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Forgotten Words of Elvish: _Mornvenniath_

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  • Patrick H. Wynne
    While doing some research in _The Treason of Isengard_ recently I came across the Noldorin form _Mornvenniath_, a name of the Black Mountains appearing in a
    Message 1 of 4 , Jul 25, 2005
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      While doing some research in _The Treason of Isengard_
      recently I came across the Noldorin form _Mornvenniath_,
      a name of the Black Mountains appearing in a one-page
      manuscript apparently dating to the early 1940s (VII:124).
      The Black Mountains (also called _Eredvyrn_ << _Ered
      Myrn_) were the precursors of the later White Mountains
      (_Ered Nimrais_).

      The first element in _Mornvenniath_ is of course N. _morn_
      'black' (V:373, VT45:35), and _-venn-_ must be N. _ment_
      'point' (ibid.) with lenition of initial _m_ > _v_, and final _nt_ >
      _nn_ in medial position (cp. N. _pent_ 'tale', _pennas_
      'history', V:366). It's interesting to see another instance of
      N. _ment_ crop up outside of the _Etymologies_ (no such
      luck yet for the Qenya cognate _mente_, so far as I know).

      The final element _-iath_ can perhaps be identified with
      later S. _iâth_ 'fence', as in _Doriath, Dor Iâth_ 'Land of the
      Fence' (XI:370) and probably _Echoriath_ 'the Encircling
      Mountains' (S:138) -- hence _Mornvenniath_ *'Fence of
      Black Peaks' -- unless we are to suppose that this is the
      collective pl. ending _-iath_ seen in such forms as _giliath_
      (sg. _geil_ 'star'; V:358, VT45:15), though this variant of
      _-ath_ is otherwise only attested with nouns having _i_ as
      the original stem vowel.

      I Googled "Mornvenniath" to see if this word had been
      analyzed on any of the online forums, and got bupkis --
      no hits at all. Apparently _Mornvenniath_ is a sort of
      "forgotten word", excluded from the idiosyncratic canons
      of the neo-Elvish practitioners (despite the fact that it
      provides confirmation of the enduring existence of N.
      _ment_), and not yet analyzed by scholars. There are a lot
      of these forgotten words to be found in "The History of
      Middle-earth" volumes, very many of them Noldorin --
      e.g., _Hithdilias_ 'Misty Mountains', which shares the
      same ms. page as _Mornvenniath_; _Cinderion_ 'Hither
      Lands' (V:405); _Eges-sirion_ 'Mouths of Sirion' (V:407);
      _Thanador_, _Ulthanador_, _Borthendor_, _Orothan[ador]_,
      all early names of _Rohan_ (VI:434, n. 22), etc.

      Perhaps we might begin pointing out and discussing
      these neglected forms on this list?

      -- Patrick H. Wynne
    • David Kiltz
      ... Good catch. _Mornvenniath_ is all the more interesting because it is one of the few attestations of the element _morn_
      Message 2 of 4 , Jul 25, 2005
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        On 25.07.2005, at 14:51, Patrick H. Wynne wrote:

        > While doing some research in _The Treason of Isengard_
        > recently I came across the Noldorin form _Mornvenniath_,

        Good catch. _Mornvenniath_ is all the more interesting
        because it is one of the few attestations of the element
        _morn_ < _*mornâ_ in compounds (with the original _n_
        preserved). Other forms are _Mornennyn_ (VIII:112-13, 127)
        and _Mornedhel_ (XI:377 et al.). Possibly other forms belong
        here too, as Sindarin _Morben_ (cf. XI:362) suggests: "... the
        form _Morben_ (without affection of the _o_) shows either an
        alternation to _*mora-_ for _mori-_, after _*kala-_, or more
        probably substitution of S _morn-_ from _*mornâ_, the usual
        S adjectival form."

