The Etymologies in LR:347-400 (pagination as in the first edition) is our main vocabulary source for the Elvish languages. The material is organized as an alphabetical list of some six or seven hundred primitive stems, under which are listed (some of) the words they yielded in later languages. A fairly typical entry goes like this: "MINI- stand alone, stick out. Q mine one; minya first; minda prominent, conspicuous; mindo isolated tower. N min one, minei (*miniia) single, distinct, unique; minnas tower, also mindon (*minitaun, cf. tunn [see TUN])". Here we have a primitive stem, MINI, that presumably was invented at Cuivénen, followed by some of its descendants in Q(uenya) and N(oldorin), read: Sindarin. There are also some archaic forms, miniia and minitaun, duly marked with an asterisk because they were "unattested".
The Etymologies provides us with a wealth of words, but the work was never intended as a regular Elvish dictionary. If you need the Quenya word for, say, "nine", you will have to read through about thirty pages until you finally chance upon the correct entry. Or that used to be the case. We are proud to present a (by intention) full index to the Etymologies, listing all English glosses and all proper Elvish names and the entry they can be found under. The formidable task of indexing all of Etym was accomplished by Lisa Star (entries KAL to NAS), David Salo (entries NAT to STAB) and I myself, Helge Fauskanger (entries AB/ABAR to KAB and STAG to YUR, plus final editing). If you look up "nine" in this index, you will find
nine (Q, S) NÉTER
Then you just look up the entry NÉTER in your copy of The Lost Road and learn that the Quenya word for 9 is nerte, or nertë in regularized spelling. As indicated in the index entry, the corresponding Sindarin word (neder) is also found here. (And if you don't have a copy of LR, get one! This book is absolutely indispensable if you want to study Tolkien's languages with the slightest pretension of seriousness.) The English glosses listed in this index refer to Elvish words that are usually, but not necessarily derived from the stem they are mentioned under.
It is always wise to read the whole entry in the Etymologies to make absolutely sure that you have found the word you want. Sometimes several words with the same meaning are listed under one stem, or the first word given might have been struck out and replaced by another.
The abbreviations used to identify various languages are as follow - mostly adopted directly from LR itself:
A - Archaic/Ancient/Ancestral/Asterisked, used to
identify the primitive forms listed, like *minitaun in the first
example above. Such forms are usually, though not always, asterisked as
"unattested". Note that the abbreviation A does not actually appear
in the text in LR. Most of the "A" words must be assumed to be actually
PQ, or in some cases possibly Eld (see below),
but these abbreviations are rarely used in the Etymologies.
Dan - Danian (Nandorin)
Dor - Doriathrin
Eld - Eldarin, presumably Common Eldarin, the common ancestor of all the Eldarin (as opposed to Avarin) tongues - including the two most prominent, Quenya and Sindarin.
Ilk - Ilkorin, the language of the Eldar that remained in Beleriand while the other went over the sea to Aman. The Ilkorindi thus correspond to the Sindar in Tolkiens final conception, and indeed the status of the Ilkorin language in the mature mythos is uncertain: its place may have been usurped by another language when Tolkien turned "Noldorin" into Sindarin and transferred this language from Aman to Middle-earth (see S below).
L - "Lindarin", read: Vanyarin. (Tolkien originally intended Lindar as a name of the First Clan, but later it became a name of the Third Clan, the Teleri. In any case, this abbreviation only occurs once, under ÑOL.)
OS - Old Sindarin, "ON" in the text in LR (see S below).
Oss - Ossiriandeb
PQ - Primitive Quendian, the original language invented by the Elves at Cuiviénen, the ultimate ancestor of all the Elvish tongues (cf. A above).
Q - Quenya, "Qenya".
R - Root meaning, a gloss applied to the primitive stem (the head of the entry) itself. Note that the abbreviation R does not actually appear in the text of LR.
S - Sindarin, Grey-elven. In the text in LR, the abbreviation "N" is used instead: In the thirties and the forties, Tolkien was still clinging to the idea that the Welsh-sounding language in his mythology was Noldorin, the language that the Noldor developed in Valinor (while Quenya was the tongue of the First Clan only). When he was completing LotR, Tolkien finally decided (or realized) that this was the language of the Grey-elves in Middle-earth instead. In accordance with this revision we use the abbreviation S instead of N, and likewise OS, Old Sindarin, where the text has ON for "Old Noldorin".
T - Telerin
Sometimes the language a word belongs to is not explicitly identified in the Etymologies, and our assumptions are usually marked with a query, e.g:
meat (Q?, S, Ilk) AP
The words aes and ass are identified as (Noldorin >) Sindarin and Ilkorin, respectively, in the entry in question - but there is also a word apsa, and it is not stated what language this word belongs to. The phonetic style strongly suggests that it is Quenya. Usually, and especially in the case of Quenya, this query simply indicates that the language is not explicitly identified in Etym itself; there is seldom much doubt that the identification is correct. In some cases, especially concerning proper names where the language is identified in one entry but not another, the query is left out.
When many stems are listed under one English gloss, the editor sometimes (but by no means consistently) added a colon after the abbreviations for various languages, hopefully making it easier to see what languages belong to what stems, e.g.:
red (R, A, Q, S) KARÁN, (Q, S:) GAY, (S:) NAR1, (R:) ROY2 , (A, S:) KUL, [GUL], (Ilk:) YAR
In the case of Elvish names, the abbreviation simply identifies what language the name belongs to; etymological information about the name can often be found by looking up the entry in question, e.g.
Amon Ereb (S) ERE
When a name of the same person or place in another language is also given under the entry in question, the abbreviation for this second language follows after a semi-colon, e.g.
Aryante (Q; S) AR1
meaning that Aryante is itself a Quenya name, but the corresponding Sindarin name Eriant can also be found under AR1. (Eriant, of course, has its own entry: "Eriant (S; Q) AR1".) The name in the other language is usually, but not necessarily a cognate of the name in the entry.
Tolkien often uses the diaeresis (two dots as in Manwë) to clarify the pronunciation of Elvish names for readers of English, but it is hardly ever used in the Etymologies, a work that was never intended for wider circulation. To ensure that people using the Netscape search function will find the word they are seeking whether they include the diaeresis or not, I have often (but not wholly consistently) listed the affected names twice, e.g.
Este, Estë (Q) SED
In some instances, a name or a word found in the Etymologies was later struck out; often the whole stem in question was rejected. In such cases, the word is bracketed in the index, e.g.
[blue-grey] (A, Q, S) WIN/WINDbecause WIN/WIND was later struck out.
Sometimes a stem is bracketed, e.g.
harbour (Q) KHOP, [KOP]This means that a valid word for "harbour" can be found under KHOP, and that there is another word for "harbour" under KOP, but the latter word is not valid because it or the whole entry was later rejected by Tolkien (in this case KOP was replaced by KHOP).
It is difficult to avoid errors and omissions in a work of this kind; please notify me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you find any. There are also certain inconsistencies due to the simple fact that the indexing was done by three different people; for instance, Lisa Star and I did not make separate entries for the archaic, "unattested" forms of proper names, but David Salo did. I saw no point in deleting the entries in question merely to make the index consistent in this respect.
Finally: is Etym wholly reliable? Etym dates from the second half of the thirties, twenty years before LotR was published, and Tolkien's languages were ever changing and evolving. But for the most part, the Etymologies can be trusted. A few discrepancies may be mentioned. There are quite a few instances of Quenya words having genitives in -(e)n, e.g. Ar Manwen "Manwë's Day" (LEP), but when writing LotR, Tolkien changed the ending to -o instead, while -n became the dative ending. The forms given in Etym are still valid, but they mature Quenya they are datives, not genitives. Where the primitive stem has AY, the "Noldorin" descendants often have oe, but in mature Sindarin primitive AY produces ae instead. Cf. the stem AY yielding "Noldorin" oel "pool" as in Oelinuial "Pools of Twilight", but the published Silmarillion has Aelin-uial instead. In many, but not all cases we should also read ai for "Noldorin" ei; cf. andeith "longmark" under TEK: Appendix E to LotR has andaith instead.
The spelling is another matter. In the Etymologies, Tolkien still spelt Quenya [kw] as q instead of qu; indeed the language itself is called Qenya (under PAR). Single q should in all cases be emended to qu, according to the spelling Tolkien used in LotR and all later sources. In the Etymologies, Tolkien also uses k instead of c in Quenya words. I would use c as in LotR. The important point is to be consistent, using either C or K throughout, and avoid obscuring the relationship between such words as caima "bed" (only attested in Etym under KAY, and there spelt "kaima") and caita "lie" (only attested in Namárië in LotR, and there spelt with a C).
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