Sindarin Phonetic Development (Part 42)

Sindarin Phonetic Development (Part 42)

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OS. [w] vanished before [u]; [{uw|wu}] > [u]

Based on a few examples, it seems [w] vanishes before [u] in Old Noldorin, in the same way as that [j] vanished before [i]. Since the combination [wu] did not normally occur in Primitive Elvish, this phonetic development only applied to cases where the [u] arose later, such as when [oi], [ǭi] became [ui] in Noldorin:

Based on the examples above, this sound change occurred at the Old Noldorin stage, and before initial [w] became [gw]. There seems to be one other peculiar example of [w] assimilating to a following [u] in Old Noldorin:

  • ᴹ✶kukūwā > ON. kukua (= [ku]kūu̯a) > N. cugu “dove” (Ety/KŪ, EtyAC/KŪ).

The Quenya form was also ᴹQ. kukua, so the assimilation here might have been in Primitive Elvish, from *kukū + suffixal -wā.

Conceptual Development: There is no clear evidence of this sound change in either Sindarin or early versions of the language, but since [j] vanished before [i], it seems reasonable to assume something similar would happen to [w] before [u].