NewsWire: Tolkien's languages are used to boost interest in linguistic studies. - University of Texas tries a new approach ~

Class on 'Lord of the Rings' languages helps give weighty subject more pop
By Linda K. Wertheimer
The Dallas Morning News


AUSTIN, Texas - The University of Texas students scribbled their names in a strange language. The A's looked like F's, the P's resembled gibberish.

They were in their second day of learning Old English runes, the writing system used by author J.R.R. Tolkien to invent the languages Elvish, Orcish and Dwarvish for "The Lord of the Rings."

At UT, the tongues revived by the hit film trilogy are being used to teach the millennial generation this semester. Already, students are raving about the new course, titled "The Linguistics of Tolkien's Middle Earth." Both sections of the class are full, and hundreds of students are on waiting lists to get in.

"So far, I love it. I like the visual, seeing the runes on the board," said Elizabeth Nelson, a 19-year-old UT senior who has three fairy tattoos. A tattoo of the Lady Galadriel is on her midriff. "I like being able to say that I know how to write my name in runes. Lots of my friends are jealous."

Fred Hoyt lectures during his "Linguistics of Tolkien's Middle Earth" class at the University of Texas at Austin. Hoyt hopes the course will inspire students to study linguistics.

UT isn't alone in jumping on the Tolkien bandwagon. This fall, three Dallas-area universities will team up to teach a literature class about the trilogy for students from the University of Dallas in Irving, Southern Methodist University and the University of Texas at Dallas.


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