Post joQ1mZC9vdJ

simon cook Feb 01, 2016 (04:18)

Can someone help me on the word(s) olor and olos

These appear in two etymological notes published in Unfinished Tales (copied and pasted below) discussing the High-elven name of Gandalf. Olor is given as Elven dream, olos as fantasy. But +Tom Hillman has noted that in some languages (e.g. Latin) s can change to r, and suggests that perhaps these are not two words but two forms of a single word.

Your considered opinions would be most welcome and gratefully received.

Here are the (main part of the) notes:

Olor is a word often translated ‘dream’, but that does not refer to (most) human ‘dreams’, certainly not the dreams of sleep. To the Eldar it included the vivid contents of their memory, as of their imagination, it referred in fact to clear vision, in the mind, of things not physically present at the body’s situation. But not only to an idea, but to a full clothing of this in particular form and detail. (UT 512-3; emphases in original)

olo-s: vision, ‘phantasy’: Common Elvish name for ‘construction of the mind’ not actually (pre) existing in Eä apart from the construction, but by the Eldar capable of being by Art (Karme) made visible and sensible. (UT 513)

Paul Strack Feb 01, 2016 (05:49)

In Quenya, intervocalic s did indeed become r, making both LOS and LOR viable roots for "dream". Unfortunately, this is one of the issues that Tolkien vacillated over his entire life. He switched back and forth between the two. See, for example:

The history of this root is tied to LOS or GLOS, two roots Tolkien considered for "white":

Also related is LOT(H), the root for flower:

My personal preference is LOR for dream (G)LOS for white and LOTH for flower.

simon cook Feb 01, 2016 (05:57)

Many thanks +Paul Strack - will slowly digest this.

simon cook Feb 01, 2016 (06:01)

What you say has interesting implications for the meaning of Lothlórien as 'dreamflower'...  (just thinking out loud)

Paul Strack Feb 01, 2016 (06:20)

Well, the tricky thing is that Lothlórien is not pure Sindarin. The Lórien part of the name is Quenya, given as the name of that land by Galadriel, in part as an adaptation of Nandorin Lórinand "Valley of Gold" but also alluding to the forest of Lórien in Valinor.

If we knew the true Sindarin name of that land we could resolve the issue, and Tolkien's vacillation on the two roots LOS vs LOR is reflected in the names he considered. In the Etymologies of the 1930s we see N. Lhuien, which points to the root LOS, since intervocalic s vanished in Sindarin, but in his notes on names in the Lord of the Rings from the 1950s he considered S. Lothlýrian and Lothlúrien, both of which point to the root LOR.

Александр Запрягаев Feb 01, 2016 (08:50)

+Paul Strack +simon cook You're making me haste! This was a cluster of rrots to solve three steps after the current one! As I glance to my preliminary notes: indeed, when preparing QE in the long run (DLN, lare 50s) Tolkien definitely uses LOS for snow-connected meanings (later, when he abandons NIKW for that — in QE proper — it loses any alternative), so LOR for 'dreaming' become only fitting what remains. And I think there are no later rethinkings here.

Tamas Ferencz Feb 01, 2016 (14:26)

Interesting discussion. One of the annoyances of this hesitation between roots and glosses is that now we do not have a definite attested late Quenya verb for 'sleep'. We had one in early Qenya (from an altogether different root), now we must resort to neologisms.

Александр Запрягаев Feb 01, 2016 (14:37)

+Tamas Ferencz A very nasty thing is the apparent absence of distinction between 'sleeping' and 'dreaming'. These are altogether different activities and yet both are supposed to be represented by the same LOR.

Tamas Ferencz Feb 01, 2016 (14:48)

+Александр Запрягаев
well we don't really know much about the sleeping needs and habits of the Elves, maybe the two things were inseparable for them.

Tamas Ferencz Feb 01, 2016 (14:48)

Or we can always revive EQ FUMU.

simon cook Feb 01, 2016 (15:09)

What do you guys make of the 'olos' as fantasy? Does this mean that Elvish fantasy = Elvish dream (= Elvish sleep!)

Remy Corbin Feb 01, 2016 (18:32)

As far as I recall, Elves do not sleep. They can rest not 'switching off' their conscience unlike every other people and celvar. Mabe thats why the root for 'sleep' is not widely used, but certainly there must be one.

simon cook Feb 01, 2016 (18:50)

+Remi Korben : as luck would have it I saw your comment as I was reading the following passage from a text by +Tom Hillman : "In The Silmarillion Ulmo is said to have ‘laid a deep sleep upon [Turgon and Finrod] and heavy dreams’ which give them both the idea to seek for ‘places of hidden strength’ (114)."

Also, from the same secondary source:

Only Legolas still stepped as lightly as ever, his feet hardly seeming to press the grass, leaving no footprints as he passed; but in the waybread of the Elves he found all the sustenance that he needed, and he could sleep, if sleep it could be called by Men, resting his mind in the strange paths of elvish dreams, even as he walked open-eyed in the light of this world.
(TT 3.ii.429)

With that [Aragorn] fell asleep. Legolas already lay motionless, his fair hands folded upon his breast, his eyes unclosed, blending living night and deep dream, as is the way with Elves.
(TT 3.ii.442)

Remy Corbin Feb 01, 2016 (19:22)

+simon cook​​ In a letter dated November 5, 1956 Tolkien wrote:
It is plainly suggested that Elves do ‘sleep’, but not in our mode, having a different relation to what we call ‘dreaming’. Nothing very definite is said about it (a) because except at a length destructive of narrative it would be difficult to describe a different mode of consciousness, and (b) for reasons that you so rightly observe: something must be left not fully explained, and only suggested.
So I think that using the word sleep in reference to Elves may result form the fact that we don't have better one.

simon cook Feb 01, 2016 (19:23)

Yup. Your quotation fits well with the first quotation from TT above ('if sleep it could be called by Men').

Tamas Ferencz Feb 01, 2016 (19:53)

Yes but Tolkien imagines these languages as being living languages, wisely used across Middle Earth, not only by Elves; so it would make sense that eventually they would have specific verbs for 'sleep' even if originally it was something deemed unnecessary.

Tamas Ferencz Feb 01, 2016 (20:02)

As for 'fantasy' perhaps not related to this discussion here, but I find it significant, that the word itself comes from a Greek origin meaning 'image, perception, appearance', and we know from PE17 that the root PHAN provided words (such as fanta etc.) around the veil/cloak/shape that the Ainur chose to wear when in Arda, determining their appearance and the image the Children of Eru would see when they meet them.

simon cook Mar 14, 2016 (18:12)

+Paul Strack : thanks again for your answer to my question. Your help is acknowledged in footnote 5 of the paper I was then working on, but which is now published online: