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Select Elvish Words 9.65: Silver

9.65 Silver

ᴹQ. telemna adj. “*of silver”

An unglossed adjective in The Etymologies of the 1930s under the root ᴹ√KYELEP “silver”, equated to ᴹQ. telpina and an element in the name ᴹQ. Taltyelemna “*Silverfoot” (Ety/KYELEP). It seems to have replaced ᴹQ. telepsa “of silver”, and so probably has a similar meaning.

Q. telepta adj. “silver, *silver-coloured”

An adjective for “silver” appearing in the phrase Sanome tarne Olórin, Arakorno, Eomer, Imrahil, mi mīse, mi telepta yo morna, mi laiqua yo ninque, mi luini, ta Gimli mi losseä “There stood Gandalf, Aragorn, Eomer and Imrahil in grey, in silver and black, in green and white, and in blue, and also Gimli in white” in notes from the mid-1960s (PE17/71).

Conceptual Development: The Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s had unglossed ᴱQ. telepta under the early root ᴱ√TELEPE whose derivatives had to do with silver (QL/91). A similar form ᴹQ. telepsa “of silver” appeared in The Etymologies of the 1930s under the root ᴹ√KYELEP “silver”, which Tolkien equated to ᴹQ. telpina (Ety/KYELEP). This form telepsa may reflect the 1930s sound change whereby pt became ps; compare ᴹQ. lepse “finger” from ᴹ√LEPET (Ety/LEPET). Tolkien revised the entry for ᴹ√KYELEP, replacing telepsa with (unglossed) ᴹQ. telemna (Ety/KYELEP). The adjective telepta “silver” was restored in the 1960s (see above) after Tolkien abandoned the ps > pt sound change.

Neo-Quenya: For purposes of Neo-Quenya I would use this word primarily for silver as a color.

Q. telpë n. “silver; [ᴱQ.] money”

This was the Quenya word for “silver” throughout Tolkien’s life. The word was derived from the root √KYELEP, which became †tyelpë in Quenya and S. celeb in Sindarin. However, the Quenya form of the word was influenced by Telerin telpë “because the Teleri in their lands, to the north of the Noldor, found a great wealth of silver, and became the chief silversmiths among the Eldar” (Let/426). The archaic Quenya form †tyelpë was retained for the name of the palatal series of tengwar consonants, the tyelpetéma (LotR/1120), but in ordinary use (and most names) the forms telpë or telep- were used.

Conceptual Development: The Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s had ᴱQ. telpe based on the early root ᴱ√TELEPE, but its Gnomish cognate was G. celeb (QL/91). Tolkien did not explain this difference in these early documents from the 1910s. In Early Noldorin Word-lists of the 1920s he had ᴱQ. telqe and ᴱN. celeb “silver” derived from primitive ᴱ✶kelekwé, explaining initial t in the Qenya form as the result of dissimilation away the kw (PE13/140).

In The Etymologies of the 1930s Tolkien introduced a root ᴹ√KYELEP “silver” as an alternate to ᴹ√TELEP, with derivatives ᴹQ. telpe or tyelpe, N. celeb and ᴹT. telpe (Ety/KYELEP). He then said “Q telpe may be Telerin form (Teleri specially fond of silver, as Lindar of gold), in which case all forms may refer to KYELEP”. It seems that he stuck with this idea thereafter and abandoned ᴹ√TELEP.

Note that in the Early Qenya Grammar of the 1920s Tolkien used ᴱQ. telpe for “money” (PE14/54), and I would give telpë this meaning for purposes of Neo-Quenya as well, much like the French word argent means both “silver” and “money”.

Q. telpina adj. “like silver (in hue or worth), [ᴹQ.] of silver”

An adjective implied by the name Q. Telpinquar “Silver-fist”, the Quenya equivalent of S. Celebrimbor in notes from the mid-1960s (PE17/42). In other writings Tolkien gave this name as (archaic) Tyelpinquar (PM/318; VT47/8). It is conceivable that this adjective is t(y)elpin, but both The Etymologies of the 1930s of the 1930s and the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s, Tolkien had ᴹQ. telpina (Ety/KYELEP) and ᴱQ. telpina “of silver” (QL/91), so I think the late form of this adjective is more likely telpina as a combination of telpë “silver” with the adjective suffix -ina “silver”.

Conceptual Development: In the Qenya Lexicon, ᴱQ. telpina was glossed “of silver” and had variants ᴱQ. telpea, telpia and {telpeksa}, the last of which was deleted (QL/91). In The Etymologies of the 1930s ᴹQ. telpina was equated to ᴹQ. telepsa “of silver”, but telepsa was deleted and no gloss was provided after these revisions (Ety/KYELEP). In the mid-1960s note mentioned above, Tolkien said of S. celebrin that it was “not implying ‘made of silver’ but ‘like silver’ in hue, or worth” (PE17/42), but it is not clear whether the same applies to Q. telpin[a].

Finally, there was a longer Quenya name Telperinquar for S. Celebrimbor in the mid-1960s note (PE17/42), implying a variant Quenya adjective telperin that was a more direct equivalent of S. celebrin.

Neo-Quenya: For purposes of Neo-Quenya, I would assume telpina is a general adjective “silver” than can mean either “made of silver” or “like silver”, while longer telperin more specifically means “like silver in hue or worth”.

S. celeb n. “silver”

The word celeb was the word for “silver” in Sindarin and its conceptual precursors throughout Tolkien’s life.

Conceptual Development: G. celeb “silver” appeared all the way back to the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s, where it was related to the early root ᴱ√TELEPE of the same meaning (GL/25; QL/91). In Early Noldorin Word-lists of the 1920s ᴱN. celeb was derived instead from ᴱ✶kelekwé with the sound change of primitive kw to p and later to b (PE13/140), though in that same document he considered (but rejected) ᴱ✶t’lépe > ᴱN. tlub “silver” (PE13/154). In The Etymologies of the 1930s Tolkien introduced a new root ᴹ√KYELEP “silver” to be the basis of N. celeb, with the sound change whereby intial ky became k (c) (Ety/KYELEP). This sound change continued to be a feature of Sindarin of the 1950s and 60s, and Tolkien retained this derivation going forward.

S. celebrin adj. “like silver (in hue or worth), ⚠️[G.] of silver”

An adjectival form of celeb “silver”. In notes on Words, Phrases and Passages from the Lord of the Rings from the late 1950s or early 1960s, Tolkien described it as: “celebrin, adj. from celeb ‘silver’, not implying ‘made of silver’ but ‘like silver’ in hue, or worth” (PE17/42).

Conceptual Development: In the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s, G. celebrin meant “of silver” while G. celebriol meant “like silver” (GL/25). In Early Noldorin Word-lists of the 1920s the form became ᴱN. celebren “of silver” (PE13/140). In The Etymologies of the 1930s Tolkien first equated N. celebren with ᴹQ. telpina “of silver” (Ety/KYELEP) but he revised the entry and updated its gloss to “like silver” (EtyAC/KYELEP). This new gloss did not appear in The Etymologies as published in The Lost Road (LR/367), but Carl Hostetter and Patrick Wynne provided it in their Addenda and Corrigenda to the Etymologies (VT45/25). This new gloss is consistent with the meaning of celebrin in Tolkien’s later writings (see above).

N. celevon adj. “*of silver”

An unglossed adjectival form of N. celeb “silver” appearing in The Etymologies of the 1930s under the root ᴹ√KYELEP “silver” (Ety/KYELEP). Tolkien equated this adjective to ᴹQ. telpina, which in an earlier version of the entry was glossed “of silver”, so that is the likeliest meaning of celevon. The actual cognate seems to be ᴹQ. telemna, and the likely primitive form was *kyelepnā, with the sound changes pn > bn and ultimately to vn, after which the now-final vn became syllabic to produce -von. Tolkien gave an archaic form celefn where fn represented [vn] as was generally the case in Noldorin of the 1930s.

Neo-Sindarin: For purposes of Neo-Sindarin, I would use celevon as an adjective meaning “[made] of silver”, as opposed to celebrin “like silver (in hue or worth)” (PE17/42).

Conceptual Development: Early adjectives of similar meaning included G. celeptha “silvern” from the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s (GL/25) and ᴱN. celaith “of silver” from Early Noldorin Word-lists (PE13/140). Both words were probably derived from *kelepta, with the 1920s form reflecting the Early Noldorin vocalization of p to i before spirants.

S. mithril n. “Moria-silver, true-silver”

The name of the magical metal of Moria, variously translated “Moria-silver” or “true-silver” (LotR/317). It is a combination of mith “grey” and √ril “brilliance” (PE17/47), so its original meaning was “*grey-brilliance”.

Conceptual Development: In Lord of the Rings drafts of the 1940s Tolkien considered erceleb, ithil and thilevril as names of mithril (RS/465; TI/184). Another possible precursor is the Early Qenya word ᴱQ. ilsa for the “mystic name of silver” from the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s (QL/42).

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