- Jun 9, 2002The Q. phrase _Anaxartaron Onyalie_ is the title pencilled on an amanuensis
typescript of the tale of the creation of the Ents and the Eagles of the
Lords of the West (XI:340) This tale (probably dating to c. 1963; see
XI:341) was used by Christopher Tolkien to provide the second half of Ch. 2
of the published _Silmarillion_, "Of Aule and Yavanna" (S:44-46). A second
amanuensis typescript of the tale bears a pencilled title in English: "Of
the Ents and the Eagles".
There has been some interesting discussion online over whether 'Of the Ents
and the Eagles' translates _Anaxartaron Onyalie_, or whether the Q. title
means something else; see in particular Tolklang messages 33.73, 33.74, and
33.82, and Elfling messages 125, 131, 138, 144, 148, 150, 155, 3736-38, and
3742-46. The general concensus in these postings has been that the Q. title
probably means something else, a view largely predicated on the assumption
that _anaxar-_ in _Anaxartaron_ is a borrowing of Valarin _anashkaad_ 'ring'
seen in V. _Maachananashkaad_ 'Doom-ring', the latter adapted into Q. as
_Maahanaxar_ (XI:401; in my ascii rendition of the V. forms, _ch_ = chi and
_sh_ = s-hacek).
I would like to make a case here for the possibility that _Anaxartaron
Onyalie_ does in fact mean 'Of the Ents and the Eagles', and that
_Anaxartaron_ consists entirely of native Elvish elements. In the following
discussion, forms cited are Quenya unless otherwise noted.
Interpretation of _Onyalie_ as 'Ents' presents few difficulties (as has been
noted in the online discussions); the form can be analyzed as _*onya_ 'Ent'
+ _lie_ 'people' (V:369 s.v. LI-), the latter element seen also in the
compound _Eldalie_ 'the Elven-folk' (S:326), making _Onyalie_ the semantic
equivalent of S. _Onodrim_ 'the Ents' (L:178, 224). It has been proposed
(see Salo, Elfling message #144) that given S. _onod_ 'Ent' (L:224),
apparently from _*onot-_, one would expect the Q. equivalent to be _*onto_.
However, the pair Q. _*onya_, S. _onod_ suggests instead that the Q. form
derives from a simple base *ONO- (perhaps whence also the augmentive suffix
seen in Q. _andon_, pl. _andondi_ 'great gate', vs. _ando_ 'gate'; V:348
s.v. AD-), while the S. form derives instead from an _extended_ form *ONO-T-
of the same base. A similar disparity in primitive stems also occurs, for
example, in the Eldarin words for 'seven' -- on the basis of N. _odog_ alone
(< base OTOK) one would expect the Q. equivalent to be _**ohto_ (_**otokoo_
> _**otko_ > _**ohto_), but the Q. word for 'seven' is in fact _otso_ (<base OTOS, with different consonantal extension; V:379 s.v. OT- (OTOS, OTOK)
_Anaxartaron_ appears to be the genitive pl. of a noun _*anaxarta_. If
_Anaxartaron Onyalie_ means 'Of the Ents and the Eagles', _*anaxarta_ would
have to mean 'Eagle'. The usual Q. word for 'eagle' is however _soron_,
_sorne_ < THOR- 'come swooping down' (V:392-93). According to the
_Etymologies_, this same root is the source of the final element in the
river-name _Brilthor_: adj. _tho^r_ 'swooping, leaping down' (the language
of _Brilthor_, _tho^r_, and _thoorod_ 'torrent' is not identified; they are
probably Ilkorin). An interesting parallel to this connection between a
river-name and a word for 'eagle' occurs in Adunaic, in which the neuter pl.
subjective form _Nariika_ 'Eagles' is attested (IX:251). This Ad. word, the
normal sg. of which would be _*narak_ or _*naraak_, appears to be cognate
with the Eldarin base NARAK- 'tear, rend', whence Q. _naraka_ 'harsh,
rending, violent' (< _*naraaka_ 'rushing, rapid, violent') and the N.
river-name _Narog_ (V:374).
This semantic association of rivers and eagles as things that 'rush, tear,
swoop or leap down' points to a possible etymology for _*anaxarta_ as
'eagle'. The _Etymologies_ gives a root SKAR- 'tear, rend', whence
_*askaraa_ 'tearing, hastening' > N. _asgar_, _ascar_ 'violent, rushing,
impetuous', Ilk. _ascar_, the latter also providing the name of the river
_Ascar_ (V:386). No Q. development of _*askaraa_ is given, though if one
existed it would have the form _*askara_, or _*axara_ (_*aksara_) with
metathesis of _sk_ > _ks_ (See "Note on _SK_ > _KS_ (_X_)" at the end of
this post). _an-_ is an intensive/superlative prefix applied to adjectives,
as _ancalima_ 'exceedingly bright' < _kalima_ 'shining brilliant' (letter to
Rhona Beare dated 1958, L:278-79). Added to our hypothetical Q. adj.
_*axara_ 'rushing, hastening', this prefix would yield _*anaxara_
'exceedingly swift', which I propose is the initial element in _*anaxarta_
'eagle'. The final element in _*anaxarta_ is probably _arta_ 'exalted,
lofty' (XII:354), used substantively as *'lofty one, exalted one', with
_*anaxarta_ being a haplological shortening of _*anaxara-arta_, lit.
