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Select Elvish Words 4.81-4.82: Strong, Weak (Sindarin)

4.81 Strong, Mighty, Powerful

S. belaith [mb-] adj. “mighty”
An adjective for “mighty” derived from the root √MBELEK in a page of notes having to do with “large & small” words, probably from the late 1960s (PE17/115), apparently from the primitive form *✶mbelektā with the ekt vocalizing to eith and then the ei becoming ai in the final syllable.
N. bellas n. “bodily strength”
A word for “bodily strength” in The Etymologies of the 1930s based on Old Noldorin belle “strength” under the root ᴹ√BEL “strong” (Ety/BEL). Ordinarily this Old Noldorin word would have become *bell (e.g. N. hell “naked” from ON. skhella), but it seems this word was not sufficiently distinct, so at some point the abstract noun suffix N. -as was added.

Conceptual Development: The Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s had G. polm or polwin “strength (physical)”, clearly based on the early root ᴱ√POLO “have strength” (GL/64).

N. belt adj. “strong in body”
An adjective for “strong in body” in The Etymologies of the 1930s based on Old Noldorin belda “strong” under the root ᴹ√BEL “strong” (Ety/BEL). Ordinarily this Old Noldorin word would have become *bell (e.g. N. goll “wise” from ᴹ✶ñgolda), but this is one of the rare cases in Noldorin of the 1930s where final ld > > lt rather than the usual ll.

Neo-Sindarin: There is no sign of this sound change in later Sindarin words, so you may want to adapt this word as *bell “strong” for purposes of Neo-Sindarin, but personally I’d just keep belt and assume it was a dialectical variant or had a different primitive form.

Conceptual Development: The Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s had G. polmog or polwed “strong (physically)”, adjective forms of G. polm or polwin “strength (physical)” (GL/64).

G. polod n. “power, might, authority”
A noun appearing as G. polod “power, might, authority” in the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s, clearly based on the early root ᴱ√POLO “have stength” (GL/64).

Neo-Sindarin: Since ᴹ√POL(OD) still had to do with “strength” in Tolkien’s later writings, I’d adapt this word as ᴺS. polodh “power, might, authority”, and assume some amount of semantic drift from physical strength to political authority.

G. polodrin n. “mighty, *powerful [politically]”
A word appearing as G. polodrin “mighty” in the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s, an adjective form of G. polod “power, might, authority” (GL/64). It had an archaic variant {poldurin >>} †polurin or polorin which was sometimes used as a sobriquet for Tulcus.

Neo-Sindarin: Since ᴹ√POL(OD) still had to do with “strength” in Tolkien’s later writings, I’d adapt this word as ᴺS. polodhren “mighty, *powerful” for purposes of Neo-Sindarin using the later Sindarin adjective -ren. Given the meanings of its base noun (including authority), I’d assume this adjective has a connotation of political power. I’d constrast it with S. belaith which I’d use for “mighty” in general (independent of authority).

N. taur adj. “vast, mighty, overwhelming, awful, huge; high, sublime”
An adjective in The Etymologies of the 1930s glossed “mighty, vast, overwhelming, huge, awful” derived from primitive ᴹ✶taurā “masterful, mighty” based the root ᴹ√TUR “power, control, mastery, victory” (Ety/TÁWAR, TUR). It was also influenced by ᴹ✶tārā “lofty” and as such had the alternate meaning “high, sublime”. Thus its gloss “awful” has the sense “causing awe” rather than its modern English meaning “terrible”, and its general meaning seems to something that is mighty (in strength or size) and also induces awe, either inspiring or terrifying. Its Quenya equivalent Q. taura continued to appear in later writings (PE17/115, VT39/10), indicating that this Noldorin word probably remained valid in Sindarin.

Conceptual Development: The Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s had the adjective G. taura “powerful” and the (archaic) noun G. †taur “ability, power” (GL/69), both based on the early root ᴱ√TURU “am strong” (GL/72; QL/95).

N. n. “muscle, sinew; vigour, physical strength”
A noun in The Etymologies of the 1930s glossed “muscle, sinew; vigour, physical strength” derived from primitive ᴹ✶tūgu under the root ᴹ√TUG (Ety/TUG). This root also had an adjective N. tong “taut, tight; resonant (of strings)”, clearly referring to the use of sinew in making stringed instruments. Thus I think likely refers mainly to “muscle, sinew”, and only metaphorically to “vigour, physical strength”, as in: i-Edhel han sâv dû “that Elf has muscle () = has physical strength”.

Conceptual Development: Early Noldorin Word-lists of the 1920s had ᴱN. núr “muscle” from primitive ᴱ✶snóra (PE13/151).

4.82 Weak, Infirm

G. gôg adj. “clumsy; ⚠️left (hand)”
An adjective appearing as G. gôg in the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s meaning both “clumsy” and “left (hand)” (GL/40), probably related to ᴱQ. auk “clumsy fellow” and ᴱQ. auqa “awkward, clumsy” (QL/33). It was the opposite of G. fim “clever, right hand” (GL/35).

Neo-Sindarin: For purposes of Neo-Sindarin, I would adapt this word as ᴺS. gaug “clumsy” to have better consistency with the Quenya forms, but I would remove the association with left-handedness, since in Tolkien’s later conception the Elves were ambidextrous and had no association between right/left and good/bad (VT49/6-8).

ᴱN. gwesg adv. “weakly, *weak”
A word appearing as ᴱN. gwesg “weakly” in Early Noldorin Word-lists of the 1920s (PE13/146). This is the only Elvish word in the published corpus associated with weakness without extra connotations.

Neo-Sindarin: I would retain this word as ᴺS. gwesg and would further assume it can be used as both an adjective “*weak” as well as an adverb “weakly”. It is not clear what its etymology would be in Tolkien’s later conception of the languages, however (< √WESEK?)

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