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Select Elvish Words 2.41-2.42: Son, Daughter

2.41 Son

Q. -ion suf. “-son, masculine patronymic”
The usual patronymic for “son of” in Quenya, suffixal form of Q. yondo “son” (PE17/170, 190). Tolkien occasionally mentioned variants like -on or -yon, but in practice only -ion appears in actual names.

Conceptual Development: This patronymic dates all the way back to Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s (QL/106) and was regularly mentioned in documents throughout the years such as the Early Qenya Grammar and English-Qenya Dictionary of the 1920s (PE14/45, 75; PE15/77), The Etymologies of the 1930s (Ety/YŌ) and Notes on Names (NN) from 1957 (PE17/170), always with a similar form, meaning and derivation from roots likes √YO(N). Thus it was very well established in Tolkien’s mind.

Q. yondo n. “son, ⚠️boy; [ᴱQ.] male descendant, (great) grandson”
The usual Quenya word for “son”, derived from the root √YON¹ of similar meaning (PE17/170; VT43/37; Ety/YŌ).

Conceptual Development: This word dates all the way back to the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s, but in that document ᴱQ. yondo meant “male descendant, usually (great) grandson” based on (archaic) ᴱQ. † “son” (QL/106). It seems the ordinary word for “son” in this period was ᴱQ. hilmo (QL/40, 106). These yo(n)- forms were also related to the Gnomish prefix G. go- “son of”, which showed the usual Gnomish sound change of initial y into g, but in the Gnomish Lexicon Tolkien changed {go- >>} G. bo- “son of” and introduced Qenya forms and vondo to match (GL/23, 40-41).

These early vacillations stabilized in the 1920s, since ᴱQ. yondo appeared with the gloss “son” in the Early Qenya Grammar of the 1920s (PE14/45, 75) and various word lists from this period (PE13/144; PE15/77; PE16/135). In The Etymologies of the 1930s Tolkien also gave ᴹQ. yondo “son” under the root ᴹ√ or ᴹ√YON of the same meaing (Ety/YŌ). Yondo was used to refer to the “Son” of the holy trinity in Quenya Prayers of the 1950s (VT43/36-37).

However, in notes from the late 1950s or early 1960s Tolkien flirted again with replacing yondo. In one note he said “delete entirely yondo = ‘son’, very unsuitable”, perhaps because it conflicted with the root √YON² “wide, extensive” introduced in those notes (PE17/43), but here Tolkien reversed himself and instead changed {√YON >>} √YAN “wide, large, extensive” (PE17/42). In a note from 1957 he wrote anon above yon-do as a possible replacement, and in another note he wrote “Q[uenya] wanted son, daughter” but without deciding on any new words (PE17/170). In yet another note from this period Tolkien gave yondo the gloss “boy” as well as “son” (PE17/190).

These vacillations again seem to have been mostly transient. In notes on Elvish Hands, Fingers and Numerals from the late 1960s Tolkien gave Q. yonyo as a finger name for the middle finger, variously glossed “big boy” (VT47/10), “son” (VT47/16) or “boy, son” (VT47/27). Thus it seems the sense “son” was restored to √YON, but with an alternate sense “boy” added.

Neo-Quenya: For purposes of Neo-Quenya, I’d limit yondo to mean “son” and use ᴹQ. seldo for an unrelated “boy”.

S. -ion suf. “-son”
The usual Sindarin patronymic suffix, meaning “son of” (PE17/170; Ety/YŌ), a suffixal form of ion(n) “son”. It was occasionally used for “descendents”, especially as a class plural, as in Hurinionath “Descendants of Húrin” (PM/202).

Conceptual Development: In Gnomish, the prefix G. go- or gon- (suffixal -iod, -ion, -ios) was initially used with the meaning “son of” as in Gon Indor “*Son of Indor” (LT2/217), but in the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s the prefix was revised to G. bo- or bon-, as in Tuor bo-Beleg, along with suffixal -von or -mon (GL/23, 40-41). Tolkien reintroduced suffixal N. -ion “son” in The Etymologies of the 1930s under the root ᴹ√YO(N) “son” (Ety/YŌ), and seems to have stuck with it thereafter.

