time, but that is irrelevant. This volume explores the question of what Tolkien thought, not what we think we know now.”

some reviewers surprisingly fault Tolkien and Welsh for citing sources that present views that might not be supported by modern scholarship.

To learn more about the book, follow the links below.

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