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Select Elvish Words 4.37-4.38: Foot, Toe

4.37 Foot

Q. runya n. “slot, footprint”
A noun in The Etymologies of the 1930s glossed “slot, footprint” derived from the root ᴹ√RUN “flat of hand or sole of foot” (Ety/RUN).
Q. tál n. “foot; [ᴹQ.] bottom, [ᴱQ.] lowest part”
The Quenya word for “foot” derived from the root √TAL of similar meaning (PE19/103; VT49/17; Ety/TAL). Given its Sindarin cognate S. tâl (not **taul) its ancient stem form must have had a short vowel, with the long vowel in the uninflected form the result of the ancient subjective noun case which lengthened the base vowel of monosyllables (PE21/76). Q. tál could also refer to the bottom of things (PE21/21, 76) analogous to English “foot of the mountain” and similar phrases.

Conceptual Development: The earliest iteration of this word was ᴱQ. tala “foot” in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s under the early root ᴱ√TALA “support” (QL/88), a form also appearing in the contemporaneous Poetic and Mythological Words of Eldarissa (PME/88). In the Early Qenya Grammar of the 1920s it became ᴱQ. tál with plural tăli indicating an ancient short vowel (PE14/43, 76). In the Declension of Nouns from the early 1930s, ᴹQ. tāl had inflected forms with tal-, again indicating a short vowel in the stem (PE21/21), and likewise with the (1930s-style) genitive form talen in The Etymologies written around 1937 (Ety/TAL). Most of its later appearances also imply a short vowel in the stem, the main exception being the plural form táli in the 1950s version of the Nieninquë “poem”.

ᴱQ. tala(no)ite adj. “footed”
An adjective appearing as talaite or talanoite “footed” in the Qenya Lexicon, an elaboration of ᴱQ. tala “foot” (QL/88).

Neo-Quenya: Since -itë remains an adjective suffix in Tolkien’s later conception of the language, I think ᴺQ. talaitë “footed” can be retained for purposes of Neo-Quenya, analogous to Q. maitë “handed”.

ᴹQ. tallune n. “sole of foot”
A noun in The Etymologies of the 1930s glossed “sole of foot”, a combination of ᴹQ. tál “foot” and the root ᴹ√RUN “flat of hand or sole of foot” (Ety/RUN). Tolkien gave a primitive form ᴹ✶talrunya after this word, but that is unlikely to produce the Quenya word tallune; a second primitive element of *-runē is more likely.

Conceptual Development: The Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s has the word ᴱQ. talas (talast-) “sole” under the early root ᴱ√TALA “support”, also the basis for ᴱQ. tala “foot” (QL/88). The contemporaneous Poetic and Mythological Words of Eldarissa gave it only in its stem form talast- “sole” (PME/88).

N. pôd n. “animal’s foot”
A noun in The Etymologies of the 1930s glossed “animal’s foot” derived from the (Noldorin only?) root ᴹ√POTŌ of the same meaning (Ety/POTŌ). It had a Noldorin-style plural pŷd. Its Sindarin-style plural might instead be *puid; compare thuin plural of S. thôn “pine” (PE17/81). Based on the example tad-dail “two-legged” referring to two legged beasts (WJ/388), it seems tâl “foot” can be used to refer to the feet of both people and animals, so that tâl is a more general term than pôd. This makes pôd comparable to words for more specialized kinds of feet such as hoof, paw, etc.
N. rhein n. “slot, spoor, track, footprint”
A noun appearing as N. rhein “slot, spoor, track, footprint” in The Etymologies of the 1930s under the root ᴹ√RUN “flat of hand or sole of foot” (Ety/RUN). It seems to be derived from ᴹ✶runya, with an intermediate form rhoein, where the ancient u became o via a-affection, then this o became œ via i-affection and then later e, while the y [ı̯] intruded into the preceding syllable after the loss of -a made it final.

