Sindarin - la langue Noble
Aussi appelée: Gris-Elfique, la langue de Beleriand, la langue noble; dans le Sda simplement "la langue des Elfes". Appelé "Noldorin" ans les papiers pré-SdA de Tolkien, mais ceci est faux selon sa vision mature ou "classique" de l'histoire de ce langage (le scénario déployé dans les Appendices du SdA et des sources postérieures)
Le Sindarin était la langue principale en Terre-du-Milieu, la langue vernaculaire vivante des Elfes Gris ou Sindar. C'était le descendant prédominant du Télérin Commun, lui-même issu de l'Eldarin Commun, l'ancêtre du Quenya, du Télérin, du Sindarin et du Nandorin. " Le Gris Elfique était à l'origine semblable en Quenya, " explique Tolkien, " parce qu'il était le langage de ces Eldar qui, en venant vers les côtes de la Terre-du-Milieu, n'ont pas traversé la Mer mais ont traîné sur les côtes de la contrée de Bélériand. Thingol Manteau Gris de Doriath était leur roi, et dans le long crépuscule de leur langue… est devenu très étranger au langage des Eldar d'au-delà de la Mer " (SdA Appendice F). Bien que le Sindarin soit censé être la mieux préservée des langues Eldarin de la Terre-du-Milieu (PM :305), il est cependant le langage Elfique le plus radicalement changé dont nous ayons une connaissance extensive : " Le langages des Sindar a beaucoup changé, mais petit à petit comme un arbre peut changer imperceptiblement de forme: autant peut-être qu'une langue mortelle non écrite puisse changer en cinq cents ans ou plus. Il était déjà avant que le Lever du Soleil un langage grandement différent du [Quenya], et après ce Lever tout changement fut rapide, pour un instant dans le second Printemps d'Arda très rapide en fait " (WJ.20). Le développement de l'Eldarin Commun en Sindarin implique beaucoup plus de changements radicaux que le développement du EC en Quenya, ou en Télérin d'Aman. Tolkien suggéra que le Sindarin " a changé avec le changement des terres mortelles " (SdA Appendice F). Ceci ne veut pas dire que les changements furent chaotiques et non systématiques ; ils furent sans aucun doute réguliers - mais ils changèrent dramatiquement le son général et la " musique " du langage. Quelques changement importants incluent l'abandon des voyelles finales, les "occlusives muettes p, t, k devenant sonores b, d, g en suivant une voyelle, les occlusives sonores devenant des spirantes dans la même position (excepté le g, qui disparaît complètement) et beaucoup de voyelles étant altérées, souvent par assimilation à d'autres voyelles. Selon PM :401, " le développement du Sindarin était devenu, longtemps avant l'arrivée des exilés Ñoldorin, le produit principal de changements imperceptibles commes les langues des Hommes ". En commentant les grands changements, PM :78 remarque que " c'était toujours une belle langue, qui convenait bien aux forêts, aux collines, et aux côtes desquelles elle avait tiré sa forme ".
Nous ne saurons jamais ce qu'il advint du Sindarin au Quatrième Age. Comme le Quenya, on a dû s'en souvenir tant que le royaume du Gondor perdura..
Le "Sindarin" est le nom Quenya de ce langage, déricé des Sindar *"les Gris" = Les Elfes Gris; il pourrait (et est) traduit Gris-Elfique. Comment le Sindarin était appelé selon leurs propres termes n'est pas connu avec certitude. On dit que les Elfes de Bélériand que " leur propre langage était le seul qu'ils aient jamais entendu ; et qu'ils n'avaient pas besoin de mot pour le distinguer " (WJ :376). Les Sindar se réfèrent probablement à leur propre langue simplement comme Edhellen, "Elfique". Comme noté ci-dessus, le maître des herbes de la Maison de Guérison se réfère au Sindaron comme à " la Langue Noble " (alors que la " plus noble des langues du monde " reste le Quenya, UT :218). Tout au long du SdA, le terme habituellement employé est simplement " la langue des Elfes ", puisque le Sindarin était le langage vernaculaire des Elfes.
En 1954, dans Letters :176, Tolkien établit que " le langage vivant des Elfes de l'Ouest (Sindarin ou Gris-Elfique) est celui habituellement rencontré [dans le SdA], spécialement dans les noms. Il est dérivé à partir d'une origine commune aussi au Quenya, mais les changements ont été délibérément conçus pour lui donner un caractère linguistique ressemblant (mais pas identique) au Gallois: because that character is one I find, in some linguistic moods, very attractive; and because it seems to fit the rather 'Celtic' type of legends and stories told of its speakers". Later, he found that "this element in the tale has given perhaps more pleasure to more readers than anything else in it" (MC:197).
Un langage aux sonorities Galloises ou Celtiques était present dans les mythos de Tolkien depuis le début. Ce langage était appelé à l'origine Gnomique ou I·Lam na·Ngoldathon, "la lanlgue des Gnomes (Noldor)". Le dictionnaire Gnomique original de Tolkien, datant d'environ 1917, fut publié dans Parma Eldalamberon #11 et se présenta comme un document très complet, avec des milliers de mots. Beaucoup de mots Gnomiques se trouvent aussi dans les appendices du LT1 et LT2. Parma publia aussi une grammaire Gnomique (jamais complétée). Mais bien que Tolkien consacra beaucoup de travail sur ce langage, il fut en effet rejeté plus tard. Dans PM:379, dans un document tardif, Tolkien se réfère au Gnomique comme "le langage Elfique qui devint finalement celui appelé Sindarin" et note qu'il "était dans sous une forme primitive et inorganisée". Quelques uns des concepts centraux de la grammaire Gnomique, en particulier certaines mutations consonantiques, recyclées très tard en Sindarin. Un certain nombre d'éléments de vocabulaire survécurent aussi en Sindarin, des formes inchangées et reconnaissables. Même ainsi, le Gnomique était réellement un langage totalement different, bien qu'il aie un style phonétique quelque peu similaire à celui du Sindarin (lbeaucoup de ch et de th, et une majorité de mots se terminant par une consonne!) Une caractéristique importante du Sindarin, the umlaut ou affection des voyelles, reportedly first appears in grammars written by Tolkien in the twenties. Mais c'est seulement dans les années trente, avec les Etymologies, qu'un langage réellement proche du Sindarin de style SdA émergea dans les notes de Tolkien. Celui-ci était cependant appelé "Noldorin", car comme son prédécesseur Gnomique, il était conçu comme le langage, non pas des Sindar, mais des Noldor - developpé à Valinor. A ce moment, le Quenya était cense être le langage des "Lindar" (plus tard: Vanyar) seulement. C'est seulement au moment où les appendices du SdA furent écrits que Tolkien abandonna cette idée, et transforma le Noldorin en Sindarin. Le Quenya alors devint le langage original des Vanyar et des Noldor - ces derniers adoptèrent simplement le Sindarin quand ils arrivèrent en Terre-du-Milieu. Il "apparut" que le langage au consonances Celtiques des mythos de Tolkien n'étaient pas, après tout, leur propre langue (bien que dans les annales de la Terre-du-Milieu, ils devinrent certainement ses principaux utilisateurs). Elle n'était pas originaire du Royaume Béni de Valinor, mais était une langue indigene de la Terre-du-Milieu.
Dans la conception antérieure, les Elfes natifs de Beleriand parlaient un langage appelé Ilkorin, que le Sindarin en effet remplaça quand Tolkien fit cette révision (Edward Kloczko a argué que quelques éléments d'Ilkorin furent maintenus comme dialecte nordique du Sindarin; son article est ajouté à mon propre traité sur l' Ilkorin). La décision de Tolkien de reviser fondamentalement l'histoire du langage aux consonances Celtiques de ses mythos était probablement une decision heureuse, rendant le scenario linguistique encore plus plausible: assurément il était difficile d'imaginer que les Vanyar et les Noldor puissent avoir développé deux langages aussi différents que le Quenya et le "Noldorin" alors qu'ils vivaient côte côte à Valinor. En transformant le "Noldorin" en Sindarin prit soin de ce problème; maintenant les deux branches d'Elfique pouvaient se developer complètement indépendamment au cours des âges et ceux qui la pratiquaient vivaient complètement séparés les uns des autres.
Le "Noldorin" des Etymologies n'est pas entièrement identique au Sindarin tel qu'il apparaît dans le SdA, puisque Tolkien ne cessa de le peaufiner et de modifier ses langages inventés. Mais beaucoup de différences qui séparent le "Noldorin" du SIndarin de style SdA sont heureusement régulières, Tolkien ajustant quelques détails de l'évolution à partir de l'Elfique Primitif. Dès lors, beaucoup de matériel "Noldorin" peut aisément être mis à jour pour s'accorder avec le scénarion linguistique du SdA. Un certain nombre de mots doit be subtly altered; par exemple, la diphtongue "Noldorin" oe devrait plutôt être ae en Sindarin. Un exemple inclue Belegoer comme un nom du Grand Océan (LR:349, 352); cette forme que Tolkien changea plus tard en Belegaer - ainsi sur la carte du Silmarillion publié. Un autre changement concerne les consonnes lh- et rh-; où ils apparaissent en "Noldorin" beaucoup d'exemples montrent que le Sindarin devrait avoir un simple l- et r- à la place. D'où, nous pouvons déduire qu'un mot "Noldorin" comme rhoeg ("faux", LR:383) devrait plutôt être raeg en Sindarin - bien que cette dernière forme ne soit nulle part attestée explicitement. Il a été suggéré que le "Noldorin" des Etymologies, avec ses diverses particularités, peut être compare au dialecte Sindarin "quelque peu étrange" que les Noldor parlaient à Gondolin (UT:44). De cette manière nous pouvons même account for its being called Noldorin rather than Sindarin. Cependant, il est aussi possible que Tolkien ait considéré le "Noldorin" complètement obsolète to the extent it differs from his later vision of Sindarin.
Sindarin phonology is less restrictive than that of Quenya. Many consonant clusters are allowed in all positions, while initial and final clusters are virtually absent in Quenya. The sounds ch (German ach-Laut, NOT "tsh" as in English church) and th, dh ("th" as in think and this, respectively) are frequent. Tolkien sometimes used the special letter eth (ð) to spell dh, and occasionally we also see the letter thorn (þ) instead of th. However, we will here use the digraphs, as in LotR. The unvoiced plosives p, t, c never occur following a vowel, but are lenited (see below) to b, d, g. Note that as in Quenya, c is always pronounced k (standard example: Celeborn = "Keleborn", not "Seleborn"). At the end of words, f is pronounced v, as in English of. (In Tengwar spelling, a word like nef is actually spelt nev.) R should be trilled, as in Spanish, Russian etc. The digraphs rh and lh represent unvoiced r and l (but sometimes these combinations may actually mean r + h or l + h, as in Edhelharn - not surprisingly, our alphabet cannot represent Sindarin quite adequately).
Sindarin has six vowels, a, e, i, o, u
and y, the last of which corresponds to German ü or
French u as in Lune (pronounce ee as in English see
with rounded lips as when you pronounce oo, and you've got it).
Long vowels are marked with an accent (á, é
etc.), but in the case of stressed monosyllables the vowels tended to
become especially long and are marked with a circumflex: â,
ê etc. In HTML one unfortunately cannot place a circumflex
above the vowel y. To avoid ugly spellings like my^l ("gulls",
WJ:418), we here use an accent instead (the relevant words occurring in
this article are býr, thýn, fýr,
rýn, mrýg, mýl, 'lýg
and hýn - ideally these should have had a circumflex instead).
This is not very critical: In Tengwar writing, no distinction is made
between long and super-long vowels; the use of circumflexes instead of
accents in monosyllables is merely an extra complication Tolkien introduced
in his Roman orthography for Sindarin (evidently to make it abundantly
clear how the words are to be pronounced).
Important samples of Sindarin in LotR include:
Outside LotR, the most important source - indeed the longest Sindarin text we have, and the longest prose text in any Elvish tongue - is the King's Letter, a part of the Epilogue to LotR, that Tolkien later dropped. It was finally published in SD:128-9: Elessar Telcontar: Aragorn Arathornion Edhelharn, aran Gondor ar Hîr i Mbair Annui, anglennatha i Varanduiniant erin dolothen Ethuil, egor ben genediad Drannail erin Gwirith edwen. Ar e aníra ennas suilannad mhellyn în phain: edregol e aníra tírad i Cherdir Perhael (i sennui Panthael estathar aen) Condir i Drann, ar Meril bess dîn; ar Elanor, Meril, Glorfinniel, ar Eirien sellath dîn; ar Iorhael, Gelir, Cordof, ar Baravorn, ionnath dîn. A Pherhael ar am Meril suilad uin aran o Minas Tirith nelchaenen uin Echuir. (The names Elessar Telcontar are Quenya; the Sindarin translation of Elessar, Edhelharn [Elfstone], occurs in the text.) This translation is given in SD:128: "Aragorn Strider the Elfstone [but the Elvish text reads "Elessar Telcontar: Aragorn Arathornson Elfstone"], King of Gondor and Lord of the Westlands, will approach the Bridge of Baranduin on the eighth day of Spring, or in the Shire-reckoning the second day of April. And he desires to greet there all his friends. In especial he desires to see Master Samwise (who ought to be called Fullwise), Mayor of the Shire, and Rose his wife; and Elanor, Rose, Goldilocks, and Daisy his daughters; and Frodo, Merry, Pippin and Hamfast, his sons. To Samwise and Rose the King's greeting from Minas Tirith, the thirty-first day of the Stirring [not in the Elvish text:], being the twenty-third of February in their reckoning." The words in the parenthesis ("who ought to...") are omitted from the translation in SD:128, but cf. SD:126.
Other samples of Sindarin include:
Like Quenya, Sindarin has no indefinite article like English "a, an"; the absence of a definite article indicates that the noun is indefinite: Edhel = "Elf" or "an Elf".
The definite article, "the", is i in the singular: aran "king", i aran "the king". These examples might just as well be Quenya. In an untranslated text in The Lays of Beleriand p. 354 we find the phrase ir Ithil. If this means *"the moon", it would seem to indicate that the article takes the form ir before a word in i- (to avoid two identical vowels in hiatus). However, since this theory was first advanced a new relevant example has been published. The Sindarin Lord's Prayer includes the phrase i innas lin "your will" or literally *"the will of yours". Here we do have i, not ir, even though the next word begins in i-. Moreover, the word for "Moon", Ithil, seems to count as a proper name in Sindarin, so we would not expect it to take any article at all. Some therefore think the ir of the phrase ir Ithil is not a variant of the definite article "the", but has another meaning.
Unlike Quenya (and English), Sindarin has a special plural form of the article, in. "Kings" is erain (formed from aran by vocalic umlauts, see below); "the kings" is in erain.
In both the singular and the plural, the article may appear as a suffix appended to prepositions. This suffix has the form -n or -in. Thus the preposition na "to" becomes nan "to the". Ben "in the" or more literally *"according to the", a word occurring in the King's Letter, seems to be a preposition be "according to" - not attested by itself - with the suffix -n for "the". (This be would be the Sindarin cognate of Quenya ve "like, as".) The preposition nu (or no) "under" becomes nuin "under the" (as in Dagor-nuin-Giliath "Battle under the Stars", a name occurring in the Silmarillion, chapter 13). When the article occurs in the form -in, it may trigger phonological changes in the word it is appended to. Or "over, on" turns into erin "on the", the vowel i umlauting o to e (via ö; "on the" must have been örin at an earlier stage). The preposition o "from, of" appears as uin when the article is suffixed, since in Sindarin earlier oi becomes ui (cf. Uilos as the cognate of Quenya Oiolossë). One might think that the ending -in added to prepositions corresponded to the independent article in for plural "the", so that words like erin or uin would be used in conjunction with plural words only. But the King's Letter demonstrates that this is not the case; here we find these words used together with singulars: erin dolothen Ethuil "on the eighth [day] of Spring", uin Echuir "of the Stirring" (month-name). Presumably -n, -in suffixed to prepositions represents an oblique form of the article that is used both in the singular and the plural. - In some cases, the normal, independent article is used following an independent preposition, just as in English: cf. naur dan i ngaurhoth *"fire against the werewolf-host" in one of Gandalf's firespells. Dan i "against the" is not replaced by a single word, sc. some form of dan "against" with the article suffixed. Perhaps some prepositions just can't receive a suffixed article, or perhaps it is optional whether one wants to say nan or na i(n) for "to the", erin or or i(n) for "on/over the", uin or o i(n) for "of/from the". We don't know.
The genitival article: Sindarin often expresses genitival relationships by word order alone, like Ennyn Durin "Doors (of) Durin" and Aran Moria "Lord (of) Moria" in the Moria Gate inscription. However, if the second word of the construction is a common noun and not a name as in these examples, the genitival article en "of the" is used if the noun is definite. Cf. names like Haudh-en-Elleth "Mound of the Elf-maid" (Silmarillion ch. 21), Cabed-en-Aras "Deer's Leap", *"Leap of the Deer" (UT:140), Methed-en-Glad "End of the Wood" (UT:153) or the phrase orthad en·Êl "Rising of the Star" in MR:373. Cf. also Frodo and Sam being called Conin en Annûn "princes of the West" on the Field of Cormallen. (This genitival article sometimes takes the shorter form e; cf. Narn e·Dinúviel "Tale of the Nightingale", MR:373. See below, in the section about consonant mutations, concerning the various incarnations of this article and the environments in which they occur.) Only infrequently does the normal sg. article i replace e(n)- in genitival phrases, but in the King's Letter we have Condir i Drann for "Mayor of the Shire". But in the plural, the normal pl. article in is normally used even in a genitival construction, cf. Annon-in-Gelydh "Gate (of) the Noldor" (UT:18), Aerlinn in Edhil *"Hymn (of) the Elves" (RGEO:70, in Tengwar writing). However, there are examples of the explicitly genitival article en being used in the plural as well: Bar-en-Nibin-Noeg, "Home of the Petty-dwarves" (UT:100), Haudh-en-Ndengin "Hill of Slain", or *"of the Slain Ones" (Silmarillion ch. 20). This seems to be less usual, though.
In many cases, the articles cause the initial consonant of the following word to change. These phonological intricacies are described below, in the section about consonant mutations. The article i triggers lenition or soft mutation of the following noun; see below. The final n of the article in is often swallowed up in a process called nasal mutation; the n disappears and the initial consonant of the noun is changed instead. On the other hand, the nasal of the suffix -n or -in, "the" appended to prepositions, apparently persists - though it seems to trigger what we tentatively call mixed mutation in the following word.