S. ion(n) n. “son, *boy”
The usual word for “son” in Sindarin, derived from the root √YON of similar meaning (MR/373; SD/129; VT50/18; Ety/YŌ). Tolkien gave it as both ion and ionn.

Conceptual Development: In the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s the word for “son” was G. bo or bon (GL/23). This became ᴱN. “son” in Early Noldorin Word-lists of the 1920s (PE13/144). Tolkien introduced N. ionn “son” in The Etymologies of the 1930s derived from the root ᴹ√YO(N) of the same meaning (Ety/YŌ), and seems to have stuck with it thereafter.

Neo-Sindarin: In later writings, Tolkien sometimes glossed its Quenya equivalents yondo or yonyo as “boy” (PE17/190; VT47/10, 27). Since we don’t have any good Sindarin words for “boy”, I’d use ionn for this purpose as well.

2.42 Daughter

Q. -iel n. “-daughter; feminine suffix”
The most common Quenya suffix for “daughter of” such as in Elerondiel “*Daughter of Elrond” (PE17/56) or Uinéniel “Daughter of Uinen” (UT/182).

Conceptual Development: The earliest hint of this suffix was ᴱQ. -il mentioned by Tolkien in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s as the equivalent of feminine patronymic ᴱQ. -wen (QL/103), but its only use in this period was in the masculine name ᴱQ. Indorildo, a variant of ᴱQ. Indorion and hence probably meant “son of” (LT2/217). In The Etymologies of the 1930s Tolkien mentioned ᴹQ. -iel as a feminine patronymic under the root ᴹ√YEL¹ “daughter” (Ety/YEL¹), but this root was rejected and in that document Tolkien seems to have replaced it with ᴹQ. -ien (EtyAC/YŌ).

In later writings Tolkien considered a bewildering variety of suffixes for the feminine patronymic, including -iel(d), -well, -wend and -ien (PE17/170, 190). In practice, though, only -iel appeared in actual names for “daughter of” (see above), perhaps because it is was the cleanest equivalent of the well-established masculine patronymic -ion “son of”.

Q. seldë n. “daughter; [ᴹQ.] child [f.], *girl”
This seems to be the word that Tolkien favored for “daughter” in his later writings (PE17/170; VT47/10; PE19/73), though it had competition from other forms like Q. yeldë.

Conceptual Development: The earliest word resembling this form was ᴱQ. sui “daughter” in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s under the early root ᴱ√SUẈU (QL/87), a word also mentioned in the Poetic and Mythological Words of Eldarissa (PME/87). This became ᴱQ. silde “daughter” in Early Qenya Word-lists of the 1920s (PE16/135).

In The Etymologies of the 1930s, Tolkien experimented with several different forms. He had ᴹQ. yelde “daughter” under the root ᴹ√YEL, but this entry was deleted (Ety/YEL). Tolkien also had a root ᴹ√SEL(D) “daughter” with a derivative ᴹQ. selde, but the meaning of this root was changed to “child”, and masculine and neuter forms ᴹQ. seldo and ᴹQ. selda were added to the entry (Ety/SEL-D). Finally, under the entry for ᴹ√ or YON “son”, Tolkien added a primitive feminine variant ᴹ✶yēn or yend “daughter”, producing ᴹQ. yende and (suffixal?) yen (Ety/YŌ).

These vacillations continued in later writings, where at one point Tolkien wrote “Q[uenya] Wanted: Son, Daughter” (PE17/170). In Notes on Names (NN) from 1957 Tolkien wrote Q. sel-de for “daughter”, but above it he wrote a variant form anel. In rough notes from around 1959 Tolkien explored a large number of masculine and feminine suffixes, and on the page he had yeldë “daughter”, though at the end of the sentence he wrote “also yen” (PE17/190). In notes on Eldarin Hands, Fingers and Numerals from the late 1960s, Tolkien wrote selyë as a diminutive/affectionate word for “daughter”, with seltil as a play name for the fourth finger representing a daughter (VT47/10, 27).

