Select Elvish Words 1.46: Cave

Select Elvish Words 1.46: Cave

1.46 Cave

Q. felco n. “cave, mine, underground dwelling”

A word for “cave, mine, underground dwelling” Tolkien considered in Notes on Names (NN) from 1957, derived from the root √PHELEK as a possible replacement of felya “mine, boring, tunnel, underground dwel[ling]” < ✶phelgā (PE17/118).

Neo-Quenya: I prefer the root form √PHELEG over √PHELEK (see that entry for details) and as a result prefer felya over felco.

Q. felya n. “mine, boring, tunnel, ⚠️underground dwelling; [ᴹQ.] cave”

A word for “mine, boring, tunnel, underground dwel[ling]” in Notes on Names (NN) from 1957 with Sindarin cognate S. fela, both derived from ✶phelgā (PE17/118). In the same note Tolkien seemed to consider replacing it with felco “cave, mine, underground dwelling” from the root √PHELEK.

Conceptual Development: A similar word ᴹQ. felya “cave” appeared in The Etymologies of the 1930s derived from the root ᴹ√PHELEG, with cognate N. fela (Ety/PHÉLEG). The latter form also appeared in notes from 1969 as S. fela “minor excavations, den”, again derived from ✶phelga indicating √PHELEK was a transient idea (NM/304).

Neo-Quenya: I prefer the root form √PHELEG over √PHELEK and thus would retain felya, but I would keep its 1957 meaning “mine, boring, tunnel” rather than adopting the 1969 Sindarin sense “den”.

Q. hróta n. “dwelling underground, artificial cave or rockhewn hall”

A word glossed “dwelling underground, artificial cave or rockhewn hall” derived from the root √s-rot (PM/365 note #56), appearing in 1959 notes discussing the origin of the name of Felagund, which in that document was based on a Khuzdul name.

Q. kambo n. “cellar, cave, vault”

ᴱQ. kambo “cellar, cave, vault” appeared in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s derived from the root ᴱ√KAVA, also the basis of ᴱQ. kava- “dig” (QL/45).

Neo-Quenya: Derivatives of the early root ᴱ√KAVA are no longer suitable for Neo-Quenya, as both √KAM and √KAB have very different meanings in later writings, but I think this word may be adapted as ᴺQ. sampo, reconceived as a derivative of √SAP “dig”. In the Qenya Lexicon, ᴱQ. sambo was “cave, hollow” along with variant ᴱQ. sampe (QL/82), but there are plenty of other cave words in Quenya, so using sampo for “cellar, vault” seems better to me.

Q. rondo n. “vaulted or arched roof, vaulted hall; [ᴹQ.] cavern, ⚠️cave”

A noun for a vaulted or arched roof, as well as chambers with such a roof, both constructed and natural. Tolkien’s most complete description of this word appeared in the Quendi and Eldar essay:

S rond, Q rondo are from *rono “arch over, roof in”. This could be applied both to natural and to artificial structures, but its view was always from below and from the inside ... CE *rondo meant “a vaulted or arched roof, as seen from below (and usually not visible from outside)”, or “a (large) hall or chamber so roofed”. It was still often applied pictorially to the heavens after the Elves had obtained much greater knowledge of star-lore. Cf. the name Elrond “Star-dome“ (WJ/414).

Thus this word was sometimes applied (metaphorically) to the dome of heaven, though that last use may be limited to Sindarin.

Conceptual Development: The earliest precursor to this name seems to be ᴱQ. ronda appearing the Early Noldorin Dictionary of the 1920s as a cognate of ᴱN. gronn “cavern” (PE13/162). ᴹQ. rondo “cavern” appeared in the Declension of Nouns from the early 1930s (PE21/8). Tolkien gave ᴹQ. rondo “roof, cave” in The Etymologies of the 1930s from the root ᴹ√ROD of the same meaning (Ety/ROD); in The Etymologies as published in The Lost Road Christopher Tolkien gave the gloss “cave” (LR/384), but in their Addenda and Corrigenda to the Etymologies, Carl Hostetter and Patrick Wynne corrected this to “roof, cave” (EtyAC/ROD).

Tolkien mentioned rondo “cave” in passing within rough notes on Felagund and related names from Notes on Names (NN) from 1957, but this entire block of notes was marked through (PE17/117-118). In addition to the aforementioned paragraph from the 1959-60 Quendi and Eldar essay given above, Tolkien gave rondo the gloss “vaulted hall” in a discussion of the strengthening of primitive nasals and stops (VT39/9). In this essay, Tolkien seems to have kept the basic form and meaning from the The Etymologies of the 1930s, but deriving it instead from a new root √RON “arch over”.

