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Select Elvish Words 1.73-1.74: Cloud, Mist, Fog

1.73 Cloud, Mirk

Q. fanya n. “(white) cloud, white and shining [thing]; ⚠️[ᴹQ.] sky; white”
The usual word for “cloud” in Quenya, appearing within both the Namárië and Markirya poems (LotR/377; MC/223), in the latter as an element in Q. fanyarë “the skies” (MC/222). More specifically, it was a “white cloud” (PE17/26, 175). For dark or stormy clouds, lumbo is a more accurate word.

Conceptual Development: ᴱQ. aulo “cloud” appeared in Early Qenya Word-lists of the 1920s, but Tolkien wrote ᴱQ. fanya in pencil next to it (PE16/142) and seems to have stuck with that form thereafter. In Fíriel’s Song of the 1930s, however, Tolkien translated ᴹQ. fanya as “sky” (LR/72), while in The Etymologies of the 1930s fanya was “white” and derived from the root ᴹ√SPAN of the same meaning (Ety/SPAN). In that document, ᴹQ. fána was “cloud” (Ety/SPAN), but in later writings Q. fána became “white” (MC/222) and Q. fanya “cloud” (LotR/377; MC/223).

Fanya was derived from the root ᴹ√SPAN “white” in the 1930s, and the root √SPAN did reappear briefly in a discussion from 1967 (PE17/184-185), but in later writings Tolkien usually derived fanya from √PHAN. Tolkien wrote several lengthy essays on this root, and in one them said:

√PHAN-. The basic sense of this was “cover, screen, veil”, but it had a special development in the Eldarin tongues … The derivative (properly adjectival in form) *phanyā became [in Sindarin] fain, used as an adjective meaning “dim, dimmed” (applied to dimmed or fading lights or to things seen in them) or “filmy, fine-woven etc.” … the word for “cloud” was in Quenya supplied by the derivative fanya (cf. I, 394), which was no longer used as an adjective. But this was used only of white clouds, sunlit or moonlit, or of clouds reflecting sunlight as in the sunset or sunrise, or gilded and silvered at the edges by moon or sun behind them (PE17/174-175).

Q. lumbo n. “cloud, [ᴱQ.] dark lowering cloud; [Q.] gloom, dark, shade”
A word for “cloud” appearing in the plural form lumbor “clouds” in the Markirya poem of the 1960s. An identical form ᴱQ. lumbo appeared five decades earlier in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s with the gloss “dark lowering cloud” as a derivative of the early root ᴱ√LUVU (QL/57). The context of the 1960s Markirya poem was that of a gathering storm, so it seems likely lumbor also referred to dark or stormy clouds. As further support of this, in other late notes lumbo was glossed “gloom” (PE17/72) or “dark, shade” (PE17/168) as a derivative of √LUM or √LUB “shadow, darkness”.

Neo-Quenya: For purposes of Neo-Quenya, I would assume lumbo mainly means “dark cloud”, along with the general darkness and gloom of bad weather.

S. fân n. “(white) cloud; veil; [white] shape, vision; ⚠️spirit [embodied]”
The usual Sindarin word for “cloud” (PE17/36, 174; RGEO/66). As Tolkien explained it “The S. form fân, fan- was usually applied to clouds, as veils over the blue sky or the sun or moon, or resting hills” (RGEO/66). But the word had another meaning as well, with a complex origin:

√PHAN-. The basic sense of this was “cover, screen, veil”, but it had a special development in the Eldarin tongues. This was largely due to what appears to have been its very ancient application to clouds, especially to separate floating clouds as (partial) veils over the blue sky, or over the sun, moon, or stars … In Sindarin fân remained the usual word for “cloud”, floating clouds, or those for a while resting upon or wreathing hills and mountain-top … In Quenya, owing to close relations of the Eldar in Valinor with the Valar, and other lesser spirits of their order, fana developed a special sense. It was applied to the visible bodily forms adopted by these spirits, when they took up their abode on Earth, as the normal “raiment” of their otherwise invisible being … This Quenya meaning of fana after the coming of the Exiles to Middle-earth was also assumed by Sindarin fân, at first in the Sindarin as used by the exiled Noldor, and eventually also by the Sindar themselves, especially those in close contact with the Noldor or actually mingled with them (PE17/174-176).

