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Orcs and Goblins. Any difference?

 
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2012 10:40 pm    Post subject: Orcs and Goblins. Any difference? Reply with quote

I've always thought that Goblins (a term I like better than Orcs) were just smaller Orcs.
Maybe a subspecies of dwarf Orc or something.
Goblins were in the Misty Mt area and Orcs were in the South.

There is this from the FAQ:

***********************

http://tolkien.slimy.com/faq/Creatures.html#OrcGoblin

The words "Orc" and "Goblin" are essentially identical in meaning, but Tolkien's inconsistent usage in The Hobbit has led to considerable confusion. Still, a clear answer comes from Tolkien's introductory note to later editions of that book, which explains that

Orc is not an English word. It occurs in one or two places but is usually translated goblin (or hobgoblin for the larger kinds). Orc is the hobbits' form of the name given at that time to these creatures.

Some have taken this and other comments in The Hobbit (such as the reference to "the big ones, the orcs of the mountains" near the end of "Riddles in the Dark") to mean that "Goblins" were smaller and "Orcs" larger. However, Tolkien did not generally make this distinction. For instance, the name Orcrist is translated "Goblin-cleaver" in all editions of The Hobbit. Another clear example comes from the chapter "The Riders of Rohan" in LotR, when the companions reach the edge of Fangorn:

Upon a stake in the middle was set a great goblin head; upon its shattered helm the white badge could still be seen.

The white badge makes it all but certain that this was one of the large Uruk-hai. In fact, it seems plausible that this was the head of Ugluk himself, slain after a climactic fight sword to sword with Eomer at the end of the battle. If one of the Uruk-hai could be called a goblin, any Orc could.
*****************************


What are everyone's thoughts on this?
As you've read the Trilogy and the Hobbit over the years have you created a difference in your mind between the two and if so can you explain it?
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2012 11:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A little more in case anyone hasn't read the FAQ.

******************
They are different names for the same race of creatures. Of the two, "Orc" is the correct one. This has been a matter of widespread debate and misunderstanding, mostly resulting from the usage in The Hobbit (Tolkien had changed his mind about it by LotR but the confusion in the earlier book was made worse by inconsistent backwards modifications). There are a couple of statements in The Hobbit which, if taken literally, suggest that Orcs are a subset of goblins. If we are to believe the indications from all other areas of Tolkien's writing, this is not correct. These are: some fairly clear statements in letters, the evolution of his standard terminology (see next paragraph), and the actual usage in LotR, all of which suggest that "Orc" was the true name of the race. (The pedigrees in Tolkien: The Illustrated Encyclopedia are thoroughly inaccurate and undependable.)

What happened was this. The creatures so referred to were invented along with the rest of Tolkien's subcreation during the writing of the Book of Lost Tales (the "pre-Silmarillion"). His usage in the early writing is somewhat varied but the movement is away from "goblin" and towards "orc". It was part of a general trend away from the terminology of traditional folklore (he felt that the familiar words would call up the wrong associations in the readers' minds, since his creations were quite different in specific ways). For the same general reasons he began calling the Deep Elves "Noldor" rather than "Gnomes", and avoided "Faerie" altogether. (On the other hand, he was stuck with "Wizards", an "imperfect" translation of Istari ('the Wise'), "Elves", and "Dwarves"; he did say once that he would have preferred "dwarrow", which, so he said, was more historically and linguistically correct, if he'd thought of it in time ...)

In The Hobbit, which originally was unconnected with the Silmarillion, he used the familiar term "goblin" for the benefit of modern readers. By the time of LotR, however, he'd decided that "goblin" wouldn't do -- Orcs were not storybook goblins (see above). (No doubt he also felt that "goblin", being Romance-derived, had no place in a work based so much on Anglo-Saxon and Northern traditions in general.) Thus, in LotR, the proper name of the race is "Orcs" (capital "O"), and that name is found in the index along with Ents, Men, etc., while "goblin" is not in the index at all. There are a handful of examples of "goblin" being used (always with a small "g") but it seems in these cases to be a kind of slang for Orcs.

Tolkien's explanation inside the story was that the "true" name of the creatures was Orc (an anglicized version of Sindarin Orch, pl. Yrch). As the "translator" of the ancient manuscripts, he "substituted" "Goblin" for "Orch" when he translated Bilbo's diary, but for The Red Book he reverted to a form of the ancient word.

[The actual source of the word "orc" is Beowulf: "orc-nass", translated as "death-corpses". It has nothing to do with cetaceans.]

****************************
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2012 11:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The problem with the FAQ is that it's a discussion killer. Laughing
Still, I'd like to hear others opinion on the subject.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2012 3:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe you shouldn't start out with the FAQ, then;)
My main problem with it is that it seeks to canonize what should be a living mythology. So what if ol' men Tolkien eventually decided it would be one way, if it ain't directly stated in the books (Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, Silmarilion) it is up for discussion!

Anyway, I always viewed Orcs as being those that were organized under Sauron. Goblins would be the generic term, usually referring to isolated bands that fight for themselves.[/code]
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 8:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've always thought that "goblins" was a coloquial term for "Orcs", like referring to Hobbits as halflings. Indicating a general lack of familiarity with the real thing, and used as more of a descriptive term than a proper name.

