Sindarin Phonetic Development (Part 104)

Sindarin Phonetic Development (Part 104)


S. final [l], [r] usually became syllabic; [-C{lr}] > [-Co{lr}]

In both Sindarin and Noldorin, a final [l] or [r] after a consonant usually became syllabic, and developed into [-ol] and [-or] respectively, as noted by David Salo (GS/§4.192). There are a large number examples in both Sindarin and Noldorin:

  • oklā [> *ogl] > S. ogol “bad, evil, wrong” (PE17/170).
  • ᴹ✶tankla > tachl > N. tachol “brooch, clasp, pin” (Ety/TAK), an etymology that reappeared around 1950, though still marked Noldorin (PE18/100).
  • ᴹ✶tekla > tegl > N. tegol “pen” (Ety/TEK).
  • satrā [> *sadr] > S. sador “steadfast, trusty, loyal” (PE17/183).
  • ᴹ√G-LAM > glambr > glamr > N. glamor “echo” (Ety/GLAM; EtyAC/GLAM).
  • ᴹ✶tatharē > tathrē > N. tathor “willow-tree” (Ety/TATHAR).
  • ON. ndakro > dagr > N. dagor “battle” (Ety/NDAK), a word that reappeared in Sindarin.

There are, however, a couple examples where this sound change did not occur:

  • mikrā > S. megr “sharp-pointed” (WJ/337), marked with a “*” by Tolkien so perhaps an archaic form.
  • ᴹ✶lakra > N. lhagr “swift, rapid” (Ety/LAK²).

These may be archaic forms. There are also a couple more examples where it seems the vowel that developed was not [o]:

Here it is more difficult to guess Tolkien’s thinking. More likely this represents some kind of earlier metathesis of liquids and vowels, such as: idrē > *ider > idher.

Conceptual Developments: The analysis of these changes in the early stages of the language are complicated by the fact that syllabic [ḷ] and [ṛ] were ordinary vowels in the Primitive Elvish of the 1910s and 1920s. There are also quite a few examples where a final [l] or [r] did not develop a vowel after another consonant in the Early Period:

  • G. cingrafindl “pigtail” (GL/26).
  • G. fingl “tress” (GL/35).
  • G. aithl “spring” < ᴱ✶ektḷ (GL/18), a word that reappeared in the Early Noldorin word lists (PE13/136, 158).
  • ᴱN. naugl “dwarf” (PE13/150; PE15/62).
  • G. gadr “joint, link of chain” (GL/36).
  • G. aithr “thorn” (PE13/108), a word that reappeared in the Early Noldorin word lists (PE13/136, 155).
  • ᴱN. caifr “flea” < ᴱ✶kamp(r)u (PE13/140; PE14/66).
  • ᴱN. taichr “prop, support” < ᴱ✶tank’rú (PE13/153).

Thus, it seems that in most cases a syllabic final [-ḷ] or [-ṛ] simply remained in the Gnomish and Early Noldorin versions of the languages from the 1910s and 1920s.