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The _Born_ Identity

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  • Patrick H. Wynne
    Recent discussions on this list involving S. _born_ hot, red (L:426-27) set me to wondering if this form had any discernible cognates in the published
    Message 1 of 3 , Aug 6, 2005
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      Recent discussions on this list involving S. _born_ 'hot,
      red' (L:426-27) set me to wondering if this form had any
      discernible cognates in the published corpus. Interestingly
      enough, a bit of research shows that S. _born_ has related
      forms dating (externally) all the way back to the Qenya
      Lexicon (1915).

      In the Leeds-era "Noldorin Word-lists" we find N. _bordd_
      'heat, rage' < *_mbúrya:_; _byr, buir_ 'fire' < *_mburye:_;
      and _boir, boer_ 'hot, raging' < *_mburyá:_ (PE13:139) --
      cognate Qenya forms _mure, mury-_ 'heat, close weather'
      and _murya_ 'close, muggy' are also cited. The contemporary
      "Noldorin Dictionary" contains an almost identical group
      of forms (PE13:160). There seems little doubt that these
      words are the conceptual predecessors of S. _born_ 'hot,
      red'.

      Also clearly related is the early Noldorin form _bordd_
      'fire place', found on one of the "Gnomish Lexicon Slips"
      tucked into the back of the GL notebook (PE13:116). Listed
      beside _bordd_ is the Qenya cognate _purya_ < _búrjâ_ (I am
      here using _j_ to represent _i_ with a subscript arch in
      the original). In Tolkien's early conception of Eldarin
      phonology, original *B was devoiced > P in Qenya but retained
      as B in Gnomish/early Noldorin; hence Gn. _baul_ 'body, trunk',
      Q. _pûle, pulka_ (PE11:22); N. _bala_ 'round hump, hillock',
      Q. _palla_ 'paunch' < *_balgá_ (PE13:138); etc. And so also
      _búrjâ_ > Q. _purya_, N. _bordd_.

      The stem *_bur-_, when strengthened to *_mbur-_ as in the
      "Noldorin Word-lists", yields Qenya forms in _m-_ rather
      than _p-_; cf. Q. _mure, murya_ cited above. In the Qenya
      Lexicon, which generally gives roots according to Qenya
      phonology rather than in their primitive Eldarin form,
      *_bur-_ appears as PURU- 'consume by fire' (there is a
      hacek over the R, indicating that it is from earlier DH),
      with several derivatives including _purya-_ 'set fire to'.
      Tolkien appears to have had considerable fun with "historical
      punning" in the derivatives of PURU-, which also include
      _pur (n)_ 'a fire (an artificial fire)' (cp. Grk. _pyr_
      'fire' and Eng. _pyre_ 'a heap of combustible material, esp.
      one for burning a corpse') and _pus (pust-)_ 'boil' (cf.
      Latin/Eng. _pus_ 'pus').

      -- Patrick H. Wynne
    • Rich Alderson
      ... I just want to point out that English _pyre_ is not a cognate of Greek _pur_ but a borrowing of same. The actual English cognate is, of course, _fire_!
      Message 2 of 3 , Aug 6, 2005
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        Patrick H. Wynne wrote:

        > Tolkien appears to have had considerable fun with "historical
        > punning" in the derivatives of PURU-, which also include
        > _pur (n)_ 'a fire (an artificial fire)' (cp. Grk. _pyr_ 'fire'
        > and Eng. _pyre_ 'a heap of combustible material, esp. one
        > for burning a corpse') and _pus (pust-)_ 'boil' (cf. Latin/Eng.
        > _pus_ 'pus').

        I just want to point out that English _pyre_ is not a cognate of
        Greek _pur_ but a borrowing of same. The actual English cognate
        is, of course, _fire_!

        Rich Alderson

        [Good point. Tolkien's historical puns from the "Lost Tales"
        period often hinge on similarities of later forms rather than
        coincidence of etymologies. An excellent example cited by
        Christopher Tolkien in his appendix "Names in the _Lost
        Tales_ -- Part I" is Q. _n�nu_ 'yellow water-lily' and _n�nuvar_
        'pool of lilies', with which he compares Eng. _nenuphar_
        'water-lily', Fr. _n�nufar_ (I:248). The Qenya forms appear
        in QL as derivatives of NENE 'flow', but the etymology of
        Eng. _nenuphar_ is totally different -- it traces back to
        Sanskrit _n�l�tpala_ 'blue lotus', < _n�l_ 'blue' + _utpala_
        'lotus, water-lily'.

        Similarly, Latin _pus_, _puris_ 'corrupt matter' (< IE *_p�-_,
        *_pu-_ 'to rot, decay') has no actual etymological connection
        with Grk. _pyr_ 'fire' (< IE *_pew�r_, *_p�r-_), though the
        similar Qenya forms _pus_ 'boil' and _pur_ 'a fire' both
        derive from the same root PURU- 'consume by fire'. --PHW]
      • David Kiltz
        ... On the note of etymological punning, there is not only the connection with IE *_peHur_/peuHr_ fire (as substance) but also the Germanic word family of
        Message 3 of 3 , Aug 9, 2005
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          On 06.08.2005, at 16:13, Patrick H. Wynne wrote:

          > N. _bordd_
          > 'heat, rage' < *_mbúrya:_; _byr, buir_ 'fire' < *_mburye:_;
          > and _boir, boer_ 'hot, raging' < *_mburyá:_ (PE13:139) --

          On the note of etymological punning, there is not only the connection
          with IE *_peHur_/peuHr_ 'fire' (as substance) but also the Germanic
          word family of which ModE 'to burn' is a member, comes to mind. Cf.
          Goth./ OHG/ OS _brinnan_, OIc. _brinna_, OE _beornan_/ birnan_ etc.
          Especially often, we find 'alternative etymologies', i.e. Elvish
          cognates where the etymology of a Germanic word isn't totally clear,
          or wasn't at Tolkien's time. Pokorny (IEW:144) would derive the word
          as a nasal-infix present from a root *_bh(e)reu-/ bhrêu-/bhru/bhrû_
          'foam, seethe, bubble' etc. Derivatives are, inter alia, Latin
          _ferv(e)o_ 'seethe, boil' and ModE _brew_.

          For phonetical reasons, this etymology isn't widely favoured anymore
          today but it was current in Tolkien's day. Lühr (MSS 35, 1976:78-9)
          tried to connect it with a root *_bhreiH-_. Often, it is thought to
          derive from IE *_gwher-_, which entails its own problems.

          The important thing here, of course, isn't the precise etymology of
          ModE _to burn_ and its cognates but that the Elvish forms are, by
          craft or chance, reminiscent of Germanic words with, more or less,
          the same meaning.

          David Kiltz

          Main bibliography:
          MSS == Münchner Studien zur Sprachwissenschaft.
          IEW == Pokorny, J. (1994, 1st ed. 1959). Indogermanisches
          etymologisches Wörterbuch. Bern: Francke.
          LIV == Rix, H., & Kümmel, M. (2001). LIV, Lexikon der indogermanischen
          Verben : die Wurzeln und ihre Primärstammbildungen. Wiesbaden:
          Ludwig Reichert
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