        This gives us some interesting clues. Apparently, whether the
        first element is _mori/a-_ or _morn-_, the second element is
        lenited, as exemplified in the above words as well as in _Morgoth_
        and _Morgai_ (with second elements _coth_ (KOTH-) and _cai_
        < _*kegyâ_ (UT:282) respectively).

        The _Etymologies_ state that the second element of _Morgoth_
        "may also contain GOTH".

        Some explained the lack of lenition in _Mormegil_ by deriving
        it from *_Morn-megil_. The above evidence, however, militates
        against such an interpretation. It seems best to see _Mormegil_
        as an adaption of Q. _Mormakil_ into Sindarin.

        Still, the question remains why, if _Morben_ really contains the
        element _morn-_, the _n_ is dropped here (and potentially in
        other words), but not in _Mornvenniath_. The _n_ is clearly
        allowed to stand before a vowel. A cluster of three consonants
        would be a prima facie reason for its loss. If we don't want to
        simply assume inconsistencies in Tolkien's concept of lenitions
        we might seek an answer in conditioned sound change that would,
        e.g., allow the _n_ to stand if the third consonant wasn't a stop.

        Lastly, a word on _Mordor_ and _Morgul_. These two words, it is
        sometimes argued, contain no lenition and thus defy the assumption
        that _mori/a-_ and _morn-_ always lenite. Yet, the original forms
        are NDOR- and ÑGOL-, anlauting with nasalized stops, which seems
        enough to explain the missing lenition. _Morgul_ is explicitly given
        as _mor(n)gul_ in the _Etymologies_ s.r. ÑGOL-. In HoME VIII we
        encounter a form _Morghul_. Obviously, relative chronology plays
        a role here, and Tolkien might have felt at some point that the
        synchronic basis of derivation was taken as _gûl_ rather than
        (historically "correct") _*ngûl/ngôl_. It should be noted, however,
        that Tolkien reverted to or maintained _Morgul_ in every instance.

        David Kiltz
      • "Beregond. Anders Stenström"
        ... Letter 347, paragraph 7: In S. initial _g_ was retained in composition, where a contact _n_ + _g_ occurred. So _born_ hot, red + _gil_ to _borñgil_;
        Message 3 of 4 , Jul 25, 2005
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          David Kiltz wrote:

          > Lastly, a word on _Mordor_ and _Morgul_. These two words, it is
          > sometimes argued, contain no lenition and thus defy the assumption
          > that _mori/a-_ and _morn-_ always lenite.

          Letter 347, paragraph 7: "In S. initial _g_ was retained in
          composition, where a contact _n_ + _g_ occurred. So _born_ 'hot,
          red' + _gil_ to _borñgil_; _morn_ 'black' + _dor_ to _morñdor_;
          the triconsonantal group then being reduced to _rg_, _rd_."

          Suilad,

          Beregond
        • Patrick H. Wynne
          ... At the end of this same letter (written in 1972), Tolkien provides another example of retention of initial D in composition when a contact N + D occurs. He
          Message 4 of 4 , Jul 26, 2005
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            --- In lambengolmor@yahoogroups.com, "Beregond. Anders
            Stenström" <beregond@u...> wrote:

            > Letter 347, paragraph 7: "In S. initial _g_ was retained in
            > composition, where a contact _n_ + _g_ occurred. So _born_
            > 'hot, red' + _gil_ to _borñgil_; _morn_ 'black' + _dor_ to
            > _morñdor_; the triconsonantal group then being reduced
            > to _rg_, _rd_."

            At the end of this same letter (written in 1972), Tolkien provides
            another example of retention of initial D in composition when
            a contact N + D occurs. He notes that _Arnor_ should properly be
            _Ardor_, though he wished to avoid the latter form (for obvious
            reasons, _ardor_ in English meaning 'enthusiasm, passion'):

            "But it can now only (though reasonably) be explained after
            invention as due to a blending of Q. _arnanóre_ / _arnanor_
            with S. _arn(a)dor_ > _ardor_" (L:428).

            -- Patrick H. Wynne
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