The _Born_ Identity
- 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
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,
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
- Patrick H. Wynne wrote:
> Tolkien appears to have had considerable fun with "historicalI just want to point out that English _pyre_ is not a cognate of
> 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').
Greek _pur_ but a borrowing of same. The actual English cognate
is, of course, _fire_!
[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_
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]
- On 06.08.2005, at 16:13, Patrick H. Wynne wrote:
> N. _bordd_On the note of etymological punning, there is not only the connection
> 'heat, rage' < *_mbúrya:_; _byr, buir_ 'fire' < *_mburye:_;
> and _boir, boer_ 'hot, raging' < *_mburyá:_ (PE13:139) --
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.
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: