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390Q. _Tarantar_ 'Trotter'

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  • Patrick H. Wynne
    Mar 31, 2003
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      In the typescript text "C" of the Epilogue to _The Lord of the
      Rings_, "the letter of the King ... begins _Aragorn Tarantar_ (at
      which Sam explains 'that's Trotter') _Arathornsson_ &c." (IX:121).
      _Tarantar_ was subsequently altered on the typescript to the
      now-familiar _Telcontar_, and Sam's gloss changed to 'that's
      Strider'. I was recently asked by Michael Urban if I had any idea on
      what the etymology of _Tarantar_ 'Strider' might be, and I thought I
      might share the results of my investigation into this name with the
      Lambengolmor, in order to get some educated feedback. Words
      discussed are in Quenya unless otherwise noted.

      Q. _Tarantar_ 'Trotter' points to an unattested root *TARAT-. QL gives
      TARA (2) 'batter, thud, beat' (PE12:89), and assuming that this root
      survived into the 1950s, it might have yielded an extended form
      *TARAT-, perhaps 'to beat the ground rapidly with the feet'.

      Alternatively, *TARAT- might somehow be related to or derived from
      RAT- 'walk' (V:383) -- the Etym. hints at some sort of relationship
      between DAT-, DANT- 'fall down' and TALÁT- 'to slope, lean, tip',
      though its precise nature is not specified -- the entry DAT- simply
      notes "Cf. _Atalante_ 'the Fallen', and _lasselanta_ 'leaf-fall',
      Autumn" (V:354), and that for TALÁT- has "Cf. _Atalante (see
      LANT)", with LANT subsequently emended to DAT (V:390). Perhaps we are
      to suppose from this that DAT- 'fall down' > LAT- > TALÁT- 'slope,
      lean, tip'? Extended forms of biconsonantal roots almost always
      involve the addition of a _following_ syllable (-vC) rather than a
      _preceding_ syllable (Cv-) -- e.g., LEP- > LEPET, LEPEN, LEPEK
      (V:368) -- so this mode of extension, if it existed, is rare. But it
      does raise the possibility that *TARAT- 'trot' was derived from RAT-
      'walk'.

      Whatever the source of *TARAT-, a root of this form should yield a Q.
      verb _*tarta-_ 'to trot'. With nasal infixion this would yield a stem
      _*taranta-_ : compare the manner of nasal infixion in such
      structurally similar words as _atalante_ 'the Downfallen' (IX:247),
      _Atalantie_ 'Downfall' (L:347) < _talta-_ 'slip, slide down,
      collapse' (MC:223); and _oante_ < _áwa-n-tê_, pa.t. of _auta-_
      'go away' (XI:366). With addition of agentive _-r_, this
      nasal-infixed stem _*tara-n-ta-_ would yield our _Tarantar_ 'Trotter'.

      Which leads inevitably to the question: why, assuming a verb
      _*tarta-_ 'to trot', would the agentive be _Tarantar_ with nasal
      infixion rather than simply _*Tartar_ or _*Tartaro_? Euphony might
      have been a factor (i.e. _Tarantar_ simply sounded better to Tolkien
      -- as it does to me), and Tolkien might have wished to avoid
      similarities with Primary-World words such as _tartar_ and
      _Tartarus_. That the latter factor sometimes influenced the
      development of an Elvish word is demonstrated by Tolkien's comment
      about the form _Arnor_: "For instance we have _Arnor_ and _Gondor_,
      which he has retained because he desired to avoid _Ardor_." (L:428)

      There is also evidence in the Etymologies that nasal infixion
      sometimes accompanied the formation of agentives in _-ro_. There
      appear to be two clear examples: LAS- (2) 'listen' > _*la(n)sro-ndo_
      > N. _lhathron_ 'hearer, listener', and KWET- 'say' > _*kwentro_
      'narrator' > Q. _qentaro_ (the asterisked primitive forms cited here
      are Tolkien's, not mine).

      It might also be possible to assume a root *TARAN- derived from RAN-
      'wander, stray' via the same mechanism noted above connecting
      TALÁT- and DAT-. In which case, with the addition of the verbal
      suffix _-ta_, we would have _*taranta-_ 'to trot', whence agentive
      _Tarantar_. But this theory strikes me as both semantically and
      phonetically less likely.

      -- Patrick H. Wynne
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