Forgotten Words of Elvish: Trotter's Noldorin names (Part 1)
- In _The Return of the Shadow_ (HoME Vol. VI) we are introduced to Trotter, Tolkien's
original conception of the character who would eventually become Aragorn. Trotter is a
Hobbit, moreover one with a rather unusual sartorial style: "He was dressed in dark rough
brown cloth, and had a hood on, in spite of the warmth, -- and, very remarkably, he had
wooden shoes!" (VI:137) Trotter's wooden shoes were apparently the source of his name,
for as the innkeeper Barnabas Butterbur notes, "What his right name is I never heard, but
he's known round here as Trotter. You can hear him coming along the road in those shoes:
clitter-clap -- when he walks on a path, which isn't often. Why does he wear 'em? Well,
that I can't say." (VI:138).
What is also remarkable about Trotter is that while Tolkien provided him with no less than
four names in Noldorin, theses names have apparently remained unanalyzed and
undiscussed by scholars. It's time to take a step or two to remedy that oversight.
The earliest Noldorin name for Trotter is _Rimbedir_, which was replaced by the form
_Padathir_, as in Glorfindel's phrase _Ai Padathir, Padathir! Mai govannen!_ 'Hail Trotter,
Trotter, well met' (see VI:194,198, 207, 217). Both of these forms appear to contain the
stem _pata-_ 'walk', later seen in S. _aphad-_ 'follow' < *_ap-pata_ 'walk behind, on a
track or path' (XI:387). This stem dates back to QL, which gives the root PATA(1) with
derivatives _pata-_ 'rap, tap (of feet)', _patakta-_ 'to clatter', _patinka _ 'shoe, slipper', etc.
Obviously imitative, this root seems ideally suited for the name of a Hobbit noted for the
"clitter-clap" of his wooden shoes. The cognates in GL are a bit more generic: Gn.
_padra-_ 'walk', derived with _pad_ (unglossed) from a root _pat-_ (also unglossed). These
forms were probably meant to replace several rejected entries found in the B-section:
_bad_ 'way, path', _badweg_ 'traveller, pedlar', etc. The verb stem _bad-_ 'travel'
underlying these rejected words is cited in the entry for _bag-_ 'sell, trade', but was not
itself struck out.
Retention of medial -MB- in _Rimbedir_ indicates that this word is a compound consisting
of _rim_ + _bedir_, the latter being the lenited form of *_pedir_, an agentive form of
*_pad-_ 'walk'. The agentive ending is perhaps the same element *_-ir_ seen in N.
_bauglir_ 'tyrant, oppressor' < _bauglo-_ 'to oppress' (V:372, VT45:33). Alternatively,
*_pedir_ might end in N. _dîr_ 'adult male, man', also used as an agental ending, as in
_ceredir_ 'doer, maker' < KAR- 'make, do' and _feredir_ 'hunter' < _faro_ 'to hunt' (V:354,
362, 387) -- in both of these agental forms from the _Etymologies_ the ending _-dir_
causes i-affection in the preceding element, a process also evident in *_pedir_ < *_pad-_.
Perhaps the original form meaning 'walker' was *_pededir_, haplologically reduced to
*_pedir_, unless we are to suppose that _-dir_ was added directly to the stem, i.e., *pad-
dir_ > *_pedir_. It is interesting to note, by the way, that *_pedir_ 'walker' in _Rimbedir_ is
homophonous with the etymologically distinct N. form *_pedir_ 'speaker' (< KWET- 'say')
seen in N. _Galbedir_ 'Talking Tree', an early name for the Huorns; see Philipp Marquart's
discussion of the latter name in Lambengolmor message #913.
The initial element in _Rimbedir_ is most likely N. _rhimp_ (= Q. _rimpa_ 'rushing, flying' <
RIP- 'rush, fly, fling', V:384), which appears in the form _rhim-_ in the river-name
_Rhimdath_ 'Rushdown' (ibid.). _Rimbedir_ thus apparently means lit. *'rush-walker',
entirely appropriate given that Eng. _trot_ means 'to walk briskly, to run at a moderate
pace (typically with short steps)'. The use of _Rim-_ rather than _Rhim-_ is probably not
significant, as Tolkien was inconsistent about indicating voiceless initial RH- in the
The ending _-thir_ in _Padathir_ is difficult to account for with certainty. It might be a
variant of agental _-dir_, with _*Padadir_ dissimilating to _Padathir_ -- the agental suffix
_-dir_ does not universally cause i-affection, e.g., N. _rhandir_ 'wanderer, pilgrim' <
_rhenio_ 'to stray' -- but I cannot think of an attested example of this sort of dissimilation,
so this is perhaps unlikely. N. _thîr_ 'look, face, expression, countenance' (as in _Cranthir_
'Ruddy-face' and _Gorthir_ 'dread-glance', V:392) has the proper form but lacks any
plausibly applicable meaning. Perhaps in _Padathir_ we are dealing with an extended
verbal stem *_padath-_ 'to trot' (< *_patatt-_), analogous to the extended Qenya verb
_patakta-_ 'to clatter' in QL, to which the agental suffix _-ir_ (as in N. _bauglir_
'oppressor') was added. Another possibility is that *padath_ is a verbal noun, 'walking,
trotting' (cp. N. _gwanath_ 'the act of dying' < WAN- 'depart, go away, disappear, vanish',
V:397) -- David Salo in "A Gateway to Sindarin" plausibly interprets the initial elements in
_ceredir_ 'maker' and _feredir_ 'hunter' as the gerunds *_cared_ and *_farad_ (and the
plural of _feredir_ is, notably, _faradrim_).
I will comment on the remaining two Noldorin names of Trotter in Part 2.
-- Patrick H. Wynne
>theses names have apparently remained unanalyzed andActually, some steps were already taken half a year ago, here:
>undiscussed by scholars. It's time to take a step or
>two to remedy that oversight.
Both discussions can be easily found via Google.
The latter is in German, but in both the proposal is made to relate
_Rimbedir_ to RIM- (V:383) (whence N. _rhemb_, _rhem_ 'frequent,
numerous' -- in this case the compound may prevent a-affection
_i_ > _e_), i.e. it could mean *'he who walks often', *'he who walks
a lot'. That may be not a literal translation of 'Trotter', but such a
nickname would certainly fit the personage.
There are also other suggestions for _Padathir_.
[Many thanks for pointing out these discussions -- my apologies to
the authors involved for overlooking their contributions!
The possibility of RIM- *'frequent, numerous' being the source of
the first element in _Rimbedir_ had occurred to me as well, but
N. _rhim-_ 'rushing' struck me as more probable, given that 'Rush-walker'
would be a very close approximation of the meaning of English _Trotter_.
I see that in the first of the two links provided above, "Atwe" notes
that his first impression of _Padathir_ was that it might be "*_pada-dir_ >
_padadhir_, and maybe Tolkien found _dh_ 'uncouth' so changed it to
_th_" -- so a tip of the hat to Atwe for first coming up with the dissimilative
interpretation of the ending _-thir_. He also notes that the ending might
be _hîr_ 'lord', "but then I cannot explain the 't'."
I will be happy indeed if my kvetching about "Forgotten Words of Elvish"
has helped in some small way to stimulate such discussions. Let's keep
up the good work! -- PHW]