Hobbits are people, too

I’m reading “The Lord of the Rings” for the first time.

Why am I just now getting around to it?

For longer than I care to admit, I confused the work with “Lord of the Flies.” It was an honest mistake made by an insect-phobic girl who did not want to spend time with marooned adolescent boys who kill the sensitive kid.

Of course, if I had grasped the difference between the two books sooner, “LOTR” wouldn’t have held the interest of my younger self, either.

It wasn’t until Peter Jackson’s “LOTR” trilogy that I paid any real attention to J.R.R. Tolkien’s story. I loved the movies and always promised myself I’d take the written word journey with the fellowship.

So far, I’m glad I kept that promise.

I can do without all the singing in the book and it’s hard to reconcile that Frodo, who comes across as less hateful and more idealistic in the movies, is 50 years old. So, I imagine him as Elijah Wood and the other Hobbits as their cinematic counterparts.

It makes life easier.

I have a bigger problem with another aspect of the book – Tolkien uses “that” to identify people.

That bothers me.

“Who” refers to a person or a pet, and “that” refers to an object.

It’s a rule.

Nowadays, though, grammarians and writers shrug when confronted with the who/that rule and say, “Either is fine with me,” as if they’ve been asked to choose between Coke and Pepsi.

But Tolkien penned the trilogy seven decades ago.

Did he intentionally break the rule or has it always been as subjective as preferring Pepsi to Coke or Gandalf the Grey to Gandalf the White?

If it’s the latter, someone needs to explain that to me.

“Someone She Always Has Known” is available here http://www.amazon.com/dp/1484900952

and here http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/314979

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2 Responses to Hobbits are people, too

  1. Tolkien was a professor of English at Oxford University, and helped to write the Oxford English Dictionary, link here: http://public.oed.com/history-of-the-oed/newsletter-archive/jrr-tolkien-and-the-oed/ but had some very strong opinions which ran counter to conventional wisdom. One example is his spelling of the plural of dwarf: dwar*v*es. When the proofs were returned, helpfully corrected to ‘dwarfs’ he took very strong exception and got his way. I don’t know about his view on who/that specifically, but suspect that he did not make the choice lightly, whatever the ‘rules’ were.

    Good luck with the book!

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