There are differences between Moria-Orcs and Mordor-Orcs and other Orc sub-cultures, differences in height and strength and other physical aspects. This can give rise to the notion that "goblins" refers to one of these sub-cultures rather easily. And perhaps it does.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 5:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've always seen them as two different species myself. Will be re-reading The Hobbit shortly, so will see what it says that made me assume that.

Also, why do I think the Uruk-hai were some sort of hybrid...

Finally,

HLT wrote:
The actual source of the word "orc" is Beowulf: "orc-nass", translated as "death-corpses".


IIRC, it's orc-nay in the singular. The reference in Beowulf (orcneas?) was a plural.

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PostPosted: Wed May 22, 2013 5:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The beings that attack the questers in The Hobbit are called goblins in that book, but orcs in the Prologue to LOTR. Also, The Hobbit refers to goblins invading the Shire and being defeated by Bandobras Took, and destroying Gondolin, and Bolg and Azog are called goblins in The Hobbit, yet in LOTR and/or the Silmarillion the same creatures are all called orcs. Therefore I have always regarded the terms as interchangeable.

What did strike me on re-reading The Hobbit after many years was that the goblins that captured the dwarves are portrayed by Tolkien as creatures capable of considerable social organisation and technological expertise (especially in devising weapons of mass destruction) whereas the descriptions of them in LOTR and the Silmarillion give no such indication of advanced abilities.


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PostPosted: Fri May 24, 2013 6:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

for what it's worth...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goblin_(Dungeons_%26_Dragons)
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PostPosted: Fri May 24, 2013 4:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How do the Orc-based races perpetuate themselves, anyway? If Orcs are descended from corrupted Elves, as stated in The Silmarillion, then they should breed in the manner of Elves. We don't see any references to orc women...but we might not want that now that I think about it.

The Uruk-hai are artificial creations made by Saruman who appears to have created them by cross-breeding goblins and orcs. If goblins and orc are essentially the same thing then how can you cross-breed them? I can see Uruks being the result of cross-breeding orcs and humans but not with goblins, who I have always pictured as "watered-down" orcs with a smaller muscle mass.

I don't think the Orc-based races have any less intelligence than any other race, only that their personalities and culture (such as it is) are designed for being roving raiders rather than settling down and forming villages or cities. Millenia of being subjugated first by Melkor then by Sauron have made them comfortable with organizing under the equivalent of a warlord...but it also made them cowardly on an individual basis. Their technological skill is a compilation of ideas stolen from the settled races.

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PostPosted: Fri May 24, 2013 10:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Hobbit refers to Gollum capturing and eating a "small goblin-imp" which points to the Orcs having children. The lack of mention of orc-women in the books can probably be understood in terms of the scarcity of females of any kind, especially in fighting roles (with the obvious exception of Eowyn). Also, orcs being orcs, and Melkor, Sauron and Saruman being the sort of characters they were, orc-women would probably have been kept in squalid subjection for forced breeding and chattel-slavery.
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PostPosted: Sun May 26, 2013 7:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

guess I am too steeped in D&D. I keep looking for the Drow in Tolkien's work.


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PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2013 3:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, the drow of the D&D universe were initially created for that long-ago module, Queen of the Demonweb Pits. The module writer wanted to capture the opposite of surface elves, so he came up with dark-skinned elves who were totally evil.

The "dark evles" of the Tolkein world, the Moriquendi, were simply the elves who never saw the light of the Two Trees of Valinor. They include the Avari who never began the journey to Valinor and the ones who started but did not finish, settling in Beleriand or other parts.

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PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2013 1:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hashi Lebwohl wrote:
How do the Orc-based races perpetuate themselves, anyway? If Orcs are descended from corrupted Elves, as stated in The Silmarillion, then they should breed in the manner of Elves. We don't see any references to orc women...but we might not want that now that I think about it.


This always bothered me. Tolkien spent a lot of time trying to come up with a solution to this. Melkor couldn't create life like Aule did with the Dwarves. Tolkien hinted that they were corrupted Elves. I never liked that. Why couldn't they have been a type of beast that were corrupted and Melkor augmented their intelligence?


Hashi Lebwohl wrote:
The Uruk-hai are artificial creations made by Saruman who appears to have created them by cross-breeding goblins and orcs. If goblins and orc are essentially the same thing then how can you cross-breed them? I can see Uruks being the result of cross-breeding orcs and humans but not with goblins, who I have always pictured as "watered-down" orcs with a smaller muscle mass.


It was an Orc and Man cross breeding.
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PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2013 2:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

High Lord Tolkien wrote:
This always bothered me. Tolkien spent a lot of time trying to come up with a solution to this. Melkor couldn't create life like Aule did with the Dwarves. Tolkien hinted that they were corrupted Elves. I never liked that. Why couldn't they have been a type of beast that were corrupted and Melkor augmented their intelligence?


Aule could create only a semblance of life because the Flame Imperishable resided only with Iluvatar. The Orcs were indeed corrupted Elves that were twisted by Melkor in some horrible and probably disgusting way. We don't know that he wasn't somehow splicing beasts onto Elves or using some sort of magic to couple them with beasts; he had access to all the knowledge of the other Valar which in and of itself would make you quite powerful.

High Lord Tolkien wrote:
It was an Orc and Man cross-breeding.


Good, then I wasn't that far off in my thinking.

I wonder how much beer it would take to make an orc lass appear enchanting and enticing? Maybe I don't want to know.

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