The articles are also used as relative pronouns; cf. Perhael (i sennui Panthael estathar aen) "Samwise (who ought to be called Panthael)" in the King's Letter, or the name Dor Gyrth i chuinar "Land of the Dead that Live" (Letters:417 - this represents *Dor Gyrth in cuinar, an example of nasal mutation. Dor Firn i Guinar in the Silmarillion ch. 20 employs singular i as a relative pronoun even though Firn is plural; the reading Dor Gyrth i chuinar from a very late letter (1972) is to be preferred).
It will be noted that Tolkien sometimes, but not always, connects the Sindarin articles to the next word by means of a hyphen or a dot. This is apparently optional. In this work, when not quoting the sources directly, we connect the genitival article e, en "of the" to the next word by means of a hyphen (since it would otherwise often be hard to tell apart from the preposition ed, e "out of"), but we do not hyphenate the other articles.
In the fictional timeline, the Sindarin noun originally had three
numbers: singular, plural and dual. However, we are told that the dual
form early became obsolete except in written works (Letters:427). On
the other hand, a so-called class plural developed, coexisting
with the "normal" plural; see below.
As in most languages, the singular is the basic, uninflected form
of the noun. Tolkien noted that the Sindarin plurals "were mostly
made with vowel-changes" (RGEO:74). For instance, amon "hill"
becomes emyn "hills"; aran "king" becomes erain
"kings". The consonants remain the same, but the vowels change. There
are a few English nouns that form their plurals in a similar way: man
pl. men, woman pl. women (pronounced "wimen"),
goose pl. geese, mouse pl. mice etc. Yet
English usually relies on the plural ending -s. In Sindarin,
the situation is the opposite: the trick of changing the vowels is the
usual way of forming the plurals, and only a few words display some
kind of ending in the plural. The rules for these vowel-changes are
the same for both nouns and adjectives (the latter agree in number),
so we will also quote adjectives among the examples as we explore the
Sindarin plural patterns. Ultimately, the vowel-changes go back on so-called
umlaut phenomena. Umlaut (in origin a German term literally meaning
something like "changed sound") is an important feature of Sindarin
phonology; the Sindarin term for this phenomenon is prestanneth,
meaning disturbance or affection. It has to do with one vowel "affecting"
another vowel in the same word, making it more like itself, in linguistic
terms assimilating it. The umlaut relevant for the plural formation
Tolkien referred to as "i-affection" (WJ:376), since it was a
vowel i that originally triggered it. Tolkien imagined that the
primitive Elvish language had a plural ending *-î, still
present in Quenya as -i (as in Quendi, Atani, Teleri
etc). This ending as such did not survive into Sindarin, but
there are clear traces of its former presence, and these "traces" have
themselves become the indicator of plurality in Grey-elven. When the
plural form of, say, fang "beard" (as in Fangorn "Treebeard")
is feng, this is because the a was affected by the old
plural ending *-î, -i while the latter was still
present. In the most primitive form of Elvish, the word for "beard"
appeared as spangâ, plural spangâi; by the
stage we call Old Sindarin, this had become sphanga pl. sphangi.
The former yielded "Classical" Sindarin fang, but the plural
sphangi became feng, the original vowel a drifting
towards the quality of the plural ending -i before the ending
was lost - and so in the later plural form feng we have e
as a kind of compromise between (the original vowel) a and (the
lost ending) i. (It may be that there was an intermediate stage
that had ei, hence ?feing.)
tâl "foot", pl. tail (singular in LR:390 s.v. TAL; the plural tail is attested in lenited form -dail in the compound tad-dail "bipeds" in WJ:388)NOTE: In the "Noldorin" of the Etymologies, a in a final syllable often comes out as ei instead. Hence we have adar "father" pl. edeir (entry ATA), Balan "Vala" pl. Belein (BAL), habad "shore" pl. hebeid (SKYAP), nawag "dwarf" pl. neweig (NAUK), talaf "ground, floor" pl. teleif (TAL). Same thing in monosyllables: Dân "Nandorin elf", pl. Dein (NDAN), mâl "pollen" pl. meil (SMAL), pân "plank" pl. pein (PAN), tâl "foot" pl. teil (TAL). But as demonstrated above, the plural form of tâl had become tail in Tolkien's later Sindarin (lenited form -dail in tad-dail in WJ:388). Likewise, the Sindarin plural of adar is seen to be, not edeir as in the Etymologies, but edair (as in Edenedair "Fathers of Men", MR:373 - this is a post-LotR source). The Silmarillion Appendix, entry val-, also confirms that in Sindarin the plural form of Balan "Vala" is Belain, not Belein as in the Etymologies. It seems that in all the examples just listed, we should read Sindarin ai for "Noldorin" ei in the plural forms. In one case at least, evidence from the Etymologies agrees with the patterns observed in later Sindarin: the already-quoted example aran "king" pl. erain (not *erein) in the entry 3AR. (For erain as the Sindarin plural, compare the name Fornost Erain "Norbury of the Kings" occurring in LotR3/VI ch. 7.) Interestingly, Christopher Tolkien notes that in the Etymologies, the group of entries that 3AR belongs to was "struck out and replaced more legibly" (LR:360). Perhaps this was after his father had revised the plural patterns that otherwise persist in Etym. PM:31, reproducing a draft for a LotR Appendix, shows Tolkien changing the plural of Dúnadan from Dúnedein to Dúnedain. It seems that the older "Noldorin" plurals in ei are not conceptually obsolete; they may be seen as archaic Sindarin: In certain environments, the change ei > ai occurred also within the imagined history, so Dúnedain could indeed have been Dúnedein at an earlier stage. It seems that Tolkien decided that ei in the final syllable of a word (this also goes for monosyllables) became ai, but otherwise remained ei. Hence we have teithant for "drew" (or *"wrote") in the Moria Gate inscription, and this teith- is related to the second element -deith of the word andeith "longmark" (a symbol used to mark long vowels in writing, LR:391 s.v. TEK). Yet the word andeith from the Etymologies instead appears as andaith in LotR Appendix E, since ei was here in a final syllable. Teithant could not become **taithant because ei here is not in a final syllable. Other words confirm this pattern. As indicated above, the normal plural of aran is erain, but erein- is seen in the name Ereinion "Scion of Kings" (a name of Gil-galad, PM:347/UT:436). Evidently the plural form was erein in archaic Sindarin, later becoming erain because ei changed to ai in final syllables, but in a compound like Ereinion the diphthong ei was not in a final syllable and therefore remained unchanged.
In words of a particular shape, a in the final (or only) syllable becomes e instead of ai. In the plural forms, a may first have become ei as usual, but then the final element of the diphthong was evidently lost (before ei turned into ai) leaving only e that simply remained unchanged later. MR:373 indicates that the plural form of narn "tale" is nern, not **nairn or **neirn, though the latter may have occurred at an earlier stage. It seems that we have e rather than ei/ai before ng as well; the Etymologies provides the example Anfang pl. Enfeng (not **Enfaing) for "Longbeards", one of the tribes of the Dwarves (LR:387 s.v. SPÁNAG). WJ:10, reproducing a post-LotR source, confirms that the plural Enfeng was still valid in Tolkien's later Sindarin. Following the example of fang "beard" pl. feng it would seem that the plural of words like lang "cutlass, sword" (for "Noldorin" lhang, LR:367), tang "bowstring" or thang "need" should be leng, teng, theng.
NOTE: In the Etymologies, there are further examples
of "Noldorin" plurals where a in a final syllable becomes e
instead of ai or ei. We have adab "construction,
building" pl. edeb (TAK), adar "father"
pl. eder besides edeir (ATA), Balan
"Vala" pl. Belen besides Belein (BAL),
falas "beach, shore" pl. feles (PHAL/PHALAS),
nawag "dwarf" pl. neweg besides neweig
(NAUK), rhofal "pinion" pl. rhofel
(RAM) and salab "herb" pl. seleb
(SALÂK-WÊ). However, in the case of these words there
seems to be little reason to believe that the e-plurals would
still be valid in Tolkien's later Sindarin. At least two of these "Noldorin"
plurals - eder and Belen - clash with the attested Sindarin
plurals edair and Belain. It seems, then, that we can
feel free to replace also edeb, feles, neweg, rhofel,
seleb with Sindarin edaib, felais, newaig,
rovail, selaib, though the latter forms are not directly
attested (notice that "Noldorin" rhofal "pinion", pl. rhofel,
must become roval pl. rovail if we introduce Sindarin
phonology and spelling). - Another "Noldorin" case of an a >
e plural is rhanc "arm" pl. rhenc (RAK).
The singular must become ranc if we update it to LotR-style Sindarin,
but should the plural be renc or rainc? The Sindarin example
cant "shape" pl. caint (see above) seems to indicate that
a before a cluster consisting of n + an unvoiced stop
becomes ai in the plural; hence "arms" should probably be rainc
In one word at least, earlier ei stays unchanged and does not
turn into ai even though it occurs in a final syllable. According
to UT:265, the plural form of alph "swan" is eilph; it
would seem that ei is unchanged before a consonant cluster beginning
in l. (Earlier, in the "Noldorin" of the Etymologies,
the word for "swan" was spelt alf, and its plural was given as
elf: LR:348 s.v. ÁLAK; for the plural form, cf.
hobas in Elf *"Haven of Swans" in LR:364 s.v. KHOP.) In
accordance with the example eilph, the Sindarin plural of lalf
"elm-tree" should probably be leilf, though the "Noldorin" plural
listed in the Etymologies was lelf (LR:348 s.v. ÁLAM).
In a non-final syllable, a becomes e in plural
forms, as is seen in some of the examples already quoted: aran
"king", pl. erain; amon "hill", pl. emyn;
lavan "animal", pl. levain. This does not
only go for the vowel in a second-to-last syllable as in these examples;
it can be carried through a longer word as well, a in any
non-final syllable turning into e. This goes even if a
occurs several times: According to WJ:387, the word Aphadon
"Follower" becomes Ephedyn in the plural. LR:391
s.v. TÁWAR indicates that the adjective tawaren
"wooden" has the plural form tewerin. In MR:373
we have Edenedair for "Fathers of Men",
the plural of a compound Adanadar "Man-father"
(adan "man" + adar "father"). Here we see a in
the final syllable becoming ai, but in all three non-final syllables,
a becomes e. Of course, the plural of adan would
be edain (well attested) if the word occurred by itself, since
the second a would then be in the final syllable. But in the
compound Adanadar it is not, and so we see Eden- in the
edhel "Elf", pl. edhil (WJ:364, 377; cf. "Noldorin" eledh pl. elidh in LR:356 s.v. ELED)This also goes for monosyllables, where the final syllable is also the only syllable:
certh "rune", pl. cirth (WJ:396)In the case of long ê, we also find long î in the plural:
hên "child", pl. hîn (WJ:403)LR:363 s.v. KEM lists a word cef "soil", pl. ceif; both forms are somewhat weird. If we regularize this from "Noldorin" to Sindarin it would probably be best to read cêf (with a long vowel), pl. cîf.
If there is another i immediately before the e in the
final syllable, this group ie simply becomes i in the
Miniel "Minya" (Elf of the First Clan), pl. Mínil (WJ:383 - perhaps the i in the first syllable is lengthened to í to somehow compensate for the fact that the word is reduced from three to two syllables in the plural? This does not happen in comparable cases in the "Noldorin" of the Etymologies, though - e.g. Mirion "Silmaril" pl. Miruin, not ?Míruin, in LR:373 s.v. MIR)In non-final syllables, e is unchanged in the plural, as can be seen from the examples eledh pl. elidh and ereg pl. erig quoted above.
orch "orc, goblin" pl. yrch (LR:379 s.v. ÓROK)In the case of amon, the Etymologies also lists emuin as a possible plural form; we are evidently to assume that this is an older form, the diphthong ui turning into y at a later stage. (We can also conclude that when LR:152 mentions "Peringiul" as the pl. of Peringol "half-Gnome", this is certainly a misreading for Peringuil - Christopher Tolkien describes the passage in question as "hastily pencilled", prone to be misread. The later form, not attested, would be Peringyl.)
If there is an i before the o in the final syllable,
what would be "iy" in the plural is simplified to y: hence we
have thelyn as the pl. of thalion "hero" (LR:388 s.v.
STÁLAG). Miruin as the pl. of Mirion "Silmaril"
(LR:373 s.v. MIR) must be seen as an archaic form. We may assume
that thelyn was at an earlier stage theluin and that Miruin
later became Miryn; the y-plurals are to be preferred
in LotR-style Sindarin.
NOTE: All the examples above are excerpted from the Etymologies,
but the plurals yrch, emyn, ennyn are also attested
in LotR. For a thoroughly Sindarin example, cf. ithron
"wizard" pl. ithryn (UT:388, 390, reproducing a post-LotR
source). However, in the "Noldorin" of the Etymologies, there
are also examples of o in a final syllable behaving in a quite
different manner, namely becoming öi (in Etym spelt "oei")
in the plural. This öi in turn became ei when all
ö's turned into e's. Hence in the entry ÑGOL
the pl. of golodh "Noldo" is listed as both gölöidh
("goeloeidh") and geleidh - evidently intended as an earlier
and a later form. In other cases only the later form in ei is
listed: gwador "sworn brother" pl. gwedeir (TOR),
orod "mountain" pl. ereid (ÓROT), thoron
"eagle" pl. therein (THOR/THORON). However, there seems
to be little reason to assume that these forms would be valid in LotR-style
Sindarin: In two of these cases, ereid and gölöidh/geleidh,
the corresponding Sindarin plurals are attested, showing y instead
of ei: namely eryd "mountains" and gelydh "Noldor"
(cf. Eryd Engrin "Iron Mountains" in WJ:6 and Annon-in-Gelydh
"Gate of the Noldor" in the Silmarillion Index, entry Golodhrim
- in WJ:364 the pl. of Golodh is given as "Goelydh" = Gölydh,
but this is merely an archaic form of Gelydh). In light of these
examples, we can feel free to update the "Noldorin" plurals gwedeir
"brothers" and therein "eagles" to Sindarin gwedyr, theryn
(archaic thöryn). In the Etymologies there are also
two examples of o in the final syllable of words becoming e
rather than y in the plural: doron "oak" pl. deren
(DÓRON) and orod "mountain" pl. ered besides
ereid (ÓROT). The plural ered is still valid
in later Sindarin, competing with eryd (see the many variants
listed in the index to The War of the Jewels, e.g. Eryd Engrin
besides Ered Engrin, WJ:440). It seems that ered is not
normally used as an independent word for "mountains" - that should probably
be eryd only - but ered may be used when the word
is the first element in a name of several parts, hence Ered Engrin
is a valid alternative to Eryd Engrin. In Letters:224, Tolkien
gives enyd as the pl. of onod "Ent", but also notices
that ened might be a form used in Gondor. Perhaps, then, the
Gondorians would also tend to use ered rather than eryd
as the pl. of orod, but there can be no doubt that eryd
is the regular Sindarin form. Deren as the pl. of doron
"oak" may be seen in the same light; though the regular Sindarin plural
deryn is not attested, it is perhaps to be preferred.
In a non-final syllable, the vowel o normally becomes e
in the plural: Alchoron "Ilkorin Elf", pl. Elcheryn
(LR:367 s.v. LA). Such an e was in archaic Sindarin ö
instead (e.g. Golodh "Noldo", pl. Gelydh for earlier Gölydh;
see references in the note above). Another example is nogoth
"dwarf"; in WJ:388 the plural is given as nögyth ("noegyth"),
but in WJ:338 we have Athrad-i-Negyth for "Ford of the Dwarves".
There is no real discrepancy; nögyth is simply the archaic
form that later became negyth. In LotR-style Sindarin, we would
prefer the plurals negyth and Gelydh; cf. also Tolkien
mentioning Enyd as the plural of Onod "Ent"
in Letters:224. (The archaic plural, nowhere mentioned, would be Önyd.)
There are, however, a few words where o or ó
in a non-final syllable does not become (ö >)
e in the plural forms. This is when o represents earlier
A; the development is roughly â > au >
o. One example is Rodon "Vala" pl. Rodyn instead
of **Rödyn > **Redin (MR:200 has Dor-Rodyn
for Quenya Valinor = "Land of the Valar"; it would seem that
Rodyn is an alternative to Belain as the Sindarin word
for "Valar"; it has even been suggested that Rodyn replaced Belain
in Tolkien's conception). The first syllable of Rodyn evidently
has the same origin as the middle syllable -rat- in Aratar,
the Quenya term for some of the supreme Valar. An o representing
earlier A is not subject to i-umlaut. Compare Ódhel
"Elf that departed from Middle-earth" pl. Ódhil in WJ:364,
this long ó representing earlier aw (the primitive
form of Ódhel is quoted as aw(a)delo, literally
"away-goer"). The later form Gódhel (influenced by Golodh
"Noldo") likewise had the plural form Gódhil: despite
the influence from Golodh pl. Gelydh, no form **Gédhil
arose. These examples come from post-LotR Sindarin, but the same thing
is found already in the "Noldorin" of the Etymologies. The example
rhofal "pinion" pl. rhofel in the entry RAM (LR:382),
where the primitive sg. form is given as râmalê,
confirms that o from â (via au) is not subject
to i-umlaut. As mentioned above, "Noldorin" rhofal pl.
rhofel must become Sindarin roval pl. rovail if
we update the forms to LotR-style spelling and phonology - roval
is actually attested in LotR as part of the eagle-name Landroval
- but this o still should not become e in the plural (**revail
being impossible because of the phonological history).
NOTE: The plural of the word cû "bow" would probably
be cui, apparently in accordance with the pattern sketched above.
But actually cui would represent the older plural ku3i
(or kuhi), since the stem is KU3 (LR:365). The primitive
sound Tolkien variously reconstructed as h or 3 (the latter
= spirant g) had disappeared in Classical Sindarin, so older
uhi would become ui.
gwaun "goose", pl. guin (LR:397 s.v. WA-N)However, it seems that this is one feature of "Noldorin" that did not survive into Tolkien's later Sindarin: In UT:148 we have Nibin-noeg as a name of the Petty-dwarves, and the final element is obviously a plural form of naug (cf. Naugrim as a name of the Dwarvish race, found in the Silmarillion). So in Sindarin, au turns into oe in the plural. In the plural forms of the "Noldorin" words listed above, we should apparently read oe instead of ui if we update them to later Sindarin. ("Noldorin" rhaw pl. rhui would become Sindarin raw pl. roe, but thaun "pine-tree" Tolkien apparently changed to Sindarin thôn; cf. Treebeard singing about Dorthonion and Orod-na-Thôn in LotR2/III ch. 4; the Silmarillion Index explains that Dorthonion means "Land of Pines". In the Etymologies, thôn had been an "Ilkorin" word. The pl. of thôn as a Sindarin word is presumably thýn.)
