Language And Dialect In The Rings Of Power – Will It Sound Like Tolkien?

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In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, showrunners J.D Payne and Patrick McKay talk about dealing with language and dialect in The Rings of Power. As I am sure most Tolkien fans know, language and dialect were Tolkien’s greatest skills and one of his strongest passions. One my my concerns as a fan is that since Tolkien didn’t write any dialogue for the story this show is telling. Will it therefore actually sound like it’s from the mind of Tolkien?

In studying the language from the first three episodes Amazon let Vanity Fair screen, we found a mix of cleverly repurposed lines of Tolkien’s dialogue as well as a few snatches of Biblical text. “Both Patrick and I have religious backgrounds,” Payne says. “I spent a lot of time just reading those sacred texts. I was an English major at Yale and loved Shakespeare at the time and still go back and reread the various plays. I’ve also spent a lot of time studying Hebrew poetry and parallelism and inverted parallelism and chiasmus and all these cool rhetorical strategies that poets and prophets from thousands of years ago would use to communicate sacred material. And Tolkien, sometimes, will play in that kind of a sandbox.”

McKay explains that they tailored the dialogue to fit each kind of character. The harfoots speak with an Irish lilt whereas the elves speak in elevated British phrases. “We even came up with hero meters for each different race in Tolkien,” Payne says. “Some of them will speak in iambs, some of them will speak in dactyls. Some of them will speak in trochees.” That in-depth approach might please Professor Tolkien, whose specialty was philology, a.k.a. the history of language.

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I guess we will see, the proof as they say is in the pudding. I’ll be tuning in on September 2nd like millions across the Globe. Though, as a bit of a Tolkienist, I also have the horrible feeling I’m going to be very hard to please as a fan. I genuinely hope to be proved wrong on that count. And just to be clear, even If I don’t like, it I feel like it’m going to have to keep watching it anyway. I will be reviewing every episode of Season 1, so I will try to keep an open mind for sure.

What do you think of the showrunners comments on dealing with language and dialect in The Rings Of Power? Thoughts below as always.

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Campbell Clark

Cam is Senior Editor at LRM Online, and has a passion for all things geeky, including sci-fi, fantasy, and comic book movies.

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