Post cfJ8ngEERt5

Paul Strack Feb 17, 2018 (02:12)

I am exploring the conflux of Eldarin words having to do “man/woman, husband/wife, bride/groom”.

In Quenya, I think Q. nér “man” is quite well established, and Q. nís/nisse “woman” also well attested. I can’t imagine using anything else. These words point to the roots N(D)ER and N(D)I(S) as the basis for these words.

Man/woman in Sindarin are a bit stickier. We do have S. dîr “man” as a cognate of Q. nér “man”, but it seems even in Tolkien’s later writing this was used only as a fossilized form and an agental suffix. There is no Sindarin cognate of Q. nís/nisse, and the Noldorin cognate “woman” is marked archaic. It looks like our best options are N. benn “man” and N. bess “woman”. Note that bess was used as “wife” in the King’s Letter, but if we give it that sense exclusively that leaves us with no good word for “woman”.

For husband/wife: in Quenya we have Q. veru/veri from the root BER, and MQ. venno/vesse from BES (or possibly BED). We also have Q. indis “wife”, but that seems a better choice for “bride”, as it was used in MQ. In Sindarin, it looks like the best choice is N. herven/herves, with perhaps S. bess allowed to mean “wife” as well as “woman”.

For Quenya, venno/vesse are direct cognates of N./S. benn/bess, but veru/veri seem better attested, both dating back EQ. I am inclined to use veru/veri, but we can’t use the root BER without discarding N./S. benn/bess. Fortunately, since intervocalic s became r in Quenya, veru/veri could also be from the root BES. My working theory is that Ancient Quenya used besū/besī for “husband/wife”, but Ancient Telerin used variants besnō/bessē, which through semantic drift came to be used for “man/woman” (as was the scenario in Noldorin).

For bride/groom: Noldorin has doer/dîs (with variant dineth) from NDER/NDIS and these seem fine for Sindarin as well if we adapt N. doer as Neo-Sindarin daer. For Quenya, I think indis “bride” is best. For “groom” we have EQ. vestaner, which I guess is workable, but I think it would be better to repurpose the MQ. name Ender “bridegroom” as a general word for “groom”: Q. ender “groom” is a more direct analog for Q. indis “bride”.

The net result is:

“man/woman”: Q. nér/nís or nisse, S. bess/benn
“husband/wife”: Q. veru/veri, S. herven/herves
“groom/bride”: Q. ender/indis, S. daer/dîs or dineth

The original roots for “man/woman” are NER/NI(S), strengthened to NDER/NDIS for “groom/bride”.

The root for “marriage” is BES (or possibly BED), producing the words for “husband/wife” in both languages, as well as the words for “man/woman” in Sindarin after some semantic drift.

Does this scenario seem reasonable?

Lokyt L. Feb 17, 2018 (12:06)

A few additions: Let's not forget about good old "gweg". Since the middle period, it hasn't been a word in its own right in the "modern" languages (only a suffix), but still one of the words for "man" in "ancient" ones (Old Noldorin/Sindarin).
Also, "gwen(d)" sometimes moves from "girl / young woman" to simply "woman (in general)". In fact, I'm not sure whether this one isn't comparably suitable for "woman" as "bess" is.

Other than that, I would have to take a day off to verify all you've written :D

Paul Strack Feb 17, 2018 (15:26)

+Lokyt L. Good point. I should probably add WEG and WEN(ED) to the lists of associated roots. In Tolkien’s later writings, however, WEG seems to have lost its exclusively masculine meaning: - Eldamo : Primitive Elvish : WEG

Furthermore, I think WEN(ED) had the general meaning “woman” only in Tolkien’s earliest writings, and that mainly in its variant form GIWIMI > G. gwin, EQ. qin.

From the 1930s forward WEN(ED) was strongly associated with “virginity” and thus “maiden”.

