Newsletter: November 2009

Table of Contents

SWG News

ToS Translators Always Needed: Because Reading Legalese in Your Native Language Is Painful Enough

A few years ago, there was a fallout on LiveJournal after user accounts were suspended for Terms of Service (ToS) violations. The users in this particular case did not speak English, and LJ did not have its ToS available in any other languages. The uproar that ensued was understandable: Banning members for violating terms that they could not understand (that baffle, in fact, many native English speakers) was deeply unfair. Although the SWG's ToS are not nearly so complex as LJ's, and although we are not nearly so free with the banhammer as LJ was at the time, we decided then to try to get our ToS translated into as many languages as possible.

A significant portion of the SWG member base does not speak English as a first language. We are proud of our diverse membership base and hope to that everyone feels welcome and comfortable on our group. Reading legalese in one's native language is painful enough without having to try to puzzle it out in a foreign language. For that reason, we are always seeking translations of our ToS (and Site Etiquette, for those doughty enough to take on the whole thing) into other languages.

We've had a lot of newcomers since the last time we asked for volunteers for this, so we'd like to reissue the request for ToS translators. This is a one-time volunteer job that can be done at your own pace. We have translations already in German, Spanish, Polish, and Russian; any other languages are welcome. If you are interested in doing a translation for us or have any questions, please contact us at

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Character of the Month Biography


Silver Trails

Morifinwë Carnistir, son of Fëanor and Nerdanel, was black-haired like his grandfather, and had a ruddy complexion, like his mother. He was called Moryo by his father, though as all the sons of Fëanor save for Curufin, Caranthir preferred his “mother name”. (1)

There is some debate about when he was born. Caranthir is always listed fifth in the History of Middle-earth (HoMe) books, which would lead us to believe that he is the fifth son of Fëanor if Christopher Tolkien hadn’t said that Caranthir is the fourth son in The Silmarillion:

Caranthir: The fourth son of Fëanor, called the Dark; 'the harshest of the brothers and the most quick to anger'; ruled in Thargelion; slain in the assault on Doriath. (2, emphasis mine)

But in The Peoples of Middle-earth (Home 12), we find this quote about Fëanor’s sons:

His sons were too occupied in war and feuds to pay attention to such matters, save Maglor who was a poet, and Curufin, his fourth and favourite son to whom he gave his own name; but Curufin was most interested in the alien language of the Dwarves, being the only one of the Noldor to win their friendship. It was from him that the loremasters obtained such knowledge as they could of the Khuzdûl. (3, emphasis mine)

As we know, it was Caranthir who had business with the Dwarves, not Curufin (4), but he never befriended them. This is why this remains open to debate, though if we take into account the many changes Christopher Tolkien admittedly introduced into The Silmarillion, we could reasonably believe that Caranthir was meant to be the fifth son. There is also the fact that Fëanor’s sons are always grouped according to age. Maedhros spends time with Maglor, so does Celegorm with Curufin. They look for Caranthir at times, but Caranthir also spends time with the twins, Amrod and Amras.

Caranthir’s name changes a few times in the books. He is called Crantor in The Book of Lost Tales 2 (5), which is his first appearance in Tolkien’s universe. His name changes to Cranthir in The Lays of Beleriand (6), and he will keep that name, though there is a marginal note in Morgoth’s Ring (7), saying that his name will be changed to Caranthir, which is done in The War of the Jewels (8).

The only reference about Caranthir’s marital status is in HoMe 12:

Others who were wedded were Maelor, Caranthir. (9)

Caranthir must have helped to burn the ships at Losgar, and he was with his father and brothers in the battle of Dagor-os-Giliath, where Fëanor was mortally wounded by Gothmog. Later, after Maedhros was ambushed and captured by Morgoth, Caranthir settled with his brothers near Lake Mithrim. When Fingolfin and his host arrived on Middle-earth, tension arose, and so the Fëanorians moved to the southern shore of the lake. It is said that not all the brothers agreed with Maedhros’ decision to give up the kingship of the Noldor, and one might believe that Caranthir was one of them, but we really don’t know. After all he never tried to usurp anyone’s crown and lived peacefully in his lands until Morgoth’s creatures destroyed Thargelion.

One thing we can be certain of, and it is that Caranthir didn’t like Finarfin’s sons, and he distrusted them when it came to their dealings with Thingol (10). One could say that Caranthir believed the Noldor were better than the Sindar, but he was also quite aware that his cousins’ kinship with Thingol might tip the already fragile balance between the two peoples. After all, the Fëanorians, save for Maedhros, had burned the ships and betrayed the rest of the Noldor. Maedhros, who was more concerned with keeping the peace, rebuked Caranthir, but the harm had been done. Angrod didn’t forget, and when Thingol demanded the truth about Alqualondë, he told his uncle about the kinslaying, the Doom of Mandos, and the burning of the ships (11).

When the Fëanorians left Lake Mithrim and headed East, Caranthir and his people settled beyond the upper Gelion. The Grey Elves used to live in these lands before, and they called the land Talath Rhúnen (12). Caranthir’s lair was near Lake Helevorn (Black Glass). The lands between the Gelion, the Ered Luin (the Blue Mountains), Mount Rerir and the Ascar, were called Thargelion (Land beyond Gelion) or Dor Caranthir (Land of Caranthir). His people fortified the mountains east from Maglor’s gap and built a fortress on the western slopes of Mount Rerir (13). They climbed the Ered Luin and met the Dwarves. Caranthir didn’t conceal his scorn for the unloveliness of the Dwarves, neither did his people, or Elves in general. This quote makes this quite clear:

In their own tongue the Dwarves name themselves Khazad; but the Grey-elves called them the Nyrn, the hard. This name the exiled Noldor likewise took for them, but called them also the Naugrim, the stunted folk ... (14, emphasis mine)

If we remember the Petty-Dwarves, exiled by their own people, and hunted down by the Grey-Elves, we can see that there was much mistrust between the peoples of Middle-earth. This distrust and resentment didn’t disappear, but it was lessened when the people of Caranthir and the Dwarves from the Ered Luin started to trade and to share knowledge, and realized that they had a common enemy:

Nevertheless since both peoples feared and hated Morgoth they made alliance, and had of it great profit; for the Naugrim learned many secrets of craft in those days, so that the smiths and masons of Nogrod and Belegost became renowned among their kin, and when the Dwarves began again to journey into Beleriand all the traffic of the dwarf-mines passed first through the hands of Caranthir, and thus great riches came to him. (15)

There is a version in The Shaping of Middle-earth (HoMe 4), where the Dwarves are evil and the Eldar make war on them, but this version changed later. The Home 12 quote above about Curufin being interested in the language of the Dwarves, when his and Caranthir’s characters were swapped, implies that Caranthir and his people might have learned some Khuzdûl during their trade with the Dwarves. So we could say that Caranthir was good at making business and increasing his wealth. His people seemed to have led a good life, and even Celegorm and Curufin used to spend time riding in the woods with Caranthir.

When the Haladin came to Beleriand, the Green-Elves were unfriendly to them, so they turned north and reached Thargelion. Caranthir allowed them to stay in his lands, and paid little attention to them. For a while there was peace, but Morgoth sent his Orcs to attack the Men. They were besieged, and Haldad, their leader, was killed in a sortie, and Haldar, his son, was killed while trying to defend him. Haleth, Haldad’s daughter, was left as their leader. After seven days, Caranthir and his host came to the rescue and drove the Orcs into the rivers. Seeing how valiant Men could be, Caranthir offered Halath and her people free lands and protection. She thanked him, but left the area and settled with her people in Estolad.

Morgoth attacked the Elves in what became the Battle of Sudden Flame, and though Himring was never taken, Thargelion was destroyed, and Lake Helevorn defiled. Caranthir was forced to cross the Gelion with his people and they joined Amrod and Amras, settling in Amon Ereb. The Green-Elves joined them, and the Orcs’ advance was stopped. The Men Tolkien called swarthy came into Beleriand in those days, and the sons of Ulfang the Black, Ulfast, Ulwarth, and Uldor the accursed, swore allegiance to Caranthir, but in the end betrayed him in the Battle of Unnumbered Tears. They were slain by Maglor in The Silmarillion, but it was Caranthir who did so in earlier versions:

But the sons of Ulfang reaped not the reward that Morgoth had promised them; for Cranthir slew Uldor the Accursed, the leader in treason, and Ulfast and Ulwarth were slain by the sons of Bor, ere they themselves fell. (16)

Then the rumour came that Dior was wearing the Nauglafring, with a Silmaril fixed in it, so the Oath started to torment the sons of Fëanor again. They sent messengers to claim the jewel, but there was no answer so the Fëanorians marched to Doriath in the middle of winter. The Silmaril was lost as Elwing, aided by servants, escaped with it, but Dior was killed by Celegorm, and Curufin and Caranthir were slain there too, pierced with arrows. There are many versions of which son of Fëanor dies in this second kinslaying, but Caranthir dies in all of them:

There fell Celegorm by Dior's hand, and there fell Curufin, and dark Caranthir; but Dior was slain also, and Nimloth his wife, and the cruel servants of Celegorm seized his young sons and left them to starve in the forest. Of this Maedhros indeed repented, and sought for them long in the woods of Doriath; but his search was unavailing, and of the fate of Eluréd and Elurín no tale tells. (17)

Caranthir was said to be quick to anger, haughty, and somewhat unruly, but it was him who befriended other peoples of Middle-earth, not thinking of the war against Morgoth alone, but also of the benefits of acquiring new knowledge, and of living a peaceful life. Caranthir was not averse to make money and protected those weaker than him. He was loyal to his family and died trying to fulfil the Oath he swore with his father and brothers in Tirion.

Works Cited

  1. The History of Middle-earth, Volume XII: The Peoples of Middle-earth. The Shibboleth of Fëanor.
  2. The Silmarillion. "Index of Names."
  3. The History of Middle-earth, Volume XII: The Peoples of Middle-earth. The Shibboleth of Fëanor, note #22.
  4. The Silmarillion. "Of the Return of the Noldor."
  5. The History of Middle-earth, Volume II: The Book of Lost Tales 2. The Nauglafring.
  6. The History of Middle-earth, Volume III: The Lays of Beleriand. The Lay of the Children of Húrin, "Failivrin."
  7. The History of Middle-earth, Volume X: Morgoth's Ring. The Annals of Aman, "Commentary on the fifth section of the Annals of Aman," §134.
  8. The History of Middle-earth, Volume XI: The War of the Jewels. The Grey Annals, "Commentary," §§65-71.
  9. The History of Middle-earth, Volume XII: The Peoples of Middle-earth. Of Dwarves and Men, note #7.
  10. The Silmarillion. "Of the Return of the Noldor."
  11. The Silmarillion. "Of the Noldor in Beleriand."
  12. The Silmarillion. "Of Beleriand and Its Realms."
  13. Ibid.
  14. The History of Middle-earth, Volume XI: The War of the Jewels. The Later Quenta Silmarillion, "Concerning the Dwarves."
  15. The Silmarillion. "Of the Return of the Noldor."
  16. The History of Middle-earth, Volume V: The Lost Road. Quenta Silmarillion, "Of the Fourth Battle: Nirnaith Arnediad," §15.
  17. The Silmarillion, "Of the Ruin of Doriath."

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Linguistic Foolery

Everyday Elves and What They Do

Darth Fingon

Among all the tales of kings and princes that Tolkien provided, it's easy to forget that, if we look at things logically, the world of Arda must have been populated by a vast array of regular old everyday Elves doing regular old everyday things. Not every Noldo in Valinor was a prince, stonemason, or some manner of smith. Not every Sinda in Beleriand was a hunter, warrior, or minstrel. In order to keep society running in large cities such as Tirion and Gondolin, countless others had to have been working in unglamorous jobs behind the scenes. So what exactly did they do? Pretty much what you'd expect people to do in any historical society. Here's a collection of words from Tolkien's lexicons describing what daily life may have been like for those overlooked Elves.

