"It is told that in that feast of the Spring of Arda Tulkas espoused
_Lëa-vinya_, fairest of the maidens of Yavanna, and Vana robed her in
flowers that came then first to their opening; and she danced before
the Valar..." (Excerpted from "Morgoth's Ring" p. 67, note 18)
In 1958 Tolkien sat down to work on the "Annals of Aman" and there the
names of the _Vali_ were often altered. And indeed, we are informed
in note 18, pointing to the passage on page 53, that the ultimate
predecessor of _Nessa_ is _Lëa-vinya_ "Lëa the young".
_Lëa_: There are two possible stems from which _Lëa_ could be derived:
1) LAYA- (VT45:26), and 2) LÁYAK- (V:368).
Dissyllabic words exhibiting the use of ea- are somewhat rare in our
corpus of Q(u)enya words. But there exist some specific examples which
could shed light on the matter of how the meaning of _Lëa_ could be
reconstructed. In V:349 we find stem ÁYAR-, AIR- (VT45:6) which gives
the derivates _ear (earen)_ and _aire (airen)_ letting us assume that
primitive *_áya_, *_ai_ becomes in Q(u)enya _ëa_, _ai_.
Another examples show a similiar pattern of derivation:
_leo_ "shade, shadow cast by any object" (V:354) with primitive
_daiô_(VT45:8), *_dayô_ (adding possible primitve development -ay- >
-e-); PE. _Phay-anâro_ "radiant sun" > _Feanáro_ (PHAY-, V:381)*.
Though we have to dismiss DAY- as a possible stem because of the
meaning (DAY- is associated with "darkness, shadow" and _Lëa_ has to
refer to something more joyful, hence the byname "the young") and
the lack of an a- in the primitive form. In V:368 we find stem
LÁYAK-, giving for example _laiqa_ "green". Yet, this stem is
irritating because we perceive a final k- which can't be easily
eliminated; but in VT45:26 the stem LAYA- was added in the margin
against LÁYAK- with derivative _laire_ "summer". I think it is very
possible that _Lëa_ has to derive from LAYA- (standing surely in
connexion to LÁYAK-) -- the meaning we'd get wouldn't be that far-
fetched, and it does not contradict the morphology of aya- stem
types: PE. *_laya_ > _Lëa_ *"the summerlike, the young".
_vinya_: _vinya_ "young" (X:67).
*But note also that later drafts (concerning the etymology of _fëa_)
show that this conception had maybe changed over the years: "Quenya
_fëa_ (dissyllabic) is from older *_phaya_ ..." (X:349).