Dwarfs vs. dwarves

Kriton Kyrimis kyrimis at cti.gr
Fri Feb 22 11:33:50 CET 2002


> I know you are joking, but I just wanted to point out that
> 'dwarfs' and 'dwarves' are just two different ways of
> pluralizing the word 'dwarf' in English. Both are
> considered 'proper English,' although I think most scholars
> prefer 'dwarves' over 'dwarfs.'

Looking up the word at www.m-w.com, it would appear that, indeed,
"dwarves" is an accepted form of the plural for "dwarf". However,
I remember reading, and a bit of internet search seems to confirm
this, that in Tolkien's time "dwarfs" had been the only correct
spelling, and that Tolkien made up the plural "dwarves" to set
his dwarves apart from other kinds of dwarfs. To quote from

> From whence came Tolkien's original idea for the names of dwarves in The
> Hobbit ? The plural "dwarves" instead of dwarfs (which is preferred by
> a number of critics and is correct philologically) is instead used by
> Tolkien because it went better with "elves". He wished later, according
> to his letters, that he had used the historical plural of "dwarrows".
> "Dwarves" went into general usage as many people, both readers and fellow
> writers, agreed with Tolkien's ear and logic.
> Reference: The Letters of JRR Tolkien  Letter # 17 To Stanley Unwin, Chairman
> of Allen and Unwin, p. 23

	Kriton	(e-mail: kyrimis at cti.gr)
	      	(WWW:    http://dias.cti.gr/~kyrimis)
"When you're looking for a needle in a haystack, it's easy to clutch at straws."

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