This post is about the way some consonants were turned to vowels or
diphthong elements during the evolution from Common Eldarin to Noldorin/
Sindarin, especially after the vowel u.
(I will not asterisk Tolkien's own reconstructions of primitive stages,
in order to distinguish them from other reconstructions.)
Such vocalizations are seen for instance in N/S _eithel_ "spring, well"
from Common Eldarin _ektelê_ (N : V:363 root KEL ; S : Silmarillion
Appendix), N _aes_ "cooked food, meat" (V:394 root AP) from _*apsâ_, N
_auth_ "war, battle" from _okta_ (read _*oktâ_ ? ; V:365 root KOT), N
_maer_ "useful, fit, good" from _magrâ_ (V:371 root MAG)...
With the help of Welsh, which offers similar - though not identical -
evolutions (reference : _ Language and History in Early Britain_ -
Kenneth Jackson - Edinburgh University Press 1953), the following
developments can be assumed :
- p and k become ch (Ach-Laut) before s and t (which itself turned to th,
i.e. t+h, in such a position in Old Noldorin ; probably true too in the
equivalent "Old Sindarin"). Later, this ch turns to i or u, depending on
the preceding vowel, and forms a diphthong (or merges) with it.
- g is regularly lenited to gh (spirant g) between a vowel and a liquid
or nasal. Later, gh turns to i or u, depending on the following vowel,
and forms a diphthong (or merges) with it.
After a, the developing vowel is i, giving a diphthong ai, later ae :
CE _maktâ-_ > ON _*maktha-_ > _*machþa-_ > _*maiþa-_ > N _maeþa-_,
written _maetha- "to fight" (V:371 root MAK)
CE *apsâ > ON *apsa > *achsa > *ais > N aes "cooked food, meat" (V:394
CE _magrâ_ > ON _*magra_ > _*maghra_ > _*mair_ > N _maer_ "useful, fit,
good" (V:371 root MAG)
CE _magnâ_ > ON _magnâ_ (read _*magna_ ?) > _*maghna_ > _*main_ > N
_maen_ "skilled, clever" (V:371 root MAG)
After e, the developing vowel is i, giving a diphthong ei, becoming ai
later in final syllable in Sindarin :
CE _et-kelê_ > _*ektelê_ > ON/Old Sindarin _*ekthele_ > _*echþele_ > N/S
_eiþel_, written _eithel_ "spring, well" (N : V:363 root KEL ; S :
CE _keglê_ > OS _*kegle_ > _*keghle_ > _*keil_ > S cail "fence" (UT:282)
After i, the developing vowel is i, which merges with the preceding i -
which appears to remain short, however :
CE _k'riktâ-_ > ON _*kriktha-_ > _*krichþa-_ > N _criþa-_ "reap"; actually
the form written is the infinitive _critho_ (V:365 root KIRIK)
CE _*riktâ-_ > ON _*riktha-_ > _*richþa-_ > N _rhiþa-_ "jerk, twitch,
snatch"; actually the form written is the infinitive _rhitho_
(V:383 root RIK(H))
After o, the developing vowel is u, giving a diphthong ou, later au :
CE _okta_ (read _oktâ_) > ON _*oktha_ > _*ochþa_ > _*ouþ_ > N _auþ_,
written _auth_ "war, battle"(V:365 root KOT)
CE _*loksê_ > ON _*lokse_ > _*lochse_ > _*lhous_ > N _lhaws_ "hair"
(V:370 root LOKH)
But after u, two developments are seen :
- the developing vowel is u, which merges with the preceding u to produce
long ú ;
- the developing vowel is i, giving a diphthong ui.
In "Noldorin", the u-development occurs in most cases :
CE _*luktâ-_ > ON _*luktha-_ > _*luchþa-_ > N _lhúþa-_, written _lhútha-_
"to enchant"(V:370 root LUK)
CE _*suktô_ > ON _*suktho_ > _*suchþo_ > N _sûþ_, written _sûth_ "draught"
(V:388 root SUK)
(Early) CE _lugni_ > ON _*lugne_ > _*lughne_ > N _lhûn_ " blue " (V:370
(Early) CE _suglu_ > ON _*suglo_ > _*sughlo_ > N _sûl_ "goblet" (V:388
but i-development occurs in
CE _*juktâ-_ > ON _*juktha-_ > _*juchþa-_ > N _juiþa-_ , written _iuitha-_
"to employ [C. Tolkien hesitatingly reads "enjoy", but the root is said
to mean "employ, use"]"(V:400 root YUK)
Quite inconsistenly, there are also cases with u > o opening by A or E-umlaut :
CE _*suktâ-_ > ON _*suktha-_ > _*sochþa-_ > _*souþa- > N _sauþa-_, written
_sautha_ "drain" (V:388 root SUK) ; I don't see why it is different from
the case of CE _*luktâ-_
CE _tupsê_ > ON _*tupse_ > _*tochse_ > _*tous_ > N _taus_ "thatch" (V:395
Conversely, i-development seems somewhat regular in Sindarin ; I found
the following forms :
CE _nuktâ-_ > OS _*nuktha-_ > _*nuchþa-_ > S _nuiþa-_, written _nuitha-_
CE _g-ruktâ-_ > OS _*gruktha-_ > _*gruchþa-_ > S _gruiþa-_, written
And the word _uluithiad_ "unquenchable" (IX:62) points to the same
direction; the central element may come from a CE form_*luktjâ-_.
Thus it seems that at some point - in the last times of his work on the
Etymologies, seeing _iuitha-_ ? - Tolkien chose the i-development.
However, the form of _Lúthien_ (according to the Etym, from _luktiênê_,
V:370) was not changed. Another surviving case of u-development might
also be hidden in _rûth_ "anger" (Silmarillion Appendix) if it comes from
the stem RUKU which appears to be associated with fear (XI:389) ; the
primitive form may be *ruktê - final vowel uncertain. Interestingly, both
names come from Doriath.
To say that the evidence is scanty is mild. Is it possible, nevertheless,
that in the late linguistic scenario such an u-development was a
peculiarity of the variety of Sindarin spoken in Doriath ?
Nai Anar caluva tielmanna !
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