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Select Elvish Words 4.74-4.742: Life, Immortal (Sindarin)

4.74 to Live; Living; Life

S. cuia- v. “to live”
A verb for “to live” appearing only in the imperative form cuio in the phrase cuio i Pheriain anann “long live the Halflings” or “may the Halflings live long” (LotR/953; Let/448; PE17/102). It already had this form when it appeared in Lord of the Rings drafts from the 1940s (SD/46).
G. cuibri n. “vitality, liveliness”
A word for “vitality” in the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s, a noun form of G. cuib “alive” (GL/27).

Neo-Sindarin: I would adapt this word as ᴺS. cuinas “vitality, liveliness”, based on the later adjective [N.] cuin “alive”.

N. cuil n. “life, [G.] lifetime”
A noun for “life” in The Etymologies of the 1930s under the root ᴹ√KUY “come to life, awake” (Ety/KUY).

Conceptual Development: This word dates back to the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s, where Tolkien clarified that G. cuil “life” was “usually [the] quality of being alive, but [was] also used = lifetime” (GL/27). ᴱN. cuil “life” also appeared in Early Noldorin Word-lists of the 1920s (PE13/141).

G. cuilog adj. “alive, lively”
A word appearing as G. cuilog “alive, lively” in the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s, an adjectival form of G. cuil “life” (GL/27). Tolkien specified that this word was “usually metaph[oric]”, so probably “lively” was a better translation than “alive”.

Neo-Sindarin: For purposes of Neo-Sindarin, I’d update this word to ᴺS. cuileb “lively” using the later adjective suffix -eb, but for “alive” I’d use [N.] cuin.

ᴱN. cuilvorn n. “lifetime”
A word appearing as ᴱN. {cuilborn >>} cuilvorn “lifetime”, a combination of cuil “life” and born “age” (PE13/141). In the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s it was G. cuilborn “lifetime” with the same elements (GL/27).

Neo-Sindarin: Since [N.] cuil “life” appears in Tolkien’s later writing, I’d retain ᴺS. cuilvorn “lifetime” for purposes of Neo-Sindarin, and assume the second element was based on the root ᴹ√BOR(ON) “endure”, hence = “*life’s endurance”.

N. cuin adj. “alive”
An adjective for “alive” in The Etymologies of the 1930s based on the root ᴹ√KUY “come to life, awake” (Ety/KUY).

Conceptual Development: In the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s Tolkien had G. cuib “alive” (GL/27) and in Early Noldorin Word-lists of the 1920s Tolkien had ᴱN. cuif (cuiv-) “alive” (PE13/141).

S. cuina- v. “to be alive”
A verb for “to be alive” appearing as a soft-mutated plural in the phrase Dor Firn-i-Guinar (S/188) and as a nasal-mutated plural in Dor Gyrth i Chuinar (nasal-mutation) (Let/417), both meaning “Land of the Dead that Live”. Its Noldorin infinitive form cuino “to be alive” appeared in The Etymologies of the 1930s under the root ᴹ√KUY “come to life, awake” (Ety/KUY).

Conceptual Development: The Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s had G. cuitha- “am alive, live” (GL/27).

G. cuith n. “[biological process of] life, the vital principle; ⚠️living body”
A word appearing as G. cuith in the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s with glosses “life, the vital principle” and “a living body”; Tolkien specified that it was never used for “a lifetime”, which was instead G. cuil (GL/27). It was likely based on the early root ᴱ√KOẎO “have life” as suggested by Christopher Tolkien (LT1A/Koivië-néni).

Neo-Sindarin: For purposes of Neo-Sindarin, I’d retain ᴺS. cuith as “life, the vital principle” in reference to the biological process of life and being alive. For “life” in its more ordinary sense I’d use [N.] cuil.

N. cuithos n. “life (period of life); living, livelihood”
A word appearing as G. cuithos “life (period of life); living, livelihood” in the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s, a noun form of G. cuitha- “am alive” (GL/27).

Neo-Sindarin: For purposes of Neo-Sindarin, I’d update this word to ᴺS. cuithas using the later abstraction noun suffix -as, and would assume it is an abstraction based on ᴺS. cuith “[biological process of] life”. I would use it to refer both to the means of providing for one’s life (= “livelihood”) as well as a period of time within one’s life, as opposed to one’s entire lifetime which would be ᴺS. cuilvorn.

4.742 Immortal

S. alfirin adj. and n. “immortal, (lit.) not dying; a species of flower”
A word used in The Lord of the Rings for a flower that was clearly intended to mean “immortal” when Tolkien first coined the word, a negated form of firin “mortal, dying”. Tolkien described this flower as being similar to an immortelle (Let/402). In the period where Tolkien decided that √LA was not a negative element, he coined a couple alternate etymologies for the flower, one based on alph “swan” (PE17/100) and another where the initial element was al- “well” and the second element was pirin for flowers that opened and closed with changes of light (PE17/146). In periods where Tolkien used √LA for negation, the meaning “immortal” was restored (PE22/153, PE22/156).

Neo-Sindarin: Since I retain al- as a negative prefix for purposes of Neo-Sindarin, I’d keep the gloss “immortal” for this word, using it as both an adjective and noun with this meaning, as well as referring to the immortelle-like flower.

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