Those Who Make Food

Food begins with vegetables, grains, and animals, which means we'll need gardeners and farmers. Words for garden and farmer are both given, along with a whole list of words for crops and domesticated animals. See the article on Elvish Food for more detail. We also have words for plough and reap, along with mill and flour, so we can add miller to the list of everyday Elven jobs. For those who raise animals, the word for shepherd is given. And, since we have words for meat and food that comes from animals, we'll have to assume that butchers figure in there somewhere. Finally, Elves love their wine, and if there's a word for that, somebody has to make it.

Household Goods

Elves raised sheep, and they sheared those sheep to make wool. Words are provided for shearing, spinning, and weaving, so we need shearers, spinners, and weavers. Probably also dyers and tailors to make the various articles of clothing Elves are known to have. Elves also have shoes and hats, which require cobblers and hatters. To keep themselves clean, they have baths and soap, and that soap doesn't make itself. Neither do the candles and lamps that light Elven homes. There is an attested word for lampwright in Sindarin.

A Sindarin word also exists for potter, so there's somebody who can make earthenware bowls and jugs. I could find no word for glassworkers, but glass couldn't exist without them, so they have to be around. Other wordlist items include paper, books, leather, and ointment, all of which must be manufactured.

Now that we have people to make all the things the Elves need in their daily lives, we need to find somebody to sell the goods. Luckily, the Qenya Lexicon provides words for pedlar and huckster. Just in case you thought all Elves were honest traders. Other attested words include barter, bargain, and words for silver and gold coins.

Housing & Infrastructure

A Sindarin word for carpenter exists, so there's one important job down and Elves can have houses. But we also need somebody to make furniture for those houses, since we have words for bed, couch, table, and more. On a grander scale, the city itself must be built and maintained, which requires a whole workforce from engineers down to grunt labourers. It just so happens that there's a word for menial labour and work. We have words for things like aqueducts, canals, and bridges, and somebody can build them.


Here's a field that usually does have some representation in fanfiction, though there's much more to the Elven entertainment field than singing and harping. Apart from musicians playing a wide variety of instruments from flutes to drums, Elves can also be dancers and poets.

Law and Crime

You may remember that the word for lawyer showed up on the 22 Words You Never Thought Tolkien Would Provide list, as well as a word for legal action. Who do the lawyers take legal action against? Criminals. If the above-listed careers seem too mainstream, every large city needs thieves. The Qenya Lexicon has even gone so far as to differentiate between robbery (by violent means) and thievery (by stealth). And if thieves and lawyers and legal action all exist, we'll also need some manner of police force and a prison to enforce the law.

Religion and Spirituality

The applicability of these words to Elven life is debatable, but I wanted to include them as options anyhow just for the fun of it. Some of these also appeared in the 22 Words article. If a religious life is what your Elves desire, they might become monks or nuns. Or they could simply be sinners. Further career options include witch and wizard, of good magic or bad.

Have a question or item you'd like to see discussed in a future instalment of Linguistic Foolery? Send an email to and share your ideas.

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A Sense of History

"I Desired Dragons"

“The dragon has the trademark Of Faërie written plain upon him. In whatever world he has his being it was an Other-world. Fantasy, the making or glimpsing of Other-worlds, was the heart of the desire of Faërie. I desired dragons with a profound desire.” J.R.R. Tolkien, On Fairy-Stories (1)

And so there are many Dragons in Middle-earth: from Glaurung Father of Dragons to Smaug who chatted with Bilbo Baggins. There are many dragons in our Primary Universe too: huge or tiny, winged or wingless, spirits of good (in the East) or symbols of evil, all remarkably similar in their looks and their stories. Most human cultures have at some point or other feared, worshipped or sacrificed to dragons. Their common origin may have to do with our primeval fear of snakes and indeed dragons are usually depicted with elements of creatures that people fear: poison, fire, the stealth and speed of reptiles, the legs of lizards, the claws and wings of bats or birds of prey. Their presence is strong even in places too cold for snakes and other reptiles to be a threat: the Vikings, who might have been attacked by wolves and bears, still put dragon heads in their ships. Remarkably similar monsters are found in Aztec and Maya legends.

