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Not for Naught

Posted by on January 14, 2004

Re-reading have I been the Lord of the Rings trilogy and somewhat annoyed have I become at the persistent switching of traditional subject-verb order which Tolkein engages in. Very like it is to the grammer which I did use in my eight grade sonnets, wherein merry havoc did I play with subject-verb order to make my words fit within iambic pentameter.

Though much do I love these books, and especially the third, my breaking point did I reach last night — not due to the ass-backwards grammar, but rather when Aragorn Faramir did heal, and a nearby woman did he command to “make water hot.” Apparently “boil” was a word which existed not when mightily crafting was Tolkein these books.

In addition, at one point does Legolas say of Aragorn that “not for naught” does Sauron fear him. I can’t imagine that would go over well in a dialogue.

Legolas: Not for naught is Aragorn much feared by Sauron.

Gimli: Not for not? Be this a strange double negative? Or merely some elvish trick of language, for I know that among the elves are many cunning linguists.

Legolas: No, for “naught.” As in “aught.”

Gimli: Aye, much fear indeed ought Sauron to have of Aragorn, for he is a doughty fighter.

Legolas: Naught like “caught.”

Gimli: Aye, “not” like “cot.” How I wish you had not mentioned it, for I am greatly weary after our long journey in search of the Halflings and would be glad to rest my head on any cot.

Legolas:

Gimli:

Legolas:

Gimli: I be a dwarf.

20 Responses to Not for Naught

  1. michele

    legolas: i like to play with legos.

    michele: leeeeggggggggooooooooooooooossssss!!!

  2. didofoot

    gimli: i be a dwarf.

    michele: i like midgets.

    gimli: i be a DWARF.

  3. Dan

    But in England, ‘not’ and ‘naught’ are not pronounced the same.

  4. Dan

    But in England, ‘not’ and ‘naught’ are not pronounced the same way.

  5. didofoot

    how are they pronounced?

  6. holohan

    they’d probably pronounce “naught” as “nart,” because the english are notorious for taking r’s away from some words and putting them in words where they don’t belong.

  7. didofoot

    i.e. I fart the law?

  8. michele

    it’s like buddha, buddha.

    only it’s actually really completely different. being: not, naught. it’s…i know what dan’s talking about but it’s hard to explain. it’s like they pronouce the “au” somehow really noticeably.

  9. chambochae

    naught is actually pronounced “nowt”. As in ‘now’ eith a t on the end. Unless he means naught as is in Zero, in which case it’s nort, without rolling the ‘r’ if you see what i mean.

    Often referred to as a trilogy it is, intended to be a single volume it was, and thus deny any existence of these ‘three’ books I do.

  10. didofoot

    what does it mean apart from zero/nothingness?

  11. holohan

    i think the pie guy was referring to the fact that naught means “nothing” in the abstract but can also be used to refer to the number zero. if you go to dictionary.com these are two separate definitions.

  12. chambochae

    ya ya that right. When I read it, I read it as NOWt.

  13. Dan

    [La Boheme plays in the background. Liadain quietly sings along to the Italian.]

    Thomas: ‘Pronounce n-a-u-g-h-t.’

    Liadain: ‘Naught’.

    Thomas: ‘Naht?’

    Liadain: ‘No. Naught.’

    Thomas: ‘Note?’

    Liadain: ‘No. Naught.’

    Thomas: ‘It is like a French sound. Noot.’

    Liadain: ‘No, no, the French would say “naught” [with perfect French accent].’

    Thomas: ‘Hmmm… Nowt?’

    Liadain: ‘No…’ [Getting bored.]

    Thomas: ‘I don’t think we have that sound…’

    We don’t have that sound. I cannot say that sound.

    Naught is an antiquated form of ‘nothing’. Nought is the way the British say zero when referring to the digit. They pronounce both nought and naught the same way, and in their OED entries, their vowel sound is represented by an ‘o’ with a dash over it (like a long ‘o’) and with a sedilla below it (a crook-shaped accent below it); Webster’s does not recognize the existence of this vowel sound. According to the OED, naught and nought have the same vowel sound as ‘walk’ and ‘wart’. Webster’s combines all the OED’s variations on the ‘a’ theme into one: ah.

    But, as the man from Brooklyn whom I met late last night at a taverna said, about why Americans are the greatest country on earth: ‘We got the power!’ Of course, he pronounced ‘power’ powah. Another ‘ah’.

  14. chambochae

    Also how you pronounce it varies over what english accent you have…

    If I said it, it would be nowt, but down here in the south west we don’t say nowt very much anyway. We just use “nothing”, or more commonly “nothin'”

    “There’s nowt wrong with that”

    “There nothing wrong with that”

    “Not for nowt is aragorn feared by sauron”

    in other parts of the UK it’s more like “newt”, hehe.

    But it is also “five four three two one naught [walk]”

  15. dianna

    See, the trouble with this conversation is that when someone who speaks British English says “it sounds like ‘walk'”, it doesn’t mean that it sounds even remotely like “walk” as pronounced by someone who speaks American English. In order to make things clear by comparing sounds, you’d have to find a word that contains these sounds and is pronounced exactly the same by the British and the Americans. I think the last time there was such a thing was around 1760.

    Solution: eradicate American English. Send us all to speech therapy and teach us to speak Englishly. It’ll be more fun, more attractive, and less confusing.

  16. chambochae

    so… do you people pronounce “pie” like I do? Eye, try, guy, fly, by, die, pie?

  17. dianna

    I try pie. In my eye!

    Yes. But pie doesn’t contain the all-important “a” sounds… or does it?

  18. holohan

    i try to pronounce it “pah,” like florence from “alice.” as in “y’all care for some punkin’ pah?”

    is there some kind of pie shortage in england?

  19. dianna

    No, but there is a pie shortage in my mouth. Donations can be addressed to:

    Dianna Woolsey

    #9 Pie St

    Pietown, Pietana, 3.1416

  20. chambochae

    Pumpkin is an abomination unto pie. Why spoil a good pie by putting pumkin in it?

    Dianna – That is the best address ever!! You are so lucky to live on pie street in pietown in the state of pietana!! I want to come live there too!

    Unfortunately, yes, there is a pie shortage in england. The supply just cannot keep up with my demand!! PPIIEEE!!!!

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