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Select Elvish Words 4.62: Dream

4.62 Dream

Q. indemma n. “mind-picture (of apparition in dream)”
A word for a “mind-picture”, a combination of indo “mind” and emma “picture” (PE17/174, 176, 179). Tolkien described them thus:

They [the Elves] held that a superior mind by nature, or one exerting itself to its full in some extremity of need, could communicate a desired vision direct to another mind. The receiving mind would translate this impulse into the terms familiar to it from its use of the physical organs of sight (and hearing) and project it, seeing it as something external … indemmar were by Men mostly received in sleep (dream). If received when bodily awake they were usually vague and phantom-like (and often caused fear); but if they were clear and vivid, as the indemmar induced by Elves might be, they were apt to mislead Men into taking them as real things beheld by normal sight (PE17/179).

Thus this word was used for telepathically induced visions, used among the Elves for communication, but Men could sometimes be fooled (intentionally or not) into believing these visions were real if they were awake when they received them, otherwise the visions were perceived as dreams. These “sorcerous” visions were likely one of the reasons for the mistrust between Elves and Men towards the end of the Third Age.

Q. lórë n. “[ᴹQ.] slumber, *sleep; [Q.] dream”
A word for “dream” in Tolkien’s later writings, most notably as an element in Lórien “*Dream Lands” (Let/308; PE17/80). In The Etymologies of the 1930s, however, ᴹQ. lóre was glossed “slumber” under from the root {ᴹ√LOR >>} ᴹ√LOS “sleep” (Ety/LOS).

Neo-Quenya: I generally use √LOR for “sleep” and √OLOS for “dream” for purposes of Neo-Eldarin. As such, I would use lóre for both “slumber, *sleep” and “dream” for purposes of Neo-Quenya, likely a blending of primitive *lōre and *lōse. But I would use it more for a “(dreamful) sleep”, with olor as the proper word for “dream” or “vision”.

Q. óla- v. “to dream (impersonal)”
An impersonal verb for “to dream” based on the root √OLO-S, so that presumably the purported subject would be in the dative: óla nin “[it] dreams to me = I dream”. This verb says something interesting about Elvish psychology, in that dreams are seen as things that happen to a dreamer rather than an action of the dreamer themselves. This is likely tied to the Elvish experience of receiving telepathic visions through dreams, from other Elves or from greater powers.

Conceptual Development: The Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s has a verb G. oltha- that could likewise be used in an impersonal construction with the dative to mean “I dream” (GL/62).

Q. olor n. “dream, vision”
A word for a “dream” or “vision” with variant forms olor and olos, derived from the root √OLO-S “vision, phantasy” (UT/396).

Conceptual Development: This word dates all the way back to the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s, where ᴱQ. olor or olōre “dream” appeared under the early root ᴱ√LORO or ᴱ√OLOR, both elaborations of ᴱ√OLO³ (QL/56, 69). Both noun forms were also mentioned in the contemporaneous Poetic and Mythological Words of Eldarissa (PME/69). The Declension of Nouns from the early 1930s had ᴹQ. olar “dream” (PE21/33), but in The Etymologies written around 1937 this again became ᴹQ. olor “dream” from the root {ᴹ√OLOR >>} ᴹ√OLOS “dream” (Ety/LOS, ÓLOS; EtyAC/ÓLOS).

In one set of late notes in connection to Gandalf’s name Olórin, Tolkien modified its meaning:

Olor is a word often translated “dream”, but that does not refer to (most) human “dreams”, certainly not the dreams of sleep. To the Eldar it included the vivid contents of their memory, as of their imagination: it referred in fact to clear vision, in the mind, of things not physically present at the body’s situation. But not only to an idea, but to a full clothing of this in particular form and detail (UT/396).

Neo-Quenya: For purposes of Neo-Quenya, I would use the form olor and the basic meaning “dream” that this word had for much of Tolkien’s life. I would assume that its derivation from *olos was influenced by its plural form olori < olozi and also by the related root √(O)LOR. Given Tolkien’s late note above, however, I think this word can also apply to waking visions, as well as particularly vivid memories or imagined forms.

ᴱQ. olorda adj. “dreamy, drowsy; in dreams”
An adjective appearing as olorda in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s with the gloss “in dreams” under the root ᴱ√LORO (QL/56) and the gloss “dreamy, drowsy” under the root ᴱ√OLOR (QL/69). Under ᴱ√LORO it had the alternate form olorwa.

Neo-Quenya: I’d retain ᴺQ. olorda “dreamy, drowsy; in dreams” for purposes Neo-Quenya, as its roots survived in later Quenya and were still associated with sleep and dreams.

Q. olosta adj. “dreamy, *dreamlike”
An adjective for “dreamy” appearing in notes from the 1960s as a derivative of the root √OLO-S (UT/396).

Conceptual Development: The word ᴱQ. olōrea appeared in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s with the gloss “dreamy” under the root ᴱ√LORO (QL/56) and the gloss “dreamlike” under the root ᴱ√OLOR (QL/69), in both cases an adjectival form of ᴱQ. olōre “dream”.

Neo-Quenya: For purposes of Neo-Quenya, I’d use olosta for things that are dream-like, and ᴺQ. olorda for people in a dream-like state.

S. fanwos n. “mind-picture (of apparition in dream)”
A Sindarin(?) word that seems to be the equivalent of Q. indemma “mind-picture”, based on the root √PHAN “veil” (PE17/174). This was a telepathic vision induced in another’s mind; see Q. indemma for further discussion.
N. ôl n. “dream”
A noun in The Etymologies of the 1930s glossed “dream” derived from the root ᴹ√OLOS of the same meaning (Ety/LOS, ÓLOS). It replaced a deleted form oll (EtyAC/LOS). It had an abnormal plural form elei “dreams”, derived from primitive olosī, where the intervocalic s was lost resulting in a diphthong. Following Sindarin plural patterns, the result is more likely to be ely “dreams”; see thely < *tholosī the (archaic) plural of S. thôl (PE17/188).

Conceptual Development: The Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s had some similar words: G. oloth or olor “a dream, apparition, vision” and G. olm “a dream” (GL/62), all based on the early root ᴱ√OLO³ (QL/69).

N. oltha- v. “to dream; ⚠️[G.] to appear as an apparition”
A verb for “to dream” in The Etymologies of the 1930s derived from primitive ᴹ✶olsa- based on the root ᴹ√OLOS “dream” (Ety/LOS, ÓLOS), where the primitive ls became lth as was usual.

Conceptual Development: In the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s G. oltha- was glossed “to appear as an apparition”, but could be used for “I dream” as an impersonal verb with the purported subject in the dative (GL/62). This seems to be similar to how Q. óla- “dream” was used in Tolkien’s later writings, which likewise was an impersonal verb (UT/396). The Gnomish Lexicon had another verb G. olma- “I dream” as well (GL/62). These Gnomish verbs were clearly based on the early root ᴱ√OLO³ (QL/69).

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