Did Morfydd Clark sneak a word of Welsh into The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power?
The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power series has so far featured languages ranging from English, Elvish, Dwarvish and the Black Speech of Mordor.
But despite a cast made up of four Welsh actors in leading parts, we haven’t yet heard any Welsh on screen – until, perhaps, the sixth and latest episode.
Three-quarters of the way through the latest episode entitled Udûn, Morfydd Clark who plays the main character Galadriel has to give chase to one of the villains atop her horse.
Crouching into the saddle, she shouts at her horse “Cer!” – the Welsh word for “Go!” – and sets off in pursuit.
Amazon subtitles simply translate it as ‘[Commands]’.
Morfydd Clark stars alongside two Welsh-speaking actors in the cast – Owain Arthur as Durin IV, and Trystan Gravelle who plays Pharazôn – as well as Lloyd Owen in the role of Elendil.
She has previously spoken both how the Welsh language informed her preparation for the role and the bond she formed with her horse, Titan, on set.
“I rode a horse called Titan, who is apparently one of the greatest horses they’ve ever had and is the most well-trained,” she said.
“I feel that a lot my horse riding skills are down to the horse I was on, but I’m no longer terrified. Once you feel comfortable on a horse, it’s the closest to magic I’ve ever experienced.
“You also have this connection to the people of the past, something that humans have done forever.”
Morfydd Clark told Looper that she had been excited to take on the role in the first place because she knew that Tolkien’s Elvish languages had been influenced by Welsh.
“I feel I can be much more romantic and deep in Welsh,” she said. “So that was really useful for me because I was thinking, ‘[What’s the] language of her heart? What language does she think in?
“‘And how much does she throw this in, and would, in times of rage, would Quenya come in?’
“So that was really useful. I felt so proud. It was really nice to have that connection to being bilingual while filming this.”
She added to the Prospector: “Well, I went to a Welsh language school and everything is taught in Welsh. Welsh is phonetic, so it’s great for people with dyslexia. I started learning English in the third year.
“What my Tolkien-obsessed mother was really proud of and passed on to us was that Tolkien was inspired by the Welsh. Oddly enough, his work was a badge of honor for me, because the Welsh are Welsh and obsessed with anything Welsh.
“Playing a bilingual character was great. Yes, I think it served me well.”
The Elvish languages of Sindarin and Quenya were influenced by Tolkien’s interests in Finnish and Welsh.
In “English and Welsh,” a speech he gave in Oxford, JRR Tolkien said that he had always been entranced by the Welsh language.
“I heard it coming out of the west,” he said. “It struck at me in the names on coal-trucks; and drawing nearer, it ﬂickered past on station-signs, a ﬂash of strange spelling and a hint of a language old and yet alive; even in an adeiladwyd 1887, ill-cut on a stone-slab, it pierced my linguistic heart.”
Tolkien was inspired more by the sounds of the Welsh language than any individual words. His influence has continued in the fantasy genre, particularly on character names.
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Great to hear Morfydd Clark educate all how JRR Tolkien’s epic Lord of The Rings Trilogy wouldn’t exist in its present form if it were not for the Welsh language & mythology. And her using actual Welsh words in her dialogue makes her character even richer and adds authenticity.
We need more like her to shout from the rooftops how Wales although small of stature is a giant in literary terms. Can you imagine what we could achieve as an independent nation free of English Whitehall rule.
It would be even better if she’d managed to slip in a word or two of Tolkien.
I like how the Oxford professor of Anglo Saxon, who uses actual Old English in his Rohirric speech, demonstrates how Wales is a “giant in literary terms”
I think he was fascinated, as a child, by the names of Welsh collieries on coal trucks, and he used Welsh as an inspiration for the lesser of the two elvish tongues, but let’s not get carried away. His inspiration was the Old English and Norse legends and culture.