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Select Elvish Words 8.57: Flower

8.57 Flower

⚠️Q. alma n. “flower”

A word for “flower” derived from primitive ✶galmā in notes on flowers in the same bundle containing Definitive Linguistic Notes (DLN) from 1959 (PE17/153). Initially Tolkien said alma meant both “a blessed thing and a flower”, then said that Q. almë was “a blessed thing” and alba was “flower” (< √GAL-AB), before saying that alma was “flower”. Tolkien implied that alma was a usual or general word for “flower” in Quenya. These same notes also said the word alda < ✶galadā was used mainly of flowering trees. It seems in this instance Tolkien connected the root √GAL² (normally just “grow, flourish”) specifically to flowers, giving it the gloss “bloom” along with other glosses like “grow, flourish, be vigorous”.

Neo-Quenya: Elsewhere alda was the general word for a “tree” and √GAL² had no special connection to flowers. I think alma as a “flower” word was a transient idea. I would use lótë “flower” instead for purposes of Neo-Quenya, since it is much better established.

Q. lilótëa adj. “having many flowers”

A word in notes from the late 1960s glossed “having many flowers” (VT42/18), a combination of li(n)- “many” with an adjectival form of lótë “flower”.

Conceptual Development: The (1940s?) word ᴹQ. lilótime seems to have a similar meaning in the phrase lilótime alda amaliondo aranyallesse túno, unglossed but perhaps “*[the] many-flowered tree of Amalion in the kingdom of Túna” (TMME/182).

Q. lossë n. “[ᴹQ.] (white) blossom, flower, [ᴱQ.] (white) flower; [Q.] inflorescence (of white flowers); ⚠️[ᴱQ.] rose”

This word was associated with white flowers for much of Tolkien’s life. In the Qenya Lexicon and Poetic and Mythological Words of Eldarissa of the 1910s, ᴱQ. losse was “rose” (QL/65; PME/56), but in the Early Qenya Grammar of the 1920s its plural was translated as “flowers” (PE14/56), while its gloss became “white-flower” in notes associated with the Earendel poem from around 1930 (PE16/100).

The Etymologies written around 1937, Tolkien derived ᴹQ. losse from the root ᴹ√LOT(H) and translated it as “blossom” or “flower”, but specified that it was “usually, owing to association with olosse snow, only used of white blossom” (Ety/LOT(H); GOLÓS). In notes from around 1959, Tolkien said losse was used of “snow” but also as “the laden inflorescence of flowers on trees or shrubs, especially infoliate or pale” (PE17/161).

Neo-Quenya: For purpose of Neo-Quenya, I would assume lossë mainly meant “snow”, but that it could also be used of white flowers, either an individual white flower or a scattering of white flowers on a plant, as if covered by snow (though in the latter case, I would use plural lossi “white flowers” to be less ambiguous).

Q. lótë n. “flower, single blossom; ⚠️[ᴱQ.] bloom”

The best known Quenya word for “flower”, which Tolkien used for most of his life. Most notably it was an element in Vingilótë “Foam-flower”, the name of Eärendil’s ship (S/246).

Conceptual Development: The word dates all the way back to the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s where ᴱQ. lōte was glossed “a flower, bloom (usually of large single flowers)” under the early root ᴱ√LO’O (QL/55). It appeared regularly in documents in the 1910s, 20s and 30s with glosses like “flower” and “blossom” (PME/56; MC/220; PE16/77; PE21/7). In The Etymologies of the 1930s it was ᴹQ. lóte “(large single) flower” under the root ᴹ√LOT(H) “flower” (Ety/LOT(H)).

The word continued to appear in Tolkien’s writings of the 1950s and 60s with glosses like “flower” or “a single blossom” and derived from √LOT (PE17/26, 160; VT42/18). In one place Tolkien said it meant “a flowering plant, especially one that produces (large) separate flowers of distinct shape; also used of any single bloom of such a plant” (PE17/160). However, generally it was used of individual (large) flowers. Smaller flowers could use other words like lotsë (PE17/\160; VT42/18), but I think lótë was the most general term for “flower”.