Also notable: “female” is from IN which is a variant of NI(S), but “male” is from ƷAN/HAN

Lokyt L. Feb 17, 2018 (16:23)

√WEN (of which comes "wened-") is glossed simply "woman" even in VT 48/18 (from 1968).
Whereas the last time √BES/BED is metioned as capable of expressing other things than strictly "a wife/spouse/matrimony" is in the Etym (mostly 1930s), if I'm not mistaken. (Though that in fact seems to be the last occurence altogether, apart from the King's letter...)

As for √WEG, it looks that you're right.

Ицхак Пензев Feb 17, 2018 (17:26)

I don't understand the reasoning behind rejection of verno and vessë. This rejection would result in loss of a good word veru for a married couple.

Paul Strack Feb 17, 2018 (18:20)

+Ицхак Пензев The MQ. form is actually venno not verno. It was corrected in VT45. - Eldamo : Middle Quenya : venno

As for why I picked veru/veri over venno/vesse, that’s a compromise between “use the latest form” and “put together a consistent paradigm”. It does mean we give up the word for “married couple”, but that word is less generally useful.

The use of BES/BED as the root for “marriage” is a compromise in the opposite direction.

+Lokyt L. You are right about the root WEN in that isolated cases, but none of its attested derivatives have that sense (except possibly the suffix -wen) after the 1910s.

Ицхак Пензев Feb 20, 2018 (10:46)

+Paul Strack hmm, it makes sense then.

Lokyt L. Feb 23, 2018 (16:41)

+Paul Strack I must yet add to this:
You're not entirely right, this succession of roots kept providing words for "woman" well until the beginning of 1930s (first √WEN until cca 1925, then restored √KWIM as its replacement until cca 1930). Also, in case of √WEN "woman" in VT 48/18, I wouldn't speak of it as of "isolated" until a reliable chronology of Tolkien's late writings is established; it might very well have been a full-blown change of earlier √WEN=√WENED "maiden".
You may be right about the fact that this late √WEN (or any of its predecessors from 1930-1968) did nonetheless provide no word for "woman", regardless of "ancient" semantics of the root. However, we have no gloss for diminutive wenki of VT 48/18, so this still might be such a word. (Or it might not, right.)

BTW, I've taken notice of some probable errors in Eldamo, if you'd be interested:
• If I'm not mistaken, uin in PE 13/123 ( is a replacement for nain, not the other way around.
• Eldamo considers some of the content of SD belonging to the late period (like Arwen of SD/66 - however, these texts were (apart from later additions and emendations) written in the 1940s, weren't they?
• On the other hand, vanimor in MR/59 ( was AFAIK written down in 1958, so it belongs to the late period.
• There never was a root √GIWIMI (; I'm afraid you've mixed two successive roots, √KWIM of QL and its replacement, √GIW of GG and GL, together.

Paul Strack Feb 23, 2018 (21:08)

+Lokyt L. I’m not surprised you’ve found errors and I appreciate you letting me know. The data entry in Eldamo was over many years and a lot of it hasn’t been reviewed. I will take a look this weekend.

Paul Strack Feb 24, 2018 (01:38)

+Lokyt L. To answer you reported errors:

nain >> uin: You are entirely right. I pointed the change arrows in the wrong direction. I will fix this.

Dating for Arwen: I sometimes fudge the boundaries between Noldorin and Sindarin for the sake of convenience. Strictly speaking the first appearance of Arwen was “very late Noldorin”, but adding a Noldorin entry specifically for that change is IMHO overly pedantic. The date of many of attested forms is fuzzy, and sometimes I cheat the exact date to make the model simpler.

Vanimor: This is another cheat, this time in the opposite direction. In cases where Tolkien replicated an early form into a late text and then quickly replaced it (in this case Vanimor >> Maiar) I sometimes attribute this replicated early form to the earlier period, again to simplify the model.

GIWIMI: You are right here. Based on the Gnomish entry, I theorized that Tolkien derived EQ. qin from giwimi > g’wimi > qimi, but there no evidence that this was Tolkien’s thinking when he was writing the Qenya Lexicon.

