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Select Elvish Words 8.56: Leaf

8.56 Leaf

Q. lassë n. “leaf; ⚠️[ᴱQ.] petal”

The basic Quenya word for “leaf”, derived from the root √LAS¹ (PE17/62, 153; VT39/9). This word dates all the way back to the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s where ᴱQ. lasse “leaf” appeared as its own entry (QL/51). ᴹQ. lasse “leaf” also appeared in The Etymologies of the 1930s under the root ᴹ√LAS¹ (Ety/LAS¹). In the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s Tolkien said that lasse meant both “a leaf or petal” (GL/52). However, in later notes Tolkien said it was more restricted in meaning, and “only applied to certain kinds of leaves, especially those of trees, and would not e.g. be used of leaf of a hyacinth” (PE17/62).

Neo-Quenya: Since Tolkien never gave us a different “leaf” word, I would use lassë for all leaves for purposes of Neo-Quenya. I would also use it metaphorically for the “petal” of a flower where the context is very clear, such as lassi indilo “leaves of a lily” = “lily petals”. But where ambiguous, I would use the neologism ᴺQ. lótelas for “petal”, more literally “flower leaf”.

ᴱQ. lassea adj. “with leaves, leafy”

A word in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s glossed “with leaves, leafy”, an adjective form of ᴱQ. lasse “leaf” (QL/51).

Neo-Quenya: This both lassë “leaf” and adjectives with -ëa survived in Tolkien’s later writing, I would retain ᴺQ. lassëa “with leaves, leafy” for purposes of Neo-Quenya. It also appeared in Q. lillassëa “having mean leaves” from the 1960s (MC/223).

ᴹQ. lassekanta adj. “leaf-shaped”

An adjective for “leaf-shaped” in The Etymologies of the 1930s, a combination of ᴹQ. lasse “leaf” and ᴹQ. -kanta “-shaped” (Ety/KAT).

Q. lillassëa adj. “having many leaves”

An adjective for “having many leaves” in Markirya “poem” of the 1960s, a combination of an assimilated form of li(n)- “many” and an adjectival form of lassë “leaf” (MC/223).

Q. olass(i)ë n. “foliage, collection of leaves”

A noun for “foliage” appearing as either olassië or olassë, a combination of o- “together” and lassë “leaf” (Let/282; PE17/56, 84).

S. golas n. “foliage, collection of leaves”

A noun for “foliage” derived from ✶gwa-lassa, effectively a combination of go- “together” and lass “leaf” (Let/282; PE17/84). Most notably, it is an element in the name Legolas (S. Laegolas).

S. lass n. “leaf; ⚠️[G.] petal”

The basic Sindarin word for “leaf”, derived from the root √LAS¹ (PE17/62, 153; PE22/166). It appeared as both lass and las, but I believe the latter is the suffixal form, the result of the Sindarin sound change whereby final ss shortened in polysyllables (LotR/1115). Its plural form was lais, which is of interest because normally consonant clusters prevent i-intrusion; compare nern and resg the plurals of narn and rasg. I am of the opinion that the ss was a particular “weak” cluster and allowed intrusion anyway; see the entry on Sindarin plural nouns for further discussion.

Conceptual Development: G. lass “a leaf” appeared all the way back in the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s, but there Tolkien said it was sometimes used for “petal” = G. tethlas (GL/52). In Early Noldorin Word-lists of the 1920s it became ᴱN. lhas “leaf” (PE13/148) and N. lhass “leaf” appeared in The Etymologies of the 1930s derived from primitive ᴹ✶lassē under the root ᴹ√LAS¹ (Ety/LAS¹). These 1920s-30s forms were due to the Noldorin sound change whereby initial l was unvoiced to lh. Tolkien abandoned this sound change in Sindarin of the 1950s and 60s, so that lass “leaf” was restored.

G. tethlas n. “petal, *(lit.) bud-leaf”

A noun appearing as G. tethlas “petal” in the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s, a combination of G. teth “bud” and G. lass “leaf” (GL/70), the latter sometimes also used for “petal” according to Tolkien’s notes in the 1910s (GL/52).

Neo-Sindarin: For purposes of Neo-Sindarin, I would adapt this word as ᴺS. tuilas “petal” using the 1930s word [N.] tui “bud” instead of 1910s teth. However, I would use S. lass only for “leaf”, not “petal”.

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