Yvonne Ekenskjöld is unimpressed.
The new Peter Jackson blockbuster, The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey, has a dwarf with her name – at least according to the Swedish subtitles.
Thorin Oakenshield, the leader of the dwarves in the film based on the J.R.R. Tolkien novel, becomes Torin Ekenskölde in Swedish, a name far too similar to her own according to the 68-year-old Katerineholm resident.
“She’s suggesting that we have used a Swedish noble name in our translation,” Stefan Klockby, information head of the Swedish Film Institute told The Local.
“It’s not a noble family name anymore though; that family died out 200 years ago. We’re not really sure what she’s talking about – she’s claiming that her name is special and it’s only her family that can use it.”
However, Ekenskjöld is furious over the prospect of sharing her name with a bearded and officious dwarf leader.
“It’s like a slap in the face. I don’t think our name should be associated with fairytale figures. I actually feel violated, and it’s offensive that they didn’t even bother to call and ask if it was alright,” Ekenskjöld told the Aftonbladet newspaper.
Swedish law affords a high level of protection to unusual surnames. Companies can be prevented from using aristocratic names as trademarks, for instance. The law is also frequently used to prevent ordinary Swedes from acquiring status by adopting noble surnames, unless the noble family has died out.
Ekenskjöld is even demanding that the film institute changes the translation.
“I want them to take away the name from the subtitles but I can’t afford to go up against the big guys. But even if you’re small and insignificant, you still have your rights,” she said.
According to Klockby, the translation actually appeared as early as 1947 when the book was first released in Swedish. Furthermore, he claimed the woman is not even a true Ekenskjöld.
“We found out that this woman wasn’t originally named Ekenskjöld – she just made it her name ten years or so ago,” he told The Local.
“We don’t know where this will go or what will happen next, we have told her to contact our lawyers for now.”
The Hobbit, first published in 1937, has been translated into Swedish three times, most recently in 2007 by Erik Andersson.
The first translation was completed in 1947 by Tore Zetterholm and was titled Hompen eller En resa dit och tillbaks igen however Tolkien, who had a keen interest in Scandinavian languages, didn’t like the translation and considered it to have been too liberal.