aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

I see what you did there, John Ronald

In The Lord of the Rings, there is an ent known as Quickbeam, who is the nearest there is to a hasty ent. It is natural to assume that the "quick" in his name refers to his "hastiness." But things are never that simple when you're talking about J.R.R. Tolkien.

Quickbeam's "people" are rowan trees. Our word rowan is ultimately derived from Old Norse, but in Old English the tree was called cwic-beam. In that case, "cwic" means "live, living," as in the phrase "the quick and the dead." Whatever. The startling thing is, "Quickbeam" is just the modern spelling of cwic-beam. So the rowan-like ent is named "rowan" in OE. One more example of how Tolkien used his academic specialty in his story-telling, and one more example of the unusual depth of his created world.

I first read LOTR over fifty years ago, and I'm still finding new details in it, like this ent whose name is an OE-based pun.

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