NOTE: The diphthong au, when occurring in an unstressed
syllable in the second element of a compound, is often reduced to o,
but presumably it would still become oe in the plural. Hence
the plural form of a word like balrog "demon of might" (where
the -rog part represents raug "demon") is presumably belroeg
- unless analogy prevailed to produce ?belryg.
NOTE: In a phrase like Ithryn Luin "Blue Wizards" (UT:390)
the adjective luin "blue" must be plural to agree with "wizards".
It might be thought that luin is the plural form of lûn,
which is what we would get if we were to make a Sindarin update of the
"Noldorin" word for "blue", namely lhûn (LR:370 s.v. LUG2).
As indicated above, long û in a final syllable becomes
ui in the plural, so everything seems to fit: luin could
be the plural form of lûn. What kills this seductively
promising theory is the name of the mountain Mindolluin, "Towering
Blue-head" (translated in the Silmarillion Index). Here, there
is no reason for the adjective "blue" to be plural, so luin has
to be the singular/basic form as well. There is also Luindirien
"Blue Towers" in WJ:193; at the beginning of a compound, the word for
"blue" would be expected to appear in its more or less basic form, not
inflected for plural. It should also be noted that the same entry in
the Etymologies that gives "Noldorin" lhûn (>
Sindarin ?lûn) as the word for "blue", also gives lúne
as the corresponding Quenya word. In Namárië in LotR,
the adjective "blue" is luini instead (this is a plural form,
from the phrase "blue vaults"; the singular is probably luinë).
So while in the Etymologies the words for "blue" had been derived
from a primitive form lugni (stem LUG2, LR:370)
producing Quenya lúne and "Noldorin" lhûn,
Tolkien must later have decided that the primitive form was something
like *luini yielding Quenya luinë and Sindarin luin.
Bottom line is that luin "blue" seems to cover both singular
and plural, indicating that the diphthong ui undergoes no change
in the plural. The fact that the adjective annui "western" is
both sg. and pl. points in the same direction.
NOTE: In "Noldorin", lhain pl. lhîn appeared
as thlein pl. thlîn, the primitive (sg.) form being
quoted as slinyâ (LR:386 s.v. SLIN). One revision
separating "Noldorin" from Sindarin is that while primitive initial
sl- became thl- in N, it becomes lh- in S. We alter
the word in accordance with Tolkien's revised phonology. Thlein
can be more directly adapted as lhein, but such a form would
be archaic in Frodo's day, the current form being lhain instead.
Similarly, paich "juice, syrup" actually appears as peich
in the Etymologies (LR: 382 s.v. PIS); this "Noldorin"
form is not conceptually obsolete, but can be seen as archaic Sindarin.
This is also the case with ceir "ship" (LR:365 s.v. KIR);
the form cair in LotR-style Sindarin is attested (cf. the footnote
in LotR Appendix A explaining that Cair Andros means "Ship of
Longfoam"; see also PM:371). - The word cair provides an example
of another peculiar property of this group of words: when they occur
as the first element in compounds, ai is reduced to í-,
as in the name Círdan "Shipwright". However, ai
remains unchanged if such a word is the final element of a compound;
hence gwain "new" appears as -wain in the Sindarin name
of the month of January, Narwain (evidently meaning "New Sun"
or "New Fire"; compare Quenya Narvinyë).
In three words, where ai represents ei from even older
öi (spelt "oei" by Tolkien), the plural forms should probably
show the vowel y, ý, though we lack explicit confirmation
in Tolkien's published papers. This theory is based on the fact that
the first part of the archaic diphthong öi represents o
or u in the original stem, and the umlaut product of these vowels
is y, just as in cases where the older vowel-sound still survives
in Sindarin (as in orch "Orc" pl. yrch). The words in
question are 1) fair adj. "right" or noun "right hand" (pl. fýr,
stem PHOR, cf. Quenya forya), 2) rain "slot, spoor,
tract, footprint" (pl. rýn, stem RUN, cf. Quenya
runya) and 3) the related word tellain "sole of foot"
(pl. tellyn, since the final element -lain is actually
assimilated from rain < runya, cf. the archaic form
talrunya quoted in LR:390 s.v. TAL, TALAM). In
the "Noldorin" of the Etymologies, these words appear as feir
(the older form "foeir" = föir is also mentioned), rein
(older röin) and tellein (older form tellöin
not mentioned but clearly intended). Notice that while fair can
mean both "right (hand)" and "mortal man", the different derivations
make for distinct plurals: fýr in the former case and
fîr in the latter.
Monosyllables later becoming polysyllables
One important change that occurred in the evolution of Sindarin was
that final vowels were lost. Hence an old word like ndakro "battle"
later became ndakr. In early Sindarin, this word appeared as
dagr. Another example is makla "sword" later appearing
as makl, early Sindarin magl. We must assume that the
plural of words like dagr, magl was formed after the same
pattern as other monosyllables of comparable shape, like alph
"swan", pl. eilph. So the plurals "battles" and "swords" would
presumably be deigr, meigl (this would be before ei
in a final syllable normally become ai).
What complicates matters is that words like dagr and magl
were eventually changed. The final r, l came to constitute
a separate syllable, so that for instance magl was pronounced
mag-l just like English "eagle" is pronounced eeg-l. Later,
these syllabic consonants turned into full-fledged normal syllables
as a vowel o developed before them: Dagr (dag-r)
turned into dagor and magl (mag-l) became magol.
(Incidentally, the latter word was apparently often replaced by megil,
which must be an adapted form of the Quenya word for "sword", namely
macil.) The plurals deigr, meigl would presumably
undergo the same process to become deigor, meigol (and
the late change ei > ai in final syllables would never
occur simply because ei was no longer in the final syllable).
From a synchronic point of view, this results in what looks like irregularities:
Normally, singular words like dagor and magol would be
expected to have plural forms degyr, megyl, since o
in the final syllable normally becomes y in the plural (e.g.
amon "hill" vs. emyn "hills"). But in cases like dagor
or magol, the o intruded relatively late and seems to
be younger than the umlaut o > y; hence such newly
developed o's would - presumably - remain untouched by the umlaut.
If Tolkien did not imagine that analogical leveling bulldozed these
"irregularities" out of existence, all two-syllable words where the
second syllable contains a secondarily developed o must still
be treated as monosyllables as far as plural formation is concerned.
The o must be left alone and the vowel in the "second-to-last"
syllable must be treated as if it were the vowel in the final
syllable, which is precisely what it used to be.
The adjectives and nouns in question are: badhor "judge" (pl. beidhor if the theory holds - otherwise it would be analogical bedhyr), bragol "sudden, violent" (pl. breigol; this adjective also appears as bregol, pl. presumably brigol), dagor "battle" (pl. deigor), glamor "echo" (pl. gleimor), hador "thrower, hurler" (pl. heidor), hathol "axe" (pl. heithol), idhor "thoughtfulness" (unchanged in the pl.; luckily a noun with this meaning normally will not require a pl. form), ivor ?"crystal" (unchanged in the pl.), lagor "swift" (pl. leigor), maethor "warrior" (unchanged in the pl.), magol "sword" (pl. meigol), magor "swordsman" (pl. meigor), nadhor "pasture" (pl. neidhor), nagol "tooth" (pl. neigol), naugol "dwarf" (pl. noegol), tadol "double" (pl. teidol), tathor "willow" (pl. teithor), tavor "knocker, woodpecker" (pl. teivor), tegol "pen" (pl. tigol). Perhaps gollor "magician" also belongs on this list (pl. gyllor rather than ?gellyr).
NOTE: Some other peculiarities about this group of words may
also be noted here. In (older?) compounds, the newly-developed o
does not appear, and the final vowel that has otherwise disappeared,
is sometimes preserved. Hence magol, that descends from primitive
makla, may appear as magla- in a compound. LR:371 s.v.
MAK lists Magladhûr for "Black Sword" (magol
"sword" + dûr [lenited dhûr] "black, dark").
If one of these words is prefixed to an element beginning in a vowel,
the original final vowel does not reappear, but the newly-developed
o is not found: LR:398 s.v. TAM indicates that tavr
(also spelt tafr) "woodpecker" retains that form in the compound
Tavr-obel, Tavrobel *"Woodpecker-town" - though tavr
became tavor as an independent word. Similarly, LR:361 s.v. ID
indicates that the word "idher" (misreading for idhor?) "thoughtfulness"
appears as idhr- in the name Idhril. - It is possible
that in late Sindarin, analogy to some extent prevailed, this group
of words being treated like any other. Before the collective plural
ending -ath (see below), we would not expect to see the subsequently
developed vowel o. For instance, we would expect the collective
plural of dagr "battle" to be dagrath (not attested),
unaffected by the fact that dagr had later become dagor
when it occurred as a simplex (by itself). Yet in UT:395, 396 we find,
not dagrath, but dagorath, though there can be little
doubt that the latter is a historically unjustified form: R was
not final or syllabic in dagrath, so no o would develop
in front of it, and dagorath must be formed on analogy with the
simplex dagor. This is all the more surprising when another attested
form, the collective plural of nagol "tooth", is what we would
expect: Naglath (WR:122). A form ?nagolath paralleling
dagorath is not found. (The simplex nagol is not attested,
but Tolkien undoubtedly imagined a primitive word *nakla "instrument
for biting" = "tooth" [cf. the stem NAK "bite", LR:374], this
*nakla becoming *nakl and then *nagl > *nagol
in Sindarin.) There is also Eglath "The Forsaken" as the name
of the Sindar, this collective plural reflecting the primitive (singular)
form hekla or heklô (WJ:361; we don't know whether
this also yielded an independent sg. form in Sindarin; if so it would
be egol for earlier egl, the normal pl. being igl
and later igol). A form ?Egolath nowhere occurs (and would
be just as surprising as if the attested compound Eglamar "Land
of the Forsaken Elves" suddenly were to appear as *Egolmar instead).
Are we to assume, then, that Tolkien forgot his own rules when he (twice)
wrote dagorath instead of dagrath in UT:395, 396? Rather
we may imagine that there were several variants of Sindarin around.
In a "purer" or more "classical" style, the collective plurals of words
like dagor, nagol would perhaps be the historically correct
forms dagrath, naglath, but in a more "colloquial" or
"informal" style, forms like dagorath, nagolath may have
come into use by analogy. We may speculate that in the form of Sindarin
that preferred dagorath to dagrath, the historically justified
plural deigor would also be altered to degyr, the umlauts
following the more normal pattern. Interestingly, the name Dagorlad
"Battle Plain" occurring in LotR gives away that dagor does not
become ?dagro- as the first part of a compound, reflecting the
earlier form ndakro (contrast examples quoted above: magol
"sword" becoming magla- reflecting primitive makla in
the compound Magladhûr, and tavor "wood-pecker"
occurring in archaic form tavr in the compound Tavrobel).
So again, analogy with the simplex form is at work. Perhaps Dagorlad
would have been ?Dagrolad if the compound had been older, coined
already in the really good old days when the Elves still said something
like *Ndakro-lata (final vowel uncertain). Instead Dagorlad
was clearly pieced together from dagor "battle" and -lad
"plain" later. A late compound "Sword-Black" would presumably be, not
Magladhûr, but simply Magoldhûr, and "Woodpecker-village"
as a late compound could well be Tavorobel rather than the attested
Certain other cases of monosyllables turning into polysyllables involves,
not a new vowel intruding before a consonant as in dagr >
dagor, but a consonant turning into a vowel. Most of the
examples involve older -w becoming -u. Before the stage
where the final vowels were lost, some words ended in -wa (typically
adjectives) or -we (typically abstracts). When the final vowels
disappeared, only -w was left of these endings. For instance,
the word for "craft" or "skill" that appears in Quenya as kurwe
(curwë), which would also be the Old Sindarin form of the
word, came out as curw in early Sindarin. We must assume that
in the plural this would become cyrw, a perfectly regular form
according to the rules set out above. But as indicated in LR:366 s.v.
KUR, curw later became curu: Final -w following
another consonant turned into a vowel -u, the semi-vowel becoming
a full vowel. Presented with a noun like curu, it would be tempting
to let it go like tulus "poplar-tree", pl. tylys - hence
curu pl. cyry. In an older version of this article, I
noted: "But the latter, if it occurred at all, would be an analogical
form. The historically justified plural of curu can only be cyru,
the older pl. cyrw turning into cyru just like the older
sg. curw turned into curu." However, it now turns out
that the analogical plural form cyry was indeed listed by Tolkien
in the Etymologies (VT45:24), though it was omitted from the
entry KUR as printed in LR.
The attested example cyry may indicate that Tolkien meant the analogical plural forms to have superseded the historically justified ones, at least in the class of nouns with final -u derived from earlier -w. Here are the words that are affected; we will indicate what both the historically justified plural and the analogical alternative would be: anu "a male" (historically justified plural form einu, but analogically eny), celu "spring, source" (hist. pl. cilu, analog. cily), coru adj. "cunning, wily" (hist. pl. cyru, analog. cery), curu "skill, cunning device, craft" (hist. pl. cyru, attested analogical pl. cyry), galu "good fortune" (hist. pl. geilu, analog. gely), gwanu "death, act of dying" (hist. pl. gweinu, analog. gweny), haru "wound" (hist. pl. heiru, analog. hery), hethu "foggy, obscure, vague" (hist. pl. hithu, analog. hethy), hithu "fog" (unchanged as a hist. pl., whereas the analogical pl. form would be distinct: hithy), inu "a female" (again the historically justified pl. would be unchanged, whereas the analogical pl. would be iny), malu "fallow, pale" (hist. pl. meilu, analog. mely), naru "red" (hist. pl. neiru, analog. nery), nedhu "bolster, cushion" (hist. pl. nidhu, analog. nedhy), pathu "level space, sward" (hist. pl. peithu, analog. pethy), talu "flat" (hist. pl. teilu, analog. tely), tinu "spark, small star" (the hist. pl. would be unchanged, the analogical pl. would be tiny). In the historically justified forms, we let words with the stem-vowel a have plural forms in ei rather than ai, again assuming that these words became disyllabic before ei turned into ai in final syllables (that is, when this change occurred, the syllable in which ei was found was no longer final because -w had already become -u, constituting a new final syllable). Hence anu : einu, gwanu : gweinu etc. However, if Tolkien had decided to go for the simpler analogical forms, these extra complications are transcended.
NOTE: In the Etymologies, the later stage where final
-w became -u is often not explicitly recorded. There is
curu besides older curw (entry KUR) and naru
besides older narw (NAR1), but otherwise only
the older forms where -w still persists are listed: Thus we find
anw (3AN), celw (KEL), corw (KUR),
galw (GALA), gwanw (WAN), harw (SKAR),
hethw / hithw (KHITH), inw (INI),
malw (SMAL), nedhw (NID), pathw (PATH)
and tinw (TIN) instead of anu, celu, coru
etc. as above. These later forms are not directly attested in Tolkien's
papers. It may be that as far as the "Noldorin" of the Etymologies
is concerned, Tolkien still had not decided once and for all that -w
in this position did become -u; this idea just pops up
in a couple of places. Yet we needn't hesitate to introduce the later
forms in -u if we are aiming for the kind of Sindarin exemplified
in LotR and the Silmarillion. Notice that in Etym, it is said
that the "Noldorin" form of the Quenya name Elwë would have
been *Elw, marked with an asterisk since it was not actually
used in "Exilic" in this form (LR:398 s.v. WEG). However, in
Chapter 4 of the published Silmarillion the scenario is another.
"Noldorin" has now become Sindarin, and not only is there a Sindarin
form of Elwë, but it is also Elu rather than "Elw"
as in the Etymologies: "Elwë's folk who sought him found
him not... In after days he became a king renowned... King Greymantle
was he, Elu Thingol in the tongue of that land [Beleriand]." Here we
are clearly to assume a development Elwë > Elw
> Elu. It seems wholly justified, then, to alter (say) celw
"spring, source" to its later form celu (to go with Elu),
even though the form celu as such is not explicitly attested.
A parallel case is provided by the name Finwë; again the
Etymologies states that the "Noldorin" form would be *Finw,
but that no such form was in use (LR:398 s.v. WEG). A much later,
post-LotR source agrees that there was no Sindarin form of Finwë,
but if this name "had been treated as a word of this form would have
been, had it occurred anciently in Sindarin, it would have been [not
Finw, but] Finu" (PM:344). If "Noldorin" Finw would
have corresponded to Sindarin Finu, we can also conclude that
"Noldorin" gwanw would correspond to Sindarin gwanu. -
The word talu "flat" listed above actually appears as dalw
(not **talw) in the Etymologies, but listed immediately
after dalw is dalath "flat surface, plane, plain" (LR:353
s.v. DAL), occurring in the name Dalath Dirnen "Guarded
Plain" (LR:394 s.v. TIR). However, Tolkien later changed dalath
to talath; in the published Silmarillion, the "Guarded
Plain" in Beleriand is called Talath Dirnen instead. In accordance
with this revision, we also alter the related "Noldorin" word dalw
"flat" to Sindarin talw > talu. We may still accept
(dalw >) dalu - and for that matter dalath -
as valid side-forms.
There are also a few cases of final -gh (spirant g)
turning into a vowel. One example is provided by LR:381 s.v. PHÉLEG,
where a word fela "cave" is derived from Old Sindarin (or "Old
Noldorin") phelga. Since final vowels were lost following the
Old Sindarin stage, fela is not a case of an original
final -a surviving into later Sindarin. What Tolkien imagined
seems to be this: Old Sindarin phelga naturally became phelg
when the final vowels went. Then stops turned into spirants following
the liquids l, r (UT:265), so that phelg became
phelgh (or felgh, since the shift ph > f
occurred at about the same stage). However, gh in no case survived
into the Sindarin of Frodo's day; initially it was lost with no trace,
but in this position it was vocalized: Felgh turned into fela.
The plural of felgh had evidently been filgh formed according
to the normal rules (cf. e.g. telch "stem", pl. tilch
- LR:391 s.v. TÉLEK). The plural form filgh then
became fili, the vocalization of earlier gh here being
i rather than a (perhaps g > gh was somehow
palatalized by the lost Old Sindarin plural ending -i that also
caused the umlaut, biasing the subsequent vocalization towards i).
It matters little precisely how we imagine the development: in any case,
the end result is the peculiar pair fela pl. fili, for
older felgh pl. filgh.
Fela pl. fili is the only known case of Tolkien explicitly
mentioning both the singular and the plural of such a pair. There are,
however, two or three other words that share a similar phonological
development. The word thela "point (of spear)" derives from a
stem STELEG (LR:388), and while Tolkien lists no primitive forms,
we are probably to assume a Primitive Elvish form stelgâ
(final vowel uncertain) turning into Old Sindarin sthelga and
later (s)thelgh, the plural form of which would be (s)thilgh.