'exceedingly swift and lofty one'. We can probably assume, since _soron-_,
_sorno_ continued to exist as a word for 'eagle' (letter to Richard Jeffery
dated 1972, L:427), that _*anaxarta_ was a learned term referring only to
one of the spirit-inhabited Eagles of Manwe, whereas _sorno_ 'eagle' was a
general term encompassing both the _*Anaxartar_ (hence its use in the name
_Sorontar_ 'King of Eagles', XI:272) and the more ordinary varieties of
non-spirit-possessed, non-talking, non-wizard-carrying eagles we are
familiar with today. In other words, all _*Anaxartar_ were _sorni_, but not
all _sorni_ were _*Anaxartar_.
This still leaves the syntax of _Anaxartaron Onyalie_ to be explained. Two
factors appear to come into play in this phrase:
1) In the Q. titles of literary works, a genitive plural is often used
alone, with a preceding noun such as _quenta_ 'account, history' or _nyarna_
'legend' (XI:420) implicit but unexpressed; thus _Silmarillion_ 'the History
of the Silmarils', _Narsilion_ 'the Song of the Sun and Moon' (S:99), and
_Atanataarion_ 'the Legendarium of the Fathers of Men' (X:373).
2) According to the Q. Rule of Apposition, "in the case of two declinable
names in apposition, only the last is declined"; hence _*Elendil Voronda_
'Elendil the Faithful', gen. _Elendil Vorondo_ (UT:305, 317 n.43). Another
example of this occurs in _Namna Finwe Miiriello_ 'the Statute of Finwe and
Miiriel' (X:258). In _Finwe Miiriello_ 'of Finwe and Miiriel' only the last
name is declined, although _both_ genitivally modify _Namna_ 'Statute'. Also
notable here is that the conjunction _ar_ 'and' is implied but not
It appears, then, that _Anaxartaron Onyalie_ 'of the Ents and the Eagles',
like _Finwe Miiriello_ 'of Finwe and Miiriel', is a phrase consisting of two
appositional nouns, with only one of the nouns explicitly declined for the
genitive and with _ar_ 'and' implied but not expressed. The reason why the
_first_ noun in _Anaxartaron Onyalie_ is declined rather than the last (as
one would expect according to the Rule of Apposition) is probably due to the
fact that the noun that these genitives modify is implied rather than
explicitly present (_quenta_ 'account', _nyarna_ 'legend', etc.). In the
titles of literary works it is usual for a genitive to follow the noun
modified, e.g., _Quenta Silmarillion_, _Yeenie Valinooreo_ 'The Annals of
Valinor' (X:200), _Indis i-Kiryamo_ 'The Mariner's Wife' (UT:8), _Heru
i-Million_ 'The Lord of the Rings' (PE10:46 n.40) -- so if the last form in
'Of the Ents and the Eagles' were declined, say _**Anaxartar Onyalieeva_,
this would appear to mean **'The Eagles of the Ents'. Similarly, if the
existing forms were reversed, _**Onyalie Anaxartaron_ would seemingly mean
**_The Ents of the Eagles'. Declining the first noun for the genitive in
this title rather than the second makes it clear that a preceding but
unexpressed noun _quenta_ or _nyarna_ is to be understood: _*(Quenta)
Anaxartaron Onyalie_ '(Account) of the Ents and the Eagles'. This may be
viewed as a refinement or elaboration of the Rule of Apposition, rather than
as a contradiction of it.
* * * * * * * * * *
NOTE ON _SK_ > _KS_ (_X_)
Metathesis of earlier medial _*-sk-_ > _-ks- (sometimes spelled _-x-_) is an
attested but irregularly occurring development in Quenya. In the
_Etymologies_, for example, may be found MISK- > _miksa_ 'wet' and MASAG-
'knead' > _*mazgaa_ > _maksa_ 'pliant, soft' (i.e., presumably _*mazgaa_ >
_*maska_ > _maksa_), beside EZGE- 'rustle, noise of leaves' > _eske_ in
which metathesis does not occur -- though this entry was struck out (V:373,
371, 357). The later corpus is equally contradictory; a note associated with
the c. 1968 essay "The Shibboleth of Feanor" cites C.E. _(u)rus_ 'brownish
red' > _rusko_ 'a fox', _ruskuite_ 'foxy' (VT41:10), while the Valarin form
_Maachananashkaad_ 'Doom-ring' (from "Quendi and Eldar", c. 1960) was
phonetically adapted into Q. as _Maahanaxar_, with V. _-shk-_ > (presumably)
_*-sk-_ > Q. _-ks-_ (_-x-_).
Many more examples of this disparity occur in QL, e.g., M(B)ASA- 'cook,
bake' > _maksa-_ 'cook' vs. MASA(2) 'dusk' > _maska_ 'dusky, misty'
(PE12:59). This issue is addressed in the accompanying Qenya Phonology,
which states: "An 's' transposition period must be assumed that must be held
to have been early discontinued and to have been uncertain in its area". It
is also said there that "_sc_ > _x_ is commoner than _sc_." (PE12:19) The
apparent irregularity of metathesis of _-sk-_ > _-ks-_ in the _Etymologies_
and later may have a similar explanation.
* * * * * * * * * *
-- Patrick Wynne
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