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Select Elvish Words 4.39-4.393: Nail, Claw, Wing, Feather

4.39 Nail, Claw

Q. nappa n. “claw, talon”
A noun for “claw, talon” appearing rough notes on Elvish Hands, Fingers and Numerals from the late 1960s based on the root √NAP “grasp, seize quickly” (VT47/20). In the margin Tolkien wrote a variant form namma with the same glosses, and the mm was clear despite the implausibility of its derivation from √NAP.

Neo-Quenya: For purposes of Neo-Quenya, I’d stick to nappa.

ᴱQ. nyelet (nyeleks-) n. “nail (of the finger)”
ᴱQ. nyelet “nail (of the finger)” appeared in the English-Qenya Dictionary of the 1920s with a plural form nyeleksi (PE15/75). It was probably related to ᴱQ. nyelekka “onyx” from the same document (PE15/76).

Neo-Quenya: I’d retain the word ᴺQ. nyelet “finger nail” for purposes of Neo-Quenya derived from a Neo-Root ᴺ√NYELEK, but I would assume that its stem form is nyelec- because (a) I think the plural nyeleksi may be the result of Early Qenya phonetic changes like how [ti] became [tsi] and (b) a stem form ending in ks- would become a final s in later Quenya phonology (PE19/104).

ᴹQ. racca n. “*claw”
A word for “claw” from 1940s drafts Lord of the Rings drafts appearing as element in the word ᴹQ. rakkalepta “*claw-fingered” (SD/68). It might be based on ᴹ√RAK “reach” (Ety/RAK).

4.392 Wing

Q. ráma n. “wing; ⚠️[ᴱQ.] arm”
The Quenya word for “wing”, derived from the root ᴹ√RAM (PE17/63; Ety/RAM).

Conceptual Development: This word dates all the way back to the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s, where ᴱQ. ráma “wing” was derived from the early root ᴱ√RAHA “stretch forward” (QL/78). The word appeared regularly in Tolkien’s writings with the gloss “wing”, though at one point in the 1920s it was glossed both “arm, wing” (PE16/137), and in the English-Qenya Dictionary of the 1920s it was given as the Qenya word meaning “arm”, but this was revised to ᴱQ. ranko (PE15/79). The use of ráma for “arm” was a brief and rejected idea, and in The Etymologies of the 1930s, ᴹQ. ráma “wing” was transferred to a new root ᴹ√RAM, while ᴹQ. ranko “arm” remained under ᴹ√RAK “stretch out” (Ety/RAK, RAM).

ᴱQ. ráma(vo)ite adj. “winged, having wings”
A word appearing as ᴱQ. rámavoite “winged” or “having wings” in the Qenya Lexicon and Poetic and Mythological Words of Eldarissa of the 1910s, an adjectival form of ᴱQ. ráma “wing” (QL/57, 78; PME/57). In the English-Qenya Dictionary it had two forms: rámaite and rámavoite (PE15/79).

Neo-Quenya: Since -itë remains an adjective suffix in later Quenya, I would retain this word as ᴺQ. rámaitë “winged, having wings”.

N. blab- v. “to flap, beat (wings etc.)”
A verb in The Etymologies of the 1930s glossed “flap, beat” derived from the root ᴹ√PALAP (Ety/PALAP). Here “beat” probably is limited to the beating of wings.

Conceptual Development: The verb G. basga- “flap” appeared in the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s as an elaboration of G. bass “wing” (GL/22). It had a noun form G. bascovas “flapping and beating, especially of wings”.

S. raw n. “wing”
The Sindarin word for “wing” (PE17/63) based on the root ᴹ√RAM (Ety/RAM). Its Quenya cognate ráma indicates its ancient vowel ā was long, and this long ā became au (aw) in Sindarin. Meanwhile, the ancient m became v, which then vanished after the diphthong aw: *rāmā > raum(a) > rau(v) > raw.

Conceptual Development: The word G. ram “wing, pinion” from the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s was similarly derived (GL/64), but in Gnomish m did not become v.

N. rhafn n. “wing (horn), extended point at side”
A noun appearing as N. rhafn “wing (horn), extended point at side” in The Etymologies of the 1930s, derived from primitive ᴹ✶ramna under the root ᴹ√RAM (Ety/RAM).

Neo-Sindarin: I would adapt this word as ᴺS. ravn for purposes of Neo-Sindarin, since (a) initial r did not become voiceless rh in Sindarin and (b) vn is more representative of the actual pronunciation; compare: S. tavn “thing made by handicraft” (PE17/107).

S. roval adj. and n. “winged; [N.] pinion, great wing (of an eagle)”
An adjective appearing as an element in the name S. Landroval “Broad Winged” (PE17/63). In The Etymologies of the 1930s, however, its immediate precursor was a noun N. rhofal (with the Noldorin-style sound change of initial r to voiceless rh) glossed “pinion, great wing (of an eagle)” under from the root ᴹ√RAM (Ety/RAM).

Neo-Sindarin: For purposes of Neo-Sindarin, I would assume that roval can be either an adjective for “winged” or a noun for a “pinion” (feathered part of a wing), especially of great birds like eagles.

4.393 Feather

ᴹQ. lúpe n. “plume”
A noun for “plume” from notes on Qenya Spelling from the 1930s, descriptive of a curved tehta sign but probably inspired by (and still applicable to) the plume feather of a bird (PE22/63).
Q. quessë n. “feather”
The Quenya word for “feather” and the name of tengwa #4 [z] (LotR/1122).

Conceptual Development: Some similar words appeared in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s under the early root ᴱ√QASA: ᴱQ. qasil “arrow-feather, arrow” and ᴱQ. qasilla “tuft, nodding spray, tassel, plume” (QL/76); quasil was only glossed “arrow” in the contemporaneous Poetic and Mythological Words of Eldarissa (PME/76). ᴹQ. qesse “feather” first appeared in The Etymologies of the 1930s under the root ᴹ√KWES (Ety/KWES), already the name of tengwa #4 (EtyAC/KWES). It was also the name of this tengwa in notes on the Feanorian Alphabet from the 1930s and 1940s (PE22/22, 51, 61), and remained so into the published version of The Lord of the Rings.

G. pectha n. “plume”
The word G. pectha “plume” appeared in the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s, along with G. pecthon “plume, feather” (GL/63-64), clearly cognates of ᴱQ. pekte “plume” under the early root ᴱ√PEKE (QL/73).

Neo-Sindarin: Somewhat surprisingly, there are no later “plume” or “feather” words in the currently published materials from Tolkien’s writings on Noldorin and Sindarin of the 1920s or later. Most Neo-Sindarin writers use ᴺS. pess for “feather” as the analog of word Q. quessë, which Tolkien used in the 1930s-1960s. Hialmr added this Neo-Sindarin word to the VinQuettaParma Wiki (VQP) in 2015, but it has likely been floating around for much longer. As for “plume”, I personally would use an augmentative form: ᴺS. pesson “plume, (great) feather”.

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