_Dagmor_ (Beren's sword) < *_dag-baur_ *'slay-need'?
- I have been thinking about the name _Dagmor_ of Beren's sword
(III:344, 350). This is the part of "The Lay of Leithian Recommenced"
which comes from fifties or even sixties, which means this word can
potentially be analyzed in accordance with the roots in _The Etymologies_.
Noting that, according to _The Etymologies_, the name _Boldog_
(of the orc-captain in "The Lay of Leithian") is analyzed as
'Torment-slayer' (V:375, 377):
_Boldog_ < _baul-daug_ < *_ñgwal-ndákó_ 'Torment-slayer' (ÑGWAL- + NDAK-)
I wonder whether _Dagmor_ could be derived as follows:
_Dagmor_ < _dag-baur_ < *_ndak-mbaur-_ 'Slay(ing)-need' (?) (NDAK- +
[Cp. Q. _maure_, N. _baur_ 'need' < MBAW- (V:372). PHW]
It is attested that in the stage of Noldorin in the _Etym._, _b-_ (<
CE *_mb-_) lenits to _m-_, cf. _Gothmog_:
_Gothmog_ < _goth-baug_ < _gothombauk-_ (GOTH- + MBAW-)
The only problem is the structure of this name. What does the element _dag-
mean in _Dagmor_? Is it a verb (_Dagmor_ = verb-noun?), a noun
(noun-noun?), an adjective (adjective-noun?)?
In private correspondence Carl F. Hostetter wrote to me that in
his opinion this etymology ['Slay(ing)-need'] is unlikely. His opinion
is that we may have here _-mor_ 'dark(ness)' without lenition, because the
presence or absence of lenition in compounds is _highly_ variable at
[As I also wrote to Ryszard, my opinion is ultimately that *'slay(ing)-need'
is an exceedingly clunky construction, one that I think Tolkien would
not have found pleasing or suitable at all, and that therefore it is far
more likely that _-mor_ relates to some other element than MBAW-.
The presence or absence of lenition across the mass even just of Noldorin
words in _Etym._ is indeed highly variable, at least when measured against
such "rules" as are often assumed for N/S compunds as "the second
element of a compound shows lenition" (see Thorsten Renk's detailed
analysis of all such Noldorin compounds in _Etym._:
The presence or absence of lenition depends not simply on position in
a compound, but also the age of the compound and the grammatical
nature of its constituents and, quite frankly, on Tolkien's views at any
particular time. All of which is to say that the mere fact that we have
_-m_ and not _-v_ in the second element of _Dagmor_ is insufficient to
rule out derivation from MOR-, particularly when it yields a suitable sense,
one far more suitable and pleasing to my ear than *'slay(ing)-need'.
I also suggested to Ryszard that he consider other possibilities within
_Etym._, such as BOR-. CFH]
What is opinion of the other Lambengolmor?
- --- In email@example.com, "Carl F. Hostetter" wrote:
> [As I also wrote to Ryszard, my opinion is ultimatelyI have seen this analysis and I have found there as many as _six_
> that *'slay(ing)-need' is an exceedingly clunky construction,
> one that I think Tolkien would
> not have found pleasing or suitable at all
>(see Thorsten Renk's detailed
> analysis of all such Noldorin compounds in _Etym._:
compounds built like _Dagmor_ according to my theory (ie. _dag-_ verb
'slay' + _baur_ noun 'need' = compound: VERB-NOUN). Notice this
fragment of Thorsten's analysis:
"In some cases, verbs seem to be part of the compound. This is most
clearly evident from _megli_ < _mad-lî_ 'bear' (LR:369) which seems to
be nothing but the short description 'eats honey'. In other cases, a
translation would require a participle (although only the verb sten is
part of the compound), cf. _Glingol_ < _lingikâle_ '*hanging light'
(VT45:19,27). In all cases the verb stem is the first element.
