No one likes getting it wrong. It’s a human thing. Of course, there are numerous ways to make yourself feel better about getting it all awry– see it as a learning experience, after Beckett or Edison, for examples. However, you have, basically, been in error, and the power of embarrassment and feelings of lack of worth, and so on, can sometimes be overwhelming.

This is especially true when it comes to long-held beliefs. On the way to see Bruce Springsteen in 1993, discussing favourite songs with the school friend accompanying, it turned out that for years he’d been under the impression Bobby Jean was about a male friend. Meanwhile, I was, and remain, convinced it is about a female (while actually being ‘about’ Miami Steve, obvs). Even these interpretations may err.

Recently, trailers for part II of Peter Jackson’s ludicrous trilogy adaptation of The Hobbit have had just such an impact. Basically, for years many fans of Tolkien have been saying the dragon’s name wrong.

"Actually, it's pronounced Smug."

“Actually, it’s pronounced Smug.”

“The desolation of Smaug” growls the voiceover man: ‘Smaowg’, with the au pronounced as in ‘cow (-eating dragon)’, not ‘Smorg’, with the au pronounced as in ‘marauding (lizard)’. Surprisingly, the multi-million pound adaptation makers with researchers are right. Anyone would think they’d checked. Of course, Tolkien outlines the correct pronunciation in an Appendix to Volume 17 of the Apocrypha of Carc, or something.

As an aside, I haven’t seen either Hobbit film. Part two of a trilogy adaptation of a single volume book has the fanboy nerd completist bore-o-meter twitching perilously close to ‘combust like a wooden town on stilts’. My fan of Tolkien dad, to whom I defer judgment in matters Middle Earthish, and who has seen it, thinks it goes on a bit.

I was reminded of all this pre-Christmas Hobbit II trailer ignominy (“ ‘SMAOWG’? No freakin’ way! I thought it was Smorg! Well, stick me in the dark and ask me riddles,” etc) by an advert for successful local shop chain Nisa. The ad answered a long-standing (for me) pronunciation puzzle in its closing moments. It sounds like Nicer, not Niece-r.

Nisa Logo

All these years, etc. At least this one sort of makes sense. It is certainly something I shall bear in mind next time I meet someone called Lisa, or if I’m ever on holiday in Pisa.

Right, I’m hungry as a Hobbit. Perhaps a sleece of Pyetsa.

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