Also called (in LR:375): Doriathric
All that is known of the language of Doriath is some eighty words found in the Etymologies in LR:347-400, plus one or two words from the Silmarillion chapter 21. Yet this was once the language spoken at the court of King Thingol, who ruled Beleriand for four thousand years of the Sun and sired "the fairest of all the Children of Ilúvatar that was or shall ever be" (Silm. ch. 4). Doriathrin must have been the mothertongue of Lúthien Tinúviel. When she later learnt Beren's native Mannish tongue, he indeed asked her why she bothered, "since her own tongue was richer and more beautiful" (PM:369).
Is Doriathrin to be considered a separate Elvish tongue or a form of Sindarin? The Etymologies was written long before Tolkien finally realized that the Welsh-sounding language in his mythology was not the language the Noldor brought with them from Valinor, as he had thought for over thirty years, but the language of the Grey-elves in Middle-earth. So all of a sudden, Sindarin and Doriathrin were brought into far closer contact than before. Did Doriathrin as a distinct language survive this major revision? Later Tolkien speaks of "the Sindarin of Doriath" (PM:369). But in the Silmarillion, including the parts that were revised after Tolkien had completed LotR, Doriathrin names and phrases persist: Mablung, Nauglamîr, Dagnir Glaurunga, Dior. At least as far as these names are concerned, the Doriathrin of the Etymologies did make it into the mature form of the mythos. Perhaps the Doriathrin language glimpsed in the Etymologies can pass for an archaic form of Sindarin, though it seems to have some peculiarities all its own and is different from the "ON" (Old Noldorin, read Old Sindarin) of the Etymologies. Doriathrin definitely belongs to the same branch of Common Telerin that leads to Sindarin, but it seems to have established its own branch well before Classical Grey-elven was reached, and it is less changed from Common Telerin than Sindarin is. But what is considered a separate language and what is considered a dialect is often dictated by extra-linguistic factors. Perhaps by political decision, Doriathrin is a form of Sindarin, the language of Thingol's subjects - though the king despised the Northern dialect of Grey-elven (PM:369, 372).
Lúthien's song in The Lays of Beleriand p. 354 seems to be pure Sindarin, however. (Here, a post-LotR source is reproduced.) For this and other reasons, some competent people feel that the Doriathrin of the Etymologies - which is the language this article is concerned with - is no longer a "valid" tongue in the mythos as elderly Tolkien had come to see his linguistic scenario. According to this view, the language of Doriath should now be imagined merely as a particularly archaic variant of the Sindarin we know from LotR, and the Doriathrin of the Etymologies must largely be dismissed as an obsolete notion - except for some names, listed above, that Tolkien evidently transferred to Sindarin as he scrapped Doriathrin as a separate language. No quite definite conclusion can be reached in this matter (see, however, the entry roth in the wordlist below). The language here discussed was at least the language of Doriath at one stage of Tolkien's ever-evolving scenario.
One late-source comment on the language of the Hidden Kingdom may be quoted here: "The speech of Doriath...was even in the days of Túrin more antique than that used elsewhere. One thing (as Mîm observed) of which Túrin never rid himself, despite his grievance against Doriath, was the speech he had acquired during his fostering. Though a Man, he spoke like an Elf of the Hidden Kingdom, which is as though a Man should now appear, whose speech and schooling until manhood had been that of some secluded country where the English had remained nearer that of the court of Elizabeth I than of Elizabeth II." (WJ:312)
According to the Etymologies, stem NAUK, the "[Doriathrin] genitive in -a(n) preceeded" the word it governs. The word there discussed is Nauglamîr "the Necklace of the Dwarves", literally *"Dwarf's Necklace" (naugla + mîr).Yet the word order described here cannot be the only one possible; cf. Dagnir Glaurunga.
The plural genitive ending was -ion, as in region "of holly-trees" (also name Region). Cf. Quenya -ion as in Silmarillion "(story) of the Silmarils". But the ending -ion may have been reinterpreted as an ending meaning land or region; cf. Sindarin Eregion.
While Sindarin typically forms the plurals of nouns by changing the vowels in the style of English man/men or goose/geese, Doriathrin has a plural ending -in. The Sindarin (as well as the English) vowel-changes are originally umlaut phenomena triggered by an ancient plural ending that contained the vowel i, so once again Doriathrin can be called archaic compared to Sindarin:
Eld "Elf, Elda" pl. Eldin
orth "mountain", pl. orthin
roth "cave", pl. rodhin (the voiced quality of the final consonant in the stem ROD is preserved intervocalically - perhaps Doriathrin cannot have voiced spirants finally)
urch "orc", pl. urchin
There is also regorn "holly-tree", pl. regin (reg-orn is quite literally "holly-tree", and the plural ending is suffixed directly to the stem reg "holly"; cf. also genitive plural region). This plural ending is not to be confused with the adjectival ending seen in ngorthin "horrible" from ngorth "horror" (variant -en in lóm "echo", lómen "echoing").
