Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

What Only Tolkien Fans Know About Elrond's New Skill On The Rings Of Power

Elves and Dwarves despise one another. It's a fact that goes way back to their beginnings, and the doubt and mistrust percolate through their interactions throughout all of Middle-earth history. And yet there are moments when the two races connect — including a special bond that forms between Elves and Dwarves during the Second Age, when "The Rings of Power" is set. In the source material, this bond is formed between the Elves of Eregion and the Dwarves of Khazad-dûm. The Elf Celebrimbor builds a particularly famous friendship with the Dwarven master craftsman Narvi, and the two even build the Doors of Durin together, which the Fellowship of the Ring later uses to enter Moria.

However, in Amazon Prime's story, the first and primary connection that we see between Elves and Dwarves features two very different individuals: Prince Durin IV and Elrond the Half-elven. When the story begins, the pair have already been chums for decades (albeit with a slight relapse), and as the first season progresses, they become closer than ever.

Throughout this friendship, Elrond is shown to have an interesting skill: He can speak Dwarvish. The language of the Dwarves, called Khuzdul, isn't easy to learn. In the "Lord of the Rings" book, Samwise Gamgee hears Gimli speak a few Dwarvish words before commenting, "A fair jaw-cracker dwarf-language must be!" Educational complexities aside, the ability to learn a language starts with a willingness to teach it — which poses an interesting conundrum for Elrond in "The Rings of Power." The Elf speaks Dwarvish when he challenges Durin to a rock-breaking contest. Durin also willingly tells him the name of mithril in the Dwarvish tongue. And yet there's good reason to believe that Elrond shouldn't know either of those words or be familiar with Khuzdul at all.

Dwarvish language isn't a casual affair

"The Silmarillion" explains that the Dwarves received their language directly from their maker, Aulë. Aulë is one of the angelic Valar. He isn't capable of creating sentient life, but he tries anyway. He makes several Dwarves before he's caught by his own master, the creator god Ilúvatar. Ilúvatar forgives his servant for presuming he could give life and then grants consciousness to Aulë's creations. In this process, Aulë teaches the Dwarves a language that he specifically devised for them, and they use that language, nearly unchanged, for thousands of years.

They're particularly protective of their names, and practically no one outside of their own race knows what a Dwarf's name is in their own tongue. But in the "Lord of the Rings " book, Gandalf also says something that gives the idea that this secrecy may apply to their entire language. When the Fellowship of the Ring arrives outside of Moria, Gandalf tries to come up with the password. Initially, he's very confident, telling the group that he thinks it should only take a few tries and "I shall not have to call on Gimli for words of the secret dwarf-tongue that they teach to none."

This seems to heavily imply that the Dwarves aren't willing to teach their language to others, which begs the question, how does Elrond know it? And why is Durin so casual about telling him words in his "secret dwarf-tongue"?

In Elrond's defense...

Gandalf's words in front of Moria seem pretty definitive. The Dwarves have their own private language, given to them by their creator, and they keep it secret. They keep it safe. However, to be fair, there is some evidence that Gandalf's words may be a red herring. The book "The Peoples of Middle-earth" includes a lot of Tolkien's personal notes and essays, which his son, Christopher, gathered and published after his father's death.

One section of the book is titled "Of Dwarves and Men," and it specifically states that Dwarves — especially the group in Khazad-dûm called the Longbeards — "were not unwilling to teach their own tongue to Men with whom they had special friendship." This is followed by a reiteration that even then, they kept their names secret. Still, in the vast, complex world of Tolkien's often contradictory note-taking, it seems that Khuzdul, while always difficult to learn, may not always have been quite so secret. If that's the case, Elrond knowing at least some words and phrases would make sense. Still, based on the published content in "The Lord of the Rings," Elrond's knowledge and casual use of Khuzdul in "The Rings of Power" is a bit unexpected, to say the least.

"The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" premiered on September 1. Episodes drop weekly on Fridays at 12 a.m. ET for the entirety of its eight-episode first season.