What’s the Difference…

between dwarfs and dwarves? (No, not just the spelling. Nor the pronunciation, neither.)

Velázquez – Bufón don Sebastián de Morra (Museo del Prado, c. 1645)
And to which group does the above gentleman belong?

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8 thoughts on “What’s the Difference…

  1. My first reaction (possibly incorrect) is from something I read in an introduction to Lord of the Rings once (and my copy is somewhere in storage, so I can’t look it up.) Namely, that Tolkien had to argue with his publisher to keep the plural in his books as “dwarves” not “dwarfs.” Thus, to me, dwarves are members of the dwarven race, and not human. The gentleman pictured is human (admittedly not a very nice one), and thus would fit the “dwarfs” category.
    Like I said, this might be wrong, and/or politically incorrect.

    • P.s. Of course, there is also the third-person form of the verb “to dwarf”, as in “be bigger than,” in which case, the answer to your question is “one is a verb and one is a collective noun and I don’t know what to do with that guy.” 😛

      • Ha! Extra points for grammatical cleverness. Incidentally, I recently encountered the word ‘determine’ as an intransitive verb, and I didn’t know what to do with that, either!

    • And the gold cup goes to Ruth! Dwarfs are little people, and Dwarves are fantastical creatures.
      Incidentally, how do you know the gentleman in the picture isn’t a nice man?

      • Well, the gentleman himself most likely is a nice man. But his character on Game of Thrones, which is who is in the picture, is not. I am only familiar with the series through having read some of the books owned by someone else; I don’t watch the TV show and can’t recommend it.

      • The painting isn’t actually of a Game of Thrones character (or actor) – he’s a court dwarf from Spain as painted by Velasquez in the seventeenth century. But there definitely is a resemblance, isn’t there?

      • Well, huh. There sure is. I was feeling a bit chuffed for knowing something pop-culture (even if it’s not really a good thing) and I’m wrong. 😛
        Oh well, at least I got the gold cup for getting the main answer right – and extra cleverness points. 🙂

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