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183The History of the Word _lóme_

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  • Petri Tikka
    Aug 6, 2002
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      In the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910's there is a word called _lómë_ (I:255).
      This is the first occurrence of such a word that I am aware of. There the
      word is translated as 'dusk, gloom, darkness'. Evidently, the connotations
      of the word were quite evil then. This is supported by the compounds in
      which it was used: "_Hisilómë_ (and this means 'Shadowy Twilights')"
      (I:112), "the name _Wirilóme_ of the great spider" (I:254). The root of the
      word was then LOMO (I:255).

      The same evil connotations probably continued to exist until the era of "The
      Etymologies", for the word occurs in a plural compound form in _mandulómi_
      (MC:221) which doesen't occur as such in the free translation, but the
      corresponding line goes thus: "...the East raised black shadows out of
      Hell." (MC:221). It is probably formed from #_mandu_ "hell" (cf.
      "_Angamandu_ or _Eremandu_ 'Hells of Iron' [I:249]) _lóme_, to fit the

      But a complete revision happened in the latter half of the 30s. In "The Lost
      Road" Alboin states that "..certainly _lómë_ is _night_ (though not
      _darkness_)" (V:41). But although "The Etyomologies" and "The Lost Road" are
      from around the same time, _lóme_ is defined in the entry DO3-, DÓ-: "Night,
      night-time, shdes of night" (V:354), which seems to imply something not
      quite so positive. There are also several more explicitly bad connotations
      in its cognates, but suprisingly also _lómelinde_ "nightingale", which is a
      good bird for the Eldar: Lúthien's other name Tinúviel means "nightingale"
      (V:393). The root of the word was then DO3-, DÓ- (V:354).

      Compound words with _lóme_ entered LR in 1943: _Aldalóme_ (VII:420),
      _Tauremornalóme_ (implied in VII:417) and _lómeamor_ (VII:419). _Aldalóme_
      and _Tauremornalóme_ do not necessarily anything imply evil, they are
      porbably neutral, because _lóme_ has an evil definition in _morna_ "gloomy,
      sombre" (V:373): if it were already that it wouldn't need it. At this stage
      even _lómeamor_ might not have an evil definition because of the following
      _mor_"darkness" (L:308), but this is not entirely clear. If it was ever so,
      it was evidently changed later: see the sixth paragraph.

      The above statements that Tolkien had no evil connotations in his mind for
      _lóme_ in that stage is supported "Lowdham's Report on the Adunaic Language"
      from the mid-40s, close to the making of the "Fangorn"-chapter: "...the
      Adunaic word _lómi_ 'night' is an Avallonian loan; both because of its sense
      (it appears to mean 'fair night, a night of stars', with no connotations of
      gloom or fear)..." (IX:414). "Gloom" in its meaning is utterly denied here,
      if only through byway, even though _lómë_ was thus defined in QL. The root
      of the word was then LOM, and it had a stem _lómi-_ (IX:415). This stem
      seems to clash with _lómelinde_ "nightingale" (V:354) and _lómelindi_
      "nightingales" (X:172), but agrees with _Lóminórë_ (X:145).

      In Appendix F, which was written during the period between the completion of
      LR propper and its publication, and updated in the second edition, Tolkien
      said that the Entish stanza "Taurelilómëa-tumbalemorna Tumbaletaurëa
      Lómëanor" (LR:1105) "may be rendered 'Forestmanyshadowed-deepvalleyback
      Deepvalleyforested Gloomyland" and that it "..meant more or less: 'there is
      a black shadow in the deep dales of the forest'". #_lómëa_ "shadowed,
      gloomy". This is then a return to the meaning of the QL, and a denial of the
      statements in V:41 and IX:414. Here _lóme_ does have evil connotations.

      _lómelinde_ still existed in the later 50's (X:172): this conflicts with the
      upper paragraph unless _lóme_ had both surely evil connotations in some
      words and purely good in others. _lóme_ was simply glossed "night" in a
      letter from 1961 (L:1961).

      It can be seen that the history of the word _lóme_ is as tanglely as a tree
      in Fangorn: it can be either bad or good, but it isn't necessarily in
      anybody's side.

      P.S. I have finished translating the first poem of "The Kalevala" into
      Quenya. It is the longest post-Tolkien Quenya text I am aware of. O come and
      behold "The Foreword" (
      http://www.geocities.com/petristikka/elvish/foreword.html ) and "I Minya
      Laire" ( http://www.geocities.com/petristikka/elvish/kalevala1.html ).

      Petri Tikka Helsinki, Finland

      [Thanks, Petri, for the interesting survey of this word. For my part, I don't
      see any "evil" connotation to the glosses 'dusk, gloom, darkness'; to the
      Elves, born under the stars, darkness _per se_ is not evil. And while 'gloom'
      has now acquired primarily a connotation of melancholy, it was not always so;
      it is more generally "Partial or total darkness; thick shade; obscurity; as,
      the gloom of a forest, or of midnight". Carl]
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