- Didier Willis' diligent effort has given us the 'Hisweloke's Sindarin
dictionary' (chapeau). As the editor invites comments, I'd like to
sound off on the entry _certh_.
Version 0.98 has the entry (pronunciation omitted here):
certh* pl. cirth* n. rune WJ/396, LotR/E
Irreg. OS *kirtha, CE *kirtê "cutting" (KIR)
I wonder where OS _*kirtha_ is taken from. In XI:396 Tolkien clearly
says: "The Sindarin _certh_ is probably from _*kirtê_ 'cutting', a
verbal derivative of a type not used in Quenya, the form of which
would in any case have been _*kirte_ if inherited."
So, there is _*kirtê_, pl. _*kirtî_ which, from what we know, would
regularly develop into Sindarin as *_cirth_, pl. _cirth_. Most likely,
in my view, _certh_ was created as an analogical singular following the
e/i pattern so abundantly attested in Sindarin. Cf. also, e.g., the
Etym. s.v. PHILIK- ("N _filig_ pl., analogical singular _fileg_") for
a similar process.
In any way, positing an 'irregular' _*kirtha_ doesn't seem to make
sense, as Tolkien suggests there never was such a form. If, then,
_certh_ is not the soundlaw-wise forward developed singular, one
shouldn't reconstruct a form _kirtha_. It is very implausible that a sg.
_*kirtâ_ was formed in analogy to _kirtî_, since the motivation for
such a form isn't there (_*kirtê_ vs _*kirtî_ are sufficiently distinct).
So, I think, both the reconstruction _**kirtha_ and (even more) the word
'irreg.' are misleading. The form _certh_ is, if anything, analogical.
It would go back 'virtually' to _*kirtha_ but that form, again, to all
probability never existed.
Secondly, I would like to ask, what CE _*kirtê_ is supposed to mean. Is
CE here 'Common Elvish' or 'Common Eldarin' ? Both would be hard
to maintain. Perhaps it is the archaic form of the word _*kirtê_ that
lets the author(s) use the epithet 'CE'. However, Tolkien says that it
is a verbal derivative not used in Quenya. Now, it might be that
_*kirtê_ is indeed either Common Eldarin or Common Elvish, that is, a
form ancestral both to Quenya and Sindarin. That would then mean that
Quenya subsequently lost all instances of such formations (which, for
anybody dealing with historical linguistics wouldn't seem likely).
Alternatively, we have to read Tolkien's statement as meaning that such
verbal derivatives were only formed in other branches of Eldarin, most
notably, for our case, Telerin and hence Sindarin. If the latter is the
case, 'PS' for 'Pre-Sindarin' would, in my opinion, have been a better
denomination, because it implies old age, yet doesn't put the form into
If CE here is used in the same manner as e.g. 'Common Slavic' vs
'Proto-Slavic' by Birnbaum [Common Slavic. Progress and Problems in its
Reconstruction. Ann Arbor 1975] it might well be that _*kirtê_ goes
back to that period. However, as it seems very much to be an
not-all-encompassing formation, the denomination CE is wrong. In
other words, normally, it is only justified to speak of CE (either
Common Eldarin or Common Elvish) forms or formations, if they're
indeed ancestral to all subdivisions.
[It seems to me that the proper label for _*kirtê_ is probably
"Common Telerin", a term that also has the benefit of being
used by Tolkien himself. In "Quendi and Eldar" he writes: "The
derivatives of *KWEN were more sparingly represented in the
Telerin dialects, of Aman or Beleriand. This was in part due
to the Common Telerin change of _kw_ > _p_" (XI:375). -- PHW]
- On 26.06.2004, at 10:07, Patrick Wynne wrote:
> It seems to me that the proper label for _*kirtê_ is probablyQuite possibly. I used 'Pre-Sindarin' as the most cautious
> "Common Telerin", a term that also has the benefit of being
> used by Tolkien himself. In "Quendi and Eldar" he writes: "The
> derivatives of *KWEN were more sparingly represented in the
> Telerin dialects, of Aman or Beleriand. This was in part due
> to the Common Telerin change of _kw_ > _p_" (XI:375). -- PHW
denomination, as I feel that this is what we can confidently say about
the form. As a dictionary label, Common Telerin (with a little note
attached to it, perhaps) would be preferable. Or something like
'Pre-Sindarin form (Common Telerin?)'.