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Select Elvish Words 1.241: Ravine, Pass

1.241 Ravine, Pass

Q. (a)nacca n. “narrows, defile, pass, cut”
A noun appearing in etymological notes from around 1964 (DD) with the glosses “narrows, defile, pass, cut” as a derivative of √NAKH “narrow, thin” (PE17/166).
ᴹQ. aksa n. “ravine, narrow path; edge”
A noun in The Etymologies of the 1930s given as ᴹQ. aksa “narrow path, ravine” derived from the root ᴹ√AK “narrow, confined” (Ety/AK). It was also the name of a tengwa in notes on The Feanorian Alphabet from the 1930s with the gloss “ravine” (PE22/22), and it reappeared in a later version of these notes from the 1940s, but its gloss was changed: {“ravine” >>} “edge” (PE22/51).

Neo-Quenya: For purposes of Neo-Quenya, I’d avoid this word and instead use Q. (a)nacca for “narrow path” and Q. címa for “edge”.

Q. cirya n. “cleft, pass”
A noun for a “cleft”, most notably in Calacirya “Light-cleft” as mentioned in the Namárië poem (RGEO/62; LotR/377).

Conceptual Development: In Silmarillion drafts from the 1930s, this name was ᴹQ. Kalakilya (LR/173; MR/102), and the word ᴹQ. kilya “cleft, pass between hills, gorge” appeared in The Etymologies of the 1930s as a derivative of the root ᴹ√KIL “divide” (Ety/KIL). The word kilya also appeared with the gloss “chasm” in Lament of Atalante from the 1930s and 40s (LR/47, 56; SD/247, 310), but at some point when composing the final versions of the Namárië poem Tolkien switched to Calacirya, and he made the same change in later versions of Silmarillion drafts (MR/102).

Neo-Quenya: I’d avoid this word for Neo-Quenya, as it is too easily confused with cirya “ship”.

Q. rissë n. “?cleft, ravine”
An unglossed Quenya noun from notes Words, Phrases and Passages from The Lord of the Rings, apparently derived from primitive ✶rinse where the [ns] became [ss] in Ancient Quenya (PE17/87). It was related to the final element of S. Imladris “Rivendell, (lit.) Deep Dale of the Cleft” and so perhaps means “*cleft, ravine”.

Neo-Quenya: Given that its meaning is unknown, I’d avoid this word in Neo-Quenya, using other words like Q. (a)nacca or ᴹQ. yáwe instead.

ᴹQ. yáwe n. “ravine, cleft, gully”
A noun in The Etymologies of the 1930s glossed “ravine, cleft, gully” derived from primitive ᴹ✶yagwē (Ety/YAG). As published in The Lost Road, this word was glossed “ravine, cleft, gulf”, but Carl Hostetter and Patrick Wynne corrected this to “ravine, cleft, gully” in their Addenda and Corrigenda to the Etymologies (EtyAC/YAG).
N. cîl n. “cleft, pass between hills, gorge”
A noun in The Etymologies of the 1930s, the equivalent of ᴹQ. kilya “cleft, pass between hills, gorge” and a derivative of ᴹ√KIL “divide” (Ety/KIL). Its most notable use was in the transient name N. Cilthoron(dor); this name eventually became S. Cirith Thoronath “Eagles’ Cleft”, so likely N. cîl became S. cirith.
S. cirith n. “cleft, ravine, defile, [N.] pass”
A noun for a cut through earth or rock: a cleft, ravine, defile or pass. It is an abstract noun formation from the root √KIR “cut, cleave”, and thus might have other non-geographic applications such as “a cutting”, but the word criss “cut, slash” is probably better for such purposes.

Conceptual Development: This word first appeared in some revisions to Silmarillion drafts in the early 1930s, as {N. Cris-Ilfing >>} N. Kirith Helvin and {N. Cristhorn >>} N. Kirith-thoronath (SM/146). Neither of these names became established at this stage, but the word Kirith reappeared in Lord of the Rings drafts in 1940s, in names like N. Kirith Ungol “Spider Glen” (TI/330) and N. Kirith Gorgor “Dreadful Pass” (WR/122), after which Tolkien used this word widely. In the Nomenclature of the Lord of the Rings from 1967, Tolkien explained cirith as meaning: “a cleft, a narrow passage cut through earth or rock (like a railway cutting)” (RC/767).

N. dîn n. “opening, gap, pass in mountains”
A noun in The Etymologies of the 1930s glossed “opening, gap, pass in mountains”, the only derivative of ᴹ√DEN “hole, gap, passage” (Ety/DEN). It was an element in the names N. Din-Dûhir and N. Din-Caradras, but neither of these names appeared in the narratives.
S. falch n. “[ᴱN.] cleft, ravine”
An element in the (untranslated) name Orfalch Echor (S/239), but in earlier writings this word was translated “cleft, ravine”, and likely the Sindarin form of the word had a similar meaning.

Conceptual Development: The earliest iteration of this word was G. falc “cleft, gash; cleft, ravine, cliffs” from the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s (GL/33), where it was probably a derivative of the early root ᴱ√FḶKḶ “cleave, hew” as suggested by Christopher Tolkien (LT2A/Glorfalc; QL/38). It reappeared as ᴱN. falch “cleft, ravine” in Early Noldorin Word-lists of the 1920s as a derivative of primitive ✶spalk(w)e (PE13/143), and that’s the basis for the gloss given above.

S. n. “chasm, pit; void, abyss; [N.] gulf”
A word variously glossed “void, abyss” (Let/383), “chasm, pit” (PE17/35), or “gulf” (Ety/YAG), it was the final element in the name S. Moria “Black Chasm, Black Pit”. It was a derivative of the root √YAG, and in The Etymologies of the 1930s its primitive form was given as ᴹ✶yagu- (Ety/YAG), in Lord of the Rings drafts from the 1940s its primitive form was ᴹ✶yagō (RS/437), while in a 1967 letter its primitive form was ✶yagā (Let/383).
N. iau n. “ravine, cleft, gulf”
A noun in The Etymologies of the 1930s glossed “ravine, cleft, gulf” derived from the root ᴹ√YAG “yawn, gape” from primitive ᴹ✶yagwē (Ety/YAG).

Neo-Sindarin: I’d avoid this word for purposes of Neo-Sindarin, as it is easily confused with N. iau “corn” and has a number of other better-known alternatives like S. “gulf” and S. cirith “ravine, cleft”.

S. imrad n. “path or pass between mountains or trackless forest, (lit.) *valley path”
A noun appearing in notes from the late 1960s for “a path or pass between mountains, hills or trackless forest”, a combination of (archaic) S. †im “valley” and S. râd “path” (VT47/14). It is probably the clearest Sindarin word for a mountain pass.

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