Neo-Sindarin: This word was adapted as ᴺS. rein in Hiswelókë’s Sindarin Dictionary (HSD), with the usual removal of Noldorin-style voiceless rh. However, the actual phonological results in Sindarin would probably be ᴺS. ruin; compare S. ruin “fiery red” with Quenya cognate runya (PM/366). Since ruin already has several meanings in Sindarin, I would retain ᴺS. rein as an obscure dialectical variant.

S. tâl n. “foot; [lower] end”
The Sindarin word for “foot”, derived from the root √TAL of similar meaning (SA/celeb; Ety/TAL). As an element in compounds, it could also refer to the “end” of something, especially the lower end, as in Ramdal “Wall’s End” (S/122; Ety/TAL). This word probably may be used metaphorically for the “foot” of things like mountains and pedestals.

Conceptual Development: This word dates all the way back to G. tâl (tald-) “foot” in the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s (GL/68), clearly based on the early root ᴱ√TALA “support” as suggested by Christopher Tolkien (LT2A/Talceleb). Tolkien experimented with some variant forms like ᴱN. tail or taul in documents from the 1920s (PE13/123, 153), but N. tâl “foot” was restored in The Etymologies of the 1930s under the root ᴹ√TAL “foot” (Ety/TAL) and Tolkien seems to have stuck with that form thereafter.

G. talgrin(d) n. “ankle”
A word appearing as G. {talrid >> talrind >>} talgrin(d) “ankle” in the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s (along with a number of other rejected variants), a combination of G. tâl “foot” and G. grinn “ankle, wrist” (GL/69) and analogous to G. mabrin(d) “wrist”.

Neo-Sindarin: For purposes of Neo-Sindarin, I would adapt this early word as ᴺS. tallif “ankle, (lit.) foot-link”, with a second element S. lîf “link” as seen in the 1968 word S. molif “wrist, (lit.) hand link” (VT47/6).

N. tellen n. “sole of foot”
A noun in The Etymologies of the 1930s glossed “sole of foot”, a combination of N. tâl “foot” and N. rhein (Ety/RUN), where the a of tal- became e via i-affection and the ei in rhein reduced to e as it often did in unstressed final syllables in Noldorin.

Neo-Sindarin: In Sindarin, the likely phonological result of this word would be tellyn; compare S. eryn < ✶oronyē (PE17/119). But since this is obscure, I’d treat tellen as a dialectical variant, much like ered is a variant plural of orod as opposed to the normal plural eryd.

4.38 Toe

Q. pirë n. “toe”
A word for “toe” in notes associated with the version of the Nieninquë poem from the 1950s, appearing in its dual form piru as an element in the word Q. pirucendëa “on the point of her toes” (PE16/96).
Q. taltil (taltill-) n. “toe”
A word for “toe” in notes on Eldarin Hands, Fingers and Numerals from the late 1960s, a combination of tál and tillë “tip” (VT47/10).
Q. tolbo n. “big toe; stump, stub; ⚠️thumb”
A word for the “big toe” in notes on Eldarin Hands, Fingers and Numerals from the late 1960s, an elaboration of √TOL “stand up” (VT47/10). It was originally written as (deleted) taltolpe (VT47/27 note #37). It appeared beside similarly derived {tolpe >>} taltol “big toe” with an initial element of tál “foot”. It seems tolbo was a “play name”, while taltol was a more ordinary word.

Conceptual Development: In drafts of these notes, {tolpe >>} tolbo was used for “thumb”, along with an alternate meaning “a stump, stub (as of a truncated arm or branch)” (VT47/28 note #40). I would discard “thumb” as a possible meaning, but would retain “stump, stub” as a valid meaning for purposes of Neo-Quenya.

G. tent n. “toe”
A noun appearing as G. {tentha >>} tent “toe” in the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s (GL/70). Given the related verb tentha- glossed “feel with the feet, walk on tiptoe”, it was probably based on the early root ᴱ√TENE “touch, feel” (QL/91).

Neo-Sindarin: I would retain ᴺS. tent “toe” for purposes of Neo-Sindarin, reconceived as a derivative of √TEN “point (towards)”.

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