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Select Elvish Words 3.811: Spider

3.811 Spider

ᴹQ. liante n. “spider, ⚠️[ᴱQ.] tendril, vine”
A noun in The Etymologies of the 1930s glossed “spider” derived from the root ᴹ√SLIG with various other derivatives having to do with webs and fine threads (Ety/SLIG). Most notably it was the second element in the name ᴹQ. Ungoliante “Gloomweaver” (LR/230). In the paradigm of The Etymologies, ᴹQ. ungo was “cloud, dark shadow” (Ety/UÑG), not “spider”.

Conceptual Development: In the Qenya Lexicon and Poetic and Mythological Words of Eldarissa of the 1910s, ᴱQ. liante was glossed “tendril” and was derived from the early root ᴱ√LI+ya “unite many in one” (QL/53, PME/53). In this period it was an element in the name ᴱQ. Ungweliante or Ungwe Lianti “the great spider who enmeshes” (LT1/152), where the intial element ᴱQ. ungwe meant “spider” (QL/98). In the Early Qenya Grammar of the 1920s, ᴱQ. liante was translated “vine” (PE14/55), as opposed to the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s where ᴱQ. liantasse was “vine” (QL/53).

Neo-Quenya: Tolkien gave no other Quenya words for “spider” in his later writings, but S. ungol was glossed “spider” (Let/180; RC/490, 767) and √ungu- was described as the basis for “spider words” (PE22/160), making it very likely that *ungol was “spider” in his later conception of the name Q. Ungoliantë. However, I think [ᴹQ.] liante might be reconceived of as a (feminine?) agental form originally meaning “weaver” or “webspinner”. Furthermore, I think [ᴺQ.] ungol might have come to be associated only with monstrous spiders, the descendants of Ungoliantë, so that [ᴹQ.] liante came to be used of ordinary spiders.

ᴹQ. líne n. “cobweb; [ᴱQ.] cotton, ⚠️thread”
A noun for “cobweb” in The Etymologies of the 1930s derived from primitive ᴹ✶slignē under the root ᴹ√SLIG (Ety/SLIG).

Conceptual Development: In the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s Tolkien gave ᴱQ. līnẹ “thread, cotton” under the early root ᴱ√LI+ya (QL/53).

Neo-Quenya: This word is somewhat questionable, since in later writings, Tolkien derived spider words from √ungu-. However, I prefer to interpret ᴹ√(S)LIG as having to do with threads for purposes of Neo-Eldarin, and “cobweb” could be from a sense “collection of threads”. With this interpretation, I think it is also plausible to include the sense “cotton” from Early Qenya, though for “thread” I’d use other words like Q. ipsin or [ᴹQ.] lia. Helge Fauskanger suggested (QQ/líne) that this word should be *hlíne given primitive initial sl-, but there is another primitive form ᴹ✶ligā under the root, so perhaps the Quenya derivatives were (a) based from a variant root ᴹ√LIG or (b) reflect the Third Age Quenya pronunciation as voiced l (LotR/1114).

ᴺQ. ungol n. “(monstrous) spider”
A “neologism” extracted from the name Q. Ungoliantë, which was untranslated in Tolkien’s later writings. Given that S. ungol meant “spider” (Let/180; RC/490, 767) and √ungu- was the basis for spider words (PE22/160), it is very likely that ungol in the Quenya also meant “spider” in Tolkien’s later conception of the languages. However, the latest Quenya word for “spider” in currently published material is ᴹQ. liante. To retain that word I assume that [ᴺQ.] ungol was limited to monstrous spiders, the descendents of Ungoliantë, while liante was used for ordinary spiders; see ᴹQ. liante for further discussion.
Q. ungwë n. “spider’s web; ⚠️[ᴱQ.] spider; [ᴹQ.] gloom”
A word for “spider’s web” appearing in The Lord of the Rings appendix E, the name of tengwa #8 [x] (LotR/1122).

Conceptual Development: In the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s, ᴱQ. ungwe was a word for “spider” under the early root ᴱ√GUŊU (QL/98). However, in The Etymologies of the 1930s, ᴹQ. ungwe was glossed “gloom” under the root ᴹ√UÑG (Ety/UÑG) in keeping with the 1930s translation of the name ᴹQ. Ungoliante = “Gloomweaver” (LR/230) where the second element ᴹQ. liante meant “spider” (Ety/SLIG). In notes on The Feanorian Alphabet from the 1940s ungwe was also glossed “(spider) gloom” (PE22/51). In Tolkien’s later writings he said √ungu- was again the basis for “spider words” (PE22/160), which explains the new translation in The Lord of the Rings appendices.

N. nath n. “web”
A noun for “web” in The Etymologies of the 1930s derived from the root ᴹ√NAT “lace, weave, tie” with Quenya cognate ᴹQ. natse (Ety/NAT).
N. nathron n. “weaver, webster”
A noun in The Etymologies of the 1930s glossed “weaver, webster”, an agental form of N. nath “web” (Ety/NAT).
N. thling n. “spider’s web, cobweb; ⚠️spider”
A noun appearing as N. thling “spider, spider’s web, cobweb” in The Etymologies, derived from primitive ᴹ✶sliñgē under the root ᴹ√SLIG (Ety/SLIG).

Neo-Sindarin: Since initial sl- became lh- in Sindarin, most Neo-Sindarin writers adapt this word as ᴺS. lhing, as suggested in Hiswelókë’s Sindarin Dictionary (HSD). This word is somewhat questionable, since in later writings √ungu- was the basis for spider words (PE22/160). However, I think ᴹ√SLIG may be reinterpreted as having to do with threads, and as such I think ᴺS. lhing can be retained, though I would limit its use to “spider’s web, cobweb”.

N. thlingril n. “spider”
A noun appearing as N. thlingril “spider” in The Etymologies, probably a feminine form of N. thling “spider, spider’s web, cobweb” (Ety/SLIG). Christopher Tolkien said the r was uncertain.

Neo-Sindarin: Since initial sl- became lh- in Sindarin, most Neo-Sindarin writers adapt this word as ᴺS. lhingril, as suggested in Hiswelókë’s Sindarin Dictionary (HSD). This word is somewhat questionable, since in later writings √ungu- was the basis for spider words (PE22/160). I think ᴹ√SLIG may be reinterpreted as having to do with threads, and as such I think ᴺS. lhingril can be retained as originally meaning “(female) web spinner”. However, I recommend later S. ungol as the more common Sindarin word for “spider”.

S. ungol n. “spider”
The Sindarin word for “spider” (Let/180; RC/490, 767), derived from √ungu- that was the basis for spider words (PE22/160).

Conceptual Development: The Gnomish word for “spider” was initially G. gung in both the Qenya Lexicon and Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s as a derivative of the early root ᴱ√GUŊU (QL/98; GL/43), also appearing an element in G. Gungliont, the earliest name of Ungoliant (LT1/160). In the Gnomish Lexicon the word gung was crossed through, but may have become ging in G. gwidh-a-ging “cobweb” (GL/46). Regardless, Tolkien added G. ungwi “spider” in pencil to the Gnomish Lexicon (GL/75), which seems to indicate a change of the root from ᴱ√GUŊU to ᴱ√UŊU, consistent with the replacement name G. Ungoliont from the contemporaneous narratives (LT1/152).

In The Etymologies of the 1930s, “spider” words were derived from the root ᴹ√SLIG (Ety/SLIG); see N. thling for discussion. Tolkien soon restored Ung-, however, since N. ungol was translated as “spider” in Lord of the Rings drafts of the 1940s (WR/202).

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