Names of the languages in -rin
- Dear Lambengolmor,
What is your opinion on the etymology of the Quenya language-names in
_-rin_ i.e. Eldarin, Sindarin, Telerin, Valarin etc.? Such names are
treated in Tolkien's late papers as Quenya names though it seems
they were first typical for the predecessors of Sindarin (cf.
_goldogrin_ in GL:41, or the language-names in "The Lhammas" V:169-170).
Is it etymologically adjective? Or maybe _-rin_ can be explained as a
noun element with the meaning of 'language'?
-- Richard Derdzinski
- Richard Derdzinski wrote:
> What is your opinion on the etymology of the Quenya language-names inEarly Qenya language-names had also a similar form: see the list of
> _-rin_ i.e. Eldarin, Sindarin, Telerin, Valarin etc.? Such names are
> treated in Tolkien's late papers as Quenya names though it seems
> they were first typical for the predecessors of Sindarin
languages _Eldarin_, _Noldorin_, _Solosimpilin_, _Qenyarin_, _Inwelin_,
_Telellin_, _Cor-eldarin_ at the beginning of the Qenyaqetsa (PE12:2).
The endings _-rin_, _-lin_ in most of them could be the plural endings
_-r_, _-li_, + _-(i)n_. In fact, most of the plural folk-names implicit
in those language-names are found in the Qenya Lexicon or the Qenyaqetsa
The plurals _Eldar_ and _Cor-Eldar_ are found in the text before the
_Noldor_ and _Inweli_ (and again _Eldar_) are in QL:36 (s.v. _Erinti_);
there the form _Teleri_ also occurs, but _telelli_ can be found in QL:91
_Solosimpeli_ is in QL:35 s.v. _Eldamar_. Note that from _Solosimpilin_
at PE12:2 the expected plural folk-name would have been *_Solosimpili_,
which blends two plurals of _Solosimpe_: this one in QL:35 with _-li_,
and the commoner _Solosimpi_ (cf. PE12:1-2, 4, 17, 85), with _-i_. The
form _-li_ is usually employed for nouns with vocalic ending, and _-i_
for nouns with consonantal ending, or in _-e_ < (semivocalic) _-i_ (cp.
PE14:43-44); thus both plurals forms could be expected for _Solosimpe_,
though if they coexisted, only one of them would be etymological, the
other one being probably derived by analogy. The blend *_Solosimpili_
seems rarer, and perhaps did not occur outside the language-name; but
note that the language-name form _Solosimpelin_ also occurred, at PE12:22.
*_Qenyar_ is the only plural that I have not found, and which probably
does not exist, as _Qenya_ is not a singular folk-name, but an adjective
related to _Qendi_. The ending _-ya_ is a usual Qenya adjective former,
as seen in the QL adjectives _inya_ 'tiny' (p.42), _laminya_
'animal-like, beastly, stupid' (p.50), _mintya_ 'reminding, "memoryful"'
(p.62), _nyenya_ 'querulous, tearful, plaintive' (p.69), _rûya_
'unmoved, steadfast' (p.80), _sastya_ 'sore, galled' (p.86), _talanya_
'burdened, weighed down, sad' (p.88), _telya_ 'attractive' and
_telyantalya_ (p.90), _tilinya_ 'downy, hairy' (p.92), or _varya_
'different' (p.100). _Qenyarin_ was probably formed by analogy from the
The suffix _-in_, on the other hand, could be a short form of _-inwa_,
another adjective former which is also applied to form folk-related
adjectives, like _noldorinwa_ (glossed 'goblin (adj.)' in QL:67),
_telerinwa_ (MC:216, PE16:90ff.), and specially enlightening,
_eldarinwa_ in the Enlish-Qenya Dictionary, where it is given next to
_eldarin_ as Qenya glosses to the adjective 'elfin' (PE15:71). The word
_Qenyarinwa_ is also found, written next to the English form "Qenyatic"
If related, short _-in_ and long _-inwa_ could have different
grammatical functions, _-inwa_ being used when the adjective qualified a
name (as in _losselie telerinwa_ 'the white people of the shores of
Elfland', MC:215), and _-in_ when the substantive was omitted and thus
the adjective was itself used substantively (like in the language-names).
