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Select Primitive Elvish Roots: LOG-LOY

LOG “wet (and soft), soaked, swampy”

Tolkien considered a bewildering variety of roots as the basis for the suffixal element S. -ló “flood” in Sindarin, common in river names such as S. Gwathló and S. Ringló. In a collection of notes associated with the name S. Lhûn from around 1967, Tolkien first considered √SLOUN, √SLON or √SLUN (unglossed); then √(S)LOW “flow freely (fully)” (PE17/136-7; VT48/27-28). In notes on The Rivers and Beacon-hills of Gondor from 1967-69, Tolkien instead wrote:

was derived from Common Eldarin base LOG “wet (and soft), soaked, swampy, etc.” The form *loga produced S. and T. loga; and also, from *logna, S. loen, T. logna “soaking wet, swamped”. But the stem in Quenya, owing to sound-changes which caused its derivatives to clash with other words, was little represented except in the intensive formation oloiya- “to inundate, flood”; oloire “a great flood” (VT42/10).

I prefer this last explanation, as it explains a wider variety of words. As for S. Lhûn, in notes from 1968 Tolkien explained it as a loan word from Khuzdul (VT48/24).

LOK “bend, loop, [ᴱ√] twine, twist, curl; [ᴹ√] great serpent, dragon”

A root having to do with bending things, whose most notable derivatives are Q. (h)lócë/S. lhûg “snake, serpent, reptile, worm”. The first appearance of this root was as ᴱ√LOKO “twine, twist, curl” in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s (QL/55), and in this period it had derivatives like ᴱQ. lóke “snake” and G. ulug “dragon”, but also derivatives like G. log- “curl, bend, wind, twine” and G. lonc “curl” (QL/55; GL/54).

In The Etymologies of the 1930s, however, ᴹ√LOK was glossed “great serpent, dragon”, and all its derivatives were dragon words based on ᴹQ. lóke and N. lhûg (Ety/LOK). In this period the “curl” words might have been allocate to the unglossed root ᴹ√LOKH which had derivatives like N. lhoch “ringlet” as well as ᴹQ. lokse and N. lhaws “hair”, so perhaps meaning “*curl (of hair)” (Ety/LOKH). In notes from the late 1950s, Tolkien again generalized the meaning of the root √LOK to “bend, loop”, with additional non-serpent derivatives like Q. lokin “bent” and Q. lōke “bight, bend, curl of hair” (PE17/160); thus √LOK may have (re)absorbed the meanings of ᴹ√LOKH.

LON “*haven, harbour”

The most notable derivatives of this root were Q. londë and S. lond “haven”, but the exact derivation of these words underwent a number of revisions. The earliest word for “haven” was ᴱQ. kópa as in ᴱQ. Kópas Alqalunte(n) “Haven of the Swanships” (LT1/164; LT2/82), a word Tolkien gradually abandoned; see ᴹ√KHOP for discussion. The Telerin haven was renamed ᴹQ. Alqalonde in Silmarillion drafts from the early 1930s (SM/265), a name Tolkien retained thereafter. A Noldorin equivalent N. Alflon also appeared in some Silmarillion maps from the early 1930s (SM/250-1, 261).

In The Etymologies of the 1930s these new words for “haven” were derived from ᴹ√LOD, unglossed but with primitive form ᴹ✶londē “narrow path, strait, pass” and N. lhonn of the same meaning (Ety/LOD). The sense “pass” is seen in the name N. Aglon “*Narrow Pass” (Ety/AK, LOD). It seems there was some semantic drift in Quenya, since the Quenya derivate ᴹQ. londe was glossed “road (in sea), fairway, entrance to harbour” (Ety/LOD). The root ᴹ√LON [LONO] also appears in The Etymologies, but its only derivative was ᴹQ. lóna “island, remote land difficult to reach”, as in ᴹQ. Avalóna “Outer Isle”, one of the names of Tol Eressea (Ety/LONO).

In The Etymologies, ᴹ√LOD had some competition for haven-words, since there was also the root ᴹ√LUR “be quiet, still, calm” with derivative N. lhorn “quiet water, anchorage, haven, harbour”; a false beginnning indicates Tolkien first considered using the root ᴹ√LOR for this purpose (EtyAC/LUR). This Noldorin haven-word appears in some 1942 notes on names from Lord of the Rings drafts: “Lorn = haven [vs.] Londe = gulf” (TI/423), and in early Lord of the Ring maps from 1943, the north and south havens were N. Forlorn and N. Harlorn, as opposed to the name of the gulf which was N. Mithlond (TI/301-302).

However, Tolkien eventually changed the north and south havens to S. Forlond and S. Harlond (LotR/1050), and S. Mithlond became “Grey Havens” rather than “*Grey Gulf” (LotR/1030). Thus Quenya and Sindarin haven-word were ultimately consider cognates, and in notes from the late 1960s having to do with The Rivers and Beacon-hills of Gondor both were derived from √LON (unglossed) along with Q. lóna “pool, mere” (VT42/10).

Remnants of earlier ideas remaining in Tolkien’s later writings, however, which muddy the picture: Aglon still appeared in the Silmarillion narratives in the 1950s and 60s (S/123; WJ/38, 77), as did the name Q. Avallónë for Tol Eressea (S/260; MR/175). The root √(S)LON was also connected to some of Tolkien’s later ideas for possible origins of S. Lhûn; see the entry on √LOG for discussion. The instability of all these ideas makes me think that Tolkien never did quite sort out how (or whether) any of them were connected to √LON or √LOD and haven-words.

ᴹ√LOP “horse; [ᴱ√] *run (of animals), gallop, lope”

This root was the basis for horse words starting with the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s, where it appeared unglossed as ᴱ√LOPO (QL/56). It was compared to the root ᴱ√LOQO, and these roots include the verbs ᴱQ. lopo- “gallop, run (of animals)” and ᴱQ. loqo- “run (of human beings)”, so I think it likely those were the meanings of the roots as well (QL/56). In the Qenya Lexicon, ᴱ√LOPO had the derivatives ᴱQ. lōpa “horse or mare” and ᴱQ. lopsi “mare” (QL/56), but elsewhere in that document there was the word ᴱQ. lapatte “rabbit” < ᴱ✶lopatte, so I think that word is related as well, though Tolkien did mark the primitive form with a “?” (QL/51). The probably-related word ᴹQ. lopo “rabbit” appeared in a discussion of nouns from the early 1930s (PE21/31). However, in The Etymologies of the 1930s the root ᴹ√LOP was glossed “horse”, and its derivatives ᴹQ. olombo and N. lobor had only that sense (EtyAC/LOP).

Starting with the 1930s and later, horse words were usually derived from ᴹ√ROK. For purposes of Neo-Eldarin, I think it is worth retaining ᴹ√LOP as well, with a verbal sense “*gallop, lope”. In this way, it can remain the basis for rabbit words based on their loaping run. The horse words from this root might be specialized for heavier loping horses like destriers, since ᴹQ. rokko was said to refer more specifically to a “swift horse” (EtyAC/ROK).

LOT(H) “flower”

This root and ones like it were connected to flowers for all of Tolkien’s life. The earliest manifestation of this root was ᴱ√LOHO or ᴱ√LO’O from the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s; the entry for ᴱ√LOHO appears immediately below ᴱ√LO’O, and Tolkien indicates they are related roots, both extended from ᴱ√OLO “tip” (QL/55). These roots include derivatives like ᴱQ. lōte “flower”, ᴱQ. lotōrea “flourishing” and ᴱQ. lokta- “sprout, bud, put forth leaves or flowers”. There are also derivatives of these roots in the contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon: G. lost “blossom, bloom”, G. lothli “floret”, G. luitha- “to bloom” (GL/54-55), though G. lôs “flower” was said to be unrelated, connected to G. lass “leaf” instead (GL/55). ᴱQ. losse “rose” probably had a similar derivation (QL/56).

This confusion of √LOT(H) and √LOS carried forward into Tolkien’s later writings. In The Etymologies of the 1930s ᴹ√LOT(H) was given as the root for “flower” (Ety/LOT(H)), but this entry originally included a variant ᴹ√LOS (EtyAC/LOT(H)). Tolkien then said ᴹQ. losse “blossom” (< ᴹ√LOT(H)) was “usually, owing to association with olosse snow, only used of white blossom” (Ety/LOT(H)), where ᴹQ. olosse was derived from ᴹ√GOLOS “*snow, white” (Ety/GOLÓS). This intermingling carried forward into etymological notes from the late 1950s or early 1960s, where Tolkien said (PE17/26):

The stems √LŎS, √LOTH, √LOT are much entangled both for formal reasons, and because of actual associations of meaning (probably from beginning of Primitive Quendian and explaining the approach of the forms). Quenya word for “flower, a single bloom” is lóte, but S loth (< lotho/a), but Quenya also has lōs. Q. for snow is losse (S los).

These associations were also mentioned in etymological notes on roots for flowers from this same period, where Tolkien clarified that √LOT, √LOTH where the roots for “flower” and √LOS for “snow” (PE17/160-161). These roots were mentioned again in notes associated with The Rivers and Beacon-hills of Gondor from the late 1960s (VT42/18):

S. loss is a derivative of (G)LOS “white”; but loth is from LOT. Sindarin used loss as a noun, but the strengthened form gloss as an adjective “(dazzling) white”. loth was the only derivative of LOT that it retained, probably because other forms of the stem assumed a phonetic shape that seemed inappropriate, or were confusible with other stems (such as LUT “float”), e.g. *lod, *lûd. loth is from a diminutive lotse and probably also from derivative lotta-.

In this last note, Tolkien seems to have abandoned √LOTH, explaining S. loth “flower” as derived from √LOT via *lotse. In any case, starting in the 1930s Tolkien was consistent that the roots for “flower” and “snow” were distinct but often confused, and that snow-words were derived from roots like √(G)LOS and flower words from roots like √LOT(H), though he waffled a bit on the exact details.

LOY “go wrong, fail, [ᴹ√] miss, fail to go; lack, be without”

A Quenya-only root in linguistic notes from 1959 meaning “go wrong, fail” with the basic sense of “miss mark, go (or send) wrong, fall short or beside ([one’s] aim, what is due or proper)” (PE17/151); in a marginal note Tolkien also wrote “go awry, ill, wrongly”. Its Sindarin equivalent was √DEW. The root ᴹ√LOY also appeared in The Etymologies of the 1930s with the gloss “lack, be without; miss, fail to go”, though all of its derivatives were rejected (EtyAC/LOYO).

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