Doriathrin does not seem to have the umlauts characteristic of normal Sindarin. The i in the final syllable of urchin does not cause the u to change to y by assimilation; contrast Sindarin orch pl. yrch (representing archaic forms like urkô pl. urkî or urkôi).
However, the Etymologies at least hints that Doriathrin was similar to Sindarin in one respect. Sometimes, double forms are listed in the Etymologies: Dolmed and Ndolmed (name of a mountain), gol and ngol "wise, magical", gold and ngold "Noldo", golo and ngolo "magic, lore". The stems are NDOL and NGOL, so the alternative forms reflect the original initial combination. Perhaps, as in Sindarin, the original combination influences the form used following certain particles; cf. Sindarin golodh "Noldo", but i ngolodh "the Noldo". Similarly, Doriathrin gold may appear as ngold in certain environments.
One Doriathrin word raises a peculiar question: Had the Elves of Doriath rejected the Quendian duodecimal counting (based on the number 12) in favour of a decimal system like our own? According to WJ:423, all Elves at all times reckoned in twelves; yet the name Menegroth is translated "the Thousand Caves" (according to LR:384 s.v. ROD the elements are meneg + roth, evidently = "thousand" + "cave[s]"). But in a duodecimal system, there is nothing special with the number 1000: It would be expressed as 6-11-4 (sc. 6 x 144 + 11 x 12 + 4 x 1). Thousand would not be a "round number" at all. The first four-digit number in a duodecimal system is 1728 (12 x 12 x 12). That would be proverbial "large number" to someone used to thinking in duodecimal terms, just like 1000 is to us. Could it be that the translation "Thousand Caves" is idiomatic and strictly inaccurate, and that Menegroth actually means "1728 caves"? If so, the correct translation simply would not do in English.
-a genitive ending, seen in Dagnir Glaurunga "Glaurung's Bane". The primitive Common Eldarin genitive ending was -hô > -ô, derived from an "ancient adverbial element" HO meaning "away, from, from among" (WJ:368). The corresponding entry in the far earlier Etymologies seems to be 3O (3Ô) "from, away, from among, out of" (LR:360). Could primitive -ô come out as -a in Doriathrin? There are a few Ilkorin words that may seem to show such a development, and as Tolkien imagined things when he wrote the Etymologies, Ilkorin and Doriathrin were closely related (both have the genitive ending -a). In the plural genitive ending -ion, the "genitival" element (< 3O or HO) appears as o; see -ion.
argad "outside the fence", the exterior, the outside (LR:358 s.v. GAT(H), also LR:349 s.v. AR2). In Doriath, "the fence" of course refers to the Girdle of Melian. The prefix ar- means "outside", derived from the stem AR2, itself undefined in the Etymologies, but the Silmarillion Appendix gives ar- "outside, beside". The second element is gad "fence", q.v.
argador evidently the Doriathrin name of the lands outside Doriath (GAT(H), cf. ELED). Compound of argad and dor, q.v, hence *"outside-the-fence-land", *"exterior land".
cwindor "narrator" (LR:366 s.v. KWET). This is a doubtful word according to Tolkien's later conception; in the branch of Eldarin that Doriathrin belongs to, primitive KW became P far back in Elvish linguistic history (WJ:375 cf. 407 note 5). Read *pindor? Anyhow, Tolkien stated that cwindor comes from kwentro "narrator", sc. a nasal-infixed variant of the stem KWET- "say" combined with the masculine/agental ending -ro (cf. Dior from ndeuro). The o in cwindor probably developed to break up a final consonant cluster, since the Common Eldarin form would have been *kwentr after the loss of final short -o (and -a, -e). This word alone in our small corpus provides evidence for the shift nt > nd. Curiously, e here becomes i. It seems that this shift occurs before consonant clusters beginning in a nasal; cf. nîw "nose" from NEÑ-WI (probably via an intermediate form *niñw- before the ñ was lost and the i became lengthened to î in compensation).
dagnir *"slayer" (Silmarillion, end of chapter 21). Some would say that this is normal Sindarin and not to be connected with the Doriathrin of the Etymologies. The elements are clearly to be connected with the stems NDAK "slay" (LR:375) and DER, strengthened NDER, "man" (LR:375). As in Sindarin, post-vocalic unvoiced plosives become voiced, hence k > g in NDAK > dag-. We might have expected NDER to yield *dir, *ndir instead of nir; perhaps original nd becomes n following a consonant the middle of a compound (and similarly m, n for earlier mb, ng?)
dair "shadow of trees". Derived from a stem DAY "shadow" (LR:354); the primitive form would probably be *dairê (cf. the Quenya adjective laira "shady", evidently from *dairâ).
Dairon (name, = Sindarin Daeron). (LR:354 s.v. DAY). The first element should evidently be equated with dair above; the name Dairon is in any case derived from the same stem. The Silmarillion Appendix, entry dae, defines this element as "shadow" and notes that it "perhaps" occurs in Sindarin Daeron. The masculine ending -on is well attested in various Eldarin languages; Dairon may represent primitive *Dairondo.
Denithor "Denethor", masculine name that in LR:188 is derived from ndani-thârô "saviour of the Dani" (= Nandor, Green-elves). The second element thârô "saviour" cannot readlily be connected with any element listed in the Etymologies; THAR "across, beyond" (LR:392) seems unable to provide the meaning "saviour", unless a thârô is literally one who brings something or someone beyond danger. Thârô does look like a frequent primitive agental formation. In any case, Tolkien many years later provided a quite different etymology for the name Denethor; in WJ:412 (where no Doriathrin form is mentioned) it is said to mean "lithe-and-lank", from dene- "thin and strong, pliant, lithe", and thara- "tall (or long) and slender". (These elements cannot be connected to anything else in the published corpus.)
Dior "Successor" (masc. name). Primitive form given as ndeuro, sc. the stem NDEW "follow, come behind" + the masculine agental ending -ro (more often -rô). The shift eu > io is attested in this word only. There may be an alternative (dialectal?) form *Ndior with the original initial nasalized stop nd intact; cf. Ndolmed beside Dolmed (the first element being derived from a stem NDOL).
Dolmed "Wet Head" (name of mountain; also Ndolmed). (LR:376 s.v. NDOL, LR:373 s.v. MIZD). Notice that the order of the elements in the compound is actually "Head-Wet". Dol, ndol "head" may come from *ndôlâ (whence Quenya nóla) or - more probably - from *ndolô, whence Old Sindarin ndolo. Concerning the element -med "wet", see méd.
dôn "back" (noun). Derived from a stem NDAN "back" (evidently as preposition rather than noun). The primitive form may be assumed to be *ndân- with some lost final vowel. For another example of long â becoming ô, cf. drôg "wolf" from d'râk.
dor "land", isolated from Argador, Eglador, Lómendor (q.v.) In the Etymologies, the Eldarin words for "land" are derived from a stem NDOR "dwell, stay, rest, abide" (LR:376). No Doriathrin word is there listed, but dor would have the same origin as the identical Sindarin word: primitive ndorê. Notice, however, that Tolkien many years later derived the Eldarin words for "land" from a stem DORO "dried up, hard, unyielding" (WJ:413). However, this later source does confirm that the Primitive Quendian form was ndorê, now thought to be formed by initial enrichment d > nd. This is defined as "the hard, dry land as opposed to water or bog", later developing the meaning "land in general as opposed to sea", and finally also "a land" as a particular region, "with more or less defined bounds". (The bounds of Eglador, sc. Doriath, were of course very well defined by the Girdle of Melian.)
dorn "oak". Derived from a stem DORÓN, simply defined as "oak"; Quenya norno and Sindarin doron together indicate a primitive form *dorónô. For another example of Doriathrin dropping both the second and the third vowel in a word of this structure, cf. gold from ngolodô; cf. also gald from galadâ.
drôg "wolf". In LR:354 derived from a stem DARÁK, itself undefined; the primitive form is given as d'râk. Our general knowledge of the structure of primitive words, as well as Quenya ráca rather than **rát, points rather to a primitive form *d'râkâ. But the final vowel, if it ever existed, was lost in Doriathrin, and â was rounded to produce ô (cf. dôn above).
dunn "black". In LR:355 derived from a stem DUN "dark (of colour)"; the primitive form would be *dunnâ with the adjectival ending -nâ (or possibly the simpler ending -â combined with medial fortification n > nn). In the Etymologies, the Doriathrin word dunn is also mentioned in the entry ÑGOROTH, LR:377. The adjective (or just the stem) also occurs as a prefix dun- in dungorthin; see Nan Dungorthin.
durgul "sorcery" (LR:377 s.v. ÑGOL). The literal meaning is rather "dark lore/magic". The element dur "dark" is not otherwise attested in Doriathrin, but compare Sindarin dûr "dark, sombre", derived from a stem DO3, DÔ (LR:354), not defined as such but apparently having to do with night. Dur must be assumed to derive from an adjective *do3râ, *dôrâ (-râ being a frequent adjectival ending). The second element, -gul, is derived from a stem ÑGOL "wise, wisdom, be wise" (LR:377).