This _-inwa_ ending is an adjective former very productive outside
language of folk-related words. See for instance in QL:
_helinwa_ 'of pansies; of colour = "a blue-violet"' (p.39)
_saminda, -wa_ (i.e. _saminwa_) 'silken' (p. 81)
_tirinwa_ 'vigilant' (p. 93)
_turinwa_ 'kingly, royal' (p. 96)
Making a step further in the analysis, it could be that _-inwa_ was
derived by analogy from adjectives like the following in QL:
_finwa_ 'acute, sagacious' (p. 38, s.v. FINI)
_minwa_ 'small' (p. 61, s.v. MINI)
_ninwa_ 'blue' (p. 66, s.v. NINI)
In these ones, _-in-_ is not a suffix, as it belongs to the Qenya root,
and the suffix was in fact just _-wa_, for which compare the "general
adjectival suffix" _-va_ (PE14:47, 79). If cases like these were common
in Qenya, the blend of root ending _-in_ + adjectival _-va_ / _-wa_
could have yielded by analogy a new adjective ending _-inwa_. It is
interesting that the Qenya root TURU had both derived adjectives
_turinwa_ ('kingly, royal') and _turwa_ ('powerful'); cf. PE12:96).
Now in the frame of Tolkien's late papers, about which Richard asked,
the etymology could be quite similar.
From a text as late as "Quendi and Eldar" we know that the term
_Quenderin_ was formed anew by historians as an adjective meaning
'Quendian, belonging to the Elves as a whole', and that they made
it "on the model of _Eldarin_, _Noldorin_, etc." (XI:407).
_Quenderin_ seems to be formed by the singular _qende_ 'elf' (itself
formed analogically from pl. _Quendi_, cf. XI:361) + _-rin_. Thus, the
cited note implies that adjectives meaning 'belonging to a people as a
whole' may be formed by adding _-rin_ to the referred people. But this
does not necessarily mean that this was the etymological formation. As
older _Qenyarin_, it could be just formed by analogy.
If that is the case, _Eldarin_ and _Noldorin_ could be, as seemingly the
previous Qenya language-names, plural _Eldar_ and _Noldor_ + _-in_. The
same may be said of _Sindarin_ and _Valarin_, commented on by Richard.
_Telerin_ could likewise come from plural _Teleri_ (*_Teleri-in_ >
And as commented on above about _-in_ for Qenya language-names, in the
late texts this ending could also be intended to come from adjectival
_-inwa_, the longer form being used when the adjective qualifies a noun.
To support this theory, besides _Sindarin_, _Eldarin_, _Valarin_ or
_Noldorin_ we have _hwesta sindarinwa_ ('Grey-elven [belonging to the
Sindar] _hw_', LR:1123), _Essekenta Eldarinwa_ (*'Enquiry on the names
of the Eldar', XI:360), _Lambe Valarinwa_ (*'tongue of the Valar',
XI:397), and _quentale Ñoldorinwa_ ('the history of the Noldor', VT39:16).
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- We have also a direct attestation on this matter in the GL:
_glin_ 'sound, voice, utterance, cp. suffix _-glin_, _-grin_, _-drin_,
in names of languages' (PE11:39). The second suffix is clearly part of
_Goldo-grin_ *'Noldo-language' itself.
The word _glin_ and also _gling_ 'music', _glingrin_ 'musical', _lin-_
'sound (intr.)', _lintha-_ 'sound (tr.), strike or ring bell, etc;
play an instrument' (PE11:39,54) can be related to LIRI 'sing' or LINI
(PE12:54); later LIN-, GLIN- 'sing', LIR- 'sing, trill' (V:359,369) in
But the suffixes _-grin_ and _-drin_ seem to be formed from a parallel
root *RIN(I) (or modified LIN(I)?), for which I have found no further
mention. Compare Q. _rinko_ 'disc, circle, orb' (PE12:80), where
Goldogrin has _drinn_ '+ ring, disc' (PE11:30) or Q. _riqi-_ 'wrench,
twist' and G. _grinn_ 'ankle, wrist' (PE11:42).
Therefore I think it is likely that the suffixes _-rin_ and _-lin_ (in
_Inwelin_) of the Qenya language names are just the cognates of G.
_-grin_, _-drin_, _-glin_ without the modification with _g_ or _d_; at
least at the time of the Lexicons.