Also of note is Tolkien’s Quenya name for S. Tinúviel “Daughter of Twilight”, which he generally represented as something like Q. Tindómerel < ✶Tindōmiselde. Tolkien was fairly consistent in this Quenya form starting in the 1930s (Ety/SEL-D; PE19/33), with examples in the 1950s (PE19/73) and 1960s (VT47/37) as well. Indeed, in a couple cases he used this name to illustrate how medial s generally became z and eventually r in Quenya (PE19/33, 73), so it seems that for this name Tolkien consistently imagined the primitive form for “daughter” as ✶selde.

Neo-Quenya: I’d assume selde is the main word for “daughter” for purposes of Neo-Quenya, but I’d assume a variant form yeldë, especially since -iel was the most common suffix for “daughter of”. This variant probably arose very early under the influence of √YON “son”.

Q. selyë n. “daughter (diminutive)”
A diminutive/affectionate word for “daughter” appearing in notes on Eldarin Hands, Fingers and Numerals from the late 1960s (VT47/10, 27), based on Q. seldë “daughter”. See that entry for further discussion.
Q. yeldë n. “daughter”
A less common Quenya word for “daughter”, an analog of Q. yondo “son”.

Conceptual Development: In The Etymologies of the 1930s Tolkien had ᴹQ. yelde “daughter” under the root ᴹ√YEL of the same meaning, but the meaning of the root was first changed to “friend”, and then the root was then deleted (Ety/YEL). Meanwhile, under the root ᴹ√ or YON, Tolkien introduced a feminine variant ᴹQ. yende “daughter” along with (suffixal?) yen, derived from primitive ᴹ√yēn or yend (Ety/YŌ). Previously this yende/yendi form was a feminine agent, but Tolkien rejected that meaning (EtyAC/ƷAN).

In between yelde >> yende for “daughter” in The Etymologies, Tolkien considered using the form ᴹQ. selde, and in later writings this seems to be his preferred Quenya word for “daughter”. However, yeldë “daughter” was mentioned again briefly in rough notes from around 1959 (PE17/190), and -iel remained Tolkien’s preferred suffix for “daughter of”.

Neo-Quenya: For purposes of Neo-Quenya, I recommend seldë as the more common word for “daughter”, but assume yeldë also exists as variant due to the influence of yondo “son”; see the entries on seldë and the root √YE(L) for further discussion.

S. iell n. “daughter; [N.] †girl, maid”
The most common Sindarin word for “daughter” (SD/129; VT50/18).

Conceptual Development: In the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s, the word for “daughter” was G. suil with shorter form sui (GL/36, 68) probably derived from the early root ᴱ√SUẈU (QL/87) and replacing rejected {thuai, thuil} (GL/36, 73). In The Etymologies of the 1930s Tolkien gave (archaic) N. †sell “girl, maid” derived from the root ᴹ√SEL-D (Ety/SEL-D). Tolkien said sell was replaced by N. iell “daughter”:

with i from iondo son [YŌ]; a change assisted by the loss of s in cpds. and patronymics: cf. Tinnúviel < *tindōmiselde (Ety/SEL-D).

Thus in Noldorin, sell became iell under the influence of N. ionn “son”, and assisted by the fact that intervocalic s became h and then vanished when suffixal -sell was used as a suffix in compounds.

It seems Tolkien abandoned this 1930s paradigm, however, since he used sell for “daughter” in a couple later documents, namely the King’s Letter (SD/129) and the Túrin Wrapper (VT50/5).

Neo-Sindarin: For purposes of Neo-Sindarin, I would use sell for “daughter” but suffixal -iel for “daughter of” under the influence of -ion “son of”, a scenario similar to that of The Etymologies. I would also allow iell as a less commmon variant for “daughter”, derived from the suffix.

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