In Tolkein's "The Silmarillion", page 216 of the chapter "Of Túrin Turambar", the following is written:

"[...] this Wildman was the Mormegil of Nargothrond, whom rumour said was the son of Húrin of Dor-lómin."

Ignoring the array of proper nouns, shouldn't the subclause read "WHO rumour said was the son [...]", as "who was" is the main verb and subject of the clause? Even when phrased differently, one would say "Rumour said HE was the son", not "Rumour said HIM was the son".

Can somebody shed some light on Tolkein's use of the object case here?

EDIT: This is a slightly different case than the similar question that was linked, as "Rumour said" seems to take a more gramatically accusative tone, and are able to take an object, unlike "it is forseeable".

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    Even the best authors and their proofreaders sometimes make mistakes? Jul 8, 2019 at 14:17
  • Or rumour said about him? Jul 8, 2019 at 15:35
  • << ... this Wildman was the Mormegil of Nargothrond, who, according to rumour, was the son of Húrin ... >> perhaps shows why some believe that speech tags should be regarded as parentheticals. << ... this Wildman was the Mormegil of Nargothrond, whom rumour placed at Wigan rather than Nargothrond ... >> shows a false model. Jul 8, 2019 at 16:54
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    I think this question is answered here: The use of nominative "whom" (as in “persons whom it is foreseeable are likely to...”) Also, I wrote an answer about this construction that many have some useful information, like a link to a Language Log post.
    – herisson
    Jul 8, 2019 at 17:54
  • I agree that "who" in place of "whom" would be correct, but I'd add that it would also be correct to keep "whom" and replace "was" with "to be": "whom rumour said to be the son ...." Jul 8, 2019 at 18:56

2 Answers 2


The quoted sentence does not follow the usual prescribed pattern of usage (as you've noticed). There isn't any reason I know of for why Tolkien in particular would have used "whom" here: that is a known variant pattern of usage (as described in this Language Log post by Arnold Zwicky). See also the discussion in the comments of this Language Log post.


The first rule of English is that there are no rules. :)

Joking aside, this looks like an example of V2 word order, which is common in Germanic languages (SOV+V2), but has become archaic in English.


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    The question isn't about the word order. Jul 8, 2019 at 16:12
  • Ah, you're right! It's so easy to overlook, like you said. Can't delete it now.
    – zeroone
    Jul 8, 2019 at 16:26

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