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Moria Spell

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  • Peter
    Has anyone tried to translate the version of Gandalf s spell to open the gates of Moria that appears in _The Return of the Shadow_ p. 451 (paperback ed.):
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 15 9:43 AM
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      Has anyone tried to translate the version of Gandalf's spell to open
      the gates of Moria that appears in _The Return of the Shadow_ p. 451
      (paperback ed.):

      _Annon porennin diragas-venwed
      diragath-telwen porannin nithrad_

      the hyphens stand for dots in the original). Or does anyone know if
      this has been discussed on the mailing lists or elsewhere?

      Peter

      [I seem to recall this verse being discussed in some detail once in
      VT, though with little success at coming up with a likely translation
      -- I haven't the time right now to search through my VT back-issues
      and provide a citation. As for finding out if this has been discussed
      on any of the Tolkien mailing lists, I would suggest Googling some
      unique words from the verse, and also trying the "Search Archive"
      feature on the various Yahoo groups devoted to Tolkien. -- PHW]
    • cgilson75
      ... Here is a summary of that discussion: In VT 20 (p. 12) Tom Loback suggested that perhaps _-ath-_ is a lenition of _-as-_, and that _diragas_ and
      Message 2 of 2 , Mar 29 10:50 PM
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        --- "Peter" <edelberg@g...> wrote:

        > Has anyone tried to translate the version of Gandalf's spell to
        > open the gates of Moria that appears in _The Return of the
        > Shadow_ p. 451 (paperback ed.):
        >
        > _Annon porennin diragas-venwed
        > diragath-telwen porannin nithrad_
        >
        > the hyphens stand for dots in the original). Or does anyone know if
        > this has been discussed on the mailing lists or elsewhere?

        To which Patrick Wynne added a note:

        > I seem to recall this verse being discussed in some detail once in
        > VT, though with little success at coming up with a likely
        > translation [...]

        Here is a summary of that discussion:

        In VT 20 (p. 12) Tom Loback suggested that perhaps "_-ath-_ is a
        lenition of _-as-_," and that "_diragas_ and _diragath_ are the same
        word and are verbs," with the future tense suffix _-ath-_ as in
        _linnathon_ `I will sing' in the Hymn to Elbereth. In
        _diragas·venwed_ he said the second word is the lenited form of
        *_menwed_. He also suggested that _porannin_ may contain _nin_ `me'
        as in Sam's Invocation to Elbereth and the preposition _an_ of _ammen_
        `for us' and _anim_ `for myself' (Gandalf's fire spell and Gilraen's
        linnod); and that "_nithrad_ may indicate an underground passage or
        tunnel" with _ni-_ cognate to the _di-_ `beneath' of the invocation
        and the end of the word comparable to _athrad_ `crossing, ford' and
        _ostrad_ `a street' (Etym. root RAT- `walk'). Tom also noted the one
        certain fact about this spell, that _Annon_ == `gate'.

        In VT 20 (pp. 5, 20) I suggested that the first component of _diragas_
        and _diragath_ is a form of Noldorin _dîr_ from Etym. root DER- `adult
        male, man (elf, mortal, or of other speaking race)' with second
        components _gas_ `hole, gap' and _gath_ `cavern' and construction
        comparable to _Nauglafring_ `Necklace of the Dwarves' and _Goldamir_
        (II 346, Etym. 357-8, 377), thus _diragath_ `cavern of men'. I also
        suggested that related to the GL verb _telu-_ `to close, end, finish'
        a derivative "_telwen_ would be `closure' or `cover', and
        _diragath·telwen_ essentially `cavern-door'." And as an alternative
        possibility to *_menwed_ (perhaps from root MEN- `region, direction',
        as in _Men-i-Naugrim_ `Dwarf-Road', Road Goes Ever On 64, UT 280), I
        suggested that the form underlying lenited _·venwed_ might be
        *_benwed_, derived from GL _benn_ `shape, cut, fashion'. "So
        _diragas·venwed_ would mean `man-hole shaped', i.e. having the shape
        of the cavern mouth, describing the _annon_ `gate', which of course
        was cut to fit exactly into the opening."

        In VT 22 (pp. 22-25) Tom elaborated his theory by proposing that in
        _diragas·venwed_ lenition of *_menwed_ `way' marks it as the object of
        the verb _diragas_, while in _diragath·telwen_ absence of lenition
        marks _telwen_ as the subject of the (same) verb _diragath_. He also
        suggested that _porennin_ may be structured comparably to _porannin_,
        but with preposition _en_ `from yonder, over there', i.e. _porennin_ =`_ before me' and _porannin_ == `_ for me'.

        In VT 23 (pp. 10-12) I suggested an alternative interpretation of
        _telwen_ as an adjective *`domed, roofed; covered, closed; ended,
        finished' and _diragath·telwen_ == *`closed tunnel'; and an alternative
        interpretation of _nithrad_ as _ni_ + _(a)thrad_, literally "something
        like `me to cross' or `my crossing', referring to the intended purpose
        of the spell, for the speaker to get past the gate." I also mentioned
        a suggestion of Patrick Wynne's that the first syllables of _diragas·_
        and _diragath·_ might relate to the preposition _dir_ in the "Secret
        Vice" Noldorin poem: _dir avosaith_ `dark through gloomy places;
        (shining) over the gloomy places', _dir hanach_ `through the vale'
        (Monsters & Critics 217).

        In VT 26 (pp. 10-11) Tom offered some further remarks, but added
        nothing new to the discussion; and so it ended as far as I recall.
        That was November 1992.

        -- Christopher Gilson
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