The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dates
First recorded in III 10501
Location
Found especially in the Shire and the Bree-land
Race
Cultures
Pronunciation
ba'nakil
Meaning
Other names

Indexes:

About this entry:

  • Updated 17 November 2011
  • This entry is complete

Banakil

The Westron word for a Halfling

Encyclopedia of Arda Timeline
Years of the Trees First Age Second Age Third Age Fourth Age and Beyond

Throughout Tolkien's work, where characters use the Common Tongue, their words are represented by an English translation. So, references to the name 'halfling' actually represent translations of the original Westron word, which was banakil. Bana- here is equivalent to 'half' (the same element also seen in Banazîr, 'Half-wise', which was Sam Gamgee's true given name).

Note that 'halfling' is quite distinct from 'Hobbit' in this context. The people living outside the Shire or Bree would use the name banakil, but the Hobbits themselves used kuduk, which is the word Tolkien renders as 'hobbit'. For historical reasons, a related name kûd-dûkan was found in Rohan, but outside these regions, banakil was the usual name for this race.


Notes

1

III 1050 was the date that Hobbits first appeared in the records of Men. Presumably the name banakil appeared at roughly the same time.

2

Bana- is one of the very few Westron roots for which we have a clear interpretation, since it also occurs in Banazîr, 'Half-wise', and therefore clearly means 'half'. The ending -kil is less certain, but it is notable that in Elvish names like Tarkil, the -kil element means 'Man' (or literally 'Follower', as the Elves viewed the younger race). It may well be that Westron speakers borrowed this ending from Elvish, so Banakil would literally mean 'Half-Man'.

See also...

Westron

For acknowledgements and references, see the Disclaimer & Bibliography page.

Website services kindly sponsored by Axiom Software Ltd.

Original content © copyright Mark Fisher 1998, 2001, 2007, 2011. All rights reserved. For conditions of reuse, see the Site FAQ.