Why do people care about obscenities?

Are there swear words in Tolkien's Legendarium?

The concept of "swear words" certainly exists in Tolkien's Legendarium in more than one sense.

Definition of the curse

1: a prayer or invocation for harm or injury: curse

2: a profane or obscene oath or word

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/curse (the first twoDefinitions, examples removed for clarity and length)

Tolkien used "curse" in both senses, so direct or indirect examples of both are found in The Lord of the Rings. For the first definition, one need look no further than the Dunharrow Dead.

Isildur said to her king, You shall be the last king. And if the West proves to be more powerful than your Black Master, I will place this curse on you and your people: never rest until your oath is fulfilled. "

- The Return of the King, Chapter 2: The Death of the Gray Society

Isildur's curse lasted over three thousand years until Aragorn put the dead to rest after the battle of Pelargir.

As for the second definition, there are no specific swear words in Tolkien's works as might be used in modern cursing, although it does imply that orcs used obscene and / or profane words.

It is said that they [orcs] did not have a language of their own, but took what they could from other languages ​​and perverted it to their own liking; however, they only used brutal jargons that were barely sufficient even for their own needs, except when it came to curses and abuse.

-Appendix F, Part I, The Languages ​​and Peoples of the Third Age

In fact, Tolkien states that he cleaned up the orc language for publication.

But orcs and trolls spoke as they pleased, without love for words or things; and their language was actually more humiliated and filthier than I have shown it.

-Appendix F, Part II, On Translation

Various characters in the story are said to have used curses in the sense of profanity, including Gollum, Bill Ferny, Sam, Elfhelm and Shagrat, as well as groups of men and orcs. Dialogue in these cases is absent, which makes them indirect examples of profanity.

"His [Gollum] conversation was constantly interrupted by curses and threats." - The Fellowship of the Ring, Book One, Chapter 2: The Shadow of the Past

Stuttering and cursing, he rose [Gollum] and crawled off on all fours without a word or a glance at the hobbits.

-The Two Towers, Book 4, Chapter 2: The Passage of the Marshes

He [Bill Ferny] ducked too late and curses came out from behind the hedge.

-The Fellowship of the Ring, Book One, Chapter 11: A Knife in the Dark

Sam jumped after him and then heard Frodo's scream. He ran back again, crying and cursing.

- The Fellowship of the Ring, Book Two, Chapter 4: A Journey in the Dark

Sam ran after him, cursing, but he didn't go far.

-The Return of the King, Book Six, Chapter 1: The Tower of Cirith Ungol

A large figure appeared, tripped over him [Merry] and cursed the tree roots. He recognized the voice of Marshal Elfhelm.

- The Return of the King, Book 5, Chapter 5: The Ride of the Rohirrim

Shagrat's voice became a series of evil names and curses.

- The Return of the King, Book Six, Chapter 1: The Tower of Cirith Ungol

Immediately there was great shoving and cursing as each troop [of orcs] tried to get to the gate first and to the end of their march.

-The Return of the King, Book Six, Chapter 2: The Land of Shadows

In vain men shook their fists at the ruthless enemies who swarmed outside the gate. Curses that they ignored and did not understand the tongues of western men; Weep with harsh voices like beasts and carrion birds.

- The Return of the King, Book 5, Chapter 4: The Siege of Gondor

There is also an intermediate form of curse in The Lord of the Rings, an informal curse (sense 1) used in the context of profanity (sense 2). It usually takes the form of "curse _____!"

“You won't go again, you say? Curse yourself, Snaga, you little maggot! '

- The Return of the King, Book Six, Chapter 1: The Tower of Cirith Ungol

"It's about ten miles from the east coast of Anduin," said Mablung, "and we rarely get that far." But we have a new mission on this journey: we come to ambush the men of Harad. Curse them! '

'Yes, curse the southrons! said Damrod.

- The Two Towers, Book 4, Chapter 4: Of Herbs and Steamed Rabbits

"Wraiths!" he [Gollum] wailed. 'Ghosts on Wings! The precious is their master. You see everything, everything. Nothing can hide from them. Curse the white face! -The Two Towers, Book 4, Chapter 2: The Passage of the Marshes

'Curse the dirt! he said [Sam] and jumped into the darkness after them.

- The Two Towers, Book 4, Chapter 10: The Decisions of Master Samwise

Why did Tolkien portray profanity that way? First, it wouldn't have matched the style of the Lord of the Rings. Tolkien used a formal, slightly archaic style overall, and downright profanity would have rocked him. Second, The Fellowship of the Ring was first published in 1954, and profanity in published books was far less common than it is today. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, which was published only a few years earlier (1951), faced numerous challenges due to, among other things, the generous use of profanity.



David Richerby

The expression Swear words refers specifically to the second part of the definition you cite. When someone says, "I pray to God that you will die terribly", he curses this person, but he doesn't use one Swear words .