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Noldorin soft mutation _ph_ > _chw_

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  • Helios De Rosario Martinez
    The Addenda & Corrigenda to the EEtymologies_ (VT45 &46) reveal an (at least for me) unexpected pattern of Noldorin soft mutation, though it wasapparently
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 15, 2004
      The "Addenda & Corrigenda to the EEtymologies_" (VT45 &46) reveal an
      (at least for me) unexpected pattern of Noldorin soft mutation, though it
      wasapparently rejected in the revisions to the manuscript.

      It is the change from ON _ph_ (the labial spirant, normally giving EN
      _f_) to EN _chw_, that occurs:

      A) Initially in _Nos Chweanor_ *'House of Feanor' (VT46:6, s.v. NÔ-).
      This mutation could be caused by the original final vowel of the
      closely connected word _nos(s)_ < ON *_nosse_, cp. Q _nosse_, if that
      noun was composed before the Exile (it would then be ON *_Nosse
      Phayanôr_, cf. PHAY-). Or perhaps it was a grammatical mutation,
      regardless of the phonology of the precedent word, as occurs in other
      genitival expressions of _The Etymologies_ (see my discussion on
      _Cilgalad_ in <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lambengolmor/message/706>
      though as David Kiltz noted, this could be a case of medial
      phonological mutation from earlier *_Kilyakalata_, not a grammatical

      _Nos Chweanor_ was later emmended to _Nos Feanor_. Note, on the other
      hand, that before _Nos Chweanor_ >> _Nos Feanor_ there was _Nos
      Finrod_, originally written in that form according to the published
      text. If _Nos Finrod_ was allowed to stand beside _Nos Chweanor_, it
      could be because Finrod (in the version of the _legendarium_
      contemporary to Etym., do not confound with Felagund) went not to the
      Exile, and therefore the name of his House fell out of use among the
      Exiled Noldor, or became an historical motif; this could have blocked
      the mutation characteristic of the language of the exiles (though the
      isolated words were adapted into it: in ON it would probably have been
      *_Nosse Phinderauto_, cf. PHIN-). However, this contrast between _Nos
      Finrod_ and _Nos Chweanor_ does not really seem to have existed: the
      entry NÔ- occurs on the page of the manuscript presented in facsimile on
      VT46:5, and there we can see that the form _Chweanor_ was immediately
      rejected and then replaced by _Feanor_.

      (I have, however, some doubt: In the mentioned page of the MS, the
      "F" in _Finrod_ appears to be strongly marked, and some faint curved
      stroke like a "C" appears to be behind it. Was perhaps _Finrod_ a
      replacement of *_Chwinrod_, though not noted in the text of A&C, or is
      it only my fanciful imagination?)

      [Looking at my photocopy again, I believe that is indeed the case: i.e.,
      that "_Finrod_" was altered from original "_Chwinrod_". Good catch! CFH]

      B) Medially after vowel in _Nurchwannor_, cognate of Q _Nurufantur_
      (VT46:4, s.v. ÑGUR-); and in _Olchwannor_, cognate of Q _Olofantur_
      (VT45:28-29, s.v. LOS-). These cases have some difficulty: the Eldarin
      form of _-fannor_ was certainly *_-spantûrô_ (cf. SPAN-, TUR-), and
      elsewhere in Etym. we see that original _sp_ was _sph_ in ON, at least
      initially, so we could think that these instances of _chw_ do not come
      from ON _ph_, but from ON _sph_. However, the addendum to ÓLOS- show
      the ON form _Olophantur_ (VT46:7), where we see that medially the _s_
      was not preserved (and see that sometimes was also optional initially,
      in ON _(s)phárobe_ and _(s)pharasse_, s.v. SPAR-).

      On the other hand, it is interesting to see that, according to LOS-
      and ÓLOS-, the first part of this name should be originally *_olos-_,
      and in fact beside the ON _Olophantur_ there is written "*_olosph-_",
      which compared with the Q form _Olo(s)-fantur_ seems to indicate that
      also in ON both _Olophantur_ and *_Olosphantur_ forms existed. Since
      in EN only one name was applied, perhaps both forms were confounded
      after the consonantal changes, or either the EN name was derived only
      from _Olophantur_.

      As with _Nos Chweanor_, these other names were revised, to _Gurfannor_
      and _Olfannor_.

      I am not aware of any other text where this pattern of mutation in
      Noldorin (nor earlier Gnomish or later Sindarin) occurs. In Q(u)enya,
      however, we do find many instances where the labial
      (especially when followed by _u_, _w_) and the labiobelar spirants are
      interchanged. For the earliest instances, see the section of "The
      Qenya Phonology" that explains the evolution "_xw_ > _hu_ (_f_)" in
      PE12:17, or the duality of Q _fui_ and _hui_ in QL and Etym. s.v.
      PHUY-. For the latest, see note 1 of the fragment from "The
      Shibboleth of Feanor" that explains the approach in Quenya (especially
      the Vanyarin) between _f_ and _hw_, and the development _phu-_ >
      *_hwu-_ > _hu_ seen in Q _huine_, cp. T _fuine_ and S _fuin_ (VT41:8).
      The reason for such a development was, according to this last text, that
      the _f_ was originally bilabial, and it ceased in Noldorin Quenya
      because in that dialect it was changed to labiodental. And it is
      interesting to compare that explanation with the like development of
      bilabial to labiodental _f_ according to "The Qenya Phonology", and
      how this could give _h-_ initially when _u_ followed (although this
      was not the normal development; cf. PE12:20).

      The approach between bilabial _f_ and labiovelar _xw_ (in the Noldorin
      spelling _chw_) could also be the reason why in ON _ph_ was softly
      mutated to _chw_ in EN. It is also interesting to note that this would
      be the reverse type of mutation so characteristic of Noldorin and
      later Sindarin: _kw_ > _p_, _gw_ > _b_, etc.

      Another explanation for this mutation could be found in the fact that
      most soft mutations change the mode of articulation of the consonant
      (unvoiced > voiced, stop > spirant, etc.), but this unusually changes
      the point of articulation. The only other case of a soft mutation of
      this type, the well-known _s_ > _h_ (cf. S:441, for instance), could
      be used to explain it even if _f_ was labiodental. Labiodental spirant >
      labiovelar spirant (_f_ > _chw_) would be perfectly symmetric to dental
      spirant > velar spirant (_s_ > _h_).

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