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Forgotten Words of Elvish: _Flend_

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  • Patrick H. Wynne
    In The Quenta (abbreviated as Q ), Tolkien s 1930 version of his mythology, the great river of East Beleriand (later called the _Gelion_) bore for a time
    Message 1 of 3 , Sep 3, 2005
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      In "The Quenta" (abbreviated as "Q"), Tolkien's 1930 version of his
      mythology, the great river of East Beleriand (later called the
      _Gelion_) bore for a time the somewhat unusual-looking name
      _Flend_. This river is also labeled _Flend_ on the Eastward
      Extension of the first 'Silmarillion' map, and in his notes to this
      map Christopher Tolkien gives the following account of the name's
      textual history (IV:232-33):

      "In Q §14 the great river of East Beleriand was first named
      _Ascar_, but since _Ascar_ was already in Q the name of the
      northernmost of the tributaries from the Blue Mountains I
      think that this was a mere slip (see p. 189 and footnote) for
      _Flend_, to which it was emended. _Flend_ then > _Gelion_
      as on the map."

      The name _Flend_ is not translated, but it closely resembles N.
      _flind, flinn_ 'fleet-footed, swift', found in the word-lists of
      ENF, the "Early Noldorin Fragments" (PE13:143). This word probably
      provides the first element in the name _Flinding_, the Elf of
      Nargothrond later called _Gwindor_, whose fleetness of foot
      proved his undoing in the Battle of Unnumbered Tears, when
      he and the Elves of Nargothrond rushed within the very gates
      of Angband, where they were slain or captured before
      reinforcements could arrive (IV:117).

      N. _flind, flinn_ is perhaps related to another form found in ENF:
      _lhind, lhinn_ 'arrow' < *_p(i)lind-_, whence also Q. _pilin,
      pilind-_ (PE13:149, 163) -- at this period, original initial *PL-
      became LH- in Noldorin, for example, _plandá_ > _lhann_
      'broad' (PE13:148). Given that initial P- as a root consonant
      could have SP- as a variant (see the charts in the Qenya
      Phonology, PE14:64), and given that initial SP- became F- in
      early Noldorin (cf. *_spalk(w)e_ > N. _falch_ 'cleft, ravine',
      PE13:143), it seems possible that *_p(i)lind-_, given in the
      ENF as the source of N. _lhind_ and Q. _pilin_ 'arrow', might
      have had a variant form *_sp(i)lind-_ (not recorded by Tolkien),
      which was the source of N. _flind, flinn_ 'fleet-footed, swift' --
      the original meaning of which was perhaps *'arrow-like, swift
      as an arrow'.

      Another phonological development found in the ENF word-lists is
      final A-affection, the process by which the vowel I in a penultimate
      syllable was lowered to E due to a final -A that was later lost.
      This is common in later Noldorin and Sindarin, e.g., STINTÂ-
      'short' > N. _thent_ (V:388). The clearest example of final
      A-affection in the ENF occurs in _orerdh_ 'without bowels,
      pitiless', for which Tolkien provides the primitive form *_ur'-irda_
      (PE13:144). Another version of this entry in the ENF gives related
      forms without final A-affection: N. _gir_ 'inwards, interior, inside,
      heart' < *_3ird@_ (@ is used here to = schwa), and _girdh_
      'entrails, bowels' < _3irdî_ (PE13:161).

      Final A-affection may provide the means to connect N. _flind_
      'fleet-footed, swift' with the river-name _Flend_. For if it is
      plausible that _flind_ derives from *_sp(i)lind-_, then perhaps
      _Flend_ is from *_sp(i)linda_, also meaning 'swift' -- certainly
      a good name for a river. Though the "Quenta" of 1930 makes
      no mention of the Flend being notably swift, the "Quenta
      Silmarillion" of c. 1937 states that the Gelion "had neither fall
      nor rapids throughout his course, but was ever swifter than
      was Sirion" (V:262-63).

      But why didn't Tolkien simply name this river the _Flind_? A
      conceptual change from _flind, flinn_ > *_flend, flenn_
      seems unlikely in light of the fact that the name _Flinding_
      also occurs in the "Quenta". The first gloss of _flind, flinn_,
      'fleet-footed', suggests that this adjective was perhaps
      applied only to _persons_ (and perhaps animals), and it
      may be that _flend_ was the form used in describing 'swift'
      _things_, like rivers. Such a distinction in the form and use
      of certain Elvish adjectives is well attested -- for example,
      in the Gnomish Lexicon there is a three-fold distinction in
      the word for 'merry':

      _dairog_ 'merry (of persons)'.
      _dairiol_ 'merry (of things)'.
      _dairwed_ 'merry (common)'.

      Similarly, in the _Etymologies_ the Noldorin word for 'old' when
      referring to persons was _ingem_ 'yearsick' (V:399 s.v. YA-,
      VT46:22), but _gern_ 'worn' when referring to things (V:360).

      -- Patrick H. Wynne
    • David Kiltz
      ... Leaving aside the question whether rivers (or trees, v.i.) were classed as things in Elvish, _flind_ can go back e.g. to _*sp(i)lindi_, an adjectival
      Message 2 of 3 , Sep 4, 2005
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        On 04.09.2005, at 05:03, Patrick H. Wynne wrote:

        > But why didn't Tolkien simply name this river the _Flind_? A
        > conceptual change from _flind, flinn_ > *_flend, flenn_
        > seems unlikely in light of the fact that the name _Flinding_
        > also occurs in the "Quenta". The first gloss of _flind, flinn_,
        > 'fleet-footed', suggests that this adjective was perhaps
        > applied only to _persons_ (and perhaps animals), and it
        > may be that _flend_ was the form used in describing 'swift'
        > _things_, like rivers.

        Leaving aside the question whether rivers (or trees, v.i.)
        were classed as 'things' in Elvish, _flind_ can go back e.g.
        to _*sp(i)lindi_, an adjectival form; or _*sp(i)lindê_, a more
        concrete formation 'the swift thing'. _Flend_ should
        go back to _*sp(i)lindâ_ as Patrick has noted.

        An interesting parallel to this seems to be found in the name
        _Sindar_. The underlying adjective is given as _*thindi_ 'grey, pale,
        silvery grey' in both the Etymologies and e.g. XI:384. However, the
        name of the people is from an (apparent) _*-â_ adjective (meaning
        given as 'the Grey'). This latter adjectival formation could be used
        with persons, as also suggested by Tolkien's statement that
        _Celeborn_ contained _ornâ_ 'uprising, tall' as 2nd element. Whereas
        _ornê_ 'tree' discribes a tall/uprising "thing" (UT:266).

        It may be then, I think, that rivers were or could, at least when
        being given concrete names, be 'coded' as animated and hence an
        _-â_ adjective (as in _Sinda_) would be used. Or, it was at least not
        incompatible.

        A formation in _-ê_ wasn't used. However, that isn't necessarily due
        to semantic constraints.

        Rather, it seems quite possible that various strategies to form names
        were available. In Indo-European you find nouns derived from
        adjectives by means of internal or external derivation or, sometimes,
        simply in the form of the adjective. The latter can be explained by
        ellipsis. Cf. Modern Greek _neró_ 'water' which was originally just a
        qualifying adjective ('clear, cool') with Old Greek _hydôr_ 'water'.
        So, _Flend_ could stand for 'the swift' (scil. river). Of course,
        very often a direct, zero derivation, without ellipsis is possible as
        seemingly in _vanyar_ 'beautiful', 'the Beautiful/ Fair' etc. (The
        same occurs in IE, cf. e.g. OIndic _devá-_ 'divine/god').

        So maybe, _flend_ is simply an alternative adjectival form (i.e.
        *_sp(i)lindâ_ next to _*sp(i)lindi_), or one necessary because of
        'animacy' or similar coding. At any rate, I think it can not be
        assumed that a form in _-â_ was used in _Flend_ to denote a "thing".
        Indeed, the word _orerdh_ < _*ur-irda_ cited by Patrick might speak
        against that assumption as well. While things would indeed have no
        pity, it seems a bit pointless to accuse a stone or the like of being
        'pitiless' unless in a very 'poetic' diction, speaking with empathy
        and assigning at least a certain degree of animacy to a thing. Yet,
        that kind of use, I think, can justly be called ' very marked'.
        Normally, then, _orerdh_ would be used with incarnate beings. One
        could still maintain the idea that _orerdh_ although used with
        persons was deliberately coded as "thing" to say such a thing as "you
        have as much pity as a stone". However, the other examples adduced,
        albeit from a later period of the language, seem to suggest otherwise.

        Lastly, assuming an original abstract in _-â_ as in _galadâ_ 'great
        growth' > 'tree' (UT:266) doesn't look promising. Do we have to
        analyse GALA + DÂ ?

