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Select Elvish Words 10.23: to Fall [Sindarin]

10.23 to Fall

S. danna- v. “to fall”

A Sindarin verb for “fall” in Notes on Galadriel’s Song (NGS) from the late 1950s or early 1960s, cognate to Q. lanta- and derived from √DAN-TA (PE17/62). Elsewhere the root for “fall down” was √DAT (VT47/29; VT48/24; Ety/DAT), so √DAN-TA was probably a nasal-infixed variant of the root; compare ᴹ√DAT vs. ᴹ√DANT from The Etymologies of the 1930s (Ety/DAT). In Sindarin, medial ancient nt became nn, so *danta- > S. danna-.

Conceptual Development: The Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s had G. {lanta- >>} lantha- “fall onto, settle on, alight”, with a past form lantathi which had a light pencil stroke through and was thus tentatively rejected (GL/52). This Gnomish verb is clearly cognate to ᴱQ. lant- “drop, fall” in contemporaneous the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s under the early root ᴱ√LANTAN [LṆTṆ] (QL/51).

The Etymologies of the 1930s had the root {ᴹ√LANT >>} ᴹ√DAT or ᴹ√DANT “fall down” (Ety/DAT, TALÁT; EtyAC/LANTA). Under the entry for ᴹ√DAT, Tolkien had N. dant- “to fall” with passive participle dannen “fallen” (Ety/DAT). Likely N. dant- was a stem form which would become dann- when inflected, since in Noldorin of the 1930s and 40s ancient medial nt also became nn, as it did in Sindarin.

N. dannen adj. “fallen”

The passive participle of the verb N. dant- “fall” in The Etymologies of the 1930s under the root ᴹ√DA(N)T (Ety/DAT).

Neo-Sindarin: The later Sindarin form of the verb is danna- whose passive participle would ordinarily be dannannen; compare covannen the passive participle of cova- (PE17/158). But I think dannen “fallen” may remain viable as a reduced of dannannen. Another possibility is *dannan; compare the archaic passive participle of †covan(n) of cova- (PE17/158).

S. dant n. “*fall”

An untranslated noun appearing in the phrase Narn e·Dant Gondolin ar Orthad en·Êl in Silmarillion drafts from the 1950s (MR/373). The entire phrase probably means “*Tale of the Fall of Gondolin and the Raising of the Star”, so that dant is probably “*fall [as a noun]” and is a derivative of the root √DA(N)T “fall down” (PE17/62; VT48/24). Strictly speaking, e·Dant is the form after it has undergone mixed mutation, but an initial d is not modified by mixed mutation, so the unmutated form would be dant as well.

Conceptual Development: This word appears several times in Lord of the Rings drafts of the 1940s. It was as an element of Dant-ruin(el), a draft name for the falls of Rauros, so probably meaning “*Fall of Ruinel” (TI/283, 316). It also appeared in drafts of Lord of the Rings appendices in some rejected words for “autumn”: Dant or Dantilais [the latter apparently meaning “*Fall-of-leaves”], both of which were revised to Dannas (PM/136).

The earliest precursor for this word seems to be G. dont “a fall, a bump, a drop” in the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s (GL/30), related to G. dod- “fall down, drop” and thus likely based on the early root ᴱ√ÐOTO from the contemporaneous Qenya Lexicon (QL/86).

S. dúnad v. “descent”

A word for “descent” in notes from 1968 in the name Dúnad in Gyrth “Descent of the Dead” (NM/364). It is clearly based on √NDU “down; descend”.

S. penna- v. “to come down (in a slant), fall”

A word appearing in the phrase silivren penna míriel within the A Elbereth Gilthoniel prayer from The Lord of the Rings (LotR/238). In The Road Goes Ever On (RGEO) from 1967, Tolkien loosely translated this phrase as “from glittering crystal slanting falls with light like jewels” and more exactly as “(white) glittering slants-down sparkling like jewels” (RGEO/63-64). In various private notes, Tolkien specified that penna- was a verb meaning “come down” or “come down in a slant, fall” derived from the root √PED “fall in steep slant, incline, slope” (PE17/24, 173).

N. talt adj. “slipping, falling, insecure”

An adjective in The Etymologies of the 1930s glossed “slipping, falling, insecure” under the root ᴹ√TALÁT “to slope, lean, tip” (Ety/TALÁT).

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