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Variability of *_sk_ metathesis (was _Anaxartaron Onyalie_)

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  • Carl F. Hostetter
    ... Indeed, it is not unusual for metathesis to exhibit variable application in real languages. In Old English, for example, metathesized and non-metathesized
    Message 1 of 4 , Jun 9, 2002
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      On 6/9/02 6:47 PM, "Patrick Wynne" <pwynne@...> wrote:

      > Metathesis of earlier medial _*-sk-_ > _-ks- (sometimes spelled _-x-_) is an
      > 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.

      Indeed, it is not unusual for metathesis to exhibit variable application in
      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." |
    • Didier Willis
      Greetings, 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
      Message 2 of 4 , Jun 10, 2002
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        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]
      • John Garth
        on 9/6/02 11:47 pm, Patrick Wynne at pwynne@gvtel.com wrote a fine and convincing piece on the Quenya title _Anaxartaron Onyalie_ (XI:340). My faith wavered
        Message 3 of 4 , Jun 13, 2002
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          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
          of Manwe...."

          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.

          John Garth
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