- The 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
- On 6/9/02 6:47 PM, "Patrick Wynne" <pwynne@...> wrote:
> Metathesis of earlier medial _*-sk-_ > _-ks- (sometimes spelled _-x-_) is anIndeed, it is not unusual for metathesis to exhibit variable application in
> attested but irregularly occurring development in Quenya.... 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.
real languages. In Old English, for example, metathesized and
non-metathesized versions of words occur even within the same text. As forms
of the word _fisc_ 'fish' (Gothic _fisks_), the poem _Andreas_ has both
_fisces_ gen. sg. and _fixum_ (_x_ -= _ks_) dat. pl. The pl. _fixas_ also
occurs (and _dixas_ 'dishes', _muxle_ 'muscle', _tux_ 'tusk', _waxan_
'wash', and many others beside). The doublet _acsian_, _ascian_ 'ask' is
particularly well-known. Other doublets include _aepse_/_aespe_ 'aspen',
_cops_/_cosp_ 'fetter', and _wlips_/_wlisp_ 'lisping' (all < *_sp_); and
_waesp_/_waeps_ 'wasp' (< *_ps_).
| 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." |
As far as I remember (it was back in the youth of Elfling), one of the
proposed interpretations was mine, and was misquoted by others on Elfling
(that's actually what made me subscribe to the list :)
Other interpretations were suggested afterwards, with different meanings,
and no consensus was reached. I have not checked yet the developments of
the (parallel or early?) discussions on Tolklang.
Just to trace it correctly, my interpretation was published in _Hiswelókë_
(French fanzine) no. 1 in 1999, as a correction to Kloczko's Quenya
dictionary, where it was stated at p. 76 that _onyalie_ was meaning
"Peuple des Ents - Ent race". My annotation read as follows:
p. 76, entrée onyalie : la tentative de traduction « Peuple des Ents »
(probablement induite par le terme sindarin Onod, « Ent ») est sans
doute erronée. En fait nous ne savons pas clairement ce que signifie
ce terme, qui est utilisé par Tolkien en titre d'une note « À propos
des Aigles et des Ents », Anaxartaron Onyalie. Plus vraisembablement,
Onyalie Anaxartaron serait « le peuple des enfants des Anaxartar ».
Le premier mot viendrait de onya « progéniture » [UT/174] et de lie
« peuple » [Ety/369], et serait ainsi formé sur le même principe que
d'autres noms de peuples et de races (cf. Eldalie, « Les Elfes »).
Anaxartar serait un terme pluriel (ici au génitif, terminaison -on)
regroupant Manwe (pour les Aigles) et Yavanna (pour les Ents), très
probablement dérivé du Valarin. En particulier, les racines valarines
*anaskâd et akasân, que l'on retrouve dans mahanaxar et acsan en Quenya,
évoquent une notion de jugement et de décision, et l'on pourrait donc
peut-être interpréter ce terme comme « Les Hauts Juges ».
For a web edition of this article, check here:
A quick (and dirty) translation would read as follows:
p. 76, entry onyalie : the tentative translation "Ent race"
(conceivably reconstructed after the sindarin term Onod, "Ent") is
probably incorrect. Actually, we do not know what this term, used by
Tolkien in the title of a note "Of Eagles and Ents", really means.
More likely, Onyalye Anaxartaron would be "The People of children of
the Anaxartar". The first word would derive from onya "son, child"
(UT/174) and lie "people" (Ety/369), and would therefore be formed on
a similar model as other names of peoples and races (cf. Eldalie
"Elves"). Anaxartar would be a plural term (here in the genitive,
ending -on), regrouping Manwe (for the Eagles) and Yavanna (for the
Ents), and very conceivably derived from Valarin. In particular, the
Valarin roots *anaskâd and akasân, found in mahanaxar and acsan in
Quenya, imply a notion of judgement and decision, and we could
therefore perhaps interpret this term as meanin "The High Judges".
So my own theory, at that time (remember, it was back in early 1999), was
that Onyalie Anaxartaron was *not* a direct translation for "Of Eagles and
Now, your own interpretation is rather sound and interesting, as it
does not require involving Valarin roots...
Whatever solution is found "more acceptable" by other scholars, there
will remain an issue: the alternative title "Anaxartamel" on the same
manuscript remains unexplained.
[I have edited Didier's message to remove quite a bit of initial, and
unnecessary, quoting of Pat's article. I have also cleaned up some line
breaks and misspellings. I mention this because I mean to do this sort of
tidying up when and as I can (though I can't guarantee I'll always have
the time to do so). Also, I'm passing this message because it provides
a glimpse at a hard-to-find (and, speaking personally, hard to read, as I
have very little French) alternative interpretation. But this is not
an invitation to rehearse every previous argument. Carl]
- on 9/6/02 11:47 pm, Patrick Wynne at pwynne@... wrote a fine and
convincing piece on the Quenya title _Anaxartaron Onyalie_ (XI:340).
My faith wavered over three points:
(1) The idea that the ending of _anaxarta_ involves _arta_ by haplology. I
would have thought a simple suffix -ta would be feasible.
(2) The suggestion that _anaxartar_ might be a sub-group of _soroni_ (as
opposed to a synonym). I feel there is no evidence for this either way.
(3) It should be pointed out that _Of the Ents and the Eagles_ contains the
name _Ezellohar_ (S:46) and is therefore one of relatively few texts where
Tolkien indisputably made use of loanwords from Valarin as described in
_Quendi and Eldar_, written probably three to four years previously (XI:
341, 359). Furthermore, it is a story of the Valar before the coming of the
Eldar. It does not seem far-fetched, therefore, to look to a Valarin
etymology for _anaxartaron_.
Nevertheless, I don't think any of the various the translations offered
during the 1998 discussions (TolkLang and Elfling messages cited by Patrick)
were particularly convincing including my own. It seems symptomatic of
this that the most elegant attempt was a joke: Stephen Rowland's suggestion
that _Anaxartaron Onyalie_ means "Synopsis for _The Lord of the Rings_";
Elfling message 148. Nor did anyone offer an explanation of why Tolkien
would decide to call the story one thing in English and another in Quenya.
A literary point can be made in favour of Patrick's interpretation of
_anaxarta_ as a word for the Eagles of Manwe. This is Thorondor's key
moment, as described in S:154:
"And Morgoth took the body of the Elven-king [Fingolfin] and broke it, and
would cast it to the wolves; but Thorondor came hasting from his eyrie among
the peaks of the Crissaegrim, and he stooped upon Morgoth and marred his
face. The rushing of the wings of Thorondor was like the noise of the winds
Here are Gwaihir and his kin at the Black Gate (LR:927):
"Straight down upon the Nazgûl they bore, stooping suddenly out of the high
airs, and the rush of their wide wings as they passed over was like a gale."
And here is the first appearance of the Great Eagles in Tolkien's work, when
they aid the fleeing Gnomes in _The Fall of Gondolin_ (II:193):
"Thereupon there was a rushing like a great wind in rocky places, and the
Thornhoth, the people of the Eagles, fell on those Orcs who had scaled above
the path, and tore their faces and their hands and flung them to the rocks
of Thorn Sir far below."
Rushing and rending, therefore, are at the very heart of Tolkien's abiding
image of the Eagles of Manwe.