It IS a unit of measure. Tolkien used the foot as a unit of measure. Like in The Two Towers, in the chapter called the Riders of Rohan, when they first encounter them, it says "He advanced until the point of his spear was within a foot of Aragorn's breast".
35 of 38 people found this comment helpful. Did you?
I think that "Hand by knee by hand by knee" would sound worse, it's got to be foot as in the measurement. Like "inch by inch" kind of thing. Remember that measurements were imperial at the time this book was written.
39 of 49 people found this comment helpful. Did you?
Of course we still use imperial measurements in Britain; officially scientists, accountants, etc use metres but everybody else talks in feet and inches.
And in the 1940s nothing but imperial was used.
How can this be called a mistake?
27 of 31 people found this comment helpful. Did you?
What Tolkien means by 'Foot by Foot' is actually the imperial measurement. If you look in the first chapter of Book 4 (The second half of 'The Two Towers') Frodo estimated a cliff in Emyn Muil to be "about 18 fathoms." At the time the novel was written, almost all of the measurements in England were imperial (feet and inches), as are many now. As such, Tolkien almost certainly meant the measurement, and not the body part.
16 of 17 people found this comment helpful. Did you?
On the subject of feet and inches and imperial measurements. In England, and the rest of Britain You know Scotland, Wales, Ireland etc we do still use feet and inches as well as pounds and ounces, th imperial system. These are unofficial weights and measures now and shops etc have to use the metrc system. When JRRT was writing, we used the imperial system and nothing else, metric units didn't make it into schools until the 1970's or thereabouts. Therefore when Frodo says foot by foot it was a unit of measurement, even if it wasn't lets face it he was completely exhausted and would be allowed a small slip of the tongue. Tolkien used many units of measurements especially 'leagues' not exactly sure how far this is but a fair old way I would assume. So to say that he never used distances is somewhat well stupid. But then again the book is very English, and it wouldn't surprise me if it confused a number of our cousins 'over the water' ;->
12 of 18 people found this comment helpful. Did you?
If you all remember in book two the hobbits measured distance by stretches when they were with treebeard. They used measurements like that through out the books. I personaly think the hobbits didn't actually have a specific measurement system of any kind. For instance they would say my house is about 3 paddel boats from yours or my knife was about two fingers long. So yes the foot by foot thing is an actual measure of him going a foot then another by distance.
3 of 6 people found this comment helpful. Did you?
It is true that Tolkien is quite picky about what is printed in his books, sadly however, through numerous printings and reprintings, his actual words do not always make it to each copy. Some of the bigger mistakes are the misspelling of elves as elfs(which in my opinion detracts from the character of the elves portrayed by Tolkien) or the reference to the novel "The Lord of the Rings" as a trilogy, as it was written as a single book and when in paperback, printed in three separate volumes. It is quite possible that Tolkien's phrase was simply misinterpreted by the editor, creating the slip-up.
5 of 18 people found this comment helpful. Did you?
Duh, in the ring series did you ever see them use a measurement of any kind, except horses? NO, and foot by foot is a metaphor damn it, it means to go slowly, such as, "I crept foot by foot over the sleeping dog." See, if that was the case, you wouldn't be going foot by foot either, you would be stepping irregularly........
Flame me if you like, its because you know I'm right
19 of 49 people found this comment helpful. Did you?
Personally I think that the whole idea of scrutinizing slipups in other peoples work even though (for example in Tolkiens case) noone who either wrote it or responded to it could even come close to telling the type of story he did in the way that he did. This aside I believe that it may have been a slipup in his work due to the fact that he is englissh and, in England, Canada (: and everywhere else that uses the metric system, feet and inches are not used. He most likely would not have made the mistake of useing an imperial mesurement in his book due to the fact that he was extremely picky about what he put down on paper (he once got mad at his editor for mis-spelling his faery as fairy)
12 of 38 people found this comment helpful. Did you?