On digraphs for (ae) and (oe)
- In Lambengolmor message #753:
S�bastien Bertho comments on the use of characters for _�_ (ae)
and _�_ (oe) in the published text of the _Etymologies_ as well as
in the "Addenda & Corrigenda" (VT45 and VT46).
Perhaps others have already realised, but there may be a pattern
in the editorial treatment of these digraphs in Etym: all
instances of _�_ (ae) noted by the original editor (Ch. Tolkien)
appear as a single character, and they are confirmed by A&C:
_g�sra_, _*g�l�_, _nd�r_ (macron above - the one below NDER-;
see below for this particular case), _sn�s_ (with circumflex),
This goes also for two instances not mentioned by S�bastien,
namely _gl�r_ (V:359 s.v. GLIR-) and _h�w_ (V:364 s.v. KHIM-),
corrected to _glaer_ (VT45:15) and _haew_ (VT45:22)
respectively. According to A&C, Ch. Tolkien read them as _�_
(ae) and used a digraph, so they fit the rule described above.
On the other hand, all actual instances of _�_ (oe) are given as
separate characters _oe_ in Etym; after reading both the A&C and
S�bastien's post, it is clear that Ch. Tolkien gives _doelio_,
_noedia_, _arnoediad_, _foeir_, _telloein_, _moerilind_, _oeil_
when we should actually read _d�lio_, _n�dia_, _arn�diad_,
_f�ir_, _tell�in_, _m�rilind_, _�il_.
I shouldn't think it is a coincidence: rather I suppose that Ch.
Tolkien clearly distinguished between _�_ (ae) and _�_ (oe) in
his reading, and either he or the printer kept this distinction
by using separate characters for _�_ (oe) for the sake of
clarity. Given the extreme similarity of the characters they
were using, it would not be illogical.
A special case is that of _nd�r_ (ae) as the correct form of
_nd�r_ (oe) (macron above each digraph, V:378 and VT46:4). After
looking very closely at the word as published in Etym, it can be
seen that the character is different from the other digraphs in
the book (the shape being closer to _o_ than to _a_ - always
italics), but the difference is subtle indeed. I tend to believe
that this was more a slip of the printer than a reading _�_ (oe)
by Ch. Tolkien; the more so when the cross-reference between
NDER- and NI1- is so clear, and also in view of the general
tendency I've put forward. To the editors: is the actual word in
the manuscript likely to have been misread as _nd�r_ (oe)
instead of _nd�r_ (ae)?
[The form in the entry NDER- is clearly and unambinguously
_nd�r_ (ae digraph with macron). That in NI1- is in isolation
liable to misreading as _nd�r_ (oe), because there is a stray dot
(apparently of ink, though I can't be sure from the photocopy
I have) in, but clearly discontinuous with, what would otherwise
be the normally open area of the left-bowing portion of the
_�_ (ae), but in comparison with other examples of both _�_
(ae) and _�_ (oe) in _Etym._, and with the form as written under
NDER-, it is very clearly _nd�r_ (ae). CFH]
Or, in a more general note, are all the instances of _�_ (ae)
likely to have been constantly misread as _�_ (oe), and are all
the instances of _�_ (oe) likely to have been misread as _oe_?
[No. I think you are correct that the decision was made, either
by Christopher Tolkien or by the printer, to represent all cases
of _�_ (oe) with two characters in order to distinguish them
from _�_ (ae), as in the italic typeface used for _Etym._ they
would otherwise be very hard to distinguish. CFH]
I'll be surprised if the answer is 'Yes'. In my opinion, the
regularity weighs heavily for this theory: all in all, it would
be strange that Ch. Tolkien consistently misread all instances
of _�_ (oe) as _oe_, and the only occasion in which he might
have read _�_ (oe) (i.e., in _nd�r_ under NI1-) the right
reading was actually _�_ (ae)! We may reasonably accept that he
got wrong two instances of _�_ (ae) (i.e., _gl�r_ and _h�w_
instead of _ae_) out of eight, but surely not all _�_'s (oe).
Whether it was a good practice or not is a matter of opinion: if
I guessed correctly, we can take for granted that all instances
of an ambiguous digraph stand in principle for _�_ (ae); on the
other hand, in separating all instances of _�_ (oe) as _oe_ the
editor would have hindered us from knowing whether Tolkien
wrote, e.g., _n�dia_ or _noedia_. It may not have mattered much,
as probably in all cases we may easily guess what sound(s) _oe_
refers to. On the other hand, the editors of A&C were careful to
let us know that Tolkien had written _n�dia_, _f�ir_, etc.
instead of _noedia_, foeir_, etc.
The issue, as stated by S�bastien, implies a more general
question, i.e., how the distinction between _�_ (ae) and _�_
(oe) was kept (or not) in the whole of the book in question (_The
Lost Road_) and in the rest of the published corpus; and how the
(very few) appearances of a digraph must be understood. I
haven't looked for them thoroughly, but here are some instances
I've come accross:
- The same edition of The Lost Road has a couple of cases in
pages 80 and 84, where e.g. _�t_, _W�ced_, _h��ne_, etc. surely
stand for _aet_, _Waeced_, _hae�ne_, as Old English does not use
- In _The Shaping of Middle-earth_ we have _M�gdros_, _M�gderos_
when the Noldorin name _Maidros_ is adapted into Old English
(sorry not to provide references, I'm using the Spanish
edition); they appear in both romans and italics, and obviously
stand for _Maegdros_, Maegedros_.
- In "Quendi and Eldar" (_The War of the Jewels_) we have _arom�_
(macron above the _o_ and 'open' diacritic below) and _n�x�rra_
(_x_ stands for a Greek chi) (again, sorry not to give the
references, maybe the moderators will assist?), when discussing
the Valarin origin of names _Orom�_ and _Nahar_. In the latter
cases at least, I guess _�_ (ae) was intended (_Naexaerra_).
[I'm afraid I can't provide any information on this, as I don't have
photocopies of the texts in question (only of the drafts of _Quendi
and Eldar_, in which the discussion of _Orom�_ and _Nahar_ do not
(On a side note, the Spanish editions do use separate characters
for _�_ (ae) and _�_ (oe) in italics which can be distinguished
more or less easily, but I'm afraid they are not used correctly
or consistently. The cases I've mentioned above appear as _�t_
(oe), _W�ced_ (oe), _h��ne_ (oe), _M�gdros_ (ae), _M�gderos_
(ae), _arom�_ (oe) and _n�x�rra_ (ae). Both instances of _nd�r_
in Etym are identical (both of them, as well as the rest of
digraphs in Etym, with _�_ (oe)). We may regret that the Spanish
editors didn't take advantage of the two characters, although it
would have necessitated some research beyond the bare text of
the English edition to do so, and maybe it would not have been
in accordance with the original editor's wishes.)
As I said above, if the policy of transforming cases of _�_ (oe)
into _oe_ was carried through other English editions as it
apparently was in Etym, we are probably missing other
occurrences of the digraph in the original texts.
The next step would be to wonder what happened with texts
published later, especially in VT and PE. A close look shows
that different (although always similar) characters were used in
A&C, and that these were consistent with the editors' replies to
S�bastien; but I at least would have missed the point if the
issue hadn't been raised, or if I had overlooked the example of
_nd�r_ (oe) being replaced with _nd�r_ (ae); the latter is the
only place where you can see both characters next to each other
In VT39:10 we have _�_ (ae) twice, which are easy to tell, even
if we can't compare them with the ones in A&C, since they are
explicitly said to come from _ae_ (an arch above the two
characters). Maybe other digraphs in VT, if any, are not so
Finally, the only instance I've found in PE is in the Gnomish
Lexicon, where we have _Orom�_ or _Orom�_ (a short diacritic
over each _o_ and a macron over the digraph - PE:11:63 s.v.
_Orma_). Funny that it is the same case as the one from Q&E,
written more than four decades later; to my eye it looks like
_�_ (ae), but maybe the editors will clarify it?
PD: Just in case, the editions I've mentioned here are:
The Lost Road - Unwin Hyman 1987
La Formaci�n de la Tierra Media - Minotauro 1998 (tr. of The
Shaping of Middle-earth)
El Camino Perdido - Minotauro 1999 (tr. of The Lost Road)
La Guerra de las Joyas - Minotauro 2002 (tr. of The War of the Jewels)
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