Friday, April 28, 2006


This Day in Ancient History

On this day in 32 AD, the future Emperor of Rome, Marcus Salvius Otho, known as Otho, is born. Kind of a disappointment, he was. Not even two months as Emperor. Otho, by the way, is an Etruscan cognomen.

"Otho, by the way is an Etruscan cognomen."

And Hobbit, too, of course.

Otho Sackville-Baggins was the husband of Lobelia and father of Lotho.

More importantly, since the events of Middle-Earth were set in prehistory, this would have preceded the Etruscan use.

(What's that? Hobbits are fictional? "Hah", I say. And "Hah!" again. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. And the literary evidence is compelling.)

There is no language called "hobbit." I think the ethnocentric little bastards called it the Common Speech.
First, note that "Hobbit" in my comment refers to the culture, not just the language. In this, it's parallel to the use of "Etruscan" in the original post.

Second, it's well to remember that "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" are translated from the original. (See the linguistic and ethnographic notes at the end of the translation of "The Red Book of Westmarch".) While I have little doubt that hobbits wouldn't call their language "Hobbit" (or even "Hobbitish"), it might be reasonable for taller people to use either term. This is a common feature of indigenous cultures.

For instance, the "Navaho" refer to themselves as "Dineh" or "Dine'" (the transliterations vary). I believe "Navajo" to be the name given them by one of their enemies. Similarly, the Nakotah, Dakotah, and Lakotah peoples are commonly referred to as "Sioux".

Presuming any of these people actually existed, of course.

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