Lokyt L. Feb 24, 2018 (13:31)

+Paul Strack Well, your making the model simpler makes a researcher's life more complicated ;)

As for *√GIWIMI, it's no surprise you made the conclusion you did. This line of roots/words is a mess. Note e.g. that Tolkien seems to have restored the (by then already twice replaced) √KWIM of 1914-1916 again in the late 1920s in PE 15/79 and PE 16/135...

And may I use the occasion for one more feedback?
It's OK that whenever there are multiple versions of the same word, they are all gathered in just one Eldamo entry (e.g. S. gwein under gwain or Q. qinne under qinde However, only a (small?) part of these "hidden" word forms are also noted in a list of words of the respective language (like this qwein) - and those that are not (like this qinne) subsequently don't show at all in Search. One must know independently of Eldamo where to look for them if one wants to take a look at them there. Which is not always easy.
So - is there an item in your to-do-list saying "add these links for all none-entry word forms"? :)
And, resulting from this, a question: where do I find dunuin, ardwiniel and gwinarn of EtyAC/GWIN in Eldamo? I suppose they are there somewhere, but they keep resisting all my search attempts...

Paul Strack Feb 24, 2018 (15:59)

+Lokyt L. I am in fact in the process right now for adding entries for these “variant forms” to Eldamo. For example I’ve already added S. gwein as a variant of gwain. I haven’t gotten to EQ. variants yet, so qinne isn’t in (but I will get to it).

As for dunuin, ardwiniel and gwinarn, you can’t find them because they are not in Eldamo. There are cases like this where there were words that were random jottings in the margin and I couldn’t figure out what to do with them, so I didn’t put them in.

There are tons of little compromises, imperfections and errors in Eldamo. That’s why I try to emphasize that while Eldamo is useful for research, it is no substitute for the original sources. I’ve tried to be objective and complete, but I’m also human and I get tired and make mistakes.

Plus even an “objective” evaluation of the material is filtered through my own biases. I did a data exchange with David Giraudeau a few years ago on Sindarin forms in PE17, and there were quite a few forms where we couldn’t even agree what language something was.

Paul Strack Feb 24, 2018 (16:00)

+Lokyt L. Oh, and please never hesitate to offer feedback for Eldamo data. At a minimum I will file a bug and try to get to it eventually.

Lokyt L. Feb 24, 2018 (17:02)

Variant forms: great! :)

Those three words from EtyAC: In that case - why not to make at least entries for them, noting their unknown meanings and dubious language affiliations (though they are rather simply Noldorin than anything else)?
I will also add, that I am personally quite confident about ardwiniel and gwinarn being simply N. counterparts of Q. vinyarië (which - unlike the other two "calendar" words from LotrApp D derived from √WIN/WIR, víresse and narvinyë - was never given a N./S. version in the LotR text itself, so this nicely complements the whole system). I also think that dunuin might be another N. counterpart of a Q. word from LotR, this time of Sirvinya (a first attempt on the name of Anduin, TI/119; dunuin < *duin-win via some dissimilation, both N. and Q. meaning "a new river"). These four words (Sirvinya, vinarië, víressë and narvinyë) were the only new derivations from √WIN/WIR created during the writing of LotR in the 1940s (apart from Vinyarion, and that didn't require a N. translation), so it only makes sense that Tolkien would make a note on them in Ety.
But that's just an opinion of mine.

Now, for me personally, Eldamo is mostly an elaborated and ingenious index to all Tolkien's published works. It directs me to the textual passages I need at the moment, quickly and (rather) smoothly, so that I can start working offline with the texts themselves.
So all the problems I have reported here (plus those I haven't) are something that could make the model better if solved, but they're nothing compared to how does Eldamo make things hillariously easier in general :)

Paul Strack Feb 24, 2018 (19:15)

OK, I filed a bug for Arwen/Vanimor ( and another for dunuin/ardwiniel/gwinarn ( The rest of the issues are either already fixed (nain and GIWIMI) or are in process (variant forms).

Paul Strack Mar 25, 2018 (00:52)

For a further followup, see this post:

TL/DR I decided that BES is a better root for “marriage” and BED.