Monday, 20 October 2014

Lord of the Rings: A Complaint.

At the Council of Elrond, the Great Elf himself is explaining to the assembled company that The Ring cannot be used against Sauron, since Sauron is the only being to whom it answers. He tells them that The Ring must be destroyed, and that the only way to do so is to return it to the fires from whence it came.

From whence? Did I hear that correctly? Do Peter Jackson and his two handmaidens who wrote the screenplay not know that ‘from whence’ is arguably the best known of all classic tautologies fit only for people who comment on YouTube? And where were the actors while this mess of illiteracy was being served up? Why was nobody crying in anguish – or even the dark tongue of Mordor – ‘It’s not “from whence.” It’s just plain “whence.” Whence, whence, whence. Whence it came. Whence means “from where.” Get it? What kind of a production is this?’

It surprised me. It did. You’d think there would have been somebody who would have stepped up to the plate and put Sir Peter right, wouldn’t you? Like a script editor? Go on, somebody tell me it was deliberate, just so we know that English isn’t Elrond’s native tongue. I might even believe you.

You might think I’m nit-picking in saying this, but I don’t see it that way. If language is to appear in published form, it should be right. And I think it’s damn near certain that Tolkien, a philologist by profession, would have agreed. The Undying Lands must be echoing with his moans of anguish.

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