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_Dagmor_ (Beren's sword) < *_dag-baur_ *'slay-need'?

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  • Richard Derdzinski
    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
    Message 1 of 3 , Nov 15, 2006
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      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- +
      MBAW-)

      [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
      all stages.

      [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._:
      <http://www.phy.duke.edu/~trenk/elvish/noldorin/compounds.html>).
      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?

      --Richard Derdzinski
    • Richard Derdzinski
      ... I have seen this analysis and I have found there as many as _six_ compounds built like _Dagmor_ according to my theory (ie. _dag-_ verb slay + _baur_
      Message 2 of 3 , Nov 15, 2006
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        --- In lambengolmor@yahoogroups.com, "Carl F. Hostetter" wrote:
        > [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
        > (...)
        >(see Thorsten Renk's detailed
        > analysis of all such Noldorin compounds in _Etym._:
        > <http://www.phy.duke.edu/~trenk/elvish/noldorin/compounds.html>).

        I have seen this analysis and I have found there as many as _six_
        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)"

        [source: http://www.phy.duke.edu/~trenk/elvish/noldorin/compounds.html%5d

        If my theory is right _Dagmor_ would be built like eg. _hadlath_
        (V:363, 368):

        _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
        to slay'

        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]

        --Richard Derdzinski
      • David Kiltz
        ... The six examples given above can, I think, all be interpreted as consisting of a verbal element with different kinds of complements. They can, then, be
        Message 3 of 3 , Nov 17, 2006
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          On 15.11.2006, at 21:12, Richard Derdzinski wrote:

          > * _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 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'

          The six examples given above can, I think, all be interpreted as
          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:
          "rushes down".

          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
          grammatical terminology).

          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".

          David Kiltz
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