However, since only roots are found and not inflected verbs, it would
be premature to use this to draw any conclusions on word order in
Noldorin. The (rather short) list is:
* _Drambor_, _Dramborleg_ '*beat-fist' (LR:354)
* _Glingol_ < _lingikâle_ '*hang-light' (VT45:19,27)
* _hadlath_, _haglath_ 'sling, *throw-string' (LR:363,368)
* _Maglor_ 'Gold-cleaver' (LR:371)
* _megli_ < _mad-lî_ 'bear, *eats honey' (LR:369)
* _Rhibdath_, _Rhimdath_ 'Rushdown' (LR:384)"
If my theory is right _Dagmor_ would be built like eg. _hadlath_
_hadlath_ < *_had-lath_ = *'throw-string' ie. *'string for throwing,
string which is used to throw [stones]'
_Dagmor_ < *_dag-baur_ = *'slay-need (n.)' ie. *'need of slaying, need
What about such an analysis?
[My own deep suspicion that Tolkien would never have thought this
construction suitable remains, since it arises not from any issue of
combining verbs and nouns, but rather from the unsuitability of this
_particular_ combination. As I said, the problem is that the proposed
meaning *'slay-need' is clunky and unappealing: it sounds to my ear
very much like something we would find in "Elvish As She Is Spoke",
not in Elvish as Tolkien conceived it. CFH]
- On 15.11.2006, at 21:12, Richard Derdzinski wrote:
> * _Drambor_, _Dramborleg_ '*beat-fist' (LR:354)The six examples given above can, I think, all be interpreted as
> * _Glingol_ < _lingikâle_ '*hang-light' (VT45:19,27)
> * _hadlath_, _haglath_ 'sling, *throw-string' (LR:363,368)
> * _Maglor_ 'Gold-cleaver' (LR:371)
> * _megli_ < _mad-lî_ 'bear, *eats honey' (LR:369)
> * _Rhibdath_, _Rhimdath_ 'Rushdown' (LR:384)"
> If my theory is right _Dagmor_ would be built like e.g.. _hadlath_
> (V:363, 368):
> _hadlath_ < *_had-lath_ = *'throw-string' i.e.. *'string for throwing,
> string which is used to throw [stones]'
> _Dagmor_ < *_dag-baur_ = *'slay-need (n.)' ie. *'need of slaying, need
> to slay'
consisting of a verbal element with different kinds of complements.
They can, then, be divided into three groups according to the
function of their respective second elements: A) 1-3, B) 4+5, C) 6.
In group A the second element, a noun, can be interpreted as the
subject of an underlying verbal phrase: 1. "a fist that beats,
hammers" 2. "a light that hangs" 3. "a string that throws".
Group B is different in that the second element can be interpreted as
the object of a verbal phrase: 4. "(something/someone) that cleaves
gold", 5. "(sth./so.) that eats honey". #6, which forms a group of
its own, can be interpreted as a verbal phrase with an adverb:
I will not go into a lengthy discussion of various types of
compounds. One can, of course, as Richard Derdzinski does, interpret
#3 (or group A) as a determinative (or endocentric) compound with
nominal governing (I hope this makes sense in English, I'm trying to
translate German 'nominales Determinativkompositum'). In the case of
_dagmor_ *'need of slaying' could mean a number of things. Need used
for killing ? or (a situation of) need characterized by killing ? or
even need that kills ?.
Personally, I find the verbal interpretation more elegant. If it is
correct, we're dealing with secondary (German 'uneigentlichen')
compounds here. That is, with original syntagmas where the juxtaposed
elements have fused. (Something similar, albeit not yet fully turned
into a compound, can be found in French _tire-bouchon_ or Spanish
_saca corchos_). The first element would then be an endingless 3.
pers. sg. "aorist" fitting, I think, the general nature of those
compounds "typically, usually does...". (Without opening a whole new
Pandora's box, I'd like to mention that in Eldarin, the endingless
form of a verb might originally have had a function similar to what
is typically described as 'participle' in the european tradition of
In that vein, I'd interpret _Dagmor_ as "sth./so. that slays darkness/
night/gloom" (2nd element < *_môrê_). On a wholly subjective note
(again), 'Slayer of darkness' seems to fit the style of Prof.
Tolkien's stories better than "The need to kill".