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Select Primitive Elvish Roots: TOK-TOW

TOK “non-resonant sounds”

The roots √TOK and √NOK appeared in a list of sound roots from 1959-60 as root for “non-resonant sounds”, but with no derivatives (PE17/138). They are similar to earlier roots, such as ᴱ√OTO “knock” from the the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s with derivatives like the verb ᴱQ. otto- “knock” but also ᴱQ. otso “7” (QL/71), as wells as the root {ᴹ√TUN >>} ᴹ√TON “tap, knock, {touch (with the fingers)}” in the Quenya Verbal System of the 1940s with derived verb {ᴹQ. tun- >>} ᴹQ. ton- of the same meaning (PE22/103 and note #20).

TOL “stick up or out, stand up (out and above neighboring things), raise the head”

This was the root for islands and other things that “stick up” for much of Tolkien’s life. This root appeared as unglossed ᴱ√TOLO in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s with derivatives like ᴱQ. tol “an island”, ᴱQ. tolda “hill with a flat top; town on a hill”, and ᴱQ. tolmen “boss (of shield), isolated round hill” (QL/94). The derivative G. tol “an isle (with high steep coasts)” appeared in the contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon as well (GL/71). The root appeared as ᴹ√TOL² in The Etymologies of the 1930s with derivatives ᴹQ. tol/N. toll “island” (Ety/TOL²); the alternate root ᴹ√TOL¹ was the basis for words for “eight” in this document. The root was mentioned several times in writings on Eldarin Hands, Fingers and Numerals from the late 1960s, with glosses like “stand up (out and above neighboring things)” (VT47/10) or “stick up or out” (VT47/28), and Tolkien said it:

mostly applied to things that were, relatively to those that they were contrasted with, also larger and thicker: e.g. mountain-tops, very tall trees, or a tall strong man (VT47/10).

In this last respected it was the basis for various words for “thumb” and “big toe”, and could be contrasted with √TIL used for the tips of smaller things, including the smaller fingers and toes. √TOL also had extended form √TOLOB with derivative ✶tolbā “a protuberance, esp. one designed for a purpose: a knob or rounded tool-handle” (VT47/11), and in these 1960s documents (unlike in the 1930s) it was the basis for the root √TOLOD “eight” due to the prominence of the middle finger (finger 3 and 8) in counting (VT47/11).

TOLOD “eight”

The earliest Elvish words for “eight” were ᴱQ. {ungo >>} umna and G. {ung >>} uvin in the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s (GL/75), but in the Early Qenya Grammar of the 1920s it became ᴱQ. {telte >>} tolto (PE14/49). In The Etymologies of the 1930s Tolkien gave the root ᴹ√TOL¹-OTH/OT “eight” as the basis for ᴹQ. tolto and N. toloth of the same meaning (Ety/TOL¹-OTH/OT); in this document it was distinct from ᴹ√TOL² which was the basis for “island” words.

In documents on Elvish numbers from the late 1960s, Tolkien vacillated between √TOLOTH (VT42/30 note #52), √TOLOT (VT42/24; VT47/31) and √TOLOD (VT47/11) for the form of this root, but in the more polished versions of these documents he seems to have settled on √TOLOD > Q. toldo, S. toloð (VT48/6). In this last iteration, Tolkien connected the root √TOLOD to the root √TOL “stick up” due to the prominence of the middle fingers (3 and 8) in counting (VT47/11); see the entry on √TOL for discussion.

TOM “of resonant sounds”

The root √TOM appeared in a list of sound roots from 1959-60 as a root for “resonant sounds”, with a pair of unglossed derivatives Q. tomba and Q. tompe (PE17/138); it was constrasted with √OM which was for “more long-drawn out” sounds, as opposed to √TOM which was “briefer”. The root √TOM might be a restoration of the unglossed early root ᴱ√TOMPO from the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s with derivatives like ᴱQ. tombo “gong”, ᴱQ. tompa “small drum”, and ᴱQ. tompo- “bang” (QL/94).

ᴹ√TOP “cover, roof”

A root in The Etymologies of the 1930s glossed “cover, roof” with derivatives like ᴹQ. tópa-/N. toba- “to roof”, ᴹQ. tópa “roof”, and N. tobas “roofing” (Ety/TOP). It was grouped together with and was apparently a variant of ᴹ√TUP (EtyAC/TOP), a root with a much lengthier history; see that entry for details. For purposes of Neo-Eldarin, I think this root could mean “roof” as opposed to √TUP = “cover”.

TOR “secrete, hide”

A root appearing in 1964 notes on Dalath Dirnen (DD), with the gloss “secrete, hide” and serving as the basis for S. torn “hidden, secret” and S. torech “secret hole, lair” as in S. Torech Ungol “Shelob’s Lair” (PE17/188). Since this root appears nowhere else with this gloss and S. Torech Ungol has other translations elsewhere, such as “Tunnel of the Spider” (RC/491), I would be cautious about using this root.

ᴹ√TOR “brother”

Tolkien gave this root in The Etymologies of the 1930s as ᴹ√TOR “brother” with derivatives like ᴹQ. toron and N. tôr of the same meaning, both derived from the extended root as made clear by the Noldorin plural terein (Ety/TOR). In notes from the late 1960s, Tolkien gave Q. háno and S. hanar as the words for “brother”, both from the root √KHAN¹. Nevertheless, I think it is worth retaining ᴹ√TOR to represent more abstract notions of “brotherhood” for the purposes of Neo-Eldarin, for “metaphorical” brothers as opposed to Q. háno/S. hanar for brothers by blood.

TORO “*bake”

An unglossed root in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s with derivatives like ᴱQ. torma “oven”, ᴱQ. toro- “bake”, and ᴱQ. torwa “baked, dark brown” (QL/94). There are no signs of this root having this meaning in Tolkien’s later writing.

ᴹ√TOW “*wool”

An unglossed root in The Etymologies of the 1930s with derivatives like ᴹQ. “wool” and ᴹQ. toa/N. taw “of wool, woollen” (Ety/TOW). In the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s, the root was instead ᴱ√OWO with derivatives like ᴱQ. oa “wool”, ᴱQ. oara “of wool”, and ᴱQ. ue “fleece” (QL/71). The Gnomish word G. uf⁽²⁾ “fine wool, down” was probably related (GL/74), but the word for “wool” in the contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon was G. with Qenya cognate ᴱQ. toa and primitive form ᴱ✶tou̯, hence very similar to the entry in The Etymologies. In Early Noldorin Word-lists from the 1920s Tolkien gave ᴱN. “fleece” or “wool” as a derivatives of ᴱ✶togo (PE13/154, 165).

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