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I think this should be merged into [[oliphaunt]].
Tolkien uses a lot of archaisms, and though LotR says of the oliphaunt that "his kin that live still in latter days are but memories of his girth and majesty", it's not obvious to me that he means to distinguish "oliphaunt" from "elephant". The book never uses the word "elephant"; the reason we know what oliphaunts are is that it's an English word.
The OED uses an LotR cite, s.v. "oliphant", to support a definition of simply "An elephant." And it has non-LotR cites, in that sense, up through 1937; it labels the word "arch[aic] and hist[orical]", not "obsolete". Admittedly, those other recent cites are in the spelling olifant, but regardless, Tolkien was clearly not coining a new word, nor IMHO quite reviving a dead one, when he put "oliphaunts" in his Middle-Earth.
(We do need a usage note to indicate that in current usage, people only use oliphaunt in reference to the large fictional elephants of Tolkien's universe, but that doesn't make this a "word originating in a fictional universe".)
- Support, I seem to think oliphaunt is the Middle English for elephant (citation to come, I hope) and therefore crosses into Early Modern English. The distinction here seems to be that the fictional definition and the 'general usage' definition are the same. Mglovesfun (talk) 13:24, 9 November 2010 (UTC)
- Absolutely. Ƿidsiþ 13:26, 9 November 2010 (UTC)
- Yes. Oliphaunt was also used in the 20th century pre-Tolkien, in reference to early poetry, and in describing old printer's marks. Tolkien's giant elephants are referred to in (archaical) English—we don't create appendices for Tolkien/spider or Tolkien/eagle just because his versions were giant-sized or could speak. —Michael Z. 2010-11-10 20:04 z
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- Delete. All references belong to the same universe. Probably an invention taken from Middle French/Middle Dutch word - olifant.
- The OED has this as one spelling of oliphant (“elephant”), and includes an LOTR citation. (Its only other citation using this spelling is from John Skelton's 1523 Garlande of Laurell; but since they don't cite each spelling separately, there's no reason to think we can't find a third cite for this spelling.) So, keep and correct. —RuakhTALK 01:19, 1 March 2010 (UTC)
- I've added your definition "elephant", Ruakh. Please check and correct anything if necessary. The old definition from Tolkien universe is currently at Appendix:Tolkien's legendarium/O. --Daniel. 08:41, 4 March 2010 (UTC)
- Now RFV passed for real. (Forgot to de-tag it the last time.) —RuakhTALK 00:30, 10 February 2011 (UTC)