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Select Elvish Words 1.32: Sea

1.32 Sea

Q. †airë n. “sea”
An archaic word for “sea” which fell out of use to due conflict with “holy” words like aira or airë; it was a noun form of primitive ✶gaı̯ră (PE17/27). The more common modern word for “sea” is ëar.

Conceptual Development: ᴹQ. aire “sea” appeared in the The Etymologies of the 1930s as a derivative of ᴹ√AYAR (Ety/AY); it appeared beside a form ᴹQ. airen that might be a genitive form, or might be a longer form; see the entry on Q. airon for discussion.

Q. †airon n. “ocean”
An (archaic) word for “ocean”, an augmentative form of airë mentioned in a couple of later notes (PE17/27, 149). A more modern form is eäron.

Conceptual Development: The form ᴹQ. airen appeared in parenthesis beside ᴹQ. aire “sea” in the The Etymologies of the 1930s (Ety/AY). Helge Fauskanger suggested that it might be a genitive form (QQ/airë), but in notes on The Feanorian Alphabet from the 1930s, aire “sea” >> airen (PE22/23 note #70), suggesting it is an alternate (augmentative?) form. If so, it is probably a precursor to airon.

Q. ëar n. “sea, great sea, ️[ᴹQ.] open sea; ⚠️water”
The most common word for “sea”, derived from the root √GAYAR (or sometimes √AYAR), where the vowel combination was the result of the frequent Quenya sound change whereby aya > ëa.

Conceptual Development: As an element in the name ᴱQ. Earendel, this word first appeared as ᴱQ. ea or ᴱQ. earen “eagle” (QL/34). But by the 1940s Tolkien changed the form and meaning of this name to ᴹQ. Earendil “Friend of the Sea” (SD/237), and the word ᴹQ. ear “sea” appeared in The Etymologies of the 1930s as a derivative of ᴹ√AYAR (Ety/AY). In The Notion Club Papers of the 1940s it had the form eare and the gloss “open sea” (SD/241, 305). The first appearance of the “sea” meaning of this word seems to be in a word-list associated the Ambarkanta “Shape of the World” from the early 1930s, where ear had the glosses “water, sea” (SM/241), though in later writings only “sea” remained.

Q. eäron n. “ocean, great sea”
A word appearing as eäron “ocean” (PE17/27) and Eāren “Great Sea” (PE17/27; PM/363). I prefer the first as a more obvious augmentative form, a combination of ëar “sea” with the augmentative -on.

Conceptual Development: A form ᴹQ. earen appeared in The Etymologies of the 1930s as a parenthetical form beside ᴹQ. ear “sea”; this might be a genitive form, but I suspect it is an early appearance of earon/earen “ocean” instead.

Q. váya n. “ocean, [stormy] sea”
A word in Quenya Notes (QN) from 1957 that Tolkien described as “used of sea (as waters, motion)”, a derivative of √WAYA “blow, or be disturbed” (PE17/33). This note was crossed through, but a similar note appeared afterwards with a (archaic?) word waya “ocean” (PE17/34).

Conceptual Development: In the earliest Lost Tales, Tolkien had ᴱQ. Vai “Outer Ocean” (LT1/85), a word that also appeared in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s as a derivative of ᴱ√VAẎA “enfold, wind about” (QL/100). The word ᴱQ. vea “sea” appeared in a number of poems Tolkien wrote in the late 1920s (MC/213-214, 216, 220; numerous references in PE16). ᴹQ. vea “sea” also appeared in the Declension of Nouns from the early 1930s as a derivative of ᴹ✶vaı̯ā (PE21/8, 17), and as an element in the name ᴹQ. Veaneldar “Sea-elves” from the 1930s and possibly Q. Vëantur, a name in later writings for a ship captain in Númenor (UT/171).

In Silmarillion drafts of the 1930s Tolkien used ᴹQ. Vaiya for “Enfolding Ocean” (SM/236) or “Outer Sea” (LR/209). This word was mentioned in The Etymologies as wai(y)a/vai(y)a “envelope” that was used “especially of the Outer Sea or Air enfolding the world within the Ilurambar”, a derivative of ᴹ√WAY “enfold” (Ety/WAY). In the Ambarkanta of early 1930s Tolkien likewise said that the ordinary meaning vaiya was “fold, envelope”, meaning “Outer Sea” when used as a proper name (SM/241). In Quenya Notes (QN) from 1957, the similar word váya/waya was given a new etymology from the root √WAYA “blow” rather than “enfold” as noted above, along with other derivatives having to do with “wind” (PE17/33-34).

Neo-Quenya: For purposes of Neo-Quenya, I think the form váya is the best form, and given its derivative from the root for “wind”, I think it refers mainly to rough or stormy seas. The name Vëantur may contained a reduced form of this word.

S. duinen n. “flood, high tide”
A noun for “flood, high tide” in notes from the late 1960s (VT48/24, 26), a combination of the root √DUY “flood” and S. nen “water”, as suggested by Patrick Wynne (VT48/32 note #19).
S. gaear n. “sea”
A word for “sea” variously attested as gaear (PE17/027; PM/363; WJ/400), gaer (PE17/27; PE17/149), and aear (Let/386; RGEO/65) in later writings. Of these, I prefer gaear.

Possible Etymology: The presence or absence of the initial g- depends on whether the word’s root is √AY(AR) (as it appears in The Etymologies and some later writings) or √GAY(AR) (as it appears in other later writings). See the entry of the root √GAY(AR) for a discussion of this vacillation. Similarly, the form gaer appears primarily as an element in compounds, and can be explained as a reduced form of gaear in that context. For these reasons, this entry uses gaear as the ordinary Sindarin word for “sea”. This has the additional advantage of disambuiguating it from the adjective gaer “dreadful”.

Conceptual Development: This word appeared as N. oer or oear “sea” in The Etymologies of the 1930s, reflecting the Noldorin sound change of ai to oe (Ety/AY). However name for the “Great Sea” was N. {Belegar >>} Belegaer in the narratives of this period (LR/19), and the name N. Rhûnaer “Eastern Sea” appeared in draft Lord of the Rings maps from 1943 (TI/307). The element N. oer did appear in the day-of-the-week name N. Aroeren “*Sea-day” in drafts of The Lord of the Rings appendices, but this was revised to S. Oraeron (PM/130, 138).

S. gaearon n. “ocean, (lit.) great sea”
A word for “ocean” (PE17/27), “great sea” (PM/363) or “great ocean” (RGEO/64) variously attested as gae(a)ron (PE17/027; PE17/149; PM/363) or aearon (RGEO/65), and a combination of gaear or aear “sea” with the augmentative suffix -on (PE17/27, RGEO/65). Since I prefer gaear for sea; I also prefer gaearon or gaeron for “ocean”. Of these, I think gaeron is the ordinary form, and gaearon is more archaic or poetic.

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