Wha's wi' tha dwarven brogue, laddie?
October 4, 2007 7:15 PM   Subscribe

Who started the idea that fantasy dwarves have a Scottish burr?

I think I first ran into the idea that dwarves have Scottish accents in one of the RTS Warcraft games. Since then, I've seen it in Order of the Stick and perhaps most notably Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings, and it seems like it's spreading. How far back can we trace this? It doesn't seem like we can blame Tolkien, so who can we pin this on?
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Flintlocke from GameSpy?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:29 PM on October 4, 2007

Rudyard Kipling wrote M'Andrew's Hymn, which is likely the origin of the Scottish engineer stereotype. Given the dwarves are handy with cunning machinery, the Scotch Dwarf is a likely descendant.
posted by SPrintF at 8:09 PM on October 4, 2007

Best answer: There's a dwarf with an incredibly thick Scottish brogue in Poul Anderson's Three Hearts and Three Lions. Since that came out in 1961, and D&D used it as a major source, that may be the source. As to why Anderson chose to give the character a brogue, I don't know, and, since he died six years ago, we may never know.
posted by cerebus19 at 8:12 PM on October 4, 2007

I think it is less specifically a Scots thing, and more of a Celtic thing (in particular, Gimli has a Welsh accent, not Scots). I guess this could be related to the idea of living in mines and the rugged countryside...
posted by csg77 at 9:02 PM on October 4, 2007

It is funny, given that dwarves play so prominent a role in Germanic mythology; you'd think they would have a rural German accent. But, then, why does Frodo speak with a posh English accent while Samwise, who pretty much grew up right next door, has a West Country accent?
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:47 PM on October 4, 2007

Because Frodo is landed gentry, and Samwise is his fawning, potato-grubbing manservant, Astro.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 9:55 PM on October 4, 2007 [3 favorites]

So why does another hobbit have a Scottish accent?
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:58 PM on October 4, 2007

Ray Feist really layed it on thick in Magician, but yeah, that was basically a transcription of a D&D campaign, so you'd want to look for whatever work it was that Gygax et al cribbed from. The Poul Anderson book cerebrus mentions seems like a good bet.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 10:58 PM on October 4, 2007

Best answer: Jings! Crivvens! Help ma boab! We can go back further than D&D for a dwarf with a Scottish accent!

The dalesmen of the Scottish/English border counties used to believe that the Black Dwarf was the cause of anything bad that happened to their animals.

In folklore, the Black Dwarf was actually a Duergar. From the Duergar Wikipedia article:
"The duergar are a race of ugly fairies or dwarfs, particularly associated with the Simonside Hills of Northumberland, in northern England." Northumbria accounts for half of the border with Scotland.

Also, David Ritchie was known as the Black Dwarf of Peeblesshire, and he inspired the novel of the same name by Sir Walter Scott.

I can't say for certain, but going by his alleged appearance it's very likely his name came from the borders folklore. Giving you a dwarf with a Scottish accent..
posted by Nugget at 1:54 AM on October 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

(in particular, Gimli has a Welsh accent, not Scots)

In the LOTR films it's as Scottish as can be.
posted by brautigan at 2:47 AM on October 5, 2007

(Even if there are hints of it in the movies, Mr. Sjoberg is right that we can't blame the books. Tolkien's Dwarvish language was inspired by Hebrew and Arabic more than anything else.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:26 AM on October 5, 2007

Gimli has a Scottish accent when the Welsh John Rhys Davies can remember to fake one.
posted by couch at 8:10 AM on October 5, 2007

In the Warhammer universe the Dwarves are decidedly more Nordic.
posted by Telf at 3:52 PM on October 5, 2007

Hmm rather late and speculative to boot but here it is (it being my theory). The Scottish were frequently stereotyped as engineers, esp on trains and ships, much like the Irish as police. Please see, for example, Scotty on Star Trek. So they are the men behind the scenes that make the things work -> dwarves. Not sure why the stereotype.
posted by d4nj450n at 1:25 PM on February 6, 2008

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