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Select Primitive Elvish Roots: HAN-HOR

HAN “add to, increase, enhance, enrich, honour (especially by gift); give”

This root did not explicitly appear until very late in Tolkien writing, in 1969-1970, but there were a few earlier precursors. Wynne, Smith, and Hostetter suggested the preposition Q. han “beyond” from Quenya prayers of the 1950s might be connected to this root. I think another precursor might be √ƷAN “long” or “extend” given as a variant of √YAN around 1959; Tolkien was considering √ƷAN as the basis for a new etymology of Q. anda/S. and “long” (PE17/40, 155), though there are no clear indictions he carried through with this idea.

The root √ƷAN reappeared in 1968 notes with the gloss “adorn” serving as the basis for Q. antil, a word for the middle finger, perhaps being the place where rings were usually worn (VT47/26). As pointed out by Patrick Wynne this use of √ƷAN indicates it was from the period in the late 1960s where Tolkien was playing around with the form and phonetic developments of the ancient velar spirant [h] or [ɣ] (ʒ); see the discussion in the entry on how initial [ɣ] became [h] in Ancient Quenya; this was one of the more common phonetic developments Tolkien used, but he vacillated a great deal on the subject.

ƷAN reappeared again in 1969 notes on Quenya verbs with the gloss “give”, but here it was revised to √HAN (PE22/163). Tolkien then elaborated on the meaning of √HAN, saying that its actual sense was “enhance, enrich, add to”. In this note h- was preserved in Quenya and Telerin but lost in Sindarin, and the Quenya the verb anta- “give” was influenced by but not directly derived from √HAN; in Sindarin the influence was more direct. We know that √HAN reappeared at least one more time in some notes from 1970 with the gloss “add to, increase, enhance, honour (espec. by gift)” (VT43/14) but this note remains unpublished so we don’t have the full context.

Sorting through all these variations is quite difficult, especially since they are intertwined with Tolkien’s shifting notions of the initial developments of ancient ʒ- and h-, but I think the basic conceptual development is (1959) √ƷAN “extend” >> (1968) √ƷAN “adorn” >> (1969) √ƷAN “give” >> (1969-70) √HAN “add to, increase, enhance, enrich, honour”.

Outside of its influence on “give” and “gift”, √HAN has no real attested derivatives, but it has long been theorized that it is basis for the Q. hantalë “thanksgiving” in Q. Eruhantalë (UT/214). This in turn serves as the basis for the most common Neo-Eldarin words for “thanks” and “to thank”, a pretty important word for polite conversation. These words, and their role in Neo-Eldarin, have been exceptionally contentious, giving this otherwise obscure root an outsized role in debates about Tolkien’s languages.

HATH “treat kindly/make easy, (help to) cure”

This root appeared only in very late notes on Quenya verbs from 1969 (PE22/166), where it was given as an alternative to √ATHA, a root Tolkien introduced back in late 1950s or early 1960s to explain Q. asëa aranion/S. athelas “kings foil”. In the 1969 note, Tolkien at first reaffirmed that √ATHA was the basis for these words, but in the margins he wrote:

This needs correction. √ATHA = be willing, agree, consent, grant — assist, join with others[?]. It is HATHA, Q haþa- that meant treat kindly/make easy, (help to) cure (PE22/165-166, note #109).

On the back of the page Tolkien then explored various possible derivatives of the new root √HATHA, among them Q. {asea} >> aþea but also Q./T. haþa- “treat (medically)”, various Quenya words for “doctor” (aþumo >> aþar(o); aþarta) and several Sindarin forms including {gathra} >> athra, which seems to be another verb meaning “to treat medially” (PE22/166 note #110). The presence and absence of initial h- in the Quenya forms and the presence and absence of initial g- in the Sindarin forms are probably a reflection of Tolkien’s indecision in the late 1960s on the proper phonetic development of initial velar spirants in the Elvish languages; see the entry on how initial [ɣ] became [h] in Ancient Quenya for further discussion.

For the most part, Tolkien had initial primitive h- survive in Quenya, making the derivation of Q. asea “healing herb” directly from √HATHA problematic. But perhaps Tolkien intended that √HATHA was blended with √ATHA to produce asea; something similar happened with the root √HAN “add to, enhance” in these same 1969 verbal notes, which influenced Q. anta- “give” (PE22/163). In any case, √HATHA is our best source for Elvish “doctor” words, and it provides a useful semantic distinction from √ATHA which has more varied roles, serving among other things as the basis for the Sindarin future suffix -atha (PE22/167).

HEK “aside, apart, separate”

This root appeared in the Quendi and Eldar essay from 1959-60 glossed “aside, apart, separate” (WJ/361) with derivatives having mostly to do with exclusion, abandonment and outcasts, such as: Q. hequa/T. heco “excluding, except”; Q. heca/S. ego “be gone!”; Q. hehta-/T. hecta- “abandon”; Q. hecil/S. eglan “outcast, (one) forsaken” (WJ/364-5). The last of these is especially notable, in that it is the basis for S. †Eglan “Forsaken (Elf)”, one of the names the Sinda used for themselves, especially among the people of Círdan.

Although there are no obvious precursors to √HEK itself in the sense “apart, separate”, Egla was long among the words Tolkien used for the Elves, along with related names like Eglamar, originally “Elfhome” and later “Home of the Eglain”. It appeared as G. Egla “being from outside” in the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s, based on G. eg “far away” < ᴱ√EIKA (GL/32). In the 1930s this became Ilk. Egla “Star-folk, Elf” < ᴹ√ed(e)la with the Ilkorin sound change whereby [dl] became [gl] (Ety/ELED). Thus it seems √HEK was Tolkien’s latest attempt to preserve Elga(n) as a word for Elves, though with a different meaning than its earlier incarnations.

HEN “again; middle”

This root and its extensions √HENET and (deleted) √HENED appeared in notes from 1968 as a way to better distinguish the roots for √EN “again” and √ENED “middle”; Tolkien alternately explored assigning both these meanings to √HEN(ET) instead, leaving √EN(ED) with the other meaning (VT41/16). Since the resulting forms in Quenya had no initial h-, this must have been in a period where Tolkien felt ancient voiceless velar spirants vanished in Quenya. These roots are problematic within the larger framework of Tolkien’s languages, and were most likely transient ideas.

HO “from, coming from”

The most notable function of this root was as the basis for the Quenya genitive suffix -o. The introduction of this root seems to predate the later iteration of this form of the Quenya genitive, with the root first appearing in The Etymologies of the 1930s as ᴹ√ƷŌ̆ where it served as the basis for the prepositions ᴹQ. ho/N. o “from” as well as an “old partitive” ᴹQ. -on (Ety/ƷŌ̆). In 1930s the usual Quenya genitive suffix was ᴹQ. -(e)n as in ᴹQ. Nyarna Valinóren “Annals of Valinor” (LR/202). However, the genitive suffix was often -o in earlier iterations of Quenya, and even in the 1930s it was a feature of the genitive plural, as in ᴹQ. ar antaróta mannar Valion “and he gave it into the hands of the Lords (Vali-on)” (LR/72).

After the conceptual shift of the primitive velar spirant from ʒ to h, this root became √HO (WJ/361), and Tolkien discussed its function at length in the Quendi and Eldar essay of 1959-60. He said it “was evidently an ancient adverbial element, occurring principally as a proclitic or enclitic: proclitic, as a prefix to verb stems; and enclitic, as attached to noun stems” (WJ/368). As proclitic it formed the verbal prefix Q. hó- “away, from, from among”, as an enclitic it formed the basis of the noun inflectional suffix -o used for genitives in Quenya of the 1950s and 60s. Its role in Sindarin is less clear, given Tolkien’s later vacillations on whether or not suffixal genitives were even a part of Sindarin.

HOR “urge, impel, move; warn, counsel”

Tolkien defined this root in a 1968 discussion of the origins of the Quenya word órë “heart, inner mind” (VT41/11-15). He first gave the root as √ƷOR “warn, counsel” (VT41/11), and in this form it may be a later iteration of (unglossed) ᴹ√ƷOR appearing in The Etymologies of the 1930s as a variant of ᴹ√GOR “violence, impetus, haste” (EtyAC/ƷOR). In the 1968 document, however, he altered the form to √HOR in rough notes following the main document, with the glosses “urge, impel, move” specifically limited to “mental impulses” (VT41/13); this other form might be a later iteration of ᴹ√KHOR “set going, put in motion, urge on” from The Etymologies (Ety/KHOR) as suggested by Carl Hostetter (VT41/17 note #9).

When Tolkien gave the root as √ƷOR, he listed the Quenya, Telerin and Sindarin forms as Q. óre, T. ōre and S. gûr (VT41/11), but after the change to √HOR he only gave its Quenya form as (h)óre (VT41/13). It seems likely that this muddle of forms was connected to Tolkien’s later vacillations on the phonetic development of ancient velar spirants in the Elvish languages, discussed in more detail in the entry on how initial [ɣ] became [h], which was how Tolkien commonly presented this development in Ancient Quenya.

Neo-Eldarin: This root is problematic for purposes of Neo-Eldarin, in that it is hard to reconcile either primitive root √ƷOR or √HOR with both Q. óre and S. gûr as well as the phonetic developments as Tolkien usually presented them: typically ʒ/h became h- in Quenya but vanished in Sindarin. The only option I see for preserving both Quenya and Sindarin forms is to assume this root was influenced by ᴹ√GOR “impetus” (or was itself *√GOR).

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