We’ve been referring to the Homo floresiensis as the ‘Hobbit’ since its discovery, but now it seems that the estate of J. R. R. Tolkien is legally blocking the use of the term – by preventing a public lecture in New Zealand from using the word ‘Hobbit’.
3News, 24 October 2012
Be careful how you use the ‘H’ word’ – it’s the latest taboo in the English language.
A New Zealand scientist has been legally banned from using the word ‘hobbit’ to describe a group of miniature humanoids who lived on an Indonesian island tens of thousands of years ago.
Victoria University’s Brent Alloway has organised a free public lecture on Homo floresiensis, a species closely related to humans which lived on Flores Island, but has been told he is not allowed to call the free public lecture ‘The Other Hobbit’.
The volcanologist wrote to the estate of Hobbit author JRR Tolkein about the event on December 1 as a courtesy, but was told by Wellington lawyers AJ Park representing the estate that he was not allowed to use the word.
Mr Alloway says scientists have been using the term to describe the species ever since its discovery in 2003.