“What the dwarves started to sing…,” a Word Study by Sparrow

I’ve pointed out before Sparrow’s digital humanities project on J.R.R. Tolkien‘s works. In particular, Sparrow has been working through the Hobbit, drawing out trends in the occurrences of words. Even in basic indexing, concordance work, and text scraping, there are neat discoveries that help us read better. Now Sparrow has done enough of this digital work to blog an entire poem with the text links. Sparrow has completed work on the “Chip the glasses and crack the plates!” bit with the dwarfs. It is a great milestone and good service to humanity (and good good service to some non-human races), that I thought I would share it with you, dear readers.

And if I might add something to extend our enjoyment, a couple of clips. The first is J.R.R. Tolkien‘s own little version of the jig. I don’t know the source of the clip, but it may be something from the BBC or from the recordings at George Sayer‘s house. The second clip is from the first Peter Jackson Hobbit film, a chant song in dwarfen style that would drive all good homemakers to distraction!

words that you were saying

This morning, I celebrate reaching the goal of even one poem thoroughly concordanced:

[01.064] Chip the glasses and crack the plates!
Blunt the knives and bend the forks!
That’s what BilboBagginshates
Smash the bottles and burn the corks!

[01.065] Cut the cloth and tread on the fat!
Pour the milk on the pantryfloor!
Leave the bones on the bedroommat!
Splash the wine on every door!

[01.066] Dump the crocks in a boilingbowl;
Pound them up with a thumpingpole;
And when you’ve finished, if any are whole,
Send them down the hall to roll!

[01.067] That’s what BilboBagginshates!
So, carefully! carefully with the plates!

Not bad at all. I have left out:

  • The – 13 times
  • And – 5 times
  • On – 4 times
  • A – 2…

View original post 65 more words

About Brenton Dickieson

“A Pilgrim in Narnia” is a blog project in reading and talking about the work of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the worlds they touched. As a "Faith, Fantasy, and Fiction" blog, we cover topics like children’s literature, apologetics and philosophy, myths and mythology, fantasy, theology, cultural critique, art and writing. This blog includes my thoughts as I read through Lewis and Tolkien and reflect on my own life and culture. In this sense, I am a Pilgrim in Narnia--or Middle Earth, or Fairyland. I am often peeking inside of wardrobes, looking for magic bricks in urban alleys, or rooting through yard sale boxes for old rings. If something here captures your imagination, leave a comment, “like” a post, share with your friends, or sign up to receive Narnian Pilgrim posts in your email box. Brenton Dickieson is a father, husband, friend, university lecturer, and freelance writer from Prince Edward Island, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter, @BrentonDana.
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8 Responses to “What the dwarves started to sing…,” a Word Study by Sparrow

  1. Pingback: Mountain | words that you were saying

  2. successbmine says:

    Love the first video. It’s great to hear Tolkien himself singing his own rendition. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The Tolkien rendition of his own song is great. I still don’t quite know what Jackson was thinking with those movies, incidentally. I know there were some politics involved with the studios, but they still came across to me as amateur wish-fulfilment fan fiction using Tolkien’s characters. Ouch. And when you think about what a charming and classic story The Hobbit always was…


    • Beyond the normal dramatic shifts we see in adaptation, and beyond the fact that Jackson was saving a flailing project, the Hobbit still fails in that it misses the entire “homeliness” we love in the original text. This is part of that. I don’t know if Jackson comes across to me as fan-fiction as much as the flaw in making it an epic action adventure–less about peaking around the hedge in curiosity, and more about war and pirates fighting and the like.


    • successbmine says:

      I agree, Matthew, about The Hobbit movies. I did not like them mainly because they were not the book I am so familiar with. I don’t understand, except the financial aspect, why he couldn’t have made it in one good movie and “kept to the script” in the book instead of introducing that fantastical pale orc etc. I have all of the LOTR movies in the regular length and in the extended version, but none of The Hobbit.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I heard stories about studio issues. The whole thing was politicised, down to the government coming under pressure to maintain its tax-break/subsidy for foreign film funding. I actually live in Wellington, where the bulk of The Hobbit was filmed and saw some of this unfold. It was also filmed in secrecy – I spotted part of the set for Dale as I flew out of Wellington airport one time (the flight path was pretty much right over it) but otherwise nothing was visible. It was a sharp contrast to the way LOTR was filmed, where outdoor sets were publicly visible – especially Helm’s Deep/Minas Tirith, built one after another in a quarry about 50 metres from a state highway. All very well, but the disappointing part was that the story I knew and loved from The Hobbit was, it seems, nowhere to be found…

        Liked by 1 person

        • Intriguing perspective! On the positive side, it is possible that we will get a new Hobbit film in the future–one that is more Hobbitish.

          Liked by 1 person

        • successbmine says:

          Yes, there was little I could relate to. And I have read The Hobbit more times than I can count, so am very familiar with it. Every so often I need to take that trip with my Hobbit friends over again, and was really looking forward to a good movie. But alas… It must have been exciting seeing LOTR being filmed. I have the extended version with all of the DVDs of the filming and the CGI etc and find that fascinating.

          Liked by 2 people

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