Neo-Eldarin: For purposes of Neo-Eldarin, I prefer the earlier root form ᴹ√ROD as this lets us retain more of the 1930s forms.

Q. rotto n. “tunnel, small grot, [ᴹQ.] cave”

A word glossed “tunnel, small grot” derived from the root √s-rot (PM/365 note #56), appearing in 1959 notes discussing the origin of the name of Felagund, which in that document based on a Khuzdul name.

Conceptual Development: There are a number of “cave” words in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s derived from ᴱ√ROTO “hollow”, including ᴱQ. orot, ᴱQ. rótele, and ᴱQ. rotl, the last of these glossed “cave, hollow” with a deleted variant {rotta >> rott0} (QL/71, 80). This last word also appeared as ᴱQ. rotl “grot” in the Poetic and Mythological Words of Eldarissa (PME/80). ᴹQ. rotto “cave, tunnel” appeared under the root ᴹ√ROT “bore, tunnel”, a late entry to The Etymologies of the 1930s (EtyAC/ROT). This root reappeared as the basis for “cave” words a number of places in later writings (PE17/183; VT39/9; WJ/414-415), but the only later mention of Quenya derivatives is the aforementioned 1959 on Felagund, given above.

S. fela n. “mine, boring, tunnel, underground dwelling; ⚠️minor excavations, den; [N.] cave”

A word for “mine, boring, tunnel, underground dwelling” in Notes on Names (NN) from 1957, but also explained in notes from 1969 as “minor excavations made by wild animals as dens or lairs” (NM/304). It was derived from primitive ✶phelgā (NM/304; PE17/118; Ety/PHÉLEG), and the final a in this word is the result of ancient ʒ (from g) become a when word-final after another consonant.

Abnormal Plural: This word has an abnormal plural form fili (NM/304; Ety/PHÉLEG): see the section on “Final a from ancient g” in the discussion of unusual plurals for more details.

Conceptual Development: This word was tied to the name of Felagund since its introduction in The Etymologies of the 1930s, where N. fela “cave” was derived from ON. phelga under the root ᴹ√PHELEG of the same meaning, already with the abnormal plural fili noted above (Ety/PHÉLEG). In Notes on Names (NN) from 1957, Tolkien again had S. fela from ✶phelgā, but there the gloss was “mine, boring, tunnel, underground dwel[ling]” (PE17/118). In this note Tolkien considered instead S. feleg “cave, mine, underground dwelling” as the basis for the name Felagund, derived instead from √PHELEK (PE17/118).

In a note from 1959, Tolkien gave a completely different etymology of Felagund as a loan word from Khuzdul Felakgundu “Cave Hewer” (PM/352), and this was the etymology Christopher Tolkien gave in The Silmarillion index (SI/Felagund). In a note from 1969, however, Tolkien said instead that Felagund was a nickname meaning “den-dweller” (also used for badgers), and its initial element fela was again derived from ✶phelga or philga (NM/304), with a meaning as follows:

It was used of minor excavations made by wild animals as dens or lairs, and also as temporary dwellings by wandering folk, Dwarvish or Elvish; it was usually distinguished from the larger caves of geological formation used and extended by stone-workers. It was thus naturally used of the “setts” of badgers (which seem to have existed in great numbers in parts of Beleriand).

In this 1969 note Tolkien again mentioned its abnormal plural fili < ✶phelgai.

Neo-Sindarin: Of the various meanings for this name, I prefer its 1957 sense “mine, boring, tunnel, underground dwelling”; its 1969 use for “den” (and felagund = “badger”) conflicts with the etymology of Felagund’s published in The Silmarillion. For “cave” I would use groth as in Menegroth “Thousand Caves” or feleg as a loan word from Khuzdul, and for “den” I would use torech as in Torech Ungol “Shelob’s Lair”.

S. feleg n. “cave, ⚠️mine, underground dwelling”

A word for “cave, mine, underground dwelling” in Notes on Names (NN) from 1957, derived from the root √PHELEK, that Tolkien considered as an alternative to fela (< ✶phelgā) for the initial element of the name Felagund (PE17/118).

Conceptual Development: N. feleg “(animal’s) horn; steep mountain peak” appeared in a deleted entry in The Etymologies of the 1930s, but that seems unrelated.

