Pronunciation of "Carc"

In The Hobbit, there is a raven named Roäc son of Carc. I’ve always pronounced “Carc” to rhyme with “park” (as pronounced by a rhotic American). But I believe Tolkien himself spoke a non-rhotic dialect, so he would have pronounced it more like the way an American would say “cock”.

Is this right?

Maybe, maybe not… Was Adunaic rhotic? Tolkien was enough of a linguist that he surely considered that question, and didn’t necessarily give it the same answer as his own dialect.

“Carc” certainly isn’t Adunaic, since Tolkien started devising Adunaic in the late 1940s, around the time he was completing The Lord of the Rings, over a decade after he finished The Hobbit. There is very little of any of his constructed languages in The Hobbit, and I don’t see any reason to think that “Carc” is anything but a nice made-up name that sounds like something a raven would say, and meant to be pronounced with English phonetics.

When I read it for the first time MANY years ago, I just read those names as a word with no thought for what they were. (As if they were made-up English names Rowacke and Carke.) But later I thought it couldn’t be a coincidence that if you try to pronounce them as you imagine a real raven might, they make sense. Something like “Rwaak” and “Kaak”.

I think the rhotic pronunciation /kɑːrk/ sounds more raven-like than the non-rhotic /kɑːk/, which was what was behind my question about Tolkien’s pronunciation. I assume that however he pronounced the word is how he intended others to pronounce it. I don’t think a non-rhotic speaker would actually have any problem producing the /kɑːrk/ pronunciation, but I wonder how he would write it to try to make it clear that the R should be pronounced. Maybe “Carrc”?

It’s not the last thing I’d expect from a raven, but “ability to pronounce the letter R clearly” is pretty far down the list anyway.

Quoth the Raven “Nevahmore.”

Yeah, ravens really are able to talk. I don’t know how good they are at it, but it’s not just something that Tolkien made up.

Whether or not Tolkein intended Carc to be rhotic, it would probably have been exactly as rhotic as the word “park” said by Tolkein.

So I don’t think you can go wrong pronouncing it to rhyme with “park” no matter what your accent happens to be. It’s not like there aren’t plenty of other differences between an American and an English accent.

Although I certainly wouldn’t expect an American reading from a book by a British author to try to read it in a British accent (or vice versa), I think names are a little different. For example, the common Korean name “Park” is pronounced non-rhotically. In my view, pronouncing it like the American pronunciation of “park” is simply an error. This seems especially significant if the word is onomatopoeia like Carc.