The singular then yields the attested Sindarin form thela (wholly
parallel to fela); the unattested plural "spear-points" must
be thili (to go with the attested plural fili).
There are also a very few adjectives. An adjective thala "stalwart,
steady, firm" is in LR:388 s.v. STÁLAG is derived from
Old Sindarin/"Noldorin" sthalga. The unattested intermediate
form would be (s)thalgh pl. (s)theilgh, following the
normal pattern of (say) alph "swan", pl. eilph. We must
assume that the plural form of thala is theili. A similar
case would be tara "tough, still", stated to represent Old "Noldorin"/Sindarin
targa (LR:390); again the unattested intermediate form would
be targh. The plural form of this adjective could be teirgh,
which would presumably produce Sindarin teiri. There is one other
possibility: As already mentioned, it seems that ei was at one
stage simplified to e before a consonant cluster beginning in
r (hence we have nern rather than neirn > nairn
as the plural form of narn "tale"). If this happened before the
final gh of the plural adjective teirgh became a vowel
so that the cluster disappeared, the form would turn into tergh,
in later Sindarin teri. Presently we cannot say for sure whether
teri or teiri is the best plural form of tara,
since we do not know in what exact sequence Tolkien imagined the sound-shifts
involved to have taken place; I would probably use teiri.
In WJ:363, êl is said to be an (archaic) Sindarin word
for "star". According to the rules set out above, based on patterns
like hên "child" pl. hîn (WJ:403),
we would expect the plural form to be **îl. However, WJ:363
also informs us that the actual plural of êl is elin.
Here it might seem that a plural ending -in is present. This,
however, is not really the case. By comparing these words to their Quenya
cognates elen pl. eleni one may begin to suspect what
is really going on. Eleni would also be the plural form used
in Old Sindarin, eventually yielding Sindarin elin: the plural
ending being lost like all final vowels, but leaving its mark on the
word by umlauting the second e to i. But one thing that
occasionally happened in Old Sindarin was that consonants at the end
of words might drop out. The n of the plural form eleni
was "safe" because it was shielded by the plural ending following it,
but the singular form elen was apparently reduced to ele,
though this form is not explicitly mentioned by Tolkien. Later, final
vowels were lost, leaving just el, and later still, the vowel
of a monosyllable of this shape was lengthened, producing Sindarin êl.
Hence we are left with the curious couple êl pl. elin
in Third Age Sindarin. In the case of another, similar couple, nêl
"tooth" pl. nelig, the Etymologies lists the Old "Noldorin"/Sindarin
forms nele pl. neleki, confirming that the explanation
sketched above is correct: By comparing the singular nele to
the stem NÉL-EK (LR:376) we understand that the final
consonant has dropped out. (In Common Eldarin, nele had evidently
still been *nelek, which form directly underlies Quenya nelet
listed in the same place - High-Elven phonology doesn't permit final
-k, so it became -t instead.) Hence we have singular *nelek
> nele > *nel > Sindarin nêl, but
plural neleki (still used in Quenya) > umlauted *neliki
> later *nelik with loss of final vowel > Sindarin nelig.
Other words that behave in a similar way:
In addition to the above, there are a few words that belong to the same category even though the plural forms have no final consonant; pêl "fenced field" pl. peli, ôl "dream" pl. ely and thêl "sister" pl. theli. What has happened is simply that an original final consonant h, lenited from s at the Old Sindarin stage, has dropped out in the plural forms: The relevant stems are given as PEL(ES), ÓLOS and THELES in the Etymologies. In the first of these entries, pêl "fenced field" is demonstrated to come from pele (LR:380), which given the stem-form PEL(ES) is understood to be a reduced from of *peles (cf. the Quenya cognate peler, clearly meant to come from *pelez < *peles). The plural of the old form pele is given as pelesi, and it is further stated that this became pelehi ("peleki" in LR:380 is a transparent misreading of Tolkien's manuscript; for s becoming h like this, cf. barasa > baraha in LR:351 s.v. BARÁS). Just as in one case referred to above, neleki becoming nelig, the plural pelehi became *pelih - but in this case the now final consonant was so weak that it was lost to produce the plural form peli, creating the false impression that Sindarin occasionally employs a plural ending similar to Quenya -i.
NOTE: Several of forms quoted above are somewhat regularized.
Pêl "fenced field" actually appears as pel in LR:380
s.v. PEL(ES); according to the phonology we can reconstruct from
many other examples, the vowel definitely ought to be long. The omission
of the circumflex in the form pel must be a mere mistake, whether
Tolkien himself or the transcriber is to be blamed (perhaps the singular
was confused with the plural peli, in which form the e
should be short). - The plural form of ôl "dream"
is given as elei in LR:379 s.v. ÓLOS; in Sindarin
we should evidently read ely, as suggested above. This is a case
wholly parallel to "Noldorin" geleidh corresponding to Sindarin
gelydh as the word for Noldor (sg. golodh): In both cases
"Noldorin" ei derived from o in the singular corresponds
to Sindarin y (cf. also the corrected/updated plurals suggested
above: Sindarin beryn, teryn, theryn where the
"Noldorin" of the Etymologies actually has berein, terein,
therein). - One other form is also regularized: In the Etymologies,
the plural of thêl is not theli as suggested above,
but thelei (LR:392 s.v. THEL, THELES). Why a word
thêl derived from a stem THELES should behave any
differently in the plural than a word pêl derived from
PELES is difficult to understand, so if the plural is peli
in the latter case, we may feel free to emend the plural of thêl
from thelei to theli. The plurals theli and attested
peli fit the general system better: The plurals represent the
full stems THELES and PELES, except for the detail that
the final -s was later lost (after becoming -h), and as
usual, e in a final syllable becomes i in the plural (as
in Edhel "Elf" pl. Edhil, WJ:377). Hence the pl. of *peles
ought to be *pelis, and removing the lost final consonant we
arrive at the attested plural peli; in light of this, the pl.
of *theles ought to be *thelis > theli rather
than "thelei". If we were to keep the plural thelei (in which
case we would have to alter peli to pelei for the sake
of consistency), we must take into account Tolkien's post-Etym discovery
that ei in a final syllable eventually became ai, which
would land us on thelai, pelai as the rather outlandish
plurals of thêl, pêl in late Third Age Sindarin.
So all things considered, it seems better to regularize thelei
to theli in accordance with the attested example peli
rather than going the other way. (In the case of thelei/theli
"sisters" writers can happily avoid the problem; LR:392 s.v. THEL
indicates that the more normal word for "sister" was muinthel
pl. muinthil, or - where "sister" is used in the wider sense
of "female associate" - gwathel pl. gwethil.) - Another
plural in -ei is "Noldorin" tele "end, rear, hindmost
part", pl. telei (LR:392 s.v. TELES). As far as the singular
is concerned, the development differs somewhat from that which produced
thêl from the stem THELES; notice that in tele,
the last vowel of TELES is still in place (it has not become
**têl to parallel thêl). The primitive form
of tele is given as télesâ (the accent marks
stress only). In "Old Noldorin", this would have become telesa
> teleha (not explicitly given in Etym but compare primitive
barasâ "hot, burning" producing "ON" barasa >
baraha, LR:351 s.v. BARÁS). Later the final vowels
were lost, hence teleha > teleh, but eventually the
weak final consonant -h also dropped out, leaving tele
only (and the new final vowel was not lost; the stage where such loss
occurred had already passed). But what about the plural form telei?
It is difficult to tell precisely what kind of development Tolkien envisioned.
The "Old Noldorin" plural of teleha is not mentioned but should
have been telehi (cf. for instance poto "animal's foot",
pl. poti, LR:384 s.v. POTÔ). Later, we would expect
the final i to umlaut the e in the second-to-last syllable,
telehi becoming telihi; then final vowels and later final
h are lost, which ought to leave us with teli as the plural
form. So how did Tolkien come up with telei instead? Are we to
assume that at the telehi-stage, h dropped out so that
the vowels e and i came into direct contact and formed
a diphthong telei? But this would be inconsistent with the example
referred to above: the plural form pelehi becoming peli
instead of **pelei. It seems that when updating "Noldorin" tele
pl. telei to Sindarin, it is best to read tele pl. teli.
Again, the plural form telei cannot be kept as it is in any case,
since in Sindarin ei in a final syllable becomes ai.
Plurals in -in
What may be the best example involves a loan-word, Drû
"Wose", the name of one of the Drúedain or "Wild Men"; the Sindarin
term was based on their native word Drughu. According to UT:385,
one Sindarin plural of Drû was Drúin. Perhaps
this extraordinary plural somehow marks the word as a loan; it is not
inflected according to the normal pattern (that would have landed us
on **Drui as the plural form).
On the fields of Cormallen (LotR3/VI ch. 4), the Ring-bearers were
hailed as Conin en Annûn, and according to Letters:308,
this means "Princes of the West". Assuming that Conin "princes"
contains the plural ending -in, it could be the plural form of
?caun (since by adding -in, constituting a new syllable,
au becomes o in the polysyllabic environment thereby arising).
This ?caun could in turn be a Sindarized form of Quenya cáno
"commander" (PM:345), which would again be a loan-word rather than a
"native" Sindarin word (PM:362 mentions a quite distinct inherited word
caun, meaning outcry or clamour). If conin "princes" is
not the plural of *caun, it could be the plural of an otherwise
unknown word *conen, but this looks like an adjective rather
than a noun.
The name Dor-Lómin occurring in the Silmarillion
is interpreted "Land of Echoes" in LR:406. The Silmarillion Appendix
lists a word lóm "echo", though nothing is said about
what language this is supposed to be. Is lómin the plural
form of lóm? We must carefully distinguish various stages
in Tolkien's conception. The Etymologies lists a word lóm
"echo" (LR:367 s.v. LAM), but this is Doriathrin, not "Noldorin"
> Sindarin. In Doriathrin (one dialect of the Ilkorin language
whose place in the mythos would later be usurped by Sindarin), there
is indeed a plural ending -in, so lómin could be
Doriathrin for "echoes". Yet in the entry in the Etymologies
just referred to, the name obviously corresponding to Dor-Lómin
in the Silmarillion appears as Dorlómen instead.
Dorlómen is said to be, not Doriathrin, but a "Noldorinized"
form of the true Doriathrin name Lómendor. The first element
is not a plural form at all, but a Doriathrin adjective lómen
"echoing". This may provide a clue to how Tolkien would later have interpreted
the name. When he had made Sindarin the language of Beleriand, dropping
"Ilkorin", he still made references to the peculiar North Sindarin
dialect, and the name Dor-Lómin seems to fit what little
is known about it (m is not opened to mh > v
following a vowel; cf. the North Sindarin name of Oromë
being Arum rather than Araw [for *Arauv] as in
standard Sindarin: WJ:400). One educated guess may be that in the post-LotR
period, Tolkien interpreted Dor-Lómin as meaning literally
"Echoing Land", lómin being the North Sindarin adjective
descending from older *lâmina. In standard Sindarin, the
adjectival ending would be -en in the singular and -in
only in the plural, but this may not be true of this dialectal form
of the language. If lómin is really an adjective, it is
of course irrelevant for a discussion of Sindarin plural formation.
Singulars derived from plurals
NOTE: The endings -od, -ig, -og used to
form singulars from plurals can also be used to form so-called nomina
unitatis, words denoting one distinct part of something larger,
or words denoting a single entity within a collective. Indeed this is
probably their proper function. WJ:391 provides a good example. There
was a Sindarin word glam "din, uproar, the confused yelling and
bellowing of beasts". Since bands of Orcs could be very noisy, the word
glam "alone could be used of any body of Orcs, and a singular
form was made from it, glamog". Hence we have glamog as
a word for "Orc", an individual member of a glam or body of Orcs
as a collective. In such a case one cannot well say that glam
is really the plural form of glamog (it would be like asserting
that "troop" is the plural form of "trooper"); perhaps glamog
could itself be the basis of a plural form ?glemyg. Another,
similar case is the word linnod, nowhere explicitly explained
but used in LotR Appendix A: "[Gilraen] answered only with this linnod:
Onen i-Estel Edain, ú-chebin estel anim [I gave Hope to
the Dúnedain, I have kept no hope for myself]." So what, really,
is a linnod? Knowing that -od is an ending used to form
nomina unitatis, as in filigod from filig above,
linnod can be recognized as such a formation, transparently based
of lind "song" (*lindod naturally becoming linnod
since Sindarin phonology does not permit intervocalic -nd- in
unitary words; this group can only occur in compounds, such as Gondor
"Stoneland"). So a linnod is some kind of unit within a song,
and the example provided indicates that it means a verse, a single
line in a song. Again it makes little sense to say that linnod
is the "singular" form of lind (as if this word for "song" must
be considered a plural just because a song is made up of verses). Rather
we must see linnod as a derived noun, an independent word for
"verse" that can probably have its own plural linnyd "verses".
(In the case of Gilraen's linnod it seems clear that her particular
"verse" was not part of a longer song; it was just a verse or
very short poem in its own right.) Nouns in -ig seem to denote
specifically one out of a pair, as in the examples quoted above: gwanunig
"a twin" from gwanûn "pair of twins", or lhewig
"an ear" besides lhaw "pair of ears". Again one may discuss whether
gwanûn, lhaw are really the "plural" forms of gwanunig,
lhewig; the latter forms simply denote one out of a couple.
The first element of compounds
If the ending -ath is added to a noun ending in -nc or -m, they would for phonological reasons change to -ng- and double -mm-, respectively, whereas final -nt and -nd would both become -nn-: The class plurals of words like ranc "arm", lam "tongue", cant "shape" and thond "root" would evidently be rangath, lammath, cannath, thonnath, respectively. Also remember that since the sound [v] is spelt f only finally, it would be spelt as it is pronounced - simply v - if any ending is appended. Hence the class-plural of a word like ylf "drinking-vessel" must be written ylvath.
In some cases, other endings than -ath seem to be used, such as -rim "people"; in WJ:388, Nogothrim is said to be the class plural of Nogoth "Dwarf". Yet another ending is -hoth "folk, host, horde", cf. Dornhoth "the Thrawn Folk", another Elvish term for Dwarves. The Silmarillion Appendix (entry hoth) states that this ending is "nearly always used in a bad sense" and mentions the example Glamhoth "Din-horde", an Elvish kenning of Orcs. The one who first called the Snowmen of Forochel Lossoth (for *Loss-hoth, loss = "snow") evidently did not like them. In Letters:178, Tolkien explains that while the normal plural of orch "Orc" is yrch, "the Orcs, as a race, or the whole of a group previously mentioned would have been orchoth" (for *orch-hoth, evidently). It could be discussed whether forms like Nogothrim and Lossoth are really "plural" forms or simply compounds: Dwarf-folk, Snow-horde. Words with the "collective" ending -ath are seen to take the plural article in, so they are evidently considered plurals. Words in -rim and -hoth seem to behave in the same way; cf. the name Tol-in-Gaurhoth "Isle (of) the Werewolves"(Silmarillion ch. 18, where the name is translated simply "Isle of Werewolves"). In Letters:178, Tolkien does state that "the general plurals [italics mine] were very frequently made by adding to a name (or a place-name) some word meaning 'tribe, host, horde, people' " - namely the endings we have been discussing here. So it would seem that from a grammatical point of view, the forms employing these endings really are to be considered plurals, not compounds.
Not only the genitive, but also the dative can be expressed by a Sindarin noun that does not in any way change its form. This is evident from the first part of Gilraen's linnod in LotR Appendix A: Onen i-Estel Edain, "I gave Hope to the [Dún]edain". The indirect object, or dative object, is clearly Edain - but it shows no inflectional ending, nor is there anything corresponding to the preposition "to" in Tolkien's English translation. The dative is apparently expressed by word order alone. This construction may be compared to English "I gave the Edain Hope", again with no preposition or inflectional ending - but while English in such a case inserts the indirect object before the direct object, Sindarin has the indirect object following the direct object.
The Sindarin noun, as well as other parts of speech, is often subjected to certain regular changes of the initial consonants. To these we must now turn our attention.
In Sindarin, the initial consonant of words often undergo certain changes,
so that the same word may appear in different shapes (words beginning
in a vowel are unaffected). These changes are termed mutations,
with a series of subcategories (soft mutation, nasal mutation etc.)
Consider two completely distinct words like saew "poison" and
haew "habit". One mutation rule dictates that s in certain
grammatical contexts becomes h. The article i "the" is
one of the triggers of this mutation, so if we prefix it to saew
to express "the poison", the result is not **i saew. "The
poison" must be i haew instead. Though haew also means
"habit", a competent user of Sindarin would not misunderstand i haew
(thinking it means "the habit" instead of "the poison"). For in the
same position where s becomes h, the mutation rule also
dictates that h becomes ch. So if we combine haew
"habit" with the article i, we would get i chaew for "the
habit", the words still being distinct. However, it is obvious that
there is here considerable room for confusion if one does not understand
the Sindarin mutation system. It is all too easy to imagine some naive
student seeing the combination i haew in a text and then looking
up haew instead of saew in his wordlist - wrongly concluding
that i haew means "the habit" instead of "the poison", since
it does not occur to him that haew is merely the form the word
saew takes in this particular position. It is quite impossible
to use a Sindarin wordlist properly unless one understands the mutation
system; in some cases the wordlist would be downright misleading.
The soft mutation turns the plosives p, t, c into voiced b, d, g; original b, d become v, dh, while g disappears altogether. (It should be noted that the mutations here described for b, d, g only apply when these sounds are derived from primitive b, d, g. Sindarin initial b, d, g may also derive from mb, nd, ñg, and in such cases, the lenited forms differ. See the section "The development of nasalized stops" below.)
pân "plank" > i bân "the plank"Note: G originally turned into the back spirant gh, but this sound later disappeared (i ghaw becoming i 'aw). To indicate that a g has been lenited to zero, one may use an apostrophe ' as in this example, but Tolkien's writings are inconsistent on this point. In UT:390 we have Curunír 'Lân for "Saruman the White", the apostrophe evidently indicating that the second word (the adjective "white") is glân when not mutated. Cf. also galadh "tree" > i 'aladh "the tree" in LR:298 (there spelt galað, i·'alað). But in the Silmarillion we have names like Ered Wethrin "shadowy mountains", wethrin being a lenited form of gwethrin, the plural form of the adjective gwathren "shadowy" (compare gwath "shadow", LR:396 s.v. WATH). Perhaps a spelling equivalent of Ered 'Wethrin would actually be used in Tengwar writing, Tolkien sometimes dropping the apostrophe in names occurring in his narratives.
