390Q. _Tarantar_ 'Trotter'
- Mar 31, 2003In 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-
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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