The first dragon story in the Western canon is about the serpent Tiamat who fought with the god Marduk in the Babylonian Creation myth and set the pattern for the successive dragon tales: the dragon, one of the forces of creation that had to be defeated by a god to symbolize the triumph of order over chaos. This conflict between dragon and dragon slayer is found in legends of countless lands: from Thor the Nordic god to saints, with St. George the favourite, all earned their reputation after overcoming a dragon.

A change in the status of dragons occurred in Greek and Roman legends: instead of being a unique monster, divine and mystical, dragons started to proliferate and became animals, strange, but not impossible and no less believable than giraffes or elephants whose descriptions were brought by traders. The dragon slayers also multiplied and heroes replaced gods in this role. By the early Middle Ages, dragons had become terrifying monsters who played a malevolent and frightening role in men's lives as heralds of damnation. These were perhaps Tolkien's inspiration for Glaurung and his breed that terrorized Elves and Men in Beleriand.

Dragons do not participate in the creation of Arda but at the end of the First Age they play a role heavy with eschatological references. When the Host of the West attacks Angband, Morgoth sends out his last weapon, winged dragons led by Ancalagon the Black who are defeated by Earendil and the eagles and thrown on to the towers of Thangorodrim. Morgoth is taken prisoner, chained with the chain Angainor and cast into the Void. These images of destruction recall St John’s vision as set in the Book of Revelations, the Christian myth of the end of the world: a red dragon is defeated by St. Michael and the angels and cast out of heavens to the earth, then the Beast of the Apocalypse, another dragon, appears. St John goes on: "…And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key from the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil and Satan, and bound him a thousand years and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till a thousand years should be fulfilled." (2)

The War of Wrath as the Apocalypse, Earendil as St Michael, the eagles as angels, Morgoth as Satan: Tolkien's Christian inspiration reinforced his imagination and dragons came to play their mystical roles in Faerie in accordance with their historical models.

Works Cited

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, "On Fairy Stories" in Tree and Leaf, Smith of Wooton Major and The Homecoming of Beorhnoth Beorthelm's Son.
  2. St. John, The Book of Revelations, quoted in Dragons by Peter Hogarth with Val Clery.


  1. Day, David, Il Bestiario di Tolkien, Bompiani, Milano, 1979.
  2. Hogarth, Peter with Clery, Val, Dragons, a Jonathan-James Book, Toronto, 1979.
  3. Huxley, Francis, The Dragon: Nature of Spirit Spirit of Nature, Thames and Hudson, 1979.
  4. Tolkien J.R.R., The Silmarillion, Unwin Paperbacks, London, 1979.
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, "On Fairy Stories" in Tree and Leaf, Smith of Wooton Major and The Homecoming of Beorhnoth Beorthelm's Son, Unwin Paperbacks, London, 1979.

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Gothmog and Draugluin


Hi! My name is Gothmog. My middle name is Kosomot. My mom's name is Ulbandi Fluithuin. My dad is Melkor Black Foe of the World. I live in a big place called Thangorodrim. My best friend is a wolf named Draugluin. He's a lot of fun! You'll also meet my babysitter ("I'm not a babysitter. I'm an observer.") Professor Thû; he really likes rings and has the best game room ever in Tol-in-Gaurhoth.

You may remember Draugluin and me from some books written by J.R.R. Tolkien:

"...Gothmog, Lord of Balrogs, high-captain of Angband, was come."

"Then Sauron sent Draugluin, a dread beast, old in evil lord and sire of the werewolves of Angband."

Professor Tolkien wrote me as being very, very bad. But I didn't start out that way! Well, maybe a little.

Draugluin and I are not just about smiting and devouring. We have fun, too. We might remind you a little of a comic strip in your primary world: Calvin and Hobbes by the "magnificent Bill Watterson" as the human (pandemonium_213) who draws us (badly) calls him.

I will also share this space with “Stinky Pete” Mêshûgganâscar, Maia of Mandos, and his pals. I think Mandos is cool because he's really scary and has a snake's tail.

I like macaroni and cheese, PS2 and Wii. I really hate big fountains and pointy helmets.

Anyway, I think this is where pandemonium_213 is supposed to make a disclaimer that Mom, Dad, me, Draugluin, Professor Thû, all the Elf dudes and Men, Stinky Pete and his Maiarin pals, their Valarin bosses and whoever else shows up are the property of the Tolkien estate, and I am just here for fun and games but no profit. You know what? I'm a parody! I think that means I'm barely legal.

Click to view full-sized.

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Chibi of the Month


Caranthir Chibi Comic

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Current Challenge

Another Place in Time

When we write about Silmarillion events, our stories often concern the time and place where the action primarily occurred. However, there is a broad world beyond--what was going on there, at the same moment in time?

This challenge asks authors to move beyond the places and times of familiar events to consider what was going on elsewhere in Arda at the same time as a major event covered in The Silmarillion. How--if at all--did the event impact what was transpiring elsewhere at the same time?

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Challenges Revisited: Wish upon a Star

Stars are vital to the mythology presented in The Silmarillion. The Eldar awakened under--and were named after--the stars. Varda multiplied the stars to give light to the Elves and serve as a warning to Melkor. Later, Eärendil, bearing a Silmaril, was hailed as a new star and a sign of hope to all upon Arda. To the people of Arda, the stars are a sign of hope, a light in the dark.

This month's challenge asks authors to reach for the stars ... or at least have their characters make a wish upon them. Write a story, drabble, or poem where a character is wishing upon or musing on the stars. What does the character hope for? Does she or he believe that it will come to pass from so simple an action as wishing upon so meaningful a symbol? Does the character's wish come true, or does wishing upon stars prove to be the stuff of childhood fancy?

Wish upon a star and find out ...

(For more information on the astronomy of Tolkien's world, we recommend The Astronomy of Middle-earth by Dr. Kristine Larsen, an astronomer and Tolkien scholar.)

Quote of the Month

Faith is to believe what you do not yet see; the reward for this faith is to see what you believe.

-St. Augustine

Want more challenges? Check out our complete challenge listing for more than three years' worth of challenges to inspire your writing!

Have an idea for a challenge? Some of our most popular challenges have been created by you, the members of SWG! If you have a plotbunny gnawing at your ankle, a favorite quote, or a favorite character that you think might inspire others as well, please send an email to and we'll try to include your challenge in our next newsletter!

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Around the World and Web

LotR Genfic Community: Myths

The November Challenge will have the theme "Dialogue". Stories should consist of all or nearly all, dialogue-- tags such as "he said" or "she said" will be allowed. But try tell the entire story in conversation. Elements will be four random elements you will need to include in the story.

The November challenge stories will be due the weekend of Friday, November 20, and will be revealed on Monday, November 23. To request your elements, please leave a comment to this post.

And LotR Genfic will be holding their annual Yule fic exchange! Please see this post for the rules!


At Teitho, the challenge for November is Bad Habits: Of course, we like our heroes heroic. Aragorn is an able fighter, a loyal friend, a good and just king. Legolas is deadly with a bow, very good-looking and so charming that he can even befriend a dwarf. Still, they're not perfect. So, during this challenge we want you to explore our heroes' less than endearing qualities. The deadline for this challenge is November 25th. If you want to know more and/or participate, please visit the website.

Middle-earth Fanfiction Awards

The MEFAs are underway, and it's voting season! To learn more about how you can vote in this year's MEFAs, please see the MEFA Voting FAQ.

Around the World and Web is provided for our members to inform them of events in the larger Tolkien community. SWG is not affiliated with and does not endorse the groups that we feature in Around the World and Web, and we are not responsible for content on sites outside of our own. Please use discretion and caution when visiting unfamiliar sites on the Internet.

Would you like to see your group or event featured on Around the World and Web? See our Promotions Page for more details or email us at

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