These consonants evidently undergo the same mutations if they form
part of clusters:
blabed "flapping" > i vlabed "the flapping"The consonants h, s and m are lenited to ch, h and v, respectively:
hammad "clothing" > i chammad "the clothing"It will be noticed that b and m both become v when lenited. In a few cases, ambiguity may arise. Consider two adjectives like bell "strong" and mell "dear"; only context can decide whether i vess vell means "the strong woman" or "the dear woman". (In Sindarin, an adjective normally follows the noun it describes, and in this position, the adjective is lenited.) The mutation product of m is sometimes spelt mh instead (as in the King's Letter, SD:128-9: e aníra ennas suilannad mhellyn în, "he wishes there to great his friends"). It seems that in Third Age Sindarin, this mh was no longer pronounced any differently from v, though the distinction may have been upheld in Tengwar writing. Earlier, mh was evidently a distinctly nasal variant of v, that may also be termed "spirant m". Compare LotR Appendix E, in the discussion of the Runes: "For (archaic) Sindarin a sign for a spirant m (or nasal v) was required."
The sound hw (unvoiced w, like English wh in dialects where it is still kept distinct from w) probably becomes chw in mutation position:
hwest "breeze" > i chwest "the breeze"(In the "Noldorin" of the Etymologies, this sound is chw in all positions, also where the word is not lenited, but it seems that Tolkien revised this.)
The unvoiced spirants f, th, the nasal n and the liquids r, l are unaffected by the soft mutation:
fend "threshold" > i fend "the threshold"The behavior of the unvoiced liquids rh, lh in mutation position is somewhat uncertain. The view presented in earlier versions of this article was that they turn into normal voiced r, l. This was based primarily on the example rhass "precipice", with article i rass (LR:363 s.v. KHARÁS). However, this is probably "Noldorin" rather than Sindarin. One of the revisions Tolkien did when he turned "Noldorin" into Sindarin affected the sounds rh, lh. In "Noldorin", they were descended from normal r, l in the primitive language, where these sounds occurred initially. However, Tolkien later decided that primitive initial r, l were unchanged in Sindarin, a primitive word like lambâ "tongue" yielding Sindarin lam (WJ:394; contrast earlier "Noldorin", where this word had been lham instead: LR:367 s.v. LAB). The sounds rh, lh still occur initially in Sindarin, but in this language they are derived from primitive initial sr-, sl- (e.g. srawê > Sindarin rhaw, MR:350), not simple r-, l-. This new derivation must be taken into consideration when we make our educated guess about how Sindarin rh, lh behave in mutation position. Basically, the soft mutation corresponds to how certain consonants develop following vowels. Medial primitive sr, sl became thr, thl, e.g. "Noldorin" lhathron "listener, eavesdropper" (Sindarin lathron?) from primitive la(n)sro-ndo (LR:368 s.v. LAS2). So perhaps this is also what the soft mutation of rh-, lh- would produce, though we lack examples:
rhaw "flesh" > i thraw "the flesh" (primitive *i srawê)The uses of the soft mutation: The soft mutation has a variety of uses. It occurs after a series of particles, prepositions and prefixes, the example we have used so far - the definite article i - being only one of these particles. Typically, we are talking about particles that either end in a vowel or did end in a vowel at an earlier stage. A preposition like na "to" triggers the same mutations as the article i, for instance na venn "to a man" (unmutated benn). In the hymn to Elbereth (A Elbereth Gilthoniel) we have the phrase na-chaered "to-remote distance" (see RGEO:72 for translation), haered "remote distance, the remote" undergoing soft mutation to become chaered. (For haered as the unmutated form, compare the name Haerast "Far Shore" mentioned in the Silmarillion Index; see the entry Nevrast.)
We know or deduce that soft mutation occurs after the following particles and prefixes:
- the prefix
and preposition (?) ab "after, behind, following, later" (since
this was earlier apa, as in Quenya)
The sentence guren bêd enni "my heart tells me" (VT41:11) incorporates a lenited form of the verb pêd "tells". This example seems to indicate that a verb immediately following its subject is lenited. This is not the case if the verb comes before the subject, as in the sentence tôl acharn "vengeance comes" or literally *"comes vengeance" (WJ:254; notice that tôl is not here lenited to dôl). Some are skeptical of the rule that a verb is lenited even where it does immediately follow its subject. We are told that in one version of the so-called Turin wrapper, the wording Rían pent *"Rían said" occurs; here the verb pent "said" is not lenited (to bent), even though it does immediately follow its subject. Tolkien surely experimented with different systems over the years, or there may be something special about the phrase guren bêd enni that causes pêd to appear in lenited form bêd here. At least it seems certain that a verb is not lenited where it does not immediately follow its subject, as is evident from the Moria Gate inscription: Celebrimbor o Eregion teithant [not: deithant] i thiw hin "Celebrimbor of Hollin drew these signs". Perhaps it makes some difference that the phrase o Eregion "of Hollin" here intrudes between the subject and the verb, perhaps not. It would be interesting to know whether "Celebrimbor drew" would translate as Celebrimbor deithant or Celebrimbor teithant - or maybe both are possible.
NOTE: Tolkien revised the lenition rules
repeatedly. One obsolete rule may be mentioned. As noted above, the
genitive may be expressed by word order alone in Sindarin: Ennyn
Durin Aran Moria, "Doors (of) Durin Lord (of) Moria". According
to a rule that Tolkien later rejected, the second noun of such a construction
is lenited. Therefore, the first draft of the Moria Gate inscription
had the reading Ennyn Dhurin Aran Voria, with Durin and
Moria lenited. Compare some genitive phrases from the Etymologies,
LR:369: Ar Vanwë, Ar Velegol, Ar Uiar for
"Day of Manwë", "Day of Belegol (Aulë)", "Day of Guiar (Ulmo)"
(b and m leniting to v and g to zero). After
the revision, the forms would presumably be *Ar Manwë, *Ar Belegol,
*Ar Guiar instead.
in pl. "the" + Dúredhil "Dark Elves" = i Núredhil "the Dark Elves"Theoretically, we have long or double consonants here (innúredhil, iññelaidh, immeraid), though this is hardly reflected in pronunciation. But in the case of the prepositions an "to, for" and dan "against", that trigger similar mutations, it would be in keeping with Tolkien's general principles to mark this in spelling (though we lack exactly parallel examples):
an + Dúredhel "Dark Elf" = an Núredhel (rather than simply a Núr...) "for a Dark Elf"It is desirable to keep the preposition an clearly separate from the conjunction a "and"; confusion could arise if we simply wrote a Núredhel, a marad (the first of which might be misinterpreted "and a Deep-elf").
Before some consonant clusters beginning in voiced stops, such as
dr, gl, gr, gw, it may seem that no particular
mutation occurs. In LotR Appendix A, we have Haudh in Gwanûr
for "Mound of the Twins" (not **Haudh i Ngwanûr); cf. also
Bar-in-Gwael "Home of the Gulls" (?) in WJ:418 (not **Bar-i-Ngwael).
So combining an, dan, in with words like draug
"wolf", glân "border", grond "club" or gwêdh
"bond" may produce simply dan draug "against a wolf", dan
glân "against a border", dan grond "against a club",
dan gwêdh "against a bond" (definite plurals in droeg
"the wolves", in glain "the borders", in grynd "the clubs",
in gwîdh "the bonds"). Compare Tawar-in-Drúedain
for "Forest of the Drúedain (Woses)" in UT:319; the initial dr
is not changed by any visible nasal mutation, even though it follows
the plural article in "(of) the". Cf. also the exclamation gurth
an Glamhoth "death to (the) Din-horde (= Orcs)" in UT:39, 54, providing
an attested example of an "to" followed by a word in gl-.
It is, however, probable that the final n of dan, an,
in would be pronounced "ng" (ñ) before words beginning
with a cluster in g-, and perhaps also so written in Tengwar
No less than three examples of mixed mutation are found in one sentence
in the King's Letter: erin dolothen Ethuil, egor ben genediad Drannail
erin Gwirith edwen "on the eighth [day] of Spring, or in the Shire-reckoning
on the second [day] of April". Here we have three examples of prepositions
that incorporate the definite article in the oblique form -(i)n:
twice erin "on the" (or "on" + in "the" > umlauted
örin > later erin), plus ben, here translated
"in the", but more literally "according to the" (be "according
to" clearly being the cognate of Quenya ve "like, as"; hence
ben genediad Drannail "according to the Shire reckoning"). Other
prepositions incorporating the article in the form -in or -n,
such as nan "to the", uin "from the, of the" and possibly
'nin "to/for the", would be followed by the same mutations (at
least in the singular - in the plural we may see nasal mutation instead,
cf. 'ni Pheriannath "to the halflings", for 'nin [= an in]
Periannath). But what kind of mutations are we talking about?
The best-attested effects of the mixed mutation may be inferred from the examples given above. The unvoiced plosives p, t, c are voiced to b, d, g (pân "plank", caw "top", tâl "foot" > e-bân "of the plank", e-gaw "of the top", e-dâl "of the foot", and likewise erin bân, erin gaw, erin dâl for "on the plank/top/foot"). The voiced plosives b, d, g are unchanged (benn "man", daw "gloom", gass "hole" > e-benn "of the man", e-daw "of the gloom", e-gass "of the hole", and likewise erin benn "on the man" etc.) It is hardly necessary to point out that there is room for some confusion here, since the phonemic distinction between voiced and unvoiced plosives is neutralized in this position. Only the context can tell us whether, say, e-gost means "of the quarrel [cost]" or "of the dread [gost]".
Before the initial cluster tr-, we would probably see the full form of the genitival article (en), and the cluster tr itself would mutate to dr, e.g. trenarn "tale" > en-drenarn "of the tale". Original dr, as in draug "wolf", would behave in the same way, but here there is of course no visible mutation (en-draug "of the wolf"). The clusters pr and br may both come out as mr, and the article takes the short form e-: prestanneth "affection" > e-mrestanneth "of the affection", brôg "bear" > e-mrôg "of the bear". The cluster bl may likewise become ml-, as in blabed "flapping" > e-mlabed "of the flapping". Here the mixed mutation is similar to nasal mutation. The clusters cl-and cr- would behave more like tr-, being voiced (to gl-, gr-), but we would see only the short form of the article before them: claur "splendor" > e-glaur "of the splendor", crist "cleaver" (sword) > e-grist "of the cleaver". On the other hand, the long form en- is used before gl-, gr-, gw-, and these clusters undergo no change: gloss "snow" > en-gloss "of the snow" (compare Methed-en-glad "End of the Wood" in UT:153), grond "club" > en-grond "of the club", gwath "shade" > en-gwath "of the shade".
Before words in f-, the example Taur-en-Faroth would seem to indicate that the article appears in its full form en- (for this example, see the Silmarillion Appendix, entry faroth - Taur-en-Faroth does not seem to mean precisely "Hills of the Hunters", though). It is very uncertain how words in h-, l-, m-, th- would behave; possibly the genitival article would take the short form e-, and the initial consonant would undergo no change: e-hên "of the child", e-lam "of the tongue", e-mellon "of the friend", e-thond "of the root". Perhaps we would also have short e- before words in s-, but this consonant would probably become h-: salph "soup" > e-halph "of the soup". Before n- we have long en-; compare a name like Haudh-en-Nirnaeth "Mound of Tears", occurring in the Silmarillion. Before r- the genitival article may take the form edh- because of the dissimilation nr > dhr, e.g. edh-rem "of the net", but en-rem may also be permissible, at least in Doriathrin Sindarin.
This leaves only three initial sounds to be accounted for: all of them descended from clusters in s-, namely lh, rh, hw from primitive sl-, sr-, sw-. What effect does the mixed mutation have on unvoiced L, R, W? We have one possible attestation of such a mutation: The phrase Narn e·'Rach Morgoth "Tale of the Curse of Morgoth" in MR:373. This example indicates that 'rach is what the word for "curse" turns into when subjected to the mixed mutation. Unfortunately, this word is not otherwise attested, so we don't know for sure what the unmutated form would be. It has generally been assumed that this is a lenited form of *grach. But if so, analogous examples suggest that "of the curse" would be *en-grach. It may be, then, that the unmutated form is actually *rhach, primitive *srakk-, the ' of e·'rach marking the loss of this s (and/or the loss of its effect on the unmutated form, in which s, though no longer present as a distinct sound, has made the following r unvoiced: rh). If this is correct, we would expect the mixed mutation to have a similar effect on lh, hw, e.g. lhûg "dragon" > e-'lûg "of the dragon", hwest "breeze" > e-'west "of the breeze".
The prepositions that incorporate the article as -n or -in
would trigger mutations similar to those just described for the genitival
article en-, but there is apparently no variation between forms
where n is included and "short" forms where it is omitted, paralleling
the variation en/e: An n representing the article
is always present. (Contrast erin dolothen and e·Dant;
we don't see **eri·dolothen paralleling e·Dant or **en
Dant paralleling erin dolothen.)
Before a vowel, Tolkien informs us that we see the basic form
ed (e.g. ed Annûn "out of [the] West"). But before
consonants, ed appears as e, but the following consonant
would often change. If we can trust our understanding of the phonological
evolution of Sindarin, the unvoiced stops t-, p-, c-
would turn into spirants th-, ph-, ch- (the clusters
tr-, pr-, cl-, cr- likewise become thr-,
phr-, chl-, chr-):
pân "plank" > e phân "out of a plank"On the other hand, the voiced plosives b-, d-, g- (occurring alone or in clusters bl-, br-, dr-, gl-, gr-, gw-) would undergo no change: Compare o galadhremmin ennorath "from the tree-tangled lands of Middle-earth" in the hymn to Elbereth; the word galadh "tree" is unchanged.
barad "tower" > e barad "out of a tower"The system here sketched refers to "normal" b, d, g; notice that where these sounds come from primitive mb, nd, ñg, they behave differently. See "The development of nasalized stops" below.
Words in m- and n- would not change, either:
môr "darkness" > e môr "out of darkness"
But h- and hw- may become ch- and w-,
haust "bed" > e chaust "out of a bed"As for the form of ed before s-, f-, th-, we are told that "es, ef, eth are often found" (WJ:367) before these consonants:
sarch "grave" > es sarch "out of a grave"However, Tolkien's wording "often found" rather than "always found" indicates that e sarch, e falch, e thôl would be equally permissible. The preposition ned *"in", that probably behaves like ed "out of", should probably not be nef (but rather ne) before a word in f-, since the spelling nef would cause confusion with the distinct preposition nef "on this side of". (There would be no confusion if it had not been for Tolkien's idea that final [v] is to be spelt f in his Roman orthography for Sindarin; nef "on this side of" is pronounced [nev], but nef as a form of ned would be pronounced [nef]. Ef, nef as forms of ed, ned should strictly speaking have been spelt eph, neph according to Tolkien's orthographic system, since they are pronounced [ef], [nef] - but in WJ:367, Tolkien himself uses the spelling "ef"!)
The unvoiced liquids lh, rh may behave like we have
assumed that they do under the influence of soft mutation: turn into
thl-, thr-. (It must be emphasized that this is speculation
and at best a qualified guess, which goes for many of the possible effects
of the stop mutation presented here. Of all the unattested forms, only
the behavior of the unvoiced stops is relatively certain.)
lhewig "ear" > e thlewig "out of an ear"As for normal, voiced l, r, the general principles of Sindarin phonology (as far as they can be reconstructed) may suggest that "out of" would here appear in its full form ed, despite Tolkien's statement in WJ:367 that the final stop is lost before consonants:
lach "flame" > ed lach (e lach?) "out of a flame"This hopefully covers the mutations caused by ed "out of"; ned *"in" would behave in the same way. The preposition o "from, of" causes the same mutations, but here the preposition itself does not change its form (no variation corresponding to ed/e). Tolkien noted, however, that o occasionally appears in the form od before vowels (WJ:367). As mentioned above, Tolkien himself used o Eregion "of Hollin" in the Moria Gate inscription and o Imladris for "from/of Rivendell" in RGEO:70 (in Tengwar writing). Od Eregion and od Imladris would apparently have been possible, but not necessary. However, Tolkien noted that od was more usual before o- than before other vowels, so (say) "from/of an Orch" should perhaps be rendered od Orch rather than o Orch to avoid two identical vowels in hiatus.
V. LIQUID MUTATIONThis mutation represents a leap of faith. It is not mentioned, alluded to or directly exemplified anywhere in the published material; yet our general understanding of Sindarin phonology seems to demand it. If Tolkien adhered to his own rules (he did sometimes), we would expect liquid mutation in Sindarin.
We know that following the liquids l, r, Sindarin at
one point changed plosives to spirants (UT:265, footnote); compare Telerin
alpa "swan" with Sindarin alph, or Quenya urco
"Orc" with Sindarin orch. This does not only happen in unitary
words. The prefix or- "over", clearly separable, is seen to cause
a similar change in the verb ortheri "master, conquer", literally
*"over-power" (LR:395, where the stem is given as TUR "power,
control"). There is little reason to doubt that or, also when
appearing as an independent preposition "over, above, on", would trigger
similar changes in the word that follows: Stops become spirants.
pân "plank" > or phân "above a plank"G originally turned into a spirant gh, but this sound later disappeared (marked by ' where it formerly occurred):
galadh "tree" > or 'aladh "above a tree" (archaic or ghaladh)It does not matter whether the initial stop occurs by itself or as part of a cluster; it would still turn into a spirant under the influence of liquid mutation (tr- > thr-, pr- > phr, cl- > chl-, cr- > chr-, dr- > dhr-, bl- > vl-, br- > vr-, gl- > 'l, gr- > 'r, gw- > 'w).
M, like b, would probably turn into v when subjected
to liquid mutation. This change is seen in unitary words; cf. primitive
*gormê (Quenya ormë) "haste" yielding Sindarin
gorf (LR:359 s.v. GOR; gorf is of course just Tolkien's
way of spelling gorv, since final [v] is represented by the letter
mîr "jewel" > or vîr "above a jewel" (archaic or mhîr, where mh = nasalized v)H- and hw- are probably strengthened to ch-, chw-, under the influence of liquid mutation:
habad "shore" > or chabad "above a shore"For the change h > ch, compare a word like hall "high" becoming -chal when or- is prefixed to produce a word for "superior, lofty, eminent" - orchal literally meaning over-high, super-high. ("Orchel" in LR:363 s.v. KHAL2 is a misreading; compare WJ:305.)
