22 july 2004
Suddenly as the sun plunged into cloud they heard the hideous cries of Orcs, and saw them issuing from the Forest and moving down the slopes, yelling their war-cries. In the dimmed light their number could only be guessed, but the Dúnedain were plainly many times, even to ten times, outnumbered. Isildur commanded a thangail to be drawn up, a shield-wall of two serried ranks that could be bent back at either end if outflanked, until at need it became a closed ring. If the land had been flat or the slope in his favour he would have formed his company into a dírnaith and charged the Orcs, hoping by the great strength of the Dúnedain and their weapon to cleave a way through them and scatter them in dismay; but that could not be done. A shadow of foreboding fell upon his heart.
—J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Disaster of the Gladden Fields”
Yesterday I exchanged e-mails with Jeff of Beautiful Atrocities, mostly discussing the flaws and merits of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy. Inspired in part by that conversation, and in part by the discovery that andúnië.net is starting to attract a wee bit of attention (as measured in blogrolls), I decided to take the Tolkien-inspired site theme just one step further.
(That is, beyond the domain name, and the banner images, and the Tengwar transliterations in sundry places, and the nifty new stylesheet switchers icons that actually read “css”—and no, I'm not detail obsessive.
Sigh. Okay, not detail obsessive beyond one or two standard deviations. That better?)
Initially, when planning this blog I imagined a category called “mutual admiration” for listing weblogs that linked here. That now seems a touch lame, and maybe a little presumptive on my part as well. So last night I considered and rejected a number of names from Tolkien's works: The Last Alliance (too pretentious), Dúnedain (Sindarin for “Men of the West,” which is thematically correct but also somewhat pretentious), éored (cool, but needed to be Númenórean rather than Rohirric in origin).
In the end, I settled on a word that (insofar as I know) occurs but once in Tolkien's corpus—or twice, if you count his footnoted definition.
The dírnaith, Quenya nernehta 'man-spearhead', was a wedge-formation, launched over a short distance against an enemy massing but not yet arrayed, or against a defensive formation on open ground. Quenya nehte, Sindarin naith was applied to any formation or projection tapering to a point: a spearhead, gore wedge, narrow promontory (root nek, narrow); cf. the Naith of Lórien, the land at the angle of the Celebrant and Anduin, which at the actual junction of the rivers was narrower and more pointed than can be shown on a small-scale map.
So dírnaith it is: an offensive spearhead formation for infantry in close combat. It seems a decent metaphorical fit, since all bloggers in the category do share with me a certain similarity in worldview.
And it's sorta like Ace's blogroll category of “Bloggers in Arms” (of which andúnië.net is a part), only infinitely more obscure. Which may not be a good thing.
O well: done now.
(Note that to see the category in question, you need to be on the main page.)
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