New Theme! What do you think?

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

Select Primitive Elvish Roots: NŌ-NOWO

NŌ/ONO “beget, give birth to; be born; [ᴱ√] become”

This root was associated with Elvish words for “birth” for most of Tolkien’s life. It first appeared as ᴱ√ “become, be born” in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s with derivatives like ᴱQ. nosta- “give birth to; cause” and ᴱQ. nosse “folk, kin, people” (QL/66). Likewise in the contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon there was G. nosta- “am born” and G. nothri “family, kinship” (GL/61), and in the Name Lists for to The Fall of Gondolin (NFG), G. nos was used as the equivalent of ᴱQ. nosse (PE15/22, 24). Both Q. nossë and S. nos(s) appeared regularly in Tolkien’s later writings.

In The Etymologies of the 1930s Tolkien gave ᴹ√NŌ/ONO “beget” as an invertible root, with derivatives of the inverted form including ᴹQ. onta- “beget, create” and N. odhron “parent” (Ety/NŌ, ONO). The invertible root appeared regularly in Tolkien’s later writings, usually with the sense “beget” but in one place also glossed “be born” (PE17/170).

ᴹ√ÑOL “smell (intr.)”

A root in The Etymologies of the 1930s glossed “smell (intr.)”, with derivatives like N. angol or ongol “stench” and ᴹQ. holme “odour” (Ety/ÑOL; EtyAC/ÑOL). It is probably a later iteration of ᴱ√Y̯OLO “smell, stink, reek (intr.)” from the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s which included the derivative ᴱQ. yolme “stench, stink” (QL/106), where the most likely represented an ancient voiced palatal spirant [ʝ] rather than the semi-vowel [j]; both produced y- in Early Qenya (PE12/15-16).

It is not entirely clear what the product of [ʝ] was in Gnomish, and but in contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon the cognates of the Early Qenya forms began with g-, as in G. golod “stink, stench” (GL/41). By the 1920s, the initial primitive consonant had changed to ʒ- as in ᴱ✶ʒolwḗ > ᴱN. golw, ᴱQ. olwe or holwe “stink, stench” in Early Noldorin word lists from this period (PE13/145, 162), the latter probably representing vacillation on Tolkien part on the product of ʒ- in Qenya. ᴹ√ÑOL from The Etymologies of the 1930s is likely the latest iteration in this chain.

NOR “run (or leap) of animals or men; [ᴹ√] run as of wheels, roll along, [ᴱ√] go smoothly, ride, spin”

This root was the basis for Elvish words having to do with “running” and (in earlier notes) “rolling” for much of Tolkien’s life. It first appeared as ᴱ√NORO “run, go smoothly, ride, spin” in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s (QL/67), and it had derivatives in the contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon like G. nor- “run, roll” (GL/61) as well as dronn “race, course, track” < *n’rond- (GL/31). ᴹ√NORO “run as of wheels, roll along” reappeared in a page of roots in the Quenya Verbal System of the 1940s, though this page was deleted (PE22/127 note #152). √NOR “run (or leap: of animals, men etc.)” also appeared in some etymological notes associated with The Lord of the Rings, probably from the late 1950s (PE17/168).

Neo-Eldarin: For purposes of Neo-Eldarin, I’d retain both senses “run” and “roll” for this root, but limit the latter to the rolling of wheels as an extrapolation from the movement of legs.

ᴹ√NOROTH “*giant”

An unglossed root in The Etymologies of the 1930s with the derivatives ᴹQ. norsa/N. noroth “giant”; the root was initially written as ᴹ√NOROT or ᴹ√NOROS (Ety/NOROTH; EtyAC/NOROTH). This root probably replaced the deleted entry {ᴹ√KHANKA >>} ᴹ√KHAN-AK “giant” > ᴹQ. hanako, also from The Etymologies (EtyAC/KHAN-AK). This in turn may have displaced the earliest derivation for “giant” words: ᴱ✶naχū́a > ᴱQ. nauva from The Qenya Phonology of the 1910s (PE12/10).

NOSO/NOTO “*wet”

An unglossed root in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s with variants ᴱ√NOSO and ᴱ√NOTO, as well derivatives like ᴱQ. nos (noss- or nots-) “wetness, damp” and ᴱQ. note “drizzle” (QL/67-68). It also had derivatives in the contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon like G. nosc or noth “damp, wet” (GL/61), and deleted forms like G. doth (nd-) “drizzle, damp; moisture” were probably based on the strengthened form of this root (GL/30). There seems to be a last example of this root in ᴱN. nûd “wet” vs. ᴱQ. nōtē in the Early Noldorin Grammar from the 1920s (PE13/122), but there are no signs of this root having this meaning thereafter. It was likely displaced by √NOT “count”.

NOT “count, reckon”

This root was the basis for Elvish words for “counting” for much of Tolkien’s life. The earliest indications of the root are in primitive ᴱ✶notta > ᴱN. noth “number” in Early Noldorin Wordlists of the 1920s, along with related words like ᴱN. gonod- “count” (PE13/145, 151); the revision of noth “number” to nath may represent some uncertainty on its initial form, but it seems Tolkien restored noth in a marginal note (PE13/150, 151).

The root reappeared as ᴹ√NOT “count, reckon” in The Etymologies of the 1930s with a number of derivatives of similar meaning, the most notable being N. arnœdiad or arnediad “innumerable, countless, endless” (Ety/NOT) as in Nirnaeth Arnoediad “[Battle of] Tears Unnumbered”, a name Tolkien introduced in the 1930s and with minor variations (Nirnaith vs. Nirnaeth, Arnediad vs. Arnoediad) retained thereafter. The root √NOT itself appeared several times in Tolkien’s later writings (PE17/62; PE19/86), most notably as the basis for Q. únótima “numberless” from the Q. Namárië poem (LotR/377).

ᴹ√NOW “think, form idea, imagine”

A root in The Etymologies of the 1930s given as ᴹ√NOWO “think, form idea, imagine”, with derivatives like ᴹQ. “conception” and N. nauth “thought” (Ety/NOWO). It replaced deleted roots ᴹ√ÑŌ¹ and ᴹ√NAWA (EtyAC/ÑŌ¹, NOWO). The latter is a strong indication that its original precursor was the root ᴱ√NAVA [NAɃA] “suspect, guess, have an inkling of” from the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s with derivatives like ᴱQ. nauma “hint, clue” and ᴱQ. nauta- “guess” (QL/64-65), as well as G. naf- “suspect, have inkling of” and G. naus “keen-witted, observant” from the contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon (GL/59).

ᴱ√NO(WO) “ahead, in front; after of time, tomorrow”

A root given as ᴱ√ in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s with extended variants ᴱ√NOWO and ᴱ√NONO (both marked by Tolkien with a “?”) and glossed “ahead, in front; after of time, tomorrow” (QL/66). It was contrasted with ᴱ√DYE(NE) of the opposite meaning. It had derivatives like ᴱQ. nuo “tomorrow” and ᴱQ. “after (only of time)”. The latter appeared regularly in Tolkien’s later writings, but he kept vacillating on whether it meant “after” or “before”: see the entry on Q. for further discussion. For example, the word ✶ “behind” appeared in a set of primitive monosyllabic forms from the late 1960s, but that list was marked through. As for the other branch of the Elvish languages, ᴱ√ “after” had several derivatives in the contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon (GL/61) but no obviously related forms in later Noldorin or Sindarin.

Speak, Friend!