- Jun 22, 2004In version 'III' of the Sindarin "King's Letter" (IX:129, 131), we find
the following phrase:
"_nelchaenen ned Echuir_"
which apparently translates the English phrase (taken from Tolkien's
English text of version 'I'):
"the thirty-first day of the Stirring".
(The English gloss is provided from version 'I', in which the Sindarin
phrase is: "_nechaenen uin Echuir_"; and thus it is possible that 'of
the' of version 'I' does not in fact translate _ned_ of version 'III'.)
In my initial analysis of the form _ned_ in the "King's Letter", way
back in 1993 (VT31:30-31), I wrote:
"_ned_ ... is very likely related to the verb-stem _nedia-_ *'count,
reckon' (q.v.) derived from the base NOT- 'count, reckon' (LR:378). A
version of "Galadriel's Lament" read by Tolkien in a 1952 recording*
contains the phrase _inyar �n�ti nar_ *'years numberless are'
corresponding to the published _Y�ni �n�tim�_ 'years numberless'
(I:394). The element *_n�ti_ 'number(ing)' of _�n�ti_ *'numberless,
without number(ing)' implies a primitive form *_not�_ 'number(ing)'
which, with final _�-affection_ of *_o_ > _e_ (cf. _orod_ 'mountain',
pl. _ered_ (S:362) < *_orot�_) would yield S _ned_ *'number(ing)'. If
this derivation of _ned_ is accurate, then the phrase cited above could
be rendered more literally as *'the thirtieth (of the) number(ing) of
*_J.R.R. Tolkien Reads and Sings his The Hobbit and The Fellowship of
the Ring_ (New York: Caedmon Records No. TC 1477). See Laurence Krieg's
article "Tolkien's Pronunciation: Some Observations" in _An
Introduction to Elvish_ (pp. 152-59) for a discussion and phonetic
transcription of this reading."
Now, I would be the first to say to my self of 11 years ago that it was
overbold to assert that _ned_ is "very likely related to _nedia-_"; but
this proposal is no more _unlikely_ than the current, seemingly
universal notion that _ned_ here in fact means 'in', and is to be
derived from a base *NED-: see for example the etymology of _ned_,
presumably provided by David Salo,* in Didier Willis' _Sindarin
"_ned_ prep. in, of (time, e.g. giving a date) SD/129-31 MS *_ne?_, OS
* According to the Foreword, the _Dictionary_ "includes David
Salo's etymological reconstructions, which sometimes slightly
differ from Tolkien's explanations, but present several advantages
for the study of the 'ultimate' form of the language." The
_Dictionary_ also states: "Etymological reconstructions �
For if my long-ago proposal that _ned_ *'number(ing)' is perhaps to be
related to NOT- 'count, reckon' is less than completely satisfying, it
at least has the advantage over Willis/Salo's of referring the Sindarin
form to a base of suitable meaning and of suitable phonetic shape.
Willis/Salo's etymology _ned_ < *NED fails, first, on phonological
grounds: for original final *_-d_ would yield S _-dh_, _not_ **_-d_
(cf. S _enedh_ 'middle' (UT:264) which apparently, like N _enedh_, <
(We do find the forms _en_, _ened_ 'middle, centre' at L:224; but
these appear to be root/base, not Sindarin, forms. It could also be
argued that Tolkien was avoiding _-dh_ in the "King's Letter" as
"uncouth" (cf. UT:267, VT42:20), and thus that _ned_ is actually for
*_nedh_; but Willis/Salo make no such claim and do not "correct" the
form to *_nedh_, and further, Tolkien had no such compunction against
_dh_ in the name _Edhelharn_ in the same text. Worse, Willis/Salo
derive S _nedh_ (<< N _nedh_) from _precisely the same supposed
base NED_, _without_ noting or accounting for the discrepant
phonological derivation. And worst of all, Willis/Salo assert that this
_nedh_ means "in, inside, mid-: Ety/376", implying that this gloss is
attested in the _Etymologies_, when in fact the _only_ gloss given there
Second, Willis/Salo's etymology fails to note that the base N�D-
(V:376) does _not_ mean 'in', but rather 'middle, center'; and that the
sole Noldorin reflex of this base, the prefix _nedh-_, does _not_ have
the meaning 'in', but rather 'mid-'.
(It is possible that Willis/Salo mean by "NED" to indicate a reconstructed,
and otherwise unattested, base *NED 'in', rather than to associate _ned_
with N�D-; but if so, then a) their reference to "Ety/376", where only
N�D- 'middle, centre' occurs, is misleading; and b) this just introduces
yet another layer of unsupported assertion. Note too that NED does occur,
as a cross-reference in a deleted entry to what would become N�D- and
�NED-, but, significantly, where both bases in _-D-_ refer to 'middle,
centre' _in distinction_ to the base form without _-D-_; cf. VT45:38 s.v.
(Nonetheless, apparently on the authority of Willis/Salo's dictionary
entry, a supposed S _ned_ *'in' proliferates in "Neo-Sindarin", having
become the preferred translation of 'in' in all of its English senses,
i.e., not constrained even to the more restricted sense assigned to the
form in the dictionary. A further mutation of this assertion has
surfaced in more formal discussion of the matter, in Gabe Bloomfield's
article "The Sindarin Word for 'in'"
<http://maethor.weet.us/writings/sindin.rtf>, in which, having been
entirely cut loose from its moorings of sole attestation in _nelchaenen
ned Echuir_, Mr. Bloomfield declares that _ned_ is "more likely to mean
'into' rather than just a plain 'in'", without showing how such a
meaning could be at all appropriate to _ned_ within the sole actual
attestation of the form. He also takes the mention of the base NED at
VT45:38 s.v. NE-/N�- as unquestionably providing "the root of the [S]
word _ned_", without even noting the phonological difficulty.)
The only way that I can see to salvage anything of Willis/Salo's
assertion that S _ned_ is derived from a root meaning 'in', would be to
instead relate it to the newly-attested base NE-/N�- *'in, inside'
(VT45:38); but note that this base was deleted from the _Etymologies_
by Tolkien at least a decade before the composition of the "King's Letter",
and leaves the _-d_ of _ned_ utterly unaccounted for.
Thus, there is no evidence to support, and thus no particular reason to
accept, the notion that S _ned_ is related to either NE-/N�- *'in,
inside' or N�D- 'middle, centre', or arises from an unattested base
*NED 'in' (this being in fact phonologically impossible); and thus no
reason even to think that it means 'in' at all.
=========================================================================================Carl F. Hostetter Aelfwine@... http://www.elvish.org
ho bios brachys, he de techne makre.
Ars longa, vita brevis.
The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne.
"I wish life was not so short," he thought. "Languages take such
a time, and so do all the things one wants to know about."
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