        David Kiltz
      • Patrick H. Wynne
        ... I would be more inclined to reconstruct the full primitive form of N. _flind, flinn_ as *_sp(i)linde_, with short _-e_. I can t find any examples in the
        Message 3 of 3 , Sep 5, 2005
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          --- In lambengolmor@yahoogroups.com, David Kiltz <derdron@g...> wrote:

          > Leaving aside the question whether rivers (or trees, v.i.)
          > were classed as 'things' in Elvish, _flind_ can go back e.g.
          > to _*sp(i)lindi_, an adjectival form; or _*sp(i)lindê_, a more
          > concrete formation 'the swift thing'. _Flend_ should
          > go back to _*sp(i)lindâ_ as Patrick has noted.

          I would be more inclined to reconstruct the full primitive form of N.
          _flind, flinn_ as *_sp(i)linde_, with short _-e_. I can't find any
          examples in the ENF word-lists of a primitive adjective ending in
          _-i_, but there are at least three examples there of primitive adjs.
          in short _-e_:

          *_ekse_ > N. _ech_ 'far away' (PE13:142)
          *_pingwé_ > N. _hiw_ 'rich' (PE13:147)
          *_t:loise_ > N. _tlui_ 'slender' (PE13:154)

          [The acute accent in *_pingwé_ indicates stress rather than length
          -- many primitive adjs. in ENF are marked as being stressed on the
          final vowel, e.g., *_mburyá: > N. _boir, boer_ 'hot, raging' --
          cp. the noun *_mbúrya:_ > N. _bordh_ 'heat, rage' (PE13:139).]

          There is thus no suggestion in ENF that *_sp(i)linde_ (or *_-ê_)
          would be a "more concrete formation". At any rate, N. _flind,
          flinn_ is clearly translated as an adjective, 'fleet-footed, swift'.

          Also please note that the primitive form I proposed as underlying
          _Flend_ was *_sp(i)linda_ with short final _-a_, not *_sp(i)lindâ_.
          There are many primitive adjectives in ENF ending in long *_-â_,
          but there are also many that end in short *_-a_, such as *_ur'-irda_
          > _orerdh_ 'without bowels, pitiless' (PE13:144), which I cited as an
          example of final A-affection. Others include *_sleiwa_ > N. _lhui_
          'pale', *_tegna_ > N. _tain_ 'straight', and *_stalga_ > N. _thala_
          'valiant' (PE13:149,153). If Yahoo groups allowed us to use more
          sophisticated typography, I would transcribe the final _-a_ in my
          reconstructed form with both a macron and breve.

          > So maybe, _flend_ is simply an alternative adjectival form (i.e.
          > *_sp(i)lindâ_ next to _*sp(i)lindi_), or one necessary because
          > of 'animacy' or similar coding. At any rate, I think it can not be
          > assumed that a form in _-â_ was used in _Flend_ to denote a
          > "thing". Indeed, the word _orerdh_ < _*ur-irda_ cited by Patrick
          > might speak against that assumption as well. While things would
          > indeed have no pity, it seems a bit pointless to accuse a stone
          > or the like of being 'pitiless' unless in a very 'poetic' diction,
          > speaking with empathy and assigning at least a certain degree
          > of animacy to a thing.

          I would definitely not assert that at the time the ENF word-lists
          were written the primitive adj. ending *_-a_, _-â_ was regularly
          and consistently used across the board as a marker indicating
          things rather than animates -- as you note, *_ur'-irda_ >
          N. _orerdh_ 'without bowels, pitiless' argues against this!
          However, it still strikes me as possible, even probable, that
          *_sp(i)linde_ was used of persons and *_sp(i)linda_ of things,
          i.e., that the difference in final vowel was used to make the
          animate/inanimate distinction _in this particular pair of adjs._,
          even though this semantic distinction of *_-e_ vs. *_-a_ was
          not universal throughout the language.

          For this seems to be the case with Gn. _dairog_ 'merry (of persons)'
          and _dairiol_ 'merry (of things)'. _In this particular pair of adjs._,
          the ending _-og_ is used to mark the adjective referring to people,
          while _-iol_ marks that referring to things. But this distinction
          between the use of _-og_ and _-iol_ does NOT appear in Goldogrin
          as a whole -- in GL there are adjectives in _-og_ which seem most
          logically to apply to things, e.g., _âlog_ 'of wood, wooden' and
          _crithog_ 'circular', and there are adjectives in _-iol_ which seem
          most logically to apply to persons, e.g., _cauthiol_ 'tasteful,
          endowed with good taste -- discreet, circumspect' and _gwenniniol_
          'maidenly, girlish'.

          -- Patrick H. Wynne
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