Thus, owing to the Quenya meaning of the word, the Sindar also used fân to referred physical form of the Valar and other spiritual beings, as well as visions of such beings (PE17/26), since the Sindar had relatively little direct experience of the Valar. For spirits, being embodied was not their natural state, so their fân was like “clothing” a spirit could wear to interact with the physical world.

Conceptual Development: In The Etymologies of the 1930s this word was N. faun “cloud” derived from the root ᴹ√SPAN “white” (Ety/SPAN). In one note from around 1957 Tolkien considered using S. fân for an embodied spirit or soul, the equivalent of Q. fëa (NM/237), but elsewhere this was S. fae (MR/165; PM/343). For the most part in later writings, Tolkien used fân for “cloud” with the added sense “physical form or vision of spiritual beings”, as discussed above. In later writings it was instead a derivative of √PHAN rather than 1930s ᴹ√SPAN.

S. fanui adj. “cloudy, (lit.) having much cloud”
A word for “cloudy”, adjectival form of fân “cloud”, an element the name S. Fanuidhol “Cloudyhead” (PE17/26, 36, 173; RC/268; RGEO/66). In one place Tolkien translated fanui as “cloudy, having much cloud” (PE17/173).

Conceptual Development: The initial name of the mountain Fanuidhol in Lord of the Rings drafts was N. Fanuiras “Horn of Cloud” (TI/174), so it seems fanui dates back at least to the 1940s.

1.74 Mist, Fog, Haze

Q. fanwë n. “vapour, steam”
A word for “vapour, steam” in some 1957 notes, derived from the same root √PHAN that is the bases for Q. fanya “cloud” (NM/237).
Q. hísë (hísi-) [þ] n. “mist, [ᴹQ.] fog, [ᴱQ.] haze; ⚠️dusk; bleared”
A word for “mist” appearing as an element in several names. It is not directly attested in Tolkien’s later writings, but ᴹQ. híse “mist, fog” appeared in The Etymologies of the 1930s derived from primitive ᴹ✶khīthi, indicating a stem form of hísi- [†híþi-] (Ety/KHIS). Its continued appearance in words like Q. Hísilómë “Land of Mist” (S/118) and Q. hísilanya “mist thread” (PE17/60) indicates its ongoing validity.

Conceptual Development: ᴱQ. hīse appeared in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s as a derivative of the early root ᴱ√HISI alongside a variant ᴱQ. histe, but there it was glossed “dusk” (QL/40). In drafts of the Oilima Markirya written circa 1930 it was glossed “haze” (PE16/62) or “mist” (PE16/75; MC/221), but in the final 1931 iteration of the poem it appeared only in the very-loosely translated phrase ᴱQ. úri nienaite híse “a bleared sun”, perhaps literally “*sun [with a] tearful mist” (MC/214). In the Declension of Nouns from the early 1930s it was “mist” (PE21/32) and in The Etymologies of the late 1930s “mist, fog” as noted above, so Tolkien seems to have stuck with the meaning “mist” thereafter.

Q. hísië [þ] n. “mist, mistiness”
A word for “mist”, but more abstract than hísë (from which it is derived), so closer in sense to “mistiness” (PE17/73). It appeared in the Namárië poem (LotR/377).
Q. hiswe [þ] n. “fog”
A noun for “fog” in The Etymologies of the 1930s derived from primitive ᴹ✶khithme under the root ᴹ√KHITH “mist, fog” (Ety/KHIS; EtyAC/KHIS).

Neo-Quenya: The phonetic developments thm > þm̌ > þw > sw were consistent with Quenya phonology of the 1930s (PE19/44), but sometime around 1960, or shortly before, Tolkien revised these rules as discussed in the entry on the phonetic development of voiceless stops and aspirates before nasals (PE19/87 plus p. 88 note #88). I personally prefer the pre-1960 rules, and would retain this form for Neo-Quenya. If, however, you prefer the later rules, you should (a) stick to Q. hísë for both “mist” and “fog”, (b) revise this word to ᴺQ. *hitwe to fit later phonology, or (c) assume the primitive form was *khithwē rather than ᴹ✶khithme.

S. faen n. “vapour; ⚠️[disembodied] spirit”
A word for “vapour” in some 1957 notes derived from √PHAY “spirit”, also referring to disembodied spirits as the equivalent of Q. fairë for “spirit” (NM/237).

Neo-Sindarin: For purposes of Neo-Sindarin, I’d use better-known S. faer for a disembodied spirit (MR/349), a more direct cognate of Q. fairë, but I see no reason why faen can’t be used for vapour.

N. hethw adj. “foggy, obscure, vague”
An adjective in The Etymologies of the 1930s given as N. hethw “foggy, obscure, vague” derived from primitive ᴹ✶khithwa under the root ᴹ√KHITH “mist, fog” (Ety/KHIS; EtyAC/KHIS).

Conceptual Development: G. huir “foggy” from the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s is a likely precursor (GL/49), perhaps derived from a (hypothetical) early root *ᴱ√HUYU.

Neo-Sindarin: If adapted to Neo-Sindarin, this word would become ᴺS. hethu, as suggested in Hiswelókë’s Sindarin Dictionary (HSD).

S. hîth n. “mist”
The Sindarin word for “mist”, an element in many names, derived from the root √KHITH of the same meaning (SA/hîth; PE17/73).

Conceptual Development: N. hîth “mist” appeared in The Etymologies of the 1930s, already with the derivation given above (Ety/KHIS), though when Tolkien first wrote the word, he first wrote (and then deleted) the gloss “fog” (EtyAC/KHIS). In The Etymologies as published in The Lost Road, Christopher Tolkien wrote hith (LR/364), but Carl Hostetter and Patrick Wynne confirmed that the actual form was hîth in their Addenda and Corrigenda to the Etymologies (VT45/22).

S. hithui adj. “misty”
An adjectival form of hîth “mist”, constructed via the common adjective suffix -ui. It is translated in the early name N. Eredhithui “Misty Mountains” (TI/124), a precursor of S. Hithaeglir. It is attested in later writings as S. Hithui, the Sindarin name for November (lit. “*Misty-one”).
N. hithw n. “fog”
A noun in The Etymologies of the 1930s given as N. {heðw >>} hithw “fog” derived from primitive ᴹ✶khithme under the root ᴹ√KHITH “mist, fog” (Ety/KHIS; EtyAC/KHIS).

Conceptual Development: G. huith “fog” from the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s is a likely precursor (GL/49), perhaps derived from a (hypothetical) early root *ᴱ√HUYU.

Neo-Sindarin: If adapted to Neo-Sindarin, this word would become ᴺS. hithu, as suggested in Hiswelókë’s Sindarin Dictionary (HSD).

S. mîdh adj. “dew, *moisture, damp(ness); ⚠️[ᴱN.] mist, drizzle”
A Sindarin word for “dew” given as míð in the Outline of Phonology (OP2) from the 1950s as a derivative of ✶mizdē “drizzle” (PE19/101), illustrating how [z] vanished before [d] lengthening preceding vowel in (Old) Sindarin.

Conceptual Development: N. mîdh “dew” also appeared in The Etymologies of the 1930s, already with the same derivation as given above (Ety/MIZD), though Tolkien first wrote its gloss as “fine rain” (EtyAC/MIZD). This deleted gloss seems to be a remnant of ᴱN. midh “mist, drizzle” from Early Noldorin Word-lists, but there its primitive form was ᴱ✶míye (PE13/150).

Neo-Sindarin: For purposes of Neo-Sindarin, I would extend the meaning of this word to include “*moisture, damp(ness)” in general, especially as the result of a previous rain.

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