Some remarks on _loikolíkuma_
- The word _loikol�kuma_ occurs, to my knowledge, only once in the
published corpus of J.R.R. Tolkien's writings [MC:222, 223]. It figures
in a poem named 'The Last Ark' (later version) line 20, contained in
the essay 'A Secret Vice'. In a note to the text Tolkien gives Q _loiko_
as 'corpse, dead body' and _l�kuma_ as 'taper, candle' < _l�ko_ 'wax'.
As Christopher Tolkien remarks [I:248], his father introduced some
'historical or etymological punning' into his languages. More
specifically, there are (among others) often resemblances to Germanic
words or, indeed, *possible* words. Chr. Tolkien cites
S _h�r_ 'old' or the root HERE 'to rule'. However, there are some words
which evoke older stages of Germanic, especially Proto- or even
Pre-Proto-Germanic. There is, e.g. the root QUET- which evokes such
germanic forms as Goth. _qithan_, OE _cwedhan_ etc. 'say, speak', which
have the same anlaut but the elvish word has unshifted 't'. Another
example is _huan_ 'hound' [V:364f.]. While this word is given a perfect
elvish etymology, it is reminiscent of Germanic _*hund-_ and PIE nom.
_*k'w�n, gen. _*k'un�s_ 'dog'. In fact, _huan_ is precisely what PIE
_k'uw�n_ (with SIEVERS variant as in Greek _ky�n_) would have yielded
in Proto-Germanic. Only that Germanic has built a new word from the
zero grade root adding a dental suffix. In fact, The Etymologies give
the Q genitive as _h�nen_ thus mirroring, if you will, the PIE ablaut
situation. These resemblances are hardly there by coincidence.
Now the first element of _loikol�kuma_, _loiko_, bears a striking
resemblance to Germanic words of the same meaning: Goth. _leik_, ONo.
_l�k_, OE _l�c_, NHG _Leiche_ [lai�<schwa>] etc., the first three meaning not
only 'dead body, corpse' but also 'body, shape' in general. The
diphthong 'oi' recalls Gk. _loig�s_ 'perdition, death' which is,
however, not normally connected with the Germanic words (cf. IEW:667,
Watkins 2000:49). Had OE or ONo. _l�c/k_ as a noun survived into Modern
English times it should have acquired the pronunciation /laik/. The
latter seems to occur in the Rohirric term _Dwimmerlaik_ used by �owyn
for one of the Ringwraiths [LRIII:136]. The first element is clearly a
modernization of OE _dwimor_ 'ghost', the second might be our 'corpse,
body, shape'. In the index to the LR it's glossed "(in Rohan) work of
necromancy, spectre" [ibid.p. 535].
The second element, _l�kuma_ is, internally, derived from _l�ko_ wax.
However, it is perhaps noteworthy that next to OE _l�chama_ and
_l�choma_ 'dead body, corpse' (i.e. _l�c_ + _hama_) there is a somewhat
younger OE form _l�cuma_ 'corpse'.
There certainly also is some elvish etymology for Q _loiko_. Yet, it
seems typical of Tolkien's Elvish and other languages that, while they
work perfectly in and for themselves, they contain quite a number of
allusions, puns and general resemblances with reference to the primary
world. All this is, as I see it (and I'm probably not alone there),
part of the joy of his (sub-)creation.
P.S. As for the internal derivation of Q _l�ko_, maybe it is to be
connected with _ilka-_ (apparently) 'to gleam' attested in the same
poem, line 36. There the reference is apparently to the colour of
(bleached) bones (axor) which resembles (white) wax, so that these two
words may derive from a root denoting (emitting the light of) this
colour, hence ILIK- or rather LIK- with the sund�ma prefixed to yield
List of abbreviations (Follows the conventions for Tengwestie
<http://www.elvish.org/Tengwestie/conventions.phtml> where an
example is given):
Goth. : Gothic
Gk. : Greek
I : The Book of Lost Tales, Part One
IEW : Pokorny, Julius. Indogermanisches Etymologisches W�rterbuch
LR : The Lord of the Rings
MC : The Monster and the Critics
NHG : New High German
OE : Old English
ONo. : Old Norse
PIE : Proto-Indo-European
Q : Quenya
V : The Lost Road
2000 : The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots. Second
You also find the respective entry here:
Addendum: As for the etymology of Q _loiko_, one possibility seems to
be to derive it from LOYO- [VT45:29] 'lack, be without; miss, fail to
go', possibly denoting the 'lifeless/soulless body' or 'the part that
doesn't go thither' ?
> From: David Kiltz <derdron@...>I would just like to point out that the word does appear in Modern English in
> Date: Thu, 13 Jan 2005 09:34:06 +0100
> ... Had OE or ONo. _l�c/k_ as a noun survived into Modern English times
> it should have acquired the pronunciation /laik/.
the old compound _lychgate_ (also _lichgate_), a covered section of the gate
into a churchyard in which a bier could be rested temporarily, that is to say,
a "corpse gate".
- [This is drifting off-topic. Keep any further discussion of this form related to
Tolkien's own usage and inventions, please. Discussion of the development of
forms in modern languages should otherwise be conducted off-list. CFH]
On 13.01.2005, at 20:14, Rich Alderson wrote:
> I would just like to point out that the word does appear in Modern English in
> the old compound _lychgate_ (also _lichgate_).
Thank you. Yes, I'm aware of this form but I understand, this being a compound,
the first element is pronounced /litsh/ rhyming with _switch_. Only if the noun
had survived should we see the development to /laik/ as in ModE _like_ and _to like_.
John Cowan pointed out some more survivors of the word (also in compounds), cf.
<http://tolklang.quettar.org/messages/Vol45/45.44>. As John also indicates,
there is also _lyke-wake (lykewake < ONo. _líkavaka_) but I don't know how current
the word _lyke_ is or if it is used independently at all.
Curiously, Rohirric _laik_ seems to represent an Old Norse precursor.
Among the undead creatures described in the _Advanced Dungeons & Dragons
Monster Manual_ (c.1980) was one they called a "lich"; I hadn't encountered the word
before seeing it there, but it may still have had some currency before they revived it,
so to speak.
OE/ONo. _líc/k_ also survived into modern Danish (_lig_ with silent g) and modern
Swedish (_lik_) both meaning corpse / dead body.