New Theme! What do you think?

Study, speak, and hang out with fellow Elvish students!

Select Primitive Elvish Roots: KHOL-KHYEL(ES)

KHOL “crow, cry aloud”

A root appearing in Common Eldarin: Noun Structure from the early 1950s with the gloss “crow, cry aloud”, serving as the basis for primitive words for male and female chickens (PE21/82). It may be an later iteration of the early root ᴱ√HO(HO) “shout, scream” from the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s (QL/40), a primitive form that was mentioned again as ᴹ✶hō- “shout” in the Declension of Nouns from the early 1930s (PE21/39).

KHOM “heart”

This root has a fairly long history as the basis Elvish words for the physical heart (as opposed to metaphorical). Its earliest appearance was as ᴱ√HONO in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s with derivative ᴱQ. hon (hond-) “heart” (QL/40), as well as G. honn “heart” appearing in the contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon along with the added note “not used metaphorically, for which ilf is used” (GL/49).

In the Declension of Nouns from the early 1930s, Tolkien gave the words as ᴹQ. hōn “heart” with stem-form hom-, indicating that the final consonant of the primitive form was revised to -m. However, in The Etymologies of the mid-to-late 1930s the root was ᴹ√KHŌ-N “heart (physical)” (Ety/KHŌ-N), and in Primitive Quendian Structure from 1936 it was ᴹ✶khōn “heart”, and likewise in Primitive Quendian Structure: Final Consonants (PE22/64) and Notes for Quenya Declensions (PE22/66) from the 1940s, though in the last it was revised to ᴹ✶hōn (PE22/66 note #4).

The form ✶khō-n “heart” reappeared in Common Eldarin: Noun Structure from 1951-2 (PE21/71), but in Outline of Phonology from the early 1950s Tolkien wrote CE ✶khōm “heart” (PE19/102). In this same document he wrote in a marginal note:

Cf. holmo > khomlo “from the heart” us[ed] as adverb, sincerely, (?heartily). N.B. CE khō̆m, heart, is not the physical heart, but “the interior” used of the whole range of emotions or feelings. [It] is distinct from indo (?applied) to interior reflection[?] or mind (PE19/97).

This note was written in green ball point pen which Tolkien used for revisions to this document circa 1970, so it seem the conceptual history for the forms of this root was 1910s √HON >> early 1930s √HOM >> mid 1930s-early 50s √KHON >> mid 1950s-1970 √KHOM. The switch from physical to metaphorical heart seems to be a very late idea (1970), and I would ignore it for purposes of Neo-Eldarin.

ᴹ√KHOP “*harbour, bay”

Tolkien used a number of similar roots for “bay” but their exact form varied over his life. The earliest form was ᴱ√KOPO “keep, guard?” (the question mark is Tolkien’s) from the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s with the derivative ᴱQ. kópa “harbour” (QL/47). This root and its Qenya derivative was linked to derivatives like G. gob “hollow of hand” and G. gobos “haven” in the contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon (GL/40). Given these Gnomish forms it is likely the true root was *ᴱ√GOPO since initial g- became k- in Early Qenya. In Early Noldorin word lists from the 1920s, however, the word became ᴱN. “bay, cove” < ᴱ✶kópa (PE13/141).

The root ᴹ√KOP appeared in The Etymologies of the 1930s, but Tolkien seems to have abandoned it in favor of ᴹ√KHOP, changing ᴹQ. kópa “harbour, bay” to ᴹQ. hópa/N. hûb “haven, harbour, small landlocked bay” (Ety/KHOP, KOP). In draft maps for Gondor from the 1940s, however, Tolkien gave N. Cobas “Haven” (TI/312, WR/434). Finally, in notes from the late 1960s Tolkien had S. côf “bay” in Côf Belfalas, the Sindarin name for the “Bay of Belfalas”, though the paragraph where it appeared was struck through (VT42/15). As suggested by Carl Hostetter, côf was probably derived from a variant of earlier ᴹ√KOP (VT42/29 note #36), perhaps *√KOB.

Thus it seems the conceptual evolution of this root was 1910s *ᴱ√GOPO >> 1920s ᴱ√KOPO >> 1930s ᴹ√KHOP >> 1940s *ᴹ√KOP >> 1960s *√KOB. Given Tolkien’s extreme vacillations on the form of this root, it is probably best avoided for purposes of Neo-Eldarin, but if you do use it I recommend sticking with the derivatives of 1930s ᴹ√KHOP, since those are likely most recognizable to readers of Elvish.

ᴹ√KHOR “set going, put in motion, urge on”

A root in The Etymologies of the 1930s glossed “set going, put in motion, urge on” with various derivatives like ᴹQ. hóre “impulse” and N. hûr “readiness for action, vigour, fiery spirit”, the latter an element in the name Húrin (Ety/KHOR). It is possible this root was later revised to √HOR “urge, impel, move” (VT41/13); see that entry for details. For purposes of Neo-Eldarin, I think it is preferable to retain ᴹ√KHOR and its derivatives from the 1930s, since they are fairly distinct in meaning and the later root √HOR/√ƷOR presents a number of phonological difficulties.

KHOT “gather, together in confusion, jumble”

This root and its variants meant something like “gather” for much of Tolkien’s life. The earliest form of this root was given as ᴱ√HOSO in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s with variant form XOÞ-, the latter more representative of its true form (IPA [xoθ-]) given its Gnomish form hoth (QL/41). This early form it was unglossed but had derivatives like ᴱQ. hos (host-) “folk, people, tribe”, G. hoth “folk, people, †army” and G. hosta- “gather, collect” (QL/41; GL/49). This early root was confused ᴱ√OSO “through loss of ·h· in cpds”, another unglossed root but probably meaning something like “*enclosure” (QL/41, 71).

The verb form ᴱQ. hosta- “gather” appeared in the Early Qenya Grammar of the 1920s (PE14/33-34), and the root ᴹ√KHOTH “gather” appeared in The Etymologies of the 1930s with derivatives similar to its earlier iteration: ᴹQ. hosto “crowd, assembly”, N. hoth “host, crowd” and ᴹQ. hosta- “to collect” (Ety/KHOTH). The root √KHOT “gather, together in confusion, jumble” appeared in etymological notes from the late 1950s or early 1960s where it was the basis for S. hoth “host” and Q. hosta- “gather hastily together, pile up” (PE17/39). The Quenya verb reappeared with the gloss “gather” in the Markirya poem from the late 1960s (MC/222), indicating the continued validity of the root. The various derivatives of the root could be from either √KHOT or √KHOTH, so the actual primitive form mostly academic.

KHUG “bark, bay”

This root was the basis for several “dog” words, most notably S. (or Q.) Huan “Hound”, a name Tolkien used throughout his life. Its earliest precursor was the root ᴱ√SAẆA from the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s, which had the derivative ᴱQ. fan (fand-) “dog”. In the somewhat earlier Qenya Phonology, Tolkien had ᴱQ. hwan >> huan >> fan, reflecting conceptual shifts in the phonetic development of initial sẉ- in Qenya (PE12/26 note #149). In the contemporaneous Gnomish lexicon the words G. “dog” and G. saur “hound, wild dog” seem to be derived from this same root (GL/49, 67). The Early Noldorin word ᴱN. fan(d) “dog” in word lists of the 1920s is probably of similar origin (PE13/143).

In The Etymologies of the 1930s, Tolkien derived N. Huan and a number of other dog-words, first from an (unglossed) extended root ᴹ√KHUGAN, and then from ᴹ√KHUG “bark, bay” (Ety/KHUGAN). In their Reader’s Companion to the Lord of the Rings, Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull said:

The first element of Huorn could be derived from the base KHUG- “bark, bay”, which appears to be supported by unpublished etymological notes by Tolkien (RC/425).

Since the note remains unpublished and Hammond and Scull did not further describe its contents, we don’t know when this note was written or whether it actually contained √KHUG.

KHY- “other”

Tolkien used a variety of different roots for “otherness” and “or” throughout his life. The earliest of these was ᴱ√VARA from the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s, unglossed but with derivatives like ᴱQ. vára “other”, ᴱQ. var “or”, ᴱQ. varya “different” and ᴱQ. varimo “foreigner” (QL/100). Similar words in the Gnomish lexicon such as G. far(o)n “separate, different, strange” and G. faronwed “foreign” seem to be based on a distinct but possibly related root, apparently being derived from G. far- “separate, sever, divide” (GL/34). The Gnomish words for “otherness” seem to be based on the (hypothetical) root *ᴱ√ELE, such as G. el “or” and G. eleg “other, else” (GL/32); see the entry on *ᴱ√ELE² for further discussion.

In the Early Qenya Grammar, the “other” words were based on ᴱQ. etya (comparative) and ᴱQ. nyanya (general), but these words were on a page of demonstratives and their primitive basis isn’t clear (PE14/55). The next published “or” word was S. egor from the King’s Letter in the omitted epilogue to The Lord of the Rings, written towards the very end of the 1940s (SD/129).

The next set of “or/other” words do not appear until the 1960s. The primitive form ✶khē̆ appears in notes on reflexives from 1965 as the basis for Q. “him, the other” (VT49/15). In rough notes on numbers written in the last 1960s, Tolkien gave the possibly-related root √KES “other”, with derivatives Q. exa “other” and Q. exe “the other”, apparently adjective and noun (VT47/40). Finally in some notes written in 1968 or later, Tolkien gave the primitive element √KHY- “other”, with derivatives Q. hye “other person”, Q. hya “other thing”, and Q. hyana “other [adjective]” (VT49/14).

These primitive forms also seem to be connected to various words Tolkien considered for “or” in the Ambidexters Sentence composed in 1969: khe >> hela >> hya (VT49/14). Patrick Wynne suggested the first two of these might be connected to 1965 ✶khē̆, and the last one to 1968+ √KHY-. If so, this would indicate √KHY- was from 1969 assuming this was the point where Tolkien revised the primitive form.

It is not clear which of √KHY- or √KES was composed first, but for purposes of Neo-Eldarin, I think it is better to use √KHY- and its derivatives, since they are a more comprehensive paradigm including the best available Quenya word for “or”.

ᴹ√KHYAR “left hand”

A root in The Etymologies of the 1930s glossed “left hand” associated with ᴹQ. hyarmen/N. harad “south” (Ety/KHYAR). These words reappeared in The Lord of the Rings (LotR/1115), and the connection between “south” and “left” was reaffirmed in Tolkien’s discussion of the Ambidexters Sentence from the late 1960s, since the Elves aligned the cardinal directions by facing west towards Aman (VT49/6-8).

ᴹ√KHYEL(ES) “glass”

A root in The Etymologies of the 1930s glossed “glass” with derivatives in both Quenya and Noldorin with the same meaning: ᴹQ. hyelle and N. hele (Ety/KHYEL(ES)). After Tolkien changed Noldorin to Sindarin, he decided that “There was no common Eldarin word for glass”, and that the Sindarin word S. heledh was derived from Khuzdul kheled (PE17/37). Thus the root ᴹ√KHYEL(ES) was abandoned.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *