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Select Elvish Words 3.82: Bee

3.82 Bee

ᴱQ. nier n. “(honey) bee”
A word appearing as ᴱQ. nier (nies-) “honey bee” in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s, derived from primitive ᴱ✶neχier under the early root ᴱ√NEHE that was the basis for “honey” and “bee” words (QL/65). It had a variant form nies (niess-). It appeared as nier “bee” in the contemporaneous Poetic and Mythological Words of Eldarissa (PME/65), but in the Gnomish Lexicon it had the forms nier and nion derived from primitive ᴱ✶negeher and ᴱ✶negōn respectively.

Neo-Quenya: In Tolkien’s later writings, the root √NEG “ooze, drip” was still connected to “honey” (PE19/91). Thus I think this word might be salvaged as ᴺQ. nier “bee” derived from an ancient agental formation neger(ŏ), where ege > eʒe > ëe > ie (PE19/63).

ᴱQ. nierwes (nierwest-) n. “hive”
A word appearing as ᴱQ. nierwes (nierwest-) “hive” in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s, an elaboration of ᴱQ. nier “honey bee” (QL/65); the editors indicated the stem consonants st were unclear. It appeared as nierwe “hive” in the contemporaneous Poetic and Mythological Words of Eldarissa (PME/65).

Neo-Quenya: For purposes of Neo-Quenya, I would adapt this word as ᴺQ. nieres (nieress-) “hive” as a reduction of an abstract noun form nieresse = “a bee-ness”.

G. niogrim n. “swarm”
A word appearing as niogrim or nigrim “smarm” in the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s, a collective form of G. nio “bee” with a suffix G. grim “host” (GL/60). It is not clear why the suffix did not become -rim as in other collective words.

Neo-Sindarin: For purposes of Neo-Sindarin I would adapt this words as ᴺS. niwrim “swarm”, a class plural of ᴺS. nîw “bee”.

G. niost n. “hive”
A word appearing as G. niost “hive” in the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s based on G. nio(s) “bee” (GL/60). The second element might be G. ost “enclosure; town”.

Neo-Sindarin: For purposes of Neo-Sindarin I would adapt this words as ᴺS. níwost “hive”, a combination of ᴺS. nîw “bee” and S. ost “city, town”.

ᴱN. nui n. “bee”
A word appearing as ᴱN. nui “a bee” in Early Noldorin Word-lists of the 1920s (PE13/151). Its exact etymology is unclear.

Conceptual Development: In the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s, Tolkien gave several variant forms for “bee”: G. nio, nios or nion (the last of these was rejected), and feminine G. niwin; Tolkien also considered but rejected nios as a feminine form (GL/60). The base forms nio and nios were derived from primitive ᴱ✶nēgu and ᴱ✶nēgis respectively, most likely from a variant of the early root ᴱ√NEHE which was the basis for “honey” and “bee” words in the contemporaneous Qenya Lexicon (QL/65). Early Noldorin Word-lists of the 1920s had ᴱN. nui as mentioned above, as well as an unglossed word ᴱN. niw which might be a variant (PE13/151).

Neo-Sindarin: In Tolkien’s later writings, the root √NEG “ooze, drip” was still connected to “honey” (PE19/91). Thus I think primitive *nēgū might still be viable as an ancient word for “bee”, which would most likely become ᴺS. nîw in Neo-Sindarin after ancient ē became ī. Compare S. lhaw “ears” from ancient dual *slasū for an example of how the final u would become diphthongal after the loss of an intervening weakened consonant, thus: *nēgū > *nīɣu > nīu̯, spelled nîw.

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