What is the ‘Babbelfish effect’ that a ring gives to everyone who wears it?
Avid fans of the sci-fi genre will probably recognize that the Babel fish is a device used in Hitchhiker Galaxy’s Guide, to translate directly from mouth to ear across several languages. The device takes words from a dialect and translates them into native speakers so they can be understood. This is an unusual ability that the One Ring of power also seems to possess.
Surprisingly, there are very few times in the entire trilogy where a character actually appears in the ring. It is usually kept on a magic chain around ring bearer’s neck to avoid skin-to-skin contact, as this makes it easier for predators to hide. However, when brave heroes are forced to strap on the cursed object in times of danger and need, it has the uncanny ability to heighten their senses and make it possible for the wearer to understand the method. strange language from many different creatures. However, as the ring transports the wearer into a world of darkness where it can chase and search for its true owner, the gift seems to apply only to the poison lord’s servants themselves. evil, and will be of no use in understanding elves, or any dwarves, or Rohirrim language.
The first time this strange effect took place was in Hobbits book, and likewise in the Peter Jackson film adaptation. As Bilbo and the thirteen dwarves are traveling through the fairy kingdom of Mirkwood, they begin to realize that things are not as they seem and that their situation is actually rather precarious. In an almost drugged state, they are captured by a group of giant spiders, descendants of the spider demon Shelob.
The spiders that capture the dwarves, led by Thorin, who always opposes Bilbo, and chain them in their network, causing them to fall unconscious. Fortunately, Bilbo was able to avoid this fate because he put on the ring and disappeared from view. But when he put on the ring, the tingly chirps the spiders were making suddenly turned into clear voices. He heard the person speaking intelligibly, in words he could understand, although they were clearly not speaking common tongues, but some kind of archaic language. He heard them say “Now we see you, you nasty little creature! We will eat you and leave your bones and skin hanging on the tree. “The spiders, despite their poor eyesight, can actually see him more clearly in this the strange, shadow-like realm that the ring takes people into.
Years later, the ring came to Frodo, and he set out on a mission to destroy it in the fire at Mount Doom, where it was forged, along with the friendship made with him from Rivendell. The group has been separated, and all that remains is his brave companion Sam, and the creature Gollum is leading them to their doom. After the two climbed the steep steps to reach Cirith Ungol, they entered Shelob’s lair, where they were separated from each other. Unfortunately, Frodo is burned by the giant spider demon, and Sam believes he is dead. Poor Sam took the ring to destroy it, but when he placed it on his finger to escape some Orcs roaming on sentry duty, he was suddenly able to make sense of their conversation. Just as Bilbo could hear the spiders’ words, so could Sam hear the orcs.
In the book it is described that “perhaps the Ring had knowledge of tongues, or simply knowledge of Sauron’s servants, its maker, so that if he noticed, he would understand and translate that thought for yourself.” Perhaps this is some kind of spell or device that the dark lord put in the ring when he tricked Celebrimbor, the elf blacksmith, the better to understand and track your enemies. But in reality, it backfires, because the gift is instead used to the advantage of those who want to oppose him, and destroys the ring for the common good of all. Without this uncanny ability, Bilbo might not have survived the spiders, and Sam would never have known that Frodo was still alive, and in need of rescue from the Orcs that had imprisoned him.
Also of note, the only two people ever recorded as realizing this ‘Babel Effect’ from the ring are both hobbits, so perhaps that’s what Sauron never intended, and the ring only works on the power of the creatures that have worn it, as the Hobbits are widely known to be particularly adept at languages, words and game like puzzle, all of which require a complex understanding of speech.
THAN: What do Frodo and Sauron have in common?
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