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800Re: [Lambengolmor] Forgotten Words of Elvish: _Mornvenniath_

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  • David Kiltz
    Jul 25, 2005
      On 25.07.2005, at 14:51, Patrick H. Wynne wrote:

      > While doing some research in _The Treason of Isengard_
      > recently I came across the Noldorin form _Mornvenniath_,

      Good catch. _Mornvenniath_ is all the more interesting
      because it is one of the few attestations of the element
      _morn_ < _*mornâ_ in compounds (with the original _n_
      preserved). Other forms are _Mornennyn_ (VIII:112-13, 127)
      and _Mornedhel_ (XI:377 et al.). Possibly other forms belong
      here too, as Sindarin _Morben_ (cf. XI:362) suggests: "... the
      form _Morben_ (without affection of the _o_) shows either an
      alternation to _*mora-_ for _mori-_, after _*kala-_, or more
      probably substitution of S _morn-_ from _*mornâ_, the usual
      S adjectival form."

      This gives us some interesting clues. Apparently, whether the
      first element is _mori/a-_ or _morn-_, the second element is
      lenited, as exemplified in the above words as well as in _Morgoth_
      and _Morgai_ (with second elements _coth_ (KOTH-) and _cai_
      < _*kegyâ_ (UT:282) respectively).

      The _Etymologies_ state that the second element of _Morgoth_
      "may also contain GOTH".

      Some explained the lack of lenition in _Mormegil_ by deriving
      it from *_Morn-megil_. The above evidence, however, militates
      against such an interpretation. It seems best to see _Mormegil_
      as an adaption of Q. _Mormakil_ into Sindarin.

      Still, the question remains why, if _Morben_ really contains the
      element _morn-_, the _n_ is dropped here (and potentially in
      other words), but not in _Mornvenniath_. The _n_ is clearly
      allowed to stand before a vowel. A cluster of three consonants
      would be a prima facie reason for its loss. If we don't want to
      simply assume inconsistencies in Tolkien's concept of lenitions
      we might seek an answer in conditioned sound change that would,
      e.g., allow the _n_ to stand if the third consonant wasn't a stop.

      Lastly, a word on _Mordor_ and _Morgul_. These two words, it is
      sometimes argued, contain no lenition and thus defy the assumption
      that _mori/a-_ and _morn-_ always lenite. Yet, the original forms
      are NDOR- and ÑGOL-, anlauting with nasalized stops, which seems
      enough to explain the missing lenition. _Morgul_ is explicitly given
      as _mor(n)gul_ in the _Etymologies_ s.r. ÑGOL-. In HoME VIII we
      encounter a form _Morghul_. Obviously, relative chronology plays
      a role here, and Tolkien might have felt at some point that the
      synchronic basis of derivation was taken as _gûl_ rather than
      (historically "correct") _*ngûl/ngôl_. It should be noted, however,
      that Tolkien reverted to or maintained _Morgul_ in every instance.

      David Kiltz
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