ᴱQ. lotella n. “floret”

A word appearing as ᴱQ. lotella “a floret” in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s, a diminutive form of ᴱQ. lóte “flower” (QL/055).

Neo-Quenya: Since Q. lótë “flower” appeared regularly in Tolkien’s later writings, I’d keep ᴺQ. lotella “floret” for purposes of Neo-Quenya.

Q. lotsë n. “small (single) flower”

A word for a “smaller flower” or a “small single flower” based on the root √LOT (PE17/160; VT42/18). In one place it had a variant lotte (PE17/160), but I think lotsë is more distinct. The general word for a “(large) flower” was lótë; see that entry for discussion.

Conceptual Development: In the Qenya Lexicon and Poetic and Mythological Words of Eldarissa of the 1910s, ᴱQ. tetl was “small flower” based on the early root ᴱ√TETE “bud, blossom” (QL/92; PME/92)

S. elloth n. “single flower”

A word for a “single flower” in note from the late 1960s, a combination of er “one” and loth “flower(s)” (VT42/18), where rl became ll as sometimes happened in (old) Sindarin compounds. This word can be necessary because loth refers to both a single flower or a group of flowers; see that entry for details.

S. loth n. “flower, single blossom; inflorescence, head of small flowers”

The best known Sindarin word for “flower”, usable individually or collectively. It behaves somewhat like the English word “sheep” that is its own plural, since loth can likewise refer to a single flower or a group of flowers. It occasionally takes the form -los in compounds like Edhellos “Elven-flower” (PM/346) and mallos “golden flower” (PE17/100).

Conceptual Development: The earliest iteration of this word was G. lôs “flower” in the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s, which Tolkien said was related to G. lass “leaf, petal” (GL/52, 55). This word also appeared in the Name-list to the Fall of Gondolin (PE15/28). In drafts to the Lays of Beleriand from the 1920s, Tolkien had ᴱN. loth “flower”, also translated “lily” in the name ᴱN. Loth-a-ladwen “Lily of the Plain” (LB/149).

In The Etymologies of the 1930s Tolkien had N. lhoth “flower(s)” under the root ᴹ√LOT(H) (Ety/LOT(H); EtyAC/LOT(H)). In The Etymologies as published in The Lost Road the gloss was “flower” (LR/370). Carl Hostetter and Patrick Wynne indicated the actual gloss was “flower(s)” in their Addenda and Corrigenda to the Etymologies so that lhoth could be use singly or collectively, and it was followed by a specifically singular form N. lhothod (VT45/29).

In Tolkien’s later writings it became S. loth and was mostly glossed “flower” (PE17/26, 48, 161) but the notion that it could be used collectively appeared in some notes from the late 1960s where Tolkien said:

loth, meaning “inflorescence, a head of small flowers”. Loth is actually most often used collectively in Sindarin, equivalent to goloth; and a single flower denoted by elloth (er-loth) or lotheg (VT42/18).

Neo-Sindarin: For purposes of Neo-Sindarin, I assume loth can be used individually or collectively and thus functinos as its own plural, though in compounds it is generally singular. If necessary, a collection of flowers may be designated goloth, and an individual flower by elloth or lotheg.

S. lotheg n. “single [small] flower, *floret”

A word for a single flower in notes from the late 1960s, a singular form of loth (VT42/18). This word is sometimes necessary because loth can refer to either a single flower or a collection of flowers; see that entry for details.

Conceptual Development: The Etymologies of the 1930s had N. lhothod as a singular form of N. lhoth “flower(s)” under the root ᴹ√LOT(H) (EtyAC/LOT(H)). The Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s had G. lothli “floret”, perhaps a diminutive form of G. lôs “flower” (GL/54) with sl > thl.

Neo-Sindarin: Since -eg acts as both a singular suffix and a diminutive suffix, I would assume lotheg refers to single smaller flower or floret, as opposed to elloth for a larger individual flower.

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