Pippin: Prince of the Halflings
So, when Pippin arrives in Minas Tirith with Gandalf, both Denethor and Beregond make some sort of comment about the strangeness of hobbit-speech. They don’t really specify what about Pippin’s speech is so strange, just vaguely referring to accent. And that could just have been a regular comment on whatever regional accent the hobbits probably had compared to the men of Gondor. But in Appendix F Tolkien comments on the issue, saying:
The Westron tongue made in the pronouns of the second person (and often also in those of the third) a distinction, independent of number, between ‘familiar’ and 'deferential’ forms. It was, however, one of the peculiarities of Shire-usage that the deferential forms had gone out of colloquial use. They lingered only among the villagers, especially of the West-farthing, who used them as endearments. This was one of the things referred to when people of Gondor spoke of the strangeness of Hobbit-speech. Peregrin Took, for instance, in his first few days in Minas Tirith used the familiar forms to people of all ranks, including the Lord Denethor himself. This may have amused the aged Steward, but it must have astonished his servants.
Since this pronoun use doesn’t really translate into English (does anyone who’s read the books in another language know if they reflected this?), the whole issue would go unnoticed by readers unless they read Appendix F. Which is a pity, since it has a sort of humorous result. After being in Minas Tirith for a while, Pippin notices that he’s getting a lot of attention from the people of the city. In fact, Tolkien tell us:
People stared much as he passed. To his face men were gravely courteous, saluting him after the manner of Gondor with bowed head and hands upon the breast; but behind him he heard many calls, as those out of doors cried to others within to come and see the Prince of the Halflings, the companion of Mithrandir. Many used some other tongue than the Common Speech, but it was not long before he learned at least what was meant by Ernil i Pheriannath and knew that his title had gone down before him into the City.
Now, if you didn’t know about the grammar issue, you’d think that people were just making this assumption because Pippin arrived with Gandalf. But Tolkien fully explains the joke in the appendix, saying “No doubt this free use of the familiar forms helped to spread the popular rumor that Peregrin was a person of very high rank in his own country.”
SOURCES: LotR, LotR Appendix F