New Theme! What do you think?

Study, speak, and hang out with fellow Elvish students!

Select Elvish Words 9.41: Craft, Trade

9.41 Craft, Trade

Q. arimaitë adj. “[most] skillful, *gifted”

A word glossed “skilful” in Quenya Notes from 1957 (QN), a combination of maitë “-handed” with the superlative prefix ar(i)- (PE17/162). Elsewhere maitë by itself was glossed “skilful” (VT47/6), so perhaps this word was more intensive, meaning “*most skillful”.

Neo-Quenya: In the “Neologism of the Day” (NotD) series on the Vinyë Lambengolmor Discord Server as posted on 2023-05-30, Raccoon suggested that arimaitë might also mean “*gifted”.

Q. curu n. “skill; ⚠️[ᴱQ.] magic, wizardry”

In Tolkien’s later writing, this word mostly functions as a reduced form of Q. curwë “skill” used as an element in some Quenya names such as Q. Curufinwë and Q. Curumo.

Conceptual Development: In the Qenya Lexicon and Poetic and Mythological Words of Eldarissa of the 1910s ᴱQ. kuru was glossed “magic, wizardry”, and Tolkien further specified that it was used “of the good magic” (QL/49; PME/49). See S. curu for a discussion of the applicability of this word to “magic”.

Q. curwë n. “[ᴹQ.] craft, [Q.] skill of the hand, technical skill and invention”

A word variously glossed “skill of the hand” (VT41/10), “technical skill and invention” (PM/360) and “craft” (Ety/KUR) based on the root √KUR, which Tolkien contrasted with Q. nolmë “knowledge” from the root √ÑGOL (PM/344, 360). Thus it seems that curwë applies to practical knowledge and its use in the real world for tasks both physical and mental, as opposed to general knowledge for its own sake which is nolmë.

Q. taman n. “thing made by handicraft”

A noun glossed “a thing made by handicraft” derived from primitive ✶taman- (PE17/107), with a deleted variant tamna (PE17/108).

S. curu n. “skill (of the hand), craft, magic; [N.] cunning”

This word had a long history and various different meanings in Sindarin. In notes associated with The Shibboleth of Fëanor from 1968 Tolkien said that S. curu was the equivalent of Q. curwë “skill of the hand” (VT41/10), and in Notes on Names (NN) from 1957 Tolkien glossed S. curu as “craft”, though he clarified that it “applied to all cunning or (?wily) things especially when intended as mysterious or secret” (PE17/83). In Late Notes on Verb Structure (LVS) from 1969 Tolkien said it derived from ✶kurwē “power, ability”, and explain it this way:

S curu in curunír “wizard”, us[ually] applied to exceptional powers espec. of mind, ability to make one’s will effective. It thus approaches some uses of our “magic”, esp. when applied to powers not understood by the speaker, but it does not even then (except perhaps when the word was used by Men) connote any alteration or disturbance of the “natural order”, which to the Eldar were either “miracles” performed by agents of the One or counterfeits by delusion or by means other than miraculous which impressed the un­instructed as supernatural (PE22/151).

In The Etymologies of the 1930s N. curu was simply glossed “cunning” (Ety/KUR; EtyAC/KUR), whereas in Tolkien writings of the 1910s-20s G. curu/ᴱN. curw was glossed “magic” (GL/28). Its use in S. Curunír (Sindarin name of Saruman) is instructive: this name was variously translated as “Man of Skill” (UT/390), “Man of Craft” (UT/390), “one of cunning devices” (RC/389), and “a man of craft, wizard” (EtyAC/KUR).

It seems that curu thus applies to craft of hand and mind which allows its user to perform remarkable feats of skill not part of common knowledge. This included feats of power and mind that were natural to the Elves but seemed like magic to Men. It was not “true” magic however, which was limited to the miracles of higher beings likely the Valar. Thus strictly speaking curu did not apply to the supernatural, at least as the Elves perceived it.

S. maed adj. “handy, skillful, [N.] skilled”

An adjective glossed “handy, skilful” in notes on Eldarin Hands, Fingers and Numerals from the late 1960s as the Sindarin equivalent of Q. maitë.

Conceptual Development: The Etymologies of the 1930s had N. moed derived from ᴹ✶maʒiti “handy, skilled” under the root ᴹ√MAƷ “hand” (Ety/MAƷ), showing the 1930s Noldorin sound change whereby ai (sometimes) became oe rather than the Sindarin sound change to ae. The Gnomish Lexicon has G. mabol “skilful”, an elaboration of G. mab “hands” (GL/55).

N. maen adj. “skilled, clever”

An adjective in The Etymologies of the 1930s glossed “skilled, clever” derived from ᴹ✶magnā under the root ᴹ√MAG “use, handle” (Ety/MAG). It was originally glossed “skilled, clever with the hands” and derived from the root ᴹ√MAƷ “hand” (EtyAC/MAƷ).

N. maenas n. “craft, handicraft, art”

A word in The Etymologies of the 1930s glossed “craft, handicraft, art”, a noun form of N. maen “skilled, clever” (Ety/MAG). For purposes of Neo-Sindarin I would use this word exclusively for skill of the hand, as opposed to curu that can apply to skill of the mind = cunning.

S. rovaed adj. “[most] skillful”

A superlative form of maed “skillful” appearing in Quenya Notes (QN) from 1957, having the superlative prefix S. ro- (PE17/147). It also had the form ravaed (PE17/162).

S. tavn n. “[most] skillful”

A noun glossed “a thing made by handicraft” derived from primitive ✶taman- (PE17/107), probably pronounced *tavon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *