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799Forgotten Words of Elvish: _Mornvenniath_

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  • Patrick H. Wynne
    Jul 25, 2005
      While doing some research in _The Treason of Isengard_
      recently I came across the Noldorin form _Mornvenniath_,
      a name of the Black Mountains appearing in a one-page
      manuscript apparently dating to the early 1940s (VII:124).
      The Black Mountains (also called _Eredvyrn_ << _Ered
      Myrn_) were the precursors of the later White Mountains
      (_Ered Nimrais_).

      The first element in _Mornvenniath_ is of course N. _morn_
      'black' (V:373, VT45:35), and _-venn-_ must be N. _ment_
      'point' (ibid.) with lenition of initial _m_ > _v_, and final _nt_ >
      _nn_ in medial position (cp. N. _pent_ 'tale', _pennas_
      'history', V:366). It's interesting to see another instance of
      N. _ment_ crop up outside of the _Etymologies_ (no such
      luck yet for the Qenya cognate _mente_, so far as I know).

      The final element _-iath_ can perhaps be identified with
      later S. _iâth_ 'fence', as in _Doriath, Dor Iâth_ 'Land of the
      Fence' (XI:370) and probably _Echoriath_ 'the Encircling
      Mountains' (S:138) -- hence _Mornvenniath_ *'Fence of
      Black Peaks' -- unless we are to suppose that this is the
      collective pl. ending _-iath_ seen in such forms as _giliath_
      (sg. _geil_ 'star'; V:358, VT45:15), though this variant of
      _-ath_ is otherwise only attested with nouns having _i_ as
      the original stem vowel.

      I Googled "Mornvenniath" to see if this word had been
      analyzed on any of the online forums, and got bupkis --
      no hits at all. Apparently _Mornvenniath_ is a sort of
      "forgotten word", excluded from the idiosyncratic canons
      of the neo-Elvish practitioners (despite the fact that it
      provides confirmation of the enduring existence of N.
      _ment_), and not yet analyzed by scholars. There are a lot
      of these forgotten words to be found in "The History of
      Middle-earth" volumes, very many of them Noldorin --
      e.g., _Hithdilias_ 'Misty Mountains', which shares the
      same ms. page as _Mornvenniath_; _Cinderion_ 'Hither
      Lands' (V:405); _Eges-sirion_ 'Mouths of Sirion' (V:407);
      _Thanador_, _Ulthanador_, _Borthendor_, _Orothan[ador]_,
      all early names of _Rohan_ (VI:434, n. 22), etc.

      Perhaps we might begin pointing out and discussing
      these neglected forms on this list?

      -- Patrick H. Wynne
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