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Re: _Asëa_ and _athelas_

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  • Arden R. Smith
    ... Strictly speaking, that s true. It s really just an extrapolation, based on the gloss of _athelas_ as kingsfoil and the transparent meaning of _aranion_
    Message 1 of 11 , Nov 13, 2005
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      On Nov 13, 2005, at 3:20 PM, F. Ström wrote:

      > The translation 'leaf of kings' does not seem to be
      > attested.

      Strictly speaking, that's true. It's really just an extrapolation,
      based on the gloss of _athelas_ as 'kingsfoil' and the transparent
      meaning of _aranion_ 'of kings'.

      > "Christopher Tolkien and I have had an ongoing discussion about the
      > origins of this word. It plainly contains -las 'leaf'. It is possible
      > (but entirely speculative) that what Tolkien had in mind at that time
      > (1938-39) was the Old English word aethele 'noble, royal.' This
      > would translate 'kingsfoil,' near enough. At any rate, a very late
      > note (1970 or later) says that Asea (cf. Aragorn, 'asea aranion') was
      > the name in Quenya, regularly adapted and compounded with -las
      > in Sindarin. The plant was known to the medical loremasters of the
      > Noldor. The root is *ATHAYA, 'helpful, kindly, beneficial.' "

      Interesting. I was unaware of this. The unpublished etymology that I
      cited derives _athelas_ and _asea_ from a similar form (though spelling
      TH with thorn), but unfortunately leaves it unglossed. This etymology,
      incidentally, is considerably earlier than that mentioned by Bill
      Hicklin, dating from sometime between the publication of the first
      edition (1954-55) and the publication of the second edition (1965).

      ***************************************************
      Arden R. Smith erilaz@...

      Perilme metto aimaktur perperienta.
      --Elvish proverb

      ***************************************************
    • F. Ström
      ...
      Message 2 of 11 , Nov 14, 2005
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        --- "F. Ström" <frestro@...> skrev:
        > The translation 'leaf of kings' does not seem to be
        > attested. The only translation of _asea_ that I know
        > of is the one quoted by William C. Hicklin on the
        > art.fan.tolkien newsgroup:
        >
        <http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.books.tolkien/browse_thread/thread/34fc7f494c7ff868/3fad9c3c879f5a2c?lnk=st&q=athelas+hicklin&rnum=1&hl=en#3fad9c3c879f5a2c>

        The URL in my post was editorially changed, but the
        reference to the "art.fan.tolkien" newsgroup was not
        updated to "rec.arts.books.tolkien" along with it.

        [Quite right; sorry! The link you sent originally didn't work for me, so I googled it myself, and didn't notice the discrepancy. CFH]

        Forconvenience I quote the first post by William C.
        Hicklin as well:

        <http://groups.google.se/group/alt.fan.tolkien/browse_thread/thread/7b7287d31cfa1e77/bdb4b12467dc0ad1?lnk=st>

        "The herb was known to the Noldor, who termed it
        "athea" from *ATHAYA 'helpful, kindly, beneficial.' A
        later sound shift rendered it "asea" (cf. Aragorn's
        "asea aranion" in "The Houses of Healing.") In
        Middle-earth the word was converted into regularized
        Sindarin form as athe- plus -las 'leaf.'"

        /Fredrik
      • F. Strÿfffff6m
        On his Addenda and Corrigenda page to RC (http://bcn.net/~whammond/addenda/readers.html), Wayne Hammond writes: On the Lambengolmor forum,
        Message 3 of 11 , Dec 2, 2005
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          On his 'Addenda and Corrigenda' page to RC (http://bcn.net/~whammond/addenda/readers.html), Wayne Hammond writes:

          'On the Lambengolmor forum, message 850 [...], Fredrik Ström correctly comments that our gloss asëa aranion 'leaf of kings' is not attested in Tolkien's writings. In message 851, however, Arden R. Smith defends this translation as an extrapolation from the gloss of athelas 'kingsfoil' in an unpublished etymology by Tolkien together with 'the transparent meaning of aranion "of kings"'.'

