Results 1 to 6 of 6

Thread: Orc or goblin? is there a difference?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    A little farm town that reminds me of the Shire.
    Posts
    7

    Question Orc or goblin? is there a difference?

    while playing the online game LotRO, i remember that I called a goblin an orc, and someone corrected me. what I want to know is, what is the difference. If i remember correctly, at the beginning of The Hobbit Tolkien wrote that for simplicities sake he would refer to orcs as goblins, I don't have the time right now to look up exactly what he said, but does this mean that for time he was just grouping them together, or that they are the same species?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Hobbiton
    Posts
    320

    Re: Orc or goblin? is there a difference?

    The Hobbit wasn't originally intended to get mixed up in the greater mythology of Tolkien's work and sometimes has some ambiguous stuff like that in it. There seemed to be enough distinction between the Moria Goblins and other Orcs and Uruks that I do tend to think of them as distinct, at least inasmuch as Elves and Men are...they're enough of the same race that they could interbreed but they're still their own distinct sub-species...just my take...I need to look up some of the quotes on this matter again, I believe there were some things that mostly back me up on this.
    Rosie, the little Hobbit-girl
    The Crazy Brother Quote to rule them all: "Elen siel Tinúviel nighten-flyingpants!"
    Rosie's got an LJ! felis_stellaria
    I am Star Cat, hear me mew!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Down the rabbit hole...
    Age
    28
    Posts
    1,969

    Re: Orc or goblin? is there a difference?

    I've often wondered the same thing, and I'm sure Alcuin would be able to elucidate the distinctions far more competently than myself (based on some of the impressive discoveries he made in the Gandalf's Mark thread). However, Tolkien does have a little to say on the matter...

    The Letters of JRR Tolkien - #25: To the editor of the 'Observer'

    And why dwarves? Grammar prescribes dwarfs; philology suggests that dwarrows would be the historical form. The real answer is that I knew no better. But dwarves goes well with elves; and, in any case, elf, gnome, goblin, dwarf are only approximate translations of the Old Elvish names for beings of not quite the same kinds and functions.
    I'm unsure what Old Elvish in this particular context means. If it is extrinsic to The Legendarium than Alcuin's going to have to be your man as you'll have to seek elsewhere in terms of Old Elvish Translations. However, if Old Elvish is simply a reference to the Quendi (and the Avari) and thus Quenya translations; then goblins is just a Quendi translation for Orcs and there is no difference - which is a lazy albeit clever way of Tolkien avoiding philological and grammatical corrigendums in his works. He does mention that the Istari's and the Dwarf names are from the Elder Edda which contained pagan poems of Scandinavian origin and constituted a majority of the Norse mythology (just as a side-note ).

    This likely would be the most compelling evidence that Tolkien considered Orcs and Goblins to be one and the same:

    The Letters of JRR Tolkien - #131: To Milton Waldman

    Also the Orcs (goblins) and other monsters bred by the First Enemy are not wholly destroyed.
    Tolkien literally equates the two in the extract above.

    However, the quote below explains all:

    The Letters of JRR Tolkien - #144: To Naomi Mitchison

    Orcs (the word is as far as I'm concerned actually derived from Old English orc 'demon', but only because of its phonetic suitability) are nowhere clearly stated to be of any particular origin. ... They are not based on direct experience of mine; but owe, I suppose, a good deal to the goblin tradition (goblin is used as a translation in The Hobbit, where orc only occurs once, I think)...
    Tolkien believed that orc may have been an Old English translation for demon and contended that the usage of goblin was a translation of this word in The Hobbit; which conincides eloquently with the translation being Elvish. So I assume when Tolkien stipulates that it is an Elvish translation he intends it to be a Quenya or Sindarin translation (it apparently is orch as singular and yrch as plural in Sindarin). In Quenya it is translated as urco (stem urcu-) and has the same translation for goblin. The problem however, is that rc does not exist in Quenya and thus it is correctly urko (stem urku-). Tolkien comments about the origin of the word orc in The War of the Jewels:

    The History of Middle-earth XI: The War of the Jewels - Quendi and Eldar: Appendix C. Elvish names for the Orcs

    The word used in the translation of Q [Quenya] urko, S [Sindarin] orch, is Orc. But that is because of the similarity of the ancient English word orc, 'evil spirit or bogey', to the Elvish words. There is possibly no connexion between them. The English word is now generally supposed to be derived from the Latin Orcus.
    So orch in Sindarin is translated as orc due to its similarity from the Old English orc which, apparently, derives from the Latin word Orcus which means death, the Lower World or whales. Someone may need to clarify this one...

    Tolkien then further delineates one difference between the two:


    The Letters of JRR Tolkien - #151: From a letter to Hugh Brogan

    Your preference of goblins to orcs involves a large question and a matter of taste, and perhaps historical pedantry on my part. Personally I prefer Orcs (since these creatures are not 'goblins', not even the goblins of George MacDonald, which they do to some extent resemble).
    Essentially Tolkien used the words interchangeably as they meant the exact same thing. Orcs are goblins and vice versa. It appears that he changed his mind in the period between the creation of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and decided his personal preference for the term Orcs;and then later equated the two in Elvish (and other) translations.

    Cheers,

    Úlairi.
    "Except it be for this one voice only that I cried, standing among them, Concerning the resurrection of the dead am I judged this day by you." - Acts 24:21.

    "He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail." - 1 Samuel 2:9.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Posts
    417

    Re: Orc or goblin? is there a difference?

    There's no difference. Here is the explanation that Tolkien himself published after he had written The Lord of the Rings (meaning he added the following to a revised edition of The Hobbit).

    '(2) Orc is not an English word. It occurs in one or two places but is usually translated goblin (or hobgoblin for the larger kinds). Orc is the hobbits' form of the name given at that time to these creatures, and it is not connected at all with our orc, ork, applied to sea-animals of dolphin-kind.' JRRT The Hobbit

    Orc is Westron, 'goblin' is a modern word that (sometimes) translates it. This idea works for The Lord of the Rings as well.

    The external history (looking at Tolkien's work through the years) is more complicated and confusing here, but this is the idea JRRT landed on for publication. Orcs come in different sizes, for example, but they are all Orcs. Or to translate that more completely into English: Goblins come in different sizes, for example, but they are all goblins.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Down the rabbit hole...
    Age
    28
    Posts
    1,969

    Re: Orc or goblin? is there a difference?

    Isn't that just what I said Galin?

    Incidentally, are you an active member of the same alias on lotrplaza.com? Good to see you back on TTF though...

    Cheers,

    Úlairi.
    "Except it be for this one voice only that I cried, standing among them, Concerning the resurrection of the dead am I judged this day by you." - Acts 24:21.

    "He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail." - 1 Samuel 2:9.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Posts
    417

    Re: Orc or goblin? is there a difference?

    Quote Originally Posted by Úlairi
    Isn't that just what I said Galin?
    Well I like to add the text that Tolkien published himself. I anyone's interested, for a description of the goblins of G. MacDonald see:

    http://www.thetolkienforum.com/showthread.php?t=18919

    Which also looks, in part, at the same question in this thread.

Similar Threads

  1. LOTR spoofs
    By Kit Baggins in forum Bag End
    Replies: 84
    Last Post: 03-14-2007, 09:41 AM
  2. Replies: 18
    Last Post: 06-01-2005, 11:13 PM
  3. Goblin RP, Plundered Pint OOC
    By Confusticated in forum Council of the Wise
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 05-09-2005, 09:22 AM
  4. Another Script
    By Mike in forum Tolkien's versus Jackson's 'LOTR'
    Replies: 15
    Last Post: 03-16-2005, 11:24 PM
  5. Your opinion: Do animals have souls?
    By Niirewen in forum Religion
    Replies: 334
    Last Post: 04-07-2004, 10:48 PM

Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •