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Select Primitive Elvish Roots: POL-PUT

POL “can, have physical power and ability; large, big (strong); [ᴹ√] physically strong, [ᴱ√] have stength; [√] pound up, break up small, reduce to powder”

This root was connected to Elvish words for strength and physical ability for most of Tolkien’s life. It first appeared as ᴱ√POLO “have stength” in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s with derivatives like ᴱQ. poldor “physical strength” and ᴱQ. polka “pig”, though the latter was marked by Tolkien with a “?” (QL/75). There were also derivatives in the contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon such as G. polm “strength (physical)” and G. polod “power, might, authority” (GL/64). The root ᴹ√POL reappeared in The Etymologies of the 1930s with the gloss “physically strong”, extended form ᴹ√POLOD and derivatives like ᴹQ. polda “strong, burly” and ᴹQ. poldore as an element in the name ᴹQ. Poldórea (Ety/POL); this name was variously glossed “Strong One” (SM/79) or “Valiant” (LR/206), though in the later sense it was eventually replaced by Q. Astaldo (S/28).

POL appeared in a list of roots from around 1959-60 with a minor shift in meaning:

pol can, have physical power and ability [as in] “I can jump that”. polin quete means I can speak (because mouth and tongue are free)” (VT41/6).

In another note around this time but probably later (and thus maybe in the early 1960s), Tolkien wrote:

√POL. This cannot refer to strength. (Too obvious a reminiscence of [Latin] pollens); also it does not account for poli- “meal”, grist. √POL- should have senses “pound up”, break up small, reduced to powder etc. Poldórea, as adjective applied to Tulkas, should be derived from the Elvish nickname of Tulkas (not being derived from Valarin), Poldor, Poldomo: “breaker up of the hard/tough”, √DOR- “hard, tough” (PE17/181).

The mention of poli- “meal” seems to be a reference to a different early root ᴱ√POL-I from the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s with derivatives like ᴱQ. pole “oats, grain; flour” and ᴱQ. polu “kernel” (QL/75), whereas in The Etymologies of the 1930s the word for “flour, meal” was ᴹQ. pore derived from ᴹ√POR (Ety/POR). This shift in sense to “pound up” seems to be motivated by the similarity of √POL “strength” to Latin “pollens” (able, strong).

However, in another later-still note Tolkien wrote the phrase Q. á rike empollie that seems to mean “try harder” (PE17/167), likely a rough contemporary of other notes from around 1967 exploring the same phrase (PE17/94). This later use of empollie seems to be connected to physical effort, and thus is in line with the 1959-60 note with √POL “can, have physical power and ability” mentioned above.

Finally in a note from around 1968, Tolkien wrote:

Q. pol, large, big (strong). polda, big. DELETE pole “meal”! Make it mule (PE17/115).

This is explanation appears in a set of notes having to do with “large and small”, probably from around 1968, the date given for an apparently related root-list with similar information (VT47/26 note #26). It seems to firmly discard the connection of √POL to “pound, meal” and restored its connection to “strength” along with a new connection to “largeness”.

Assuming this analysis is correct, the conceptual evolution seems to be:

  • 1910s: ᴱ√POLO “have stength”; ᴱ√POL-I “*grain, flour”.
  • 1930s: ᴹ√POL “physically strong”; ᴹ√POR “*flour, meal”.
  • 1959-60: √POL “can, have physical power and ability”.
  • early 1960s: √POL “pound up” > ✶poli “meal”.
  • late 1960s: √POL “large, big (strong)” vs. Q. mulë “meal”.

Neo-Eldarin: For purposes of Neo-Eldarin I think it best to assume √POL has to do with “strength” and “physical ability”. I think it better to assume the connection of the root to √POL “meal, flour” was abandoned, and use *√MUL and possibly ᴹ√POR for that purpose instead.

ᴹ√POR “*meal, flour”

ᴹ√POR is an unglossed root in The Etymologies of the 1930s with the derivative like ᴹQ. pore “flour, meal” < ᴹ✶pori (Ety/POR). It is a later variation on a root ᴱ√POL-I from the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s with derivatives like ᴱQ. pole “oats” and ᴱQ. polu “kernel” (QL/75). ᴱQ. pole appeared again in the Early Qenya Grammar of the 1920s as “grain”, and again as ᴹQ. pole “meal, flour” in the Declension of Nouns (PE21/12-13). The shift of pole >> pore in The Etymologies of the 1930s seems to be temporary, as primitive ✶poli “meal” reappeared in Common Eldarin: Noun Structure from the early 1950s (PE21/80).

These words for “meal” collided with the root √POL in notes probably from the early 1960s, where Tolkien said:

√POL. This cannot refer to strength. (Too obvious a reminiscence of [Latin] pollens); also it does not account for poli- “meal”, grist. √POL- should have senses “pound up”, break up small, reduced to powder etc.

This changes to the root √POL seems to be transient, however, since in another note from around 1968 Tolkien said:

Q. pol, large, big (strong). polda, big. DELETE pole “meal”! Make it mule (PE17/115).

This indicates that the word for “meal” was transferred to the root *√MUL, itself probably a restoration of the early root ᴱ√MULU “grind (fine)” (QL/63). See that entry, and the entry for √POL, for a more detailed discussion of those roots. As for “meal, flour” roots, it seems the development was: 1910s ᴱ√POL-I >> mid-1930s ᴹ√POR >> early 1960s ᴹ√POL(I) >> 1968 √MUL.

Neo-Eldarin: For purposes of Neo-Eldarin, I think √POL(I) can no longer be used for “meal”, with √MUL being more suitable for that purpose, but I think 1930s ᴹ√POR might be salvageable for use as “flour”.

POROK “hen”

An onomatopoeic root appearing in notes from the late 1960s with variants porok- and korok and the gloss “hen” (VT47/36). It seems to be a restoration of the form ᴱQ. poroke “barn foul” from the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s (QL/75) with Gnomish cognate G. porog “fowl (domestic)” in the contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon (GL/64). ᴱQ. poroke “hen” reappeared in Qenya Word-lists from the 1920s (PE16/132), and primitive ✶porokĭ “fowl” and ✶porokē “hen” appeared in Common Eldarin: Noun Structure from the early 1950s (PE21/82). Thus this root seems to be a pretty enduring notion.

ᴹ√POY “clean”

This root appeared as unglossed ᴱ√POYO in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s with derivatives like ᴱQ. poika “clean, tidy” and ᴱQ. poita- “cleanse” (QL/75). It also had derivatives in the contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon such as G. puictha- “clean, wipe out; condone, do away with, pardon, forgive” and G. puig “clean, neat, tidy” (GL/64). It reappeared as unglossed ᴹ√POY in The Etymologies of the 1930s with derivatives like ᴹQ. poika/N. puig “clean” (Ety/POY).

ᴱ√PUŘU [PUÐU] “consume by fire”

A root in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s given as ᴱ√PUŘU [PUÐU] “consume by fire” with derivatives like ᴱQ. pur “a fire, an artificial fire”, ᴱQ. purin “hearth” and ᴱQ. purya- “set fire to” (QL/75). There are no obvious derivatives in the contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon (G. pruin “charcoal” might be related), but in Gnomish Lexicon Slips modifying that document, primitive G. bordd “fireplace” is compared to ✶búrı̯ā > ᴱQ. purya and seems to be derived from this root or a variant of it (PE13/116). It hints that the root might have been revised to *ᴱ√BUÐU or even ᴱ√BURU. After the 1910s, there are no signs of this root in Tolkien’s writing.

ᴱ√PU(HU) “generate”

A root in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s appearing as ᴱ√PU(HU) “generate”, with various derivatives having to do with sexual intercourse: ᴱQ. putse “baby, child” as well as ᴱQ. pukta- and ᴱQ. puntl, the latter two words with erased glosses, probably “coire” (Latin for “copulate”) and “mem. vir.” (abbreviation for Latin for “membrum virile” or “male organ”) (QL/75). In the contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon it had the derivatives G. pui “child” and G. puthli “baby” (GL/64).

There were similar forms in the Early Qenya Grammar of the 1920s such as ᴱQ. puita- “beget” and dual form puyandui “parents” (PE14/77), the latter also appearing in its singular form ᴱQ. puyando “parent” in the contemporaneous English-Qenya Dictionary (PE15/76). Finally, in the Noldorin Dictionary of the 1920s there were primitive forms ᴱ✶pukku- and ᴱ✶pukse serving as the basis for ᴱN. huch “cunnus” (Latin = “vagina”) and ᴱN. huis “coire (trans.), futuere” (Latin = “copulate”), appearing near similar forms such such as ᴱN. hoith “coitus (one act)” (Latin = “sexual intercourse”) (PE13/163).

Neo-Eldarin: For purposes of Neo-Eldarin, I think this root is worth retaining as ᴺ√PUK to serve as the basis for Elvish words for sexual organs and intercourse, for which we have no other roots.

ᴱ√PULU “swell”

A root in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s appearing as ᴱ√PULU “swell”, with derivatives like ᴱQ. pulko “body, trunk, bole of tree”, ᴱQ. pulu- “swell (intr.)”, and ᴱQ. pulwa “fat, bulky” (QL/75). In the contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon it had derivatives like G. polc “thick, fat” (GL/64) and G. famfolc “fat-bellied” (GL/34), but also G. baul “body, trunk” was compared to ᴱQ. pulka (GL/22), hinting at a blending with *ᴱ√BULU. In the Gnomish Lexicon there is also a primitive form ᴱ✶lūpe with derivatives G. lub “fat, fat flesh” and G. lubi “corpulent” (GL/55), which might be an inversion of ᴱ√PULU. This inversion reappeared in Early Noldorin Word-lists from the 1920s as ᴱN. lhub “fat”.

Neo-Eldarin: In Tolkien’s later writings, “swell” and “fat” seems to have been transferred to the root ᴹ√TIW, but I think it is worth retaining ᴺ√PUL as a Neo-Eldarin root to serve as the basis for Elvish words for “trunk” and “torso”. Helge Fauskanger also used this root in connection to the rising of yeast in NQNT (Neo-Quenya New Testament).

PUT “[ᴹ√] stop, halt, pause”

This root first appeared in The Etymologies of the 1930s as ᴹ√PUS “stop, halt, pause” with derivatives like ᴹQ. pusta- “to stop, put a stop to; (intr.) cease, stop”, N. post “pause, halt, rest, cessation, respite”, and ᴹQ. pusta “stop, in punctuation full stop” (Ety/PUS). Tolkien then wrote a new entry {ᴹ√PUS >>} ᴹ√PUT with similar derivatives but with {√pusta >>} ᴹQ. putta “stop (in punctuation)”. Another form in the new entry, ᴹQ. punta “stopped consonant”, reappeared in plural form in the first version of Tengwesta Qenderinwa from the 1930s (TQ1) as Puntar “stops”, the label for voiced, voiceless and aspirated stopped consonants (PE18/30). The word pusta “stop” was used for the dot tehta in The Feanorian Alphabet of the 1940s, but this word was revised to putta (PE22/21 and note #63). Finally, √PUT appeared in the second version of Tengwesta Qenderinwa from around 1950 (TQ2) with etymological variant √PHUT, but in that document it was unglossed and had no derivatives (PE18/90).

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