The unvoiced liquids lh, rh may become 'l,
'r, as we surmised is the case of nasal and mixed mutation:
lhûg "dragon" > or 'lûg "above a dragon"The voiced liquids r, l would be unaffected by the liquid mutation:
rem "net" > or rem "above a net"The unvoiced spirants f, th, the nasal n and the sibilant s would not be affected, either:
fend "threshold" > or fend "above a threshold"
SPECIAL CASES: The development of nasalized stopsThere exists a subcategory of words in b-, d-, g- that needs to be watched, and that must be memorized separately. In the words in question, b-, d-, g- does not come from b-, d-, g- in the primitive language. Instead, they were originally nasalized stops mb-, nd-, ñg- (ñ representing the sound of ng as in English sing, and ñg therefore being pronounced like "ng" in English finger, with a distinct, audible g). In Sindarin, you cannot readily tell whether the initial consonant in a word like Golodh "Noldo" is a "normal" g, sc. one that was g all along, or whether it represents earlier ñg-. But it is important to know this, for when mutations are due, a word that originally began in a nasalized stop behaves quite differently from a word that had a simple stop all along. For instance, if the first consonant of Golodh had been a "normal" g, prefixing the article i would have produced i 'Olodh for "the Noldo" - g being lenited to zero because of the soft mutation triggered by the article. Cf. one example quoted above, in the section about the soft mutation: galadh "tree" > i 'aladh "the tree" (LR:298). But the g of galadh was a simple g also in the primitive language (where the word appeared as galadâ). The g of Golodh, on the other hand, was originally ñg; the word descends from primitive ñgolodô. When we prefix the article and thereby trigger soft mutation, the resulting form is actually not i 'Olodh, but i Ngolodh.
Already in Tolkien's earliest "Gnomish" language (ca. 1917), we find the idea that the original nasalized stops behave in a special way in mutation position. In the Gnomish Grammar of 1917 (published along with the Gnomish Lexicon in Parma Eldalamberon #11), the principle described is that the original nasalized stops were preserved when the article is prefixed. Hence we had for instance balrog "demon, balrog" > i mbalrog "the demon", dôr "land" > i ndôr "the land", Golda "Gnome, Noldo" > i Ngolda "the Gnome". Is this system still valid in Sindarin? In WJ:383, in an essay dating to ca. 1960, Tolkien indicated that the Sindarin word for Noldo was "Golodh (Ngolodh)". So the word Golodh sometimes appears as Ngolodh instead. In the essay in question, Tolkien did not clarify where the form Ngolodh would be used, but the variation Golodh/Ngolodh seemed to correspond to Gnomish Golda/Ngolda. Earlier versions of this article therefore presented the view that the soft mutation of b, d, g, where these sounds were nasalized in the primitive language, is mb, nd, and ng - the original nasalized stops being restored, or rather preserved, in this position.
However, a closer look at Sindarin phonology seems to indicate that
it was rash to conclude that the "Gnomish" system was still valid in
later Grey-elven (and demonstrates that Tolkien's early material must
be treated with considerable skepticism if one wants to learn LotR-style
Elvish, despite certain claims made by the editors that the publication
of the Gnomish Grammar and Lexicon would throw more light upon Sindarin).
The soft mutation corresponds to how certain consonants or consonant
groups develop between vowels. It is triggered, among other things,
by the negative prefix ú-. So if we prefix it to a verb
like bartha- "doom", derived from the stem MBARAT, what
do we get? The related word úmarth "ill-fate", where the
same prefix occurs (though with a different shade of meaning), points
unequivocally to *ú-martha for "does not doom". The soft
mutation of b, where it represents primitive mb, is therefore
m. The soft mutation of d derived from primitive nd
would then be n. This largely corresponds to the development
of the mb, nd medially, where they become m(m),
n(n) - e.g. amar "earth" as the cognate of Quenya
ambar, or annon "gate" corresponding to Quenya andon.
What, then, about the attested form Ngolodh - apparently the
soft mutation of Golodh? Is not the original initial cluster
of primitive ngolodô preserved here, just as in Gnomish?
Probably not; we are merely being confused by an unfortunate deficiency
of the English alphabet, the absence of a single letter for the sound
that often spelt ng, as in sing, thing. As already
mentioned, Tolkien sometimes denoted this sound as ñ.
This single, unitary sound ñ must be distinguished from
ñ + g, which is what the spelling ng denotes
in finger. It seems that in Sindarin Ngolodh, the initial
ng is to be pronounced as in sing, sc. simple ñ
with no audible g - whereas in Gnomish Ngolda, the spelling
ng indicates a real cluster, pronounced as in English finger.
Hence, the mutation products of g from primitive ñg
are not really the same in Sindarin and Gnomish after all, and the treatment
of b, d from mb, nd also differs.
bâr "land, home" (stem MBAR) > i mâr "the land, the home" (not i mbâr as stated in earlier versions of this article)Update: Since I wrote the above, another relevant example has been published. Tolkien's incomplete Sindarin Lord's Prayer includes the words i mbas "the bread" (the unmutated word for "bread" being mas/mass, from a root MBAS). This kind of mutation is surprising in such a late text: For a moment at least, Tolkien seems to have revived the system he used in his very earliest "Gnomish" language. However, we have also had explicit confirmation of the system whereby b, d, g from primitive mb, nd, ñg are lenited to m, n, ñ (spelt ng), respectively: It turns out that such a system had come into place already in one variant of early "Noldorin"; see the table of mutations published in Parma Eldalamberon #13 p. 120. This table even provides explicit Tolkienian confirmation of one of the forms listed above, i mâr, still unattested when I originally wrote this article. This system does seem to fit the general phonology best. I would therefore write i mas, not i mbas, for "the bread" - irrespective of Tolkien's curious indecision in this matter.
Actual clusters, or nasalized stops, do arise when nasal mutation
is due. The plural of bâr "land, home", bair, occurs
in the King's Letter (SD:129), combined with the plural article in,
and this combination is seen to produce i Mbair "the lands".
So when in = plural "the" occurs before b or d
representing mb, nd, the final n of the particle
is dropped, but the original nasalized stop reappears. In the case of
the other particles triggering nasal mutation, namely an "for"
and dan "against", it may be convenient to let the final nasal
of the particle remain in spelling; for instance, "for a land" (an
+ bâr) may be represented as am mbâr (an
becoming am before m-), and likewise dam mbâr
"against a land" (dan + bâr). Similarly an ndôl
"for a head" and dan ndôl "against a head" (an/dan
NOTE: It is interesting to notice the different mutations affecting the collective plural gaurhoth = "werewolves" or "werewolf-host". Gaur "werewolf" comes from an ng-stem (ÑGAW "howl", LR:377). In the case of a collective plural like gaurhoth, it is optional whether one uses the singular article i or the plural article in. In one of Gandalf's fire-spells, naur dan i ngaurhoth! *"fire against the werewolves!", the singular article i is used, causing soft mutation: i ngaurhoth = i ñaurhoth. But in the Silmarillion, we find the place-name Tol-in-Gaurhoth "Isle of the Werewolves", where the plural article in is used in front of the same collective plural. The Roman spelling in-Gaurhoth here represents i Ñgaurhoth with nasal mutation triggered by the final nasal of in, exactly parallel to in-Gelydh = i Ñgelydh "the Noldor".
As for the mixed mutation of b, d, g from
mb, nd, ng, the example Narn e·mbar Hador
*"Tale of the house of Hador" indicates that it is similar to the nasal
mutation, mbar "house" exemplifying the mixed mutation of bar
(bâr) "house, home, land" (stem MBAR "dwell, inhabit",
though this word is not listed in Etym, LR:372). Hence b, d,
g again "revert" to original mb, nd, ng,
and just like we have e-mbar for "of the house", we would see
for instance e-ndôl "of the head", en-Golodh "of
the Noldo" (provisory Roman spelling of e-Ñgolodh). But
spellings like en-ndôl may also be permissible; compare
a name like Haudh-en-Ndengin "Hill of Slain" occurring in the
nan "to the" + bâr "house" = nan mbâr "to the house"The stop mutation following prepositions like o "from/of", ed "out of" and ned "in" would produce forms similar to the mixed mutation above. The prepositions ed, ned would appear in the short forms e, ne (but e ñg-, ne ñg- unfortunately have to be represented as en g-, nen g- in Roman spelling; morphologically speaking, the nasal has nothing to do where orthography forces us to place it):
bâr "house" > e mbâr "out of a house"The liquid mutation probably caused by the preposition or "over, above, on" would have no apparent effect on b-, d-, g- descended from primitive nasalized stops (while "normal" b-, d-, g- turn into spirants v-, dh-, '-):
bâr "house" > or bâr "above a house"The words involved: The words with initial b, d, g representing primitive nasalized stops must be memorized, and we will attempt to list most of them. As an example of an actual mutation we use lenition (soft mutation); the other mutations are described above. Where the word in question is a verb and not a noun, I list the form it would have following the particle i when used as a relative pronoun ("who, which") rather than as the article "the"; since this is merely a secondary use of the definite article (also found in German), the following mutations are the same. So from bartho "to doom" we have for instance i martha "who dooms" or "the [one who] dooms" (verbs with infinitives in -o forming their present tense in -a; see the section on verbs below). In the plural, the plural article in is used as a relative pronoun, triggering nasal mutation (hence "dead who live" is gyrth i chuinar = ...in cuinar), so "who doom" or "the [ones who] doom" must be i mbarthar.
1: Mutation of B from primitive MB
The "trade" words derived from the primitive stem MBAKH:
bachor "pedlar" > i machor "the pedlar"The "doom" pair from MBARAT:
barad "doomed" > i marad "the doomed [one]" (contrast the homophone barad "tower" > i varad "the tower")The "bread" pair from MBAS:
bast "bread" > i mast "the bread"The "duress" group from MBAD and MBAW:
The "festive" group from MBER:
bereth "feast, festival" > i mereth "the feast" (but mereth > i vereth may be more usual, cf. Mereth Aderthad, not *Bereth Aderthad, for "Feast of Reunion" in the Silmarillion)
bâr "home, land" > i mâr "the home" (stem MBAR, but this word is not given in Etym)
2: Mutation of D from primitive ND
The "slaying"-group from NDAK:
daen "corpse" > i naen "the corpse"The "hammering" group from NDAM:
dam "hammer" > i nam "the hammer"
The "head" pair from NDOL:
dôl "head" > i nôl "the head"(These may be somewhat uncertain; David Salo argues that dôl behaves like a normal word in D, hence *i dhol. Compare the name of the mountain Fanuidhol.)
dûn "west" > i nûn "the west" (NDÛ)3: Mutation of G from primitive ÑG
The "harping" pair from ÑGAN:
gannel "harp" > i ngannel "the harp"
The "wolf" group from ÑGAR(A)M and ÑGAW:
garaf "wolf" > i ngaraf "the wolf"The "wise" group from ÑGOL:
golu "lore" > i ngolu "the lore" (the "Noldorin" word golw must become golu in Sindarin)
and finally the words for "death" and "horror":
gûr "death" > i ngûr "the death" (also guruth, i nguruth) (ÑGUR)
SUMMARYWe will list all the attested and surmised mutations in table form. In the first column, we list all Sindarin initial consonants and consonant groups alphabetically, in their "Basic" = unmutated form. The soft mutation is exemplified by the article i = singular "the". To make things more complicated than necessary, there are two columns for the nasal mutation. The mutations as such are exactly the same, but in the first column ("Nasal I") the examples given involve the plural article in, which is reduced to i in most cases. However, in the case of the prepositions an "to, for" and dan "against" it is in many cases preferable (and in harmony with the attested example am Meril "to Meril/Rose") to use assimilated variants of the prepositions instead of simply reducing them to a, da in spelling, though this happens in some contexts (cf. a Pherhael "to Perhael/Samwise" in the same source that provides am Meril). The column "Nasal II" suggests various forms of an. The mixed mutation is exemplified by the genitival article en- "of the", the stop mutation by the preposition ed "out of", and the liquid mutation by the preposition or "above, on". (Before a word beginning in a vowel, that cannot be mutated in any way, all of these particles would appear in their full forms, as just quoted: i ael "the pool", in aelin "the pools", an ael "for a pool", en-ael "of the pool", ed ael "out of a pool", or ael "above a pool".)
Special cases: b, d, g derived from primitive nasalized stops mb, nd, ñg:
The mixed mutations described above follow the system seen in such phrases as e-mbar Hador "of the house of Hador" (MR:373) and possibly Taur e-Ndaedelos "Forest of the Great Fear" (mentioned in LotR Appendix F as a Sindarin name of Mirkwood). Bar-en-Danwedh "House of Ransom", a name mentioned in the Silmarillion and clearly incorporating a descendant of the stem NDAN, ought to be spelt Bar-e-Ndanwedh instead. Perhaps Tolkien thought this looked somewhat uncouth and used a spelling more palatable to his readers. The full form of the article en "of the" is seen in another name from the Silmarillion, Haudh-en-Ndengin "Hill of the Slain". Here, a descendant of the stem NDAK is present, and initial nd is restored following en "of the". According to the system sketched above, this ought to be spelt Haudh-e-Ndengin instead (cf. Taur e-Ndaedelos), while based on the example Bar-en-Danwedh, we ought to write Haudh-en-Dengin. We needn't be worried by this. If Sindarin had been an actual spoken language in a "medieval" age, just like Tolkien imagined, there is every reason to believe that such inconsistencies in spelling would be quite common - various scribes using their more or less "private" systems, there being no central authority or language academy that could establish a standardized spelling.
It is hardly necessary to reiterate that the system set out above varies from certain, attested forms to very tentative speculation and sheer guesses, with several shades of more or less plausible interpolation between these extremes. Complex as this system may seem, it may still be over-simplified. Some points may be commented on:
thl as the soft mutations of rh, lh are phonetically
sound, but remain speculative. In one name mentioned in the Silmarillion,
Talath Rhúnen "East Vale", or literally and with Sindarin
word order "Plain Eastern", the adjective rhúnen "eastern"
is not lenited in any way, though adjectives in this position usually
are. It would not be wrong, then, to let adjectives in lh-, rh-
remain unchanged when they stand in apposition to a noun. By analogy,
neither would it be a great sin to let nouns in lh-, rh-
remain unchanged when they stand as the object of a verb, though "accusatives"
are normally lenited. When a word functions as the second element of
a compound, the initial consonant usually undergoes changes comparable
to soft mutation, but lh, rh seem to become l,
r in this position. Compare Rhûn "East" with -rûn
in he longer word Amrûn of similar meaning. If thr,
thl do occur as mutations of lh, rh, they may most
typically appear following particles ending in a vowel, such as the
definite article i or the preposition na "to".
Typical adjectival endings are -eb, -en and -ui: aglareb "glorious" (< aglar "glory"), brassen "white-hot" (< brass "white heat"), uanui "monstrous, hideous" (< úan "monster") (AKLA-R, BAN, BARÁS). However, many adjectives have no special endings, and the word-form as such sometimes belongs to more than one part of speech. Morn "dark" can be both adjective and noun, just like its English gloss.
Adjectives agree with their nouns in number. It seems that adjectives form their plurals following patterns similar to the noun plurals, e.g. malen "yellow", pl. melin (SMAL). Note that the initial consonant of adjectives following the noun they describe is lenited (see above).
In PM:358, Aran Einior is translated "the Elder King". Einior is our sole example of the comparative form of the adjective; the uninflected form is iaur (seen in the name Iant Iaur "the Old Brigde"). The prefix ein- seems to be related to the Quenya superlative prefix an-. The prefix may not have the form ein- prefixed to any adjective; it seems to be umlauted by the following i.
It so happens that we may also have the superlative form of iaur "old"; during the Council of Elrond, the Sindarin name of Tom Bombadil was given as Iarwain, meaning "Eldest". The ending -wain would seem to be the superlative suffix. Why not *Iorwain, with the normal monophthongization au > o? (David Salo answers, "Because you are looking at the direct descendant of a form like *Yarwanya (perhaps, I am not sure of the exact form of the final element) in which the vowel was in a closed syllable." I don't feel much wiser, but then I am not so deep into Eldarin phonology as David is.)
separate article. While I will claim that the evidence has been thoroughly examined, future publications may well blow parts of the system sketched below to pieces. Yet I think we can be reasonably sure of the general outlines.
General: There seem to be two main categories of Sindarin verbs.
As in Quenya, we can speak of derived verbs and basic verbs.
The first, and larger, class consists of verbs that were originally
formed by combining a primitive stem with some ending, such as *-nâ
(Sindarin -na), *-jâ (Sindarin -ia), *-tâ
(Sindarin -da/-tha/-ta/-na, depending on
the phonological environment), *-râ (Sindarin -ra)
or *-â (Sindarin -a). Since all of these end in
-a, this class can also be termed the A-stems. The other,
smaller class consists of verbs that come directly from a primitive
stem with no suffixes. For instance, nag- "bite" is simply the
naked stem NAK as it appears in Sindarin. Since this category
of verbs have present-tense stems in -i-, they may also be termed
Suffixes: In many forms, Sindarin verbs (derived or basic)
take endings for number and person. Sindarin, like Quenya, adds
the ending -r to verbs with a plural subject; cf. the phase gyrth
i-chuinar "dead that live" in Letters:417 (cuinar "live,
are alive", here incidentally in nasal-mutated form chuinar,
being the plural of cuina "lives, is alive"). Other endings denote
various persons. Known pronominal endings include -n for "I",
-m for "we" and apparently -ch or -g for "you".
It is possible that the plural ending -r can denote "they" as
well as mere plurality. The verb cuina- "live" can evidently
have forms like cuinon "I live" (for *cuinan), cuinam
"we live", cuinach or cuinag "you live" and cuinar
"they live". The 3rd person singular does not seem to have any ending
by itself: cuina "(he, she, it) lives". The 3rd person singular
can in some cases be considered the basic form to which the various
endings are added to produce forms for other persons and numbers.
bronia- "endure" > bronio "to endure"
bronia- "endure" > bronia "endures, is enduring"The plural or pronominal endings mentioned above are added to this form: broniar "(they) endure", broniam "we endure" etc. Notice that the ending -n for "I" causes the final -a to become -o instead: hence bronion "I endure", dagron "I make war" etc.
bronia- "endure" > broniant "endured"Again, plural or pronominal endings may be added, just like in the present tense. If so, the suffix -nt becomes -nne- before the ending follows:
broniant "endured" > bronianner "they endured" (also plural, e.g. in Edhil bronianner "the Elves endured"), broniannen "I endured", broniannem "we endured" etc.For, say, "(they) sang" we would expect linnanner (since "sang" is linnant), but wherever "double nn" would occur, the verb is probably contracted: "(they) sang" may simply be linner.
bronia- "endure" > broniatha "will endure"Again, plural and pronominal endings can be added, following the same rules as in the present tense. As in the present tense, the ending -n for "I" causes the final -a to become -o instead: broniathon "I will endure" (linnathon for "I will sing" is actually attested in LotR). Otherwise, the final -a is unchanged: broniatham "we will endure", linnathar "they will sing" etc.
bronia- "endure" > broniol "enduring"(The example glavrol is attested, LR:358 s.v. GLAM; cf. also chwiniol "whirling" from chwinio "to whirl", LR:388 s.v. SWIN. In mature Sindarin, as opposed to the "Noldorin" of the Etymologies, we should probably read hw- for chw-.) It seems that the adjectival participles so derived do not have an explicit plural form, as most other adjectives do.
esta- "call, name" > estiel "having named"In the case of the numerous verbs in -ia, parallel forms suggest that the stem-vowel should be lengthened, as in hwíniel from hwinia- above. (The verbs siria- "flow", thilia- "glister" and tiria- "watch" would presumably behave in the same way: síriel, thíliel, tíriel.) However, this has somewhat complicated consequences. If we dare to trust the phonological system we glimpse in Tolkien's works, we must often take into account what the original vowel in these verbs were.
Where the original, primitive root or stem had the vowel A,
the perfective participle would show ó (representing long
á, since earlier long á had become ó
beria- "protect" (stem BAR) > bóriel "having protected"Notice especially egleria- "glorify" (related to aglar "glory"), that may have the perfective participle aglóriel "having glorified".
Where the original stem had the vowel O or U, the perfective
participle would show ú (representing long ó,
since earlier long ó had become ú in Sindarin):
delia- "hide, conceal" (stem DUL) > dúliel "having hidden, having concealed"(In archaic Sindarin, it was easier to keep this category apart from the one above, since these verbs earlier showed ö instead of e: dölia- etc. After ö became e, these verbs must be memorized.) The verb bronia- "endure" (stem BORÓN-) would likewise yield brúniel "having endured". Indeed it is a mystery why bronia- does not appear as *brenia-, archaic *brönia-; in all comparable cases, the ending -ia causes umlaut (cf. for instance delia-, older dölia-, from *duljâ- or later *dolja-).
Other derived verbs than the ones in -ia may show simple
umlaut when the ending -iel is added (we cannot be sure of this).
If so, the vowels a and o both become e (again,
o became ö in archaic Sindarin, ö later
merging with e):
awartha- "abandon" > ewerthiel "having abandoned"Verbal stem with the vowels e or i would not be affected by the umlaut:
critha- "reap" > crithiel "having reaped"Verbs with a diphthong (ei, ui, ae, au etc.) would not change, either:
eitha- "insult" > pl. eithiel "having insulted"
gosta- "fear exceedingly" > gostannen "feared, dreaded" (cf. gostant as the past tense of the verb)As the past participle of linna- "sing" we might expect linnannen ("sung"), but as in other cases where "double nn" would occur, the form is probably simply contracted: linnen.
In form, the past participles coincide with the 1st person past tense:
gostannen could also mean "I feared", egleriannen is also
"I glorified" etc. The context must decide how the form is to be understood.
In some cases, where the corresponding verb is intransitive (sc. when
it cannot normally take a direct object, e.g. "go"), the past participle
may describe the state that the one performing the verbal action is
in having completed it. For instance, one who goes will thereafter
be gone ("gone" is the past participle of "go"). In a similar
manner, the past participle of an intransitive verb like lacha-
"flame" (lachannen) may perhaps be used to describe a fire having
flamed. But in Sindarin, it may be better to use the perfective
active participle instead (like lechiel in this case); see above.
Unlike the active participles (we think), the past or passive participle
has a distinct plural form (used when the participle describes a plural
word). This is formed by altering the ending -nnen to -nnin,
combined with I-umlaut throughout the word. As usual, the effect of
this is that the vowels a and o, where they occur, are
altered to e (but again, e from o was actually
ö in archaic Sindarin):
harnannen "wounded" > pl. hernenninNotice that the ending -a in the verbal stem itself, here the final -a of harna and gosta-, is also umlauted to e: In the plural, -annen always becomes -ennin.
The vowels e and i are not affected by the umlaut:
linnen "sung" > pl. linninAgain, neither are various diphthongs (ei, ae, ui, au etc.):
eithannen "insulted" > pl. eithenninFor a similar reason, it may be that the plural past participle of the verb boda- "ban, prohibit" should be bodennin, NOT **bedennin with umlaut o > e, since this o represents an older diphthong au (compare the related word baw! "no! don't!")
bronia- "endure" > broniad "enduring" (= the act of enduring, endurance)(Cf. the Mereth Aderthad, Feast of Reunion, mentioned in the Silmarillion.)
It seems that gerunds are often used where English would have an infinitive instead. In the King's Letter (SD:129), Aragorn writes that he aníra...suilannad mhellyn în = "wishes...to greet his friends", literally "wishes greeting (of) his friends". It is indeed possible that Tolkien had decided to drop the infinitives in -o and -i (see below concerning the latter), replacing them with gerunds. The infinitives in -o and -i are not attested in any sources later than the Etymologies. This may not mean much, since our post-Etym evidence is very scanty, but I would generally use gerunds for English infinitives when writing in Sindarin.
NOTE: As mentioned above, the object of a sentence undergoes lenition (soft mutation). It should be noted that in the phrase aníra...suilannad mhellyn în = "wishes...to greet his friends" or literally "wishes...greeting (of) his friends", the object from a grammatical point of view would undoubtedly be the suilannad or "greeting". However, the logical object is mellyn "friends", and this is the word that is lenited (to mhellyn). The gerund suilannad is not lenited (to *huilannad). This strongly suggests that the gerund is here perceived as an infinitive, not as a noun that could be lenited as the object of a sentence; the lenition affects the logical object "friends" instead.
fir- "fade, die" > firi "to fade, to die"This ending causes the vowels a and o to umlaut to e:
blab- "flap" > blebi "to flap"Some verbs inevitably coincide in the infinitive; for instance, can- "call, shout" and cen- "see" would both have the infinitive ceni. The context must decide which verb is intended. (But as suggested above, Sindarin would often use the gerund where English has an infinitive, and here the distinction is preserved: caned "shouting", but cened "seeing".)
dar- "stop" > dâr "(he, she, it) stops"(These may also cover the English compound tenses: "is stopping", "is fading" etc., but we cannot be sure; see Note (i) below.) Attested examples include blâb as the present tense of blebi- "to flap" (LR:380 s.v. PALAP), and - with a clearer wording - the entry TUL- in LR:395, where tôl is translated "he comes", thus being clearly identified as the 3rd person singular of teli "to come". That the form itself is simply 3rd person and not necessarily "masculine" or even animate ("he comes") is apparent from another attestation, the sentence tôl acharn "vengeance comes" (WJ:254; according to WJ:301 Tolkien later wrote tûl acharn instead, but accepting this change would cause such an upheaval in the verbal system and the phonology that it is probably best ignored at this point). Acharn "vengeance" would not normally be referred to with the pronoun "he".
NOTE (i): Pêd as the present tense "speaks" is also attested (incidentally in lenited form: bêd) in VT41:11, where it is seen to correspond to the Quenya aorist quete. Whether Sindarin has an aorist tense distinct from the present tense is unclear; if so, forms like pêd are probably aorists: "speaks" as opposed to present tense "is speaking".
NOTE (ii): When final, v is spelt f. Therefore, the
3rd person singular present tense of lav- "lick" is lâf.
In other forms, where the v is not final, it would also be spelt
v (e.g. levin "I lick" - cf. below).
In the case of polysyllabic basic verbal stems (usually verbs
with some prepositional element prefixed), there is no lengthening of
the vowel, and the 3rd person singular present tense is identical to
the verbal stem itself:
osgar- "cut around, amputate" > osgar "cuts around, amputates" (this form is explicitly mentioned in LR:379 s.v. OS)In all present-tense forms except the 3rd person singular, some ending is required, as outlined initially. These endings are added to a form of the verb that is identical to the infinitive, hence with the ending -i and umlaut where the verbal stem has the vowel a or o (while i and e are not affected in any way):
dar- "stop, halt" > derin "I stop, halt", derir "(they) stop, halt" (with multiple subjects, e.g. in Edhil derir "the Elves halt"), derig/derich "you stop", derim "we stop"This form has long been thought of as the perfect tense, which was also the view presented in earlier versions of this article. This was primarily because of Gilraen's linnod in LotR Appendix A: Onen i-Estel Edain, ú-chebin estel anim, translated in a footnote as "I gave Hope to the Dúnedain, I have kept no hope for myself" (emphasis added). However, in light of other examples, it may be best to see ú-chebin as a present-tense form (and translate "I do not keep [any] hope for myself"), assuming that Tolkien's perfect-tense translation "I have kept no hope for myself" is slightly free and makes a concession to natural English. (It used to be unclear what the basic form of ú-chebin is; removing the negative prefix ú- "not" and the soft mutation h > ch that it triggers, we are left with hebin "I keep". This could come from hab-, heb- or hob- "keep", the umlaut neutralizing the vowels in the form hebin. However, the stem KHEP "retain, keep" published in VT41:6 must be the root underlying this verb; hence the basic form is evidently heb-.)
In the case of basic verbs in -r, an -n is simply suffixed
to the stem (a remnant of a longer past tense ending -ne, still
current in Quenya):
dar- "stop, halt" > darn "stopped, halted"Verbal stems in -n probably behave in the same way (cen- "see" > cenn "saw"). As for verbs in -l, the ending -n is probably assimilated to it (pel- "wither" > pell "withered"). We lack examples, but extrapolations from Quenya would point in this direction.
When it comes to verbal stems ending in -b, -d, -g,
-v, -dh, the nasal element denoting past tense would manifest
as an infix instead of as a prefix. That is, it is not added
to the final consonant of the stem, but inserted before it. This has
some consequences that might surprise students not familiar with the
evolution of Eldarin. In Sindarin, b, d, g, v,
dh following a vowel descend from earlier p, t,
c, b (or m) and d, respectively. But where
the nasal infix intruded between the vowel and the consonant, this change
could not take place: The infix "shielded" the consonant from the vowel
that would otherwise cause it to change. Hence b, d, g
seemingly reverts to p, t, c following the infix.
Actually they do not revert; they simply never changed:
had- "hurl" > pa.t. hant "hurled" (original stem KHAT; this past tense is actually listed in LR:363)(It will be observed that the nasal infix, that most often manifests as n, is assimilated to m before p.) Presumably dh from earlier d likewise reverts to its original quality:
redh- "sow" > pa.t. rend "sowed" (stem RED)One attested case is gwend (or gwenn) as the past tense of a verb gwedhi "to bind" (LR:397 s.v. WED-, where the infinitive is given as "gwedi", but this is surely a misreading for gweði = gwedhi; compare the related word angweð = angwedh). However, Tolkien noted that gwend was later replaced by gwedhant (spelt gweðant in LR), as if this were a derived verb *gwedha-; perhaps the past tenses in -nd were somehow disliked by the Elves (/by Tolkien). It may be that the past tense rend "sowed" (not directly attested in Tolkien's papers) was likewise replaced by redhant in later Sindarin.
Verbs of more than one syllable would have past tenses in -nn
instead of -nd, if we dare to trust our reconstructed Sindarin
phonology. There are only two such verbs known: neledh- "go in,
enter" (pa.t. nelenn?) and edledh- "go into exile" (pa.t.
edlenn?). The latter verb is not directly attested, but is reconstructed
from "Noldorin" egledh- (LR:368 s.v. LED).
Verbs with final -v may also be slightly special. In most cases,
post-vocalic v would come from earlier b, so certainly
these verbs at one point ended in -mb (the nasal infix manifesting
as m before b, just as before p). But final mb
became simple m in Sindarin. (Cf. WJ:394, where Tolkien states
that primitive *lambê "tongue" became lam in Sindarin,
surely representing earlier *lamb. Compare the "Noldorin" form
lham(b) in LR:367 s.v. LAB, that would correspond to Sindarin
lam(b).) Hence, basic verbs in -v may have past tenses
in -m, for -mb:
lav- "lick" > lam (for lamb) "licked" (the noun lam "tongue" is related and shares precisely the same phonological history)As mentioned above, the forms so far derived are 3rd person singulars. Other forms are quite easily derived from them by means of the same endings that were mentioned above: -n "I", -m "we", -r "they" or just plurality, etc. The question is, what connecting vowel do we add between the verb and the ending? In terms of phonological history, we would definitely expect e: The Sindarin form corresponding to Quenya quenten "I said" would be expected to be *pennen. However, our one-and-only example points in a different direction, and this is one of the cases where we must generalize from one single form, with great consequences for an entire class of verbs. I would have liked to have other (and in particular later) examples, to make sure that this was not just a passing whim in Tolkien's evolution of "Noldorin"/Sindarin, or indeed a misreading on Christopher Tolkien's part.
The example in question is found in the Etymologies, LR:363,
stem KHAT "hurl". Here we have a verb hedi, clearly the
perfectly regular infinitive of had-, but then two forms explicitly
identified as "pa.t." are listed: hennin and hant. The
latter is transparently the 3rd person singular, "(he/she/it) hurled",
formed from had- with a nasal infix according to the rules we
have tried to sketch (indeed using this example). But hennin,
with the ending -n that is known to mean "I", must be the 1st
person past tense: "I hurled". The change nt > intervocalic
nn is what we would expect on phonological grounds, but it is
surprising that i is used as the connecting vowel before the
pronominal ending is added. It would be tempting to dismiss hennin
as an error for hannen, but the umlaut a > e
is exactly what we would expect when there is an i following
in the next syllable. We do know cases of confusion a/e
and e/i in the texts produced by various editors trying
to decipher Tolkien's handwriting, but to assume that Christopher Tolkien
managed to misread two vowels in the same word, and that the result
just happened to beautifully comply with Sindarin phonology, may be
assuming too much. It may be that JRRT imagined that forms like hannen
had been reformed on analogy with the corresponding present-tense forms
(in this case hedin "I hurl"), the connecting vowel i
and therefore also umlaut being introduced in the past tense as well
as the present: hannen > hennin.
Accepting this example, we must formulate this rule: All past tense
forms of the basic verbs, except for the 3rd person singular, are formed
by adding -i- and the appropriate ending to the 3rd person singular
gir- "shudder" > 3 pers. sg. pa.t. girn "(he, she, it) shuddered" > girnin "I shuddered", girnim "we shuddered", girnig/girnich "you shuddered", girnir "(they) shuddered"As the example hant > hennin indicates, the connecting vowel i triggers the normal umlauts in the syllable before it, a and o both becoming e:
dar- "stop, halt" > 3 pers. sg. pa.t. darn "(he, she, it) halted" > dernin "I halted" (etc.)The example hant > hennin also illustrates another phenomenon: Not all the final consonant clusters occurring in the past tense can remain unchanged when they are no longer final at all, but have become intervocalic because an ending has been added. The clusters -nt, -nc, -mp become -nn-, -ng-, -mm- instead:
ped- "speak" > 3 pers. sg. pa.t. pent "(he, she, it) spoke" > pennin "I spoke" (etc.)The cluster nd, like nt, would become nn intervocalically:
gwedh- "bind" > 3 pers. pa.t. gwend "(he, she, it) bound" > gwennin "I bound" (etc.)Final m (usually representing mb) would become double -mm-:
lav- "lick" > 3 pers. pa.t. lam "(he, she, it) licked" > lemmin "I licked" (etc.)
dar- "halt" > inf. deri "to halt" > future deritha "will halt"These (3rd person singular) future-tense forms may then be further modified with the normal endings, just as in the case of the derived verbs: telithon "I will come", telitham "we will come", plural telithar "(they) will come" etc. (As usual, -a becomes -o before the ending -n for "I", hence telithon rather than **telithan.)
dar- "halt" > daro "halt!"Three of these are attested in LotR: An Elf halted the Fellowship with the command daro! when they were entering Lórien. Pedo "speak, say" is found in the Moria gate inscription (pedo mellon, which should be translated "say friend", though Gandalf at first took it to mean "speak, friend"). Sam speaking in tongues in Cirith Ungol used the phrase a tiro nin, Fanuilos! "o look towards me, Everwhite!" (a title of Varda); see Letters:278 or RGEO:72 for translation.
dar- "halt" > darel "halting"However, where the stem vowel is i, this ending seems to be expanded to -iel (it may be that this only occurs following the consonants n, l, and r, and that the extra i materializing after them reflects their being palatalized by the vowel i occurring before them at an older stage of the language):
fir- "die, fade" > firiel "dying, fading"
fir- "fade, die" > fíriel "having died, having faded" (or simply "dead, faded")(It will be noticed that vowel-length alone distinguishes tiriel "watching" from tíriel "having watched". Compare RGEO:73, where Tolkien explains that while palan-diriel means "gazing far away", palan-díriel has a perfective meaning: "having gazed far away". In these words, -diriel/-díriel are simply lenited forms of -tiriel/-tíriel.)
This lengthening of vowels probably occurred so early that the subsequent
changes affecting long vowels must also be taken into consideration.
Earlier é, á, ó would be expected
to manifest as í, ó, ú, respectively
- reflecting a change that took place at the Old Sindarin stage:
mad- "eat" > módiel (for mádiel) "having eaten"It seems that neither of the active participles so derived (in -el and -iel) have distinct plural forms.
dar- "stop" > 3 pers. sg. pa.t. darn "(he, she, it) stopped" > passive participle darnen "stopped, halted"(The latter is attested in the Silmarillion, in the name Talath Dirnen "Guarded Plain": Dirnen is the lenited form of tirnen.)
Again, when another vowel comes to follow them, final -nt,
-nc, -mp, -nd, -m become -nn-, -ng-,
-mm-, -nn-, -mm-, respectively:
ped- "speak" > 3 pers. sg. pa.t. pent "(he, she, it) spoke" > passive participle pennen "spoken"These passive participles in -en would have plural forms in -in, causing the normal umlauts: a and o both become e:
dangen "slain" > pl. dengin(Compare the Haudh-en-Ndengin or "Hill of Slain" mentioned in the Silmarillion; ndengin is a form of dengin.) As usual, the vowels e and i would not be affected in any way:
pennen "spoken" > pl. pennin
cab- "jump" > cabed "jumping" (as noun, = "a jump, a leap")The Sindarin verbs cab- "jump, leap" and cen- "see, look" are actually attested as gerunds only! According to the Silmarillion, the gorge where Túrin slew Glaurung was called Cabed-en-Aras or "Deer's Leap" ("Jumping-of the-Deer"). The verb cab- is obviously to be referred to the stem KAP "leap" listed in the Etymologies (LR.362), but it is not mentioned there. Cened "looking" occurs as part of the compound cenedril "looking-glass" in RS:466.
ava- "will not" > am "would not"(Concerning the shift o > u in groga-, loda-, soga-, toba- > pa.t. grunc, lunt, sunc, tump, see section IV below.)
A number of three-syllable verbal stems in -da must also be
assigned to the mixed conjugation: aphada- "follow", athrada-
"traverse", gannada- "(play a) harp", lathrada- "eavesdrop",
limmida- "moisten", nimmida- "whiten" and tangada-
"make firm": past tenses aphant, athrant, gannant,
lathrant, limmint, nimmint, tangant, or
with endings aphanne- etc. (The "Noldorin" past tense lhimmint,
that would correspond to Sindarin limmint, is mentioned by Tolkien
in LR:369 s.v. LINKWI.)
Long vowels would probably be shortened before the consonant cluster
arising in the past tense:
aníra- "wish" > anirn "wished"When further endings are to be added (to produce forms other than the 3rd person singular), the connecting vowel is here e, as the example drammen "I hewed" demonstrates.
NOTE: Since these verbs might seem to jump over to the I-stems
in the past tense, we might have expected the connecting vowel i
as in hennin "I hurled", hence **dremmin "I hewed", but
this is not the case. This might support the theory that the connecting
vowel i in the past tense arose on analogy with its use in the
present tense (hedin "I hurl"). The verb drava- does not
have i in the present tense (drava "hews, is hewing"),
and hence does not show i in the past tense, either. Instead
we find e, like we would expect on phonological reasons alone:
As usual, final -m, -nc, -nt, -mp becomes
-mm-, -ng-, -nn-, -mm- between vowels:
drava- "hew" > dram "(he, she, it) hewed" > drammen "I hewed", drammem "we hewed", drammeg/drammech "you heaved", drammer "(they) hewed"The passive participle would be derived with the ending -en, just as in the case of normal basic verbs. Thus, as usual, the past participle is identical to the 1st person singular form, hence drammen could also be "hewed" as a participle, sungen is also "drunk" etc. These participles would have plural forms in -in (causing umlaut), in other words behaving just like the passive participles of normal basic verbs. See rules in section II above. (The umlaut product of u, where it occurs, would be y. Hence the plural form of sungen would be syngin.)
As noted above, these verbs probably have active participles in -ol,
like normal A-stems (drava- "hew" > dravol "hewing").
The perfective active participle would presumably be formed according
to the rules of the I-stems, as if the final vowel did not exist. Hence
we would see the ending -iel combined with lengthening of the
stem-vowel, í, ó, ú representing
í, á, ó (drava- "hew"
> dróviel "having hewed", soga- "drink" >
súgiel "having drunk"). If the vowel is long already,
we must assume that it simply stays long (síla- "shine"
> síliel "having shone").
groga- "feel terror" > 3 pers. sg. pa.t. grunc (original stem RUK)NOTE: In the Etymologies, LR:378 s.v. NOT, the verb nod- is given as "nud-", but this would contradict everything we think we know about Sindarin phonology. The verb toba- [inf. tobo] is derived from a stem TOP in LR:379, in which case the past tense would be tomp, but the Quenya verb untúpa "covers" in Namárië in LotR suggests that Tolkien had decided that the stem was TUP instead, though a distinct stem TUP occurs in Etym.
Grunc, lunt, sunc and tump would appear
as grunge-, lunne-, sunge-, tumme- before
the normal plural/pronominal endings - grunger "(they) felt fear",
grungen "I felt fear" etc. If the example hant > hennin
(LR:363 s.v. KHAT) holds, we would in the case of nunt
and tunc see the connective vowel i before the normal
endings are added. This i would trigger umlaut u >
y, so (with the normal change of intervocalic nt, nc
to nn, ng) we would have for instance 1st person sg. nynnin
"I tied" and tyngin "I led, I brought". (But groga-, loda-,
toba- would belong to the mixed conjugation, with e rather
than i as the connecting vowel, and hence no umlaut either: grungen
"I felt fear", lunnen "I floated", tummen "I covered".)
The past participles of all the verbs we are dealing with here can
be formed, quite regularly, by adding -en to the 3 sg. past tense
(with the normal changes in final consonant groups when they become
groga- "feel terror" > pa.t. grunc > passive participle grungenAnd again, we would see umlaut u > y in the plural forms of these participles: gryngin, lynnin, nynnin, tymmin, syngin, tyngin. (A few of these verbs, "feel terror" and "float", may not normally have passive participles, though - since they are intransitive.)
But in the case of groga-, loda-, soga- and toba-,
it may also be permissible to take the easier path and simply let them
go as A-stems (Tolkien made an explicit note to this effect in the case
of soga-). Hence we would have (3 pers. sg) past tenses grogant,
lodant, sogant, tobant (-nt regularly becoming
-nne- before endings), and past participles grogannen,
lodannen, sogannen, tobannen (pl. gregennin,
ledennin, segennin, tebennin - or archaic grögennin
Another impersonal verb is elia- "rain". The "Noldorin" impersonal
form expressing "it rains", namely oeil [= öil],
later eil, is given in the Etymologies (LR:396 s.v. ULU).
In Third Age Sindarin, the form would be ail. The past tense,
denoting "it rained", could be aul or regular eliant.
We may conjugate the verb like this: infinitive elio "to rain",
present tense ail = impersonal 3 sg. form "it rains", past tense
eliant or aul = impersonal 3 sg "it rained", future eliatha
= "it will rain", imperative elio "rain!", participle eliol
"raining" (perfective úliel "having rained"), gerund eliad
"raining". A verb with this meaning would hardly have any passive participles.
The form would be eliannen, or, if we use aul as the past
In LR:375 s.v. NDAM, a verb damna- "to hammer"
is listed, with a (3rd person sg.) past tense dammint. Both forms
are positively weird. There can be no doubt that damna is a misreading
for damma-, the form we would expect on phonological grounds;
cf. mm in the past tense. The past tense "dammint" is very strange.
We would definitely expect dammant. Where does the i in
the past tense come from in the first place, and if it is to be there
at all, why does it not cause the a to umlaut to e (i.e.
demmint)? If we accept this past tense form (with endings damminne-),
we would also have to use damminnen pl. damminnin as the
passive participle. But personally I am strongly inclined to dismiss
dammint as a misreading for dammant, in which case the
verb would be perfectly regular.
The verb drava- "hew" would regularly have the past
tense dram (with endings dramme-). According to LR:354
s.v. DARÁM, an irregular (3rd person sg.) past tense dramp
was used in poetry - as if the verb were **draba- instead. This
form was apparently used in addition to, not instead of, the regular
past tense. With endings, dramp and dram would both appear
as dramme- anyway (e.g. the 1st person pa.t. drammen that
is mentioned in this entry in the Etymologies).
As mentioned above, the regular past tense of the verb gwedh-
"bind" is gwend (with endings gwenni-), but Tolkien indicated
that an irregular past gwedhant (as if this were an A-stem **gwedha-)
came into use "later". The regular past tense had come to be regarded
as archaic or poetic. When the change occurred, it may be that the passive
participle "bound" was also altered from gwennen to gwedhannen.
Presumably, the verb was still inflected as a regular "primary" verb
otherwise (infinitive gwedhi, present tense gwêdh
or before endings gwedhi-, future gwedhitha, imperative
gwedho, active participle gwedhel, perfective participle
gwídhiel). Perhaps the verb redh- "sow" underwent
a similar development, so that the regular past tense rend was
replaced by redhant?
The verb soga- "drink" would regularly have the 3rd
person singular soga "(he, she, it) drinks", but LR:388 indicates
that the 3rd person sg. is actually sôg (as if this were
a primary verb sog-). When endings are to be added to produce
other forms than the 3rd person sg., we may use the regular present-tense
stem soga- (hence sogon [for **sogan] "I drink",
sogam "we drink" etc.) The (3rd person sg.) past tense is either
regular sunc (with endings sunge-) or irregular sogant
(with endings soganne-); Tolkien indicated that both are valid.
The passive participle "drunk" would then be either sogannen
(pl. segennin) to go with the past tense sogant, or sungen
(pl. syngin) if one prefers the past tense sunc. Hopefully,
the verb soga- "drink" is otherwise a normal, well-behaved Mixed
Conjugation verb, as the infinitive sogo (given in LR:388) would
suggest. Hence future sogatha "will drink", imperative sogo
"drink!", participle sogol "drinking" (perfective súgiel
"having drunk"), gerund sogad "drinking" (as noun).
NOTE: The actual wording in LR:388 s.v. SUK is "N sogo,
3 sg. sôg, pa.t. sunc, asogant (sogennen)".
Sogo is clearly the infinitive "to drink", sôg is
identified as the 3rd person singular (present), and sunc is
likewise identified as the (3rd person singular) past tense. However,
asogant cannot be a correct reading of Tolkien's text. It is
very difficult to understand where this a-prefix could come from,
and moreover, such a prefix would in all likelihood cause soft mutation
of the initial s, so that we would have the form **ahogant.
What Tolkien actually wrote in his less-than-calligraphic handwriting
must have been "sunc, or sogant", alternatively "sunc,
and sogant" - a small doodle representing or or possibly
and being misread as a by Christopher Tolkien, and prefixed
directly to the following verb. The form sogennen must be the
passive participle "drunk", but since the past participle is derived
by suffixing -en to the past tense (nt regularly becoming
nn between vowels), we must conclude that "sogennen" is a misreading
The verb thora- "fence" is stated to have the passive participle
thoren "fenced" (LR:393 s.v. THUR). Thoren suggests
a past tense thaur. The verb may go like this: Infinitive thoro
"to fence", present tense thora "fences, is fencing", irregular
(3rd person sg.) past tense thaur (with endings thore-,
e.g. thoren "I fence, I am fencing"), future thoratha
"will fence", imperative thoro "fence!", active participle thorol
"fencing" (perfective thóriel "having fenced"), passive
participle thoren "fenced" (pl. thorin), gerund thorad.
Notice that the perfective participle is thóriel instead
of **thúriel, and that there is no umlaut in the plural
form of the participle thoren (pl. thorin, not **therin).
As in the case of other verbs, this is because o, ó
here represents the diphthong au.
The verb trenar- "recount, tell to the end" is stated
to have the (3rd person singular) past tense trenor or trener
(LR:374 s.v. NAR2). Regularly, we would expect **trenarn.
The verb may go like this: Infinitive treneri "to recount", 3rd
person present tense trenar "recounts, is recounting" (with endings
treneri-, hence trenerin "I recount", trenirem
"we recount" etc.), irregular past tense trenor or trener
(with endings either trenori- or treneri-, hence trenorin
"I recount" etc.; the alternative form trenerin would clash with
the present tense), future treneritha "will recount", imperative
trenaro "recount!", active participle trenarel "recounting"
(perfective trenóriel "having recounted"), passive particle
?trenoren (plural trenorin) "recounted", gerund trenared
"recounting". Notice the absence of umlaut in the form trenorin
("I recount" or the pl. form of the passive participle "recounted").
We would probably not find trenerin, since the o of trenorin
may represent au (in turn derived from long á,
a lengthened version of the vowel of the stem NAR2;
trenor may reflect a primitive past tense *trenâr-).
In the entry MBAKH in the Etymologies (LR:372), we read:
"Q[uenya] manka- trade; makar tradesman, mankale
commerce. N[oldorin] banc, banga." What are we to make
of this? Banga- is surely the "Noldorin" > Sindarin word corresponding
to Quenya manka-, hence the verb "to trade". But what does banc
mean? If banc is a form of banga-, it would most likely
be an irregular 3rd person past tense: "(He/she) traded" (instead of
regular bangant). Again assuming that the example hennin
"I hurled" can be trusted, we would have bengi- before endings,
e.g. bengin "I traded", bengir "(they) traded" etc. The
passive participle would also be bangen (pl. bengin) rather
than bangannen (pl. bengennin). But I will not rule out
the possibility that banc is not intended as a form of the verb
banga- at all; it could be a noun "trade", corresponding
to (but not an exact cognate of) Quenya mankale.
...a primitive past tense, marked as such by the 'augment' or reduplicated base-vowel, and the long stem-vowel. Past tenses of this form were usual in Sindarin 'strong' or primary verbs: as *akâra 'made, did' > S agor.The new rules for the derivation of the past tense of primary verbs are quite easily reconstructed: The vowel occurring in the verb is prefixed, but in the verbal stem itself, a, e, o are altered to o, i, u, respectively (representing the "long stem-vowel" â, ê, ô, since the quality of such long vowels were changed in Old Sindarin). The vowel i would not change. The initial consonant would undergo soft mutation when a vowel is prefixed to it, p > b, t > d, c > g (hence agor from car-), b > v, d > dh, g > zero, m > v, s > h. (The consonants f, th would be unchanged.)
ped- "speak" > ebid "spoke"Of course, this would contradict the earlier system glimpsed in the Etymologies, where, for instance, the past tense of gwedh- is explicitly given as gwend (or later gwedhant) instead of ewidh. Etym also has sunc and sogant rather than ohug for "drank". Moreover, pent instead of ebid for "spoke, said" is attested outside the Etymologies. We must await the publication of more material before we can determine to what extent Tolkien carried out this revision - whether this was really intended to be the new way of deriving the past tenses of primary verbs, fully obsoleting the earlier system that we have tried to reconstruct above. For the moment, I would accept agor as the past tense of car- "make, do", but otherwise largely continue using the "classical" system. Perhaps Tolkien's wording - that agor-type past tenses were "usual" rather than universal - implies that one could to some extent chose which way to form the past tense (it is clear from several texts that Tolkien imagined that there were many varieties and dialects of Sindarin). We may let car- "do" go like this: Infinitive ceri, present tense: 3 sg. câr "(he, she, it) does", with endings ceri- (cerin "I do", cerim "we do" etc.), irregular past tense agor "did" (before endings agore-, e.g. agoren "I did"), future ceritha "will do", imperative caro "do!", active participle carel "doing", perfective participle córiel "having done", passive participle coren (or carnen?) "done", gerund cared "doing".
Tolkien's notes seem less than consistent. The verb osgar-
"cut around, amputate" includes the prefixed element os- "around".
The infinitive esgeri, listed in LR:379 s.v. OS, shows
umlaut throughout the word (not *osgeri, the prefix being exempted
from umlaut). On the other hand, the verb orthor- "master, conquer"
(literally "over-power", with or- meaning "over") shows no umlaut
in the infinitive, which is listed in LR:395 s.v. TUR as ortheri.
If esgeri from osgar-, why not *ertheri from orthor-?
Alternatively, if ortheri from orthor, why not *osgeri
Perhaps this is to some extent optional. WJ:379, dealing with noun plurals, suggests that the "affection" or umlaut was originally carried through the word, so that a compound like orodben "mountaineer" in older times had the plural oerydbin (= örydbin, classical Sindarin erydbin). But later, to the extent this word was recognized as a compound orod-ben "mountain-person", only the second element was umlauted in the plural: orodbin. So perhaps esgeri "to amputate" later became *osgeri instead, and perhaps ortheri represents earlier *ertheri.
Here are some verbs with prefixes and suggested conjugations.
With the prefix go- "together":
(Notice that in the latter verb, go- appears in umlauted form in all forms except the perfective participle gonúdiel "having reckoned". The closely related verbs gonod- and genedia- would have identical perfective participles.)
This group of verbs incorporating the prefixes ad- "re-" and
an- "to" would probably not change them to ed-
or en- where umlauts may be thought to occur, though we have
no clear examples:
With the prefix os- "around":
osgar- "cut round, amputate", inf. esgeri, pr.t. esgeri- (3 sg osgar), pa.t. esgerni- (3 sg osgarn), fut. esgeritha, imp. osgaro, part. osgarel (perfective osgóriel), pp. osgarnen (pl. esgernin), ger. osgaredA long, clearly independent prefix like palan- "far and wide" may not show any umlauts:
palan-dir- "view far and wide", inf. palan-diri, pr.t. palan-diri- (3 sg palan-dir), pa.t. palan-dirni- (3 sg palan-dirn), fut. palan-diritha, imp. palan-diro, part. palan-diriel (perfective palan-díriel - hardly ?pelen-díriel), pp. palan-dirnen (pl. palan-dirnin, hardly ?pelen-dirnin), ger. palan-dired
Attested Sindarin pronouns include:
1st person sg: Independent pronoun im "I", also the
ending -n; cf. also nin "me", genitive nín
"my", also anim "for myself" (evidently an "for" + im
"I, *me") and enni "to me".
When added to a stem ending in -a, the pronominal ending -n "I" seems to change this vowel to -o; contrast avam "we won't" with avon "I won't" (WJ:371, ava = "won't"). Cf. also linnon "I sing" and linnathon "I will sing"; the stems are evidently linna and *linnatha, "sings" and "will sing" (hence *linnam "we sing", *linnach "you sing"?)
Though an independent word for "my" is given in UT:54 (nín), there also exists an ending -en that can express the same meaning. It is attested in the word lammen "my tongue" in Gandalf's invocation before the Gate of Moria (LotR1/II ch. 4; see RS:463 for translation). Compare the Quenya ending -nya "my". A second attestation of the corresponding Sindarin ending became available in July 2000, when a sentence including the word guren "my heart" was published in VT41:11, 15. Presumably Sindarin has other pronominal possessive endings as well, but only -en "my" has been published. Since Tolkien elsewhere uses independent pronouns for "my" and "his", it may be that he changed his mind back and forth as to whether Sindarin used endings or independent genitive pronouns.
In addition to the genitive pronoun dîn "his", the King's Letter also has în: The king wishes to greet mhellyn în phain, all his friends. Though în, like dîn, is translated "his" in English, it appears that this is actually a reflexive genitive pronoun, referring back to the subject of the sentence. In Sindarin there may be a distinction that is not regularly expressed in English. Two sentences like *i venn sunc haw în and *i venn sunc haw dîn would both translate as "the man drank his juice" in English, but the first means "the man drank his (own) juice", while the second means "the man drank his (someone else's) juice" (Norwegian mannen drakk saften sin vs. mannen drakk saften hans, if I may refer to my mothertongue).
Under the stem S- in the Etymologies, some "Noldorin" pronouns are listed, but whether they are valid in LotR-style Sindarin is not known: Ho, hon, hono "he", he, hen, hene "she"; ha, hana "it". The plurals are given as huin, hîn, hein, evidently meaning "they" referring to a group of men, women and things, respectively. Hein would later appear as hain because of regular sound-change; cf. the Moria Gate inscription: Im Narvi hain echant "I Narvi them [= the letters] made". Moreover, the "Noldorin" pronoun huin would appear as *hýn in (Third Age) Sindarin.