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Select Elvish Words 4.77-4.79 Corpse, Grave

4.77 Corpse, Body

Q. loico n. “corpse, dead body”
A word for “corpse, dead body” in the 1960s version of the Markirya poem (MC/223). Its etymology is unclear.

Conceptual Development: In the version of the poem from around 1930, Tolkien used the word ᴱQ. kaivo “corpse” (MC/214, 221), probably based on the early root ᴱ√KAYA “lie, rest; dwell” (QL/46).

ᴱQ. qelekte n. “carcasse”
A word appearing as ᴱQ. qelekte “carcasse” in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s, an elaborated form of ᴱQ. qelet “corpse” (QL/76).

Neo-Quenya: Since [ᴹQ.] qelet “corpse” appears in Tolkien’s later writing, I’d retain and adapt this word as ᴺQ. quelehtë “carcasse” to better fit later Quenya phonology.

ᴹQ. qelet n. “corpse”
A noun for “corpse” in The Etymologies written around 1937 derived from primitive ᴹ✶kwelett- under the root ᴹ√KWEL “fade (away)” (Ety/KWEL). It had a plural form qeletsi indicating a stem form of qelets-, but that is inconsistent with its attested primitive form; its plural may instead be a conceptual remnant of the Early Qenya sound change whereby [ti] became [tsi] (PE12/23).

Conceptual Development: ᴱQ. qelet “corpse” appeared in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s under the early root ᴱ√QELE “perish, die, decay, fade”, but there its stem form was qelekt- (QL/76). ᴹQ. qelet “corpse” reappeared in the Declension of Nouns from the early 1930s, but there its stem form seems to be qelet- (PE21/33, 35). Its early 1930s nominative plural qeletsin also shows ti > tsi (PE21/35).

Neo-Quenya: For purposes of Neo-Quenya, I’d assume a stem form quelett- consistent with its primitive form. If the stem form was quelets-, then the uninflected form would be **queles, since final -ts became -s (PE19/104).

N. daen [nd-] n. “corpse”
A noun for “corpse” in The Etymologies of the 1930s derived from ON. ndagno under the root ᴹ√NDAK “slay” (Ety/NDAK), where the g vocalized to i before n and then ai became ae.

Conceptual Development: There were a couple of unrelated “corpse” words in Tolkien’s earlier writings. G. cweleg “corpse, dead body” appeared in the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s based on G. cwel- “fade, wither” (GL/28), clearly the equivalent of contemporaneous ᴱQ. qelet (qelekt-) of the same meaning (QL/76). ᴱN. rhanc “corpse, body of one slain in battle” appeared in Early Noldorin Word-lists of the 1920s related to the verb rhengi (rhang-) “to slay in battle” (PE13/152).

S. gorth [ng-] n. “dead (person)”
A noun for a “dead [person]” appearing its plural form in the phrase Dor Gyrth i Chuinar “Land of the Dead that Live” (Let/417) and its mutated class-plural form in the phrase Fui ’Ngorthrim “Paths of the Dead” (RC/526). It is clearly based on the root √ÑGUR “death”.

4.79 Grave, Tomb

⚠️ᴹQ. lára n. “grave”
A rejected noun for “grave” in a deleted entry in The Etymologies written around 1937 for the root ᴹ√DAG “dig” (EtyAC/DAG).

Conceptual Development: There was a word ᴱQ. kaune “grave” in the Qenya Lexicon and Poetic and Mythological Words of Eldarissa of the 1910s based on the early root ᴱ√KAVA which also meant “dig” (QL/45; PME/45). In the first version of the ᴱQ. Oilima Markirya poem and its drafts written around 1930, Tolkien used ᴱQ. sapsa or sapta for “grave” (MC/221; PE16/75), a word that is clearly based on another root meaning “dig”: ᴱ√SAPA.

Neo-Quenya: Since √SAP appeared in Tolkien’s later writings with the same or similar meaning (PE19/86), I’d adapted ᴺQ. sapta for “grave”, along with the meaning “(delved) hole, pit”; see that entry for discussion.

Q. noirë n. “tomb”
A plural element in the name Noirinan “Valley of Tombs” (UT/166), so perhaps *noire in the singular.
S. haudh n. “(funeral) mound, grave, [N.] tomb; [orig.] †heap, piled mound”
A word appearing in numerous names, usually translated “mound” or “funeral mound”. In revisions to the Outline of Phonology (OP2) made around 1959, Tolkien described its origin as follows:

√KHAB- “heap up, pile up”: khabdā “pile, (artificial) mound”: S haudh, funeral mound … The sense “funeral mound, especially one in which weapons and other valuables were also buried” shows probably that haudh is also derived from the (perhaps ultimately related) √KHAW “cover up, hide away, lay in store”; with extension *KHAWAD “store, hoard” (PE19/91).

Here the ancient combination abd became auð.

Conceptual Development: In The Etymologies of the 1930s, the word N. hauð “mound, grave, tomb” was derived from ᴹ✶khagda “pile, mound” under the root ᴹ√KHAG “pile up” (Ety/KHAG); in that document the sense “grave” was likewise due to the influence of ᴹ√KHAW, though in The Etymologies this root was glossed “rest, lie at ease” (Ety/KHAW). This word also appeared in the contemporaneous Outline of Phonetic Development (OP1) from the 1930s as a derivative of ᴹ✶khagdā, but there its form was haeð (PE19/45), reflecting Tolkien’s uncertainty on the phonetic developments of agd and whether it became auð or aið > aeð.

In the Outline of Phonology (OP2) as first composed in the early 1950s, Tolkien initially retained the derivation from ✶khagdā as in The Etymologies (PE19/91-92 note #110). But he eventually decided that agd > aið > aeð, at which point he needed a new etymology for haudh “funeral mound”, so he changed √KHAG “pile up” to √KHAB.

Neo-Sindarin: For purpose of Neo-Sindarin, I’d use the circa-1959 derivation from √KHAB given above, with the caveat that I’d limit the sense “lay in store” to the extended root √KHAWAD, to allow the retention of various useful words derived from 1930s ᴹ√KHAW “rest, lie at ease”. I’d limit haudh to mounds associated with death (as well as graves in general); for “mound” in the ordinary sense I would used [ᴺS.] tund.

S. sarch n. “grave”
A word for “grave” in the phrase Sarch nia Chîn Húrin “Grave of the Children of Húrin” (UT/140). Its etymology isn’t clear, but it might be related to sarn “stone” as in [N.] sarnas “cairn” (LR/406).
N. sarnas n. “cairn”
A noun for “cairn” (a memorial made of a pile of stones) in the name N. Sarnas Fingolfin “Cairn of Fingolfin” from a list of names associated with Silmarillion drafts of the 1930s (LR/406). It is an abstract elaboration of N. sarn “stone”.

Conceptual Development: An earlier word G. dal “cairn” appeared in the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s near the words G. dalech “(upright) stone” and G. daltha- “to erect, set up” (GL/29), so perhaps based on ᴱ√TALA (or *DALA) “support” (QL/88).

S. torn n. “burial mound”
A word appearing in its plural form in Tyrn Gorthad “Barrow-downs” in The Lord of the Rings (LotR/1040). In notes on Words, Phrases and Passages from The Lord of the Rings from the late 1950s or early 1960s, Tolkien translated torn as “burial mound” and the second element gorthad as “wraith, spirit of Dead” (PE17/116).

In notes on Sindarin genitives from around 1967 Tolkien had a nasal-mutated form Thor in the phrase i·m(b)air en Thor “the houses of the Dead” with unmutated Tor or Taur in the margin, but Tolkien revised this to i·m(b)air en N(d)engin “the houses of the Slain” (PE17/116). Christopher Gilson pointed out that this Tor/Taur might be connected to torn “burial mound”. It may be that Tolkien was uncertain which element of Tyrn Gorthad referred to the mounds, and which referred to the dead inside the mounds. He may also have felt constrained by the fact that tyrn was likely plural but gorthad was clearly singular.

Neo-Sindarin: For purposes of Neo-Sindarin, it is probably easiest to assume torn means “burial mound” and gorthad means “wraith”.

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