          What Arden wrote was:
          >The unpublished etymology that I cited derives _athelas_ and _asea_ from a
          >similar form [..] but unfortunately leaves it unglossed

          I think no-one queries the translation *'of kings'. However, in the light of Tolkien's gloss on _athea_ (regularly > _asea_ after the change of Q. _th_ > _s_ described in 'The Shibboleth of Feanor' [XII:331]), I'm not sure that the translation *'leaf' should be defended (and I don't think Arden said so, either). I think that the note on RC:183 is correct except for the parenthesis, '(but if so, _athelas_ = ''leaf-leaf'')', since the attested etymological connection between _athe-_ and _asea_ does not imply that _athe-_ means 'leaf'. In the note on RC:580 ll. 2-3 from bottom, perhaps one should substitute Tolkien's actual gloss ('beneficial') for 'leaf' (or simply omit the words 'leaf of kings')?

          /Fredrik



          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • William Cloud Hicklin
          You know, I ve felt guilty for the better part of a decade for my unthinking and unauthorized posting of that snippet on Usenet- especially since soon
          Message 4 of 11 , Oct 26, 2006
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            You know, I've felt guilty for the better part of a decade for
            my unthinking and unauthorized posting of that snippet on
            Usenet- especially since soon therafter the copyright-law war
            erupted with the Salo/Star/Fauskanger axis. Fortunately it seems
            that it hasn't spread that far, since even Arden appears to have
            been unaware of it (although it has turned up in a couple of
            online "encyclopedias").

            In any event, it's out, and surely there would be no harm if Wayne
            Hammond and Christina Scull were to use it, since they carry the
            Imprimatur.

            I suspect that _asea aranion/athelas_ is one of those Q-S pairs
            that aren't literal translations. Now, I'm no linguist; but we
            can at least be certain that _asea_ and _athe-_ are equivalent
            elements, and, as Frederik points out, that the Quenya assumed
            or omitted the leaf-element. Or, viewed the other way around,
            that the leaf-element was added by the Exiles when they formed
            their Sindarin equivalent (acc. to the late note, the plant was
            known to the medical loremasters of the Noldor- with no
            indication whether the Sindar were aware of its properties, or
            even if it was native to Middle-earth). The snippet's wording
            has _asea_ regularly > _athe-_, "compounded with _-las_," which
            to me suggests that the _-las_ element only entered with the
            Sindarin conversion. Why would this be? Another note cited by
            Wayne and Christina indicates that only the leaves were used,
            which may be relevant. Or perhaps the linguistic loremasters
            found "athe" alone to be ugly?

            [Tolkien wrote in his note on "Stress" in Section I of Appendix E
            that words in which the stress falls on the third syllable from the
            end -- e.g. _Denethor, Fëanor_ -- "are favoured in the Eldarin
            languages, especially Quenya." It seems natural then that the
            medical loremasters of the Noldor, whose native tongue was
            Quenya, would expand _athe-_ to the more euphonious (not to
            mention distinctive) _athelas_. PHW]

            One might speculate whether "aranion" was a pre- or post-
            Downfall Numenorean addition ("balm" > "kingsbalm"), since the
            specific association of healing with the King appears to have
            been theirs, not the Elves'. This leads to yet another
            question- whether Ad/CS _kingsfoil_ followed or in fact underlay
            the hypothesised Num. addition of _aranion_ .

            -- William Cloud Hicklin

            > I think no-one queries the translation *'of kings'. However,
            in the light of Tolkien's gloss on _athea_ (regularly > _asea_
            after the change of Q. _th_ > _s_ described in 'The Shibboleth
            of Feanor' [XII:331]), I'm not sure that the translation
            *'leaf' should be defended (and I don't think Arden said so,
            either). I think that the note on RC:183 is correct except for
            the parenthesis, '(but if so, _athelas_ = ''leaf-leaf'')',
            since the attested etymological connection between _athe-_ and
            _asea_ does not imply that _athe-_ means 'leaf'. In the note on
            RC:580 ll. 2-3 from bottom, perhaps one should substitute
            Tolkien's actual gloss ('beneficial') for 'leaf' (or simply omit
            the words 'leaf of kings')?
            >
            > /Fredrik
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