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  • Updated 25 December 2015
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Old Words and Names in the Shire

A work by Meriadoc Brandybuck

Some thirteen years after his adventures in the War of the Ring, Meriadoc 'Merry' Brandybuck inherited the title of Master of Buckland from his father Saradoc. At the family seat of Brandy Hall, he built up a great library of works, especially histories of the lands of Middle-earth. Quite the scholar himself in his later years, Meriadoc was also the writer of some of these works, covering topics ranging from botany to linguistics.

It was in the area of language that Master Meriadoc focused in his Old Words and Names of the Shire, in which he considered the origins of Hobbit-names and common words used in the Shire.

At the heart of the work was a consideration of the ways in which these words connected with those used in the language of the Rohirrim far to the south. This relationship went back to ancient times when the ancestors of the Shire-hobbits and the Rohirrim had lived together in the upper Vales of Anduin, so that even at the end of the Third Age there were evident connections between their two tongues. Though separated for some two millennia, the two peoples still had words that were mutually understandable, with perhaps the most evident example being the old word Holbytla used in Rohan, an ancestral form from which the word 'Hobbit' itself had evolved.

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