In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, at Helm's Deep when Aragorn was commanding the Elves during the battle, he yells "Ladders" in the Elvish tongue (Sindarin). A moment later we hear Gimli saying "Good", because he was very eager to fight, and finally the wait was over.

But how did he know what Aragorn said? How did he know Elvish?

2 Answers 2


At the start of the battle, Aragorn led the elf warriors, and he did so using the elvish language. They were all in a group on the wall, and this was where Gimli was. It stands to reason that in preparation for the battle, anyone who was in that group would be briefed on the various commands that Aragorn would use. So I'd argue that off-camera Gimli was told what the various elvish words were and their meaning, so he would be able to follow the same orders as those around him.

  • yes, it is possible. After the Elves came for their help, there could've been new strategy. +1. Commented Oct 23, 2012 at 5:17

There are several possible explanations:

  1. The word for ladders in Elvish is similar to the word for it in Dwarvish
  2. Gimli learned the word from talking to Legolas and Aragorn during the time they spent together and his good relation with Legolas
  3. Gimli heard the word during battle strategy meetings
  4. Gimli knows a bit of Elvish. The Elvish tongue was not kept secret and many people know some basics of it
  5. Gimli just assumed that something was going to change during the seige (why else would Aragorn yell something) and any change in combat type was good for Gimli

and probably some more

  • all right. +1. is point 1 really true? also elves came to help Rohan just before the battle they wouldn't have discussed about Elvish in battle strategy. Gimli hated elves, so he wouldn't have learned Elvish from Legolas. He must've heard it from Eragon. right Commented Oct 20, 2012 at 9:37
  • I have no idea if ladders sounds similar in both languages but it could be. Both races are similar in age and have not always hated each other. Some words might have crossed over in the time they were still working together (see this for their relationship). As for Gimli, by the time they are in Helm's Deep, he and legolas are already friends.
    – Origin
    Commented Oct 20, 2012 at 10:08
  • great link. thanks. I haven't read the books, seen movies lot of times though. Great stuff the link has. Commented Oct 20, 2012 at 10:26
  • 1
    @Origin It may be possible. But even if the dwarven language was not worked out as accurately as the two elven languages the few examples shown throughout the books suggest that those languages are very different. But I may just have overseen something or might not remember everything.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Oct 20, 2012 at 13:20
  • thanks @ChristianRau you give really through explaination Commented Oct 22, 2012 at 14:04

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