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Select Elvish Words 4.34-4.342: Finger, Thumb (Sindarin)

4.34 Finger

S. leber n. “finger”
The Sindarin word for “finger”, derived from primitive ✶leper and based on the root √LEP “pick up” (VT47/10; VT48/5).

Conceptual Development: Tolkien used various Elvish words for “finger” over his life, but most were based on the root √LEP. The Gnomish Grammar and Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s had G. leptha “finger” (GG/13; GL/53), clearly derived from the early root ᴱ√LEPE that was the basis for contemporaneous Qenya finger words (QL/53). In Early Noldorin Word-lists of the 1920s it was ᴱN. lhê “finger”, derived from primitive ᴱ✶lept- (PE13/148). In the The Etymologies of the 1930s it was N. lhebed “finger” based on the root ᴹ√LEPET of the same meaning (Ety/LEP). In drafts of the 1968 notes mentioned above, Tolkien had S. lebed “finger” (VT47/27), but this was replaced by leber in the finished versions (VT47/23-24 note #30).

S. lebdas n. “index finger”
A name for the index finger in notes on Eldarin Hands, Fingers and Numerals from 1968, a combination of ✶lepe “finger” and √TAS “point out”; shorter tas was also used for “index finger (lit. *pointer)” (VT48/5).
S. lebenedh n. “middle finger”
A name for the middle finger in notes on Eldarin Hands, Fingers and Numerals from 1968, a combination of ✶lepe “finger” and enedh “middle” (VT48/5).
S. lebent n. “fourth finger”
A name for the fourth finger in notes on Eldarin Hands, Fingers and Numerals from 1968, cognate to Q. lepente (VT48/5). Its initial element is derived from of ✶lepe “finger” and its second element is likely related to Q. net(ë) “one more [beyond the middle]” (VT47/15), as suggested by Patrick Wynne (VT48/14-15 note #5).
S. lebig n. “little finger”
A name for the little finger in notes on Eldarin Hands, Fingers and Numerals from 1968, it is simply ✶lepe “finger” combined with the diminutive suffix -ig (VT48/5). An alternate form niged had the same meaning, an elaboration of √NIK “small” (VT48/5).

Conceptual Development: The Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s had G. lemp⁽¹⁾ “a crooked finger; little finger” (GL/53), clearly based on the early root ᴱ√LEPE used for contemporaneous Qenya finger words (QL/53).

G. lepthadrin n. “fingered, of fingers”
The word G. lepthadrin {“(finger-)ring” >>} “fingered, having fingers” appeared in the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s, an adjectival form of G. leptha “finger” (GL/53). A similar form lepthindros appeared next to G. omlos “chestnut tree” (GL/62). Another adjective G. lemfadrin or lemfadhrin “of the finger” appeared near lepthadrin, this one also usable as a noun meaning “ring”, equivalent to G. lemfarilt “[finger] ring” (GL/53).

Neo-Sindarin: For purposes of Neo-Sindarin, I would adapt these words as ᴺS. leberen “fingered, of fingers”, an adjective form based on the 1968 word S. leber “finger”.

S. toleg n. “*sticker-up”
A nursery name for the middle finger in notes on Eldarin Hands, Fingers and Numerals from 1968, appearing as toleg or tolch (VT48/6), both elaborations on √TOL and hence likely meaning “sticker-up” like its Quenya equivalent Q. tollo or tolyo.

4.342 Thumb

S. naub n. “thumb”
A word for the thumb given as nawb in notes on Eldarin Hands, Fingers and Numerals from 1968 (VT48/5), clearly based on the root √NAP “pick up” (VT47/29). Its dual form nobad was used to refer to the “thumb and index [finger] as a pair” (VT48/5).

Conceptual Development: In rough drafts of these notes, Tolkien used lebed for “thumb, picker” from primitive ✶lepet(ā) (VT47/27). In early writings N. lhebed was instead “finger” (Ety/LEP), and its use for “thumb” was likely a transient idea.

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