Neo-Sindarin: In a note from 1959, Tolkien derived Felagund as a loan word from Khuzdul Felakgundu “Cave Hewer” (PM/352), and this was the etymology Christopher Tolkien gave in The Silmarillion index (SI/Felagund). I prefer this as the basis for Felagund’s name, and √PHELEG over √PHELEK as the ancient Elvish root. Nevertheless I think feleg “cave” may remain viable in Neo-Sindarin as a loan word from Khuzdul. The similarity of ancient Elvish PHELEG and Dwarvish radical *F-L-K may be a coincidence or the result of Avari influence on Ancient Dwarvish.

⚠️N. gath n. “cavern”

A noun in The Etymologies of the 1930s glossed “cavern” derived from the root ᴹ√GAT(H), an element in the name N. Doriath “Land of the Cave” (Ety/GAT(H)). In later writings S. Doriath was redefined as “Land of the Fence” with final element S. iath “fence” (WJ/370), so N. gath “cavern” was probably abandoned.

⚠️N. gathrod n. “cave”

A noun in The Etymologies of the 1930s glossed “cave”, apparently a combination of N. gath “cavern” and ᴹ√ROT “tunnel” (Ety/GAT(H)). Its initial element also appeared in the name N. Doriath “Land of the Cave”, but in later writings S. Doriath was redefined as “Land of the Fence” with final element S. iath “fence” (WJ/370), so N. gathrod “cave” was probably abandoned.

S. groth n. “large excavation, delving, underground dwelling; [N.] cave, tunnel, [G.] grot”

A noun for a large excavation (WJ/415) or a cave or tunnel (EtyAC/ROT) with variants groth and grod, the former seen in names like Menegroth “Thousand Caves” and the latter in names like Novrod “Hollow-delving” (later Nogrod “Dwarf-delving”). It was derived from strengthened forms ✶grottā or grotā of the root √ROT (WJ/414-415).

Conceptual Development: The earliest iteration of this word was (archaic) G. †roth “cave, grot” from the early root ᴱ√roto (GL/65); this root was glossed “hollow” in the contemporaneous Qenya Lexicon (QL/80). Both strengthened and unstrengthened variants N. groth and roth “cave, tunnel” appeared under the root ᴹ√ROT “bore, tunnel”, a late entry to The Etymologies of the 1930s (EtyAC/ROT). Suffixal forms -roth, -rod were mentioned in passing in Words, Phrases and Passages from The Lord of the Rings from the late 1950s or early 1960s as derivatives of √ROT “cave” in connection to the name S. Nimrodel (PE17/49).

A fairly lengthy discussion of these words appeared in the Quendi and Eldar essay from 1959-60 (WJ/414-415), where Tolkien gave the root form as √groto “dig, excavate, tunnel” contrasted with √rono “arch over, roof in”. Tolkien also compared groth/grod to S. rond “vaulted or roofed chamber”, only the latter of which “could be applied both to natural and to artificial structures”. Of the two Tolkien said:

Though distinct in origin the derivatives of *groto and *rono naturally came into contact, since they were not dissimilar in shape, and a *rondō was usually made by excavation. Thus S groth < *grottā (an intensified form of grod < *grotā) “a large excavation” might well apply to a rond. Menegroth means “the Thousand Caves or Delvings”, but it contained one great rond and many minor ones (WJ/415).

Neo-Sindarin: Despite Tolkien’s comments in the Quendi and Eldar essay, there are some cases where grod/groth seems to apply to natural caves as well as excavated ones, such as Nimrodel “Lady of the White Cave” and Androth “*Long Cave”. As such, I would use it for both natural and excavated caverns.

S. felco n. “(vaulted or arched) roof; vaulted chamber or cavern; heavens [as a roof of the world]”

A noun for a vaulted or arched roof, as well as chambers with such a roof, both constructed and natural. Tolkien’s most complete description of this word appeared in the Quendi and Eldar essay:

S rond, Q rondo are from *rono “arch over, roof in”. This could be applied both to natural and to artificial structures, but its view was always from below and from the inside ... CE *rondo meant “a vaulted or arched roof, as seen from below (and usually not visible from outside)”, or “a (large) hall or chamber so roofed”. It was still often applied pictorially to the heavens after the Elves had obtained much greater knowledge of star-lore. Cf. the name Elrond “Star-dome“ (WJ/414).

Thus this word was sometimes also applied (metaphorically) to describe the dome of heaven. This definition of rond as both a roof and a cavern appeared elsewhere in Tolkien’s writings as well (RC/421; EtyