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Select Elvish Words 1.25: Isle, Island

Q. lónë n. “isle, [ᴹQ.] island, remote land difficult to reach”
An element in the name Q. Avallónë “Outer Isle”, thus likely “[remote] ilse”.

Conceptual Development: A similar form ᴹQ. lóna “island, remote land difficult to reach” appeared in The Etymologies of the 1930s as the only derivative of the root ᴹ√LONO (Ety/LONO). This root was connected to the ablative element ᴹ√ “*from” (EtyAC/LŌ, LONO), so “remote land” is likely the original meaning. This word lóna was an element of the name ᴹQ. Avalóna “Outer Isle”, which ultimately became Q. Avallónë (S/260), a name that Tolkien said was “signifying the isle that lies nighest unto the Valar in Valinor” (MR/175 footnote). Thus lónë appears to be an updated version of ᴹQ. lóna, probably of similar meaning.

Q. nortil n. “cape (of land)”
A word in notes from the late 1960s described as “a cape (of land), only used of the ends of promontories or other seaward projections that were relatively sharp and spike-like” (VT47/28). It is a combination of Q. nór “land” and √TIL “point”, so literally “*land-point”.
Q. tollë n. “island, (steep) isle”
The most common Quenya word for isle or island, appearing in both a short form tol (toll-) and longer form tolle, an element in many names. Strictly speaking it only “applied to those [islands] that rose up from the water with sudden and sheer sides” (VT47/28), but in practice it seems to have been used for all kinds of islands. Its short form tol was used as pseudo-prefix in names (VT47/13, 28) such as Tol Eressëa and Tol Uinen, and thus in more ordinary phrases its longer form tolle is more likely.

Conceptual Development: This word dates all the way back to the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s where ᴱQ. tol (toll-) appeared with the gloss “an island, any rise standing alone in water, plain of grass, etc.” derived from the root ᴱ√TOLO (GL/94). It appeared as toll- “isle” in the Poetic and Mythological Words of Eldarissa (PME/94) and as tolle “island” in Early Qenya Word-lists of the 1920s beside its shorter form tol (PE16/139).

In The Etymologies of the 1930s it appeared as ᴹQ. tol “island” as a derivative of primitive ᴹ✶tollo (Ety/TOL²). It appeared several times in notes on Eldarin Hands, Fingers and Numerals from the late 1960s, in one place as short tol < ✶tollă (VT47/26 note #35), but Tolkien gave a more complete description in the final version of these documents:

TOL “stand up (out and above neighbouring things)” … A frequent topographical application was to islands that rose up from the water (sea or river) with sheer sides … Cf. Q. tolle “a steep isle”. This was used in form Tol- as a prefix to the isle’s name: as in Tol-eressea (VT47/10 and p. 13 note #14).

S. caer n. “[N.] flat isle on a river”
A Noldorin noun derived from ᴹ√KAY “to lie” mentioned in the Quenya Verbal System of the 1940s that was “used of a flat isle in a river, opp[osite] of toll-” (PE22/126). The same form caer appeared as a derivative of √KAYA in notes on Words, Phrases and Passages from The Lord of the Rings from the late 1950s or early 1960s, but there it was unglossed and its meaning is unclear (PE17/101).
S. ras(t) n. “cape, shore”
An element in several names appearing as either ras or rast and glossed as “cape” or “shore”. Its most notable use was in the names Nevrast and Haerast “Hither and Far Shore” (S/119; PE17/27), but it also appeared in Andras (WJ/189, note #56) and Andrast “Long Cape” (UT/214, note #6) as well as Ras Morthil, another name for Andrast. Since Nevrast juts out into the water, “cape” may be the best translation, especially since √RAS “horn” is the most likely basis for this word.

Conceptual Development: In The Rivers and Beacon-hills of Gondor from the late 1960s, Tolkien used the name Angast for “Long Cape” in several places, apparently with a final element *cast “cape, headland” derived from √KAS “head”, as suggested by Carl Hostetter (VT42/28 note #16). However, Andrast was the form that was ultimately used in Pauline Baynes’s official map of Middle Earth, so I think ras(t) is the preferable form.

S. tol(l) n. “island, (high steep-sided) isle”
The most common Sindarin word for “island”, strictly speaking only for islands with sheer sides as opposed to [N.] caer for flat islands. It was a derivative of the root √TOL “stick up or out, stand up (out and above neighboring things)” (VT47/10-11). In most names it appears as tol, probably as a semi-prefix, but as an independent word it is probably toll (Ety/TOL), especially given its Quenya cognate Q. tollë (VT47/13, 28).

Conceptual Development: This word dates all the way back to the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s where it appeared as G. tol “an isle (with high steep coasts)” (GL/71), probably already a derivative of the root ᴱ√TOLO as suggested by Christopher Tolkien (LT1A/Tol Eressëa; QL/94). In Early Noldorin Word-lists of the 1920s it appeared as ᴱN. dol “island” (PE13/142), but that seems to have been a transient idea since it was N. toll “island” in The Etymologies of the 1930, again derived from the root ᴹ√TOL², more specifically from the primitive form ᴹ✶tollo (Ety/TOL²). The form tol appeared regularly in Tolkien’s later writings, and in several places he emphasized that it was for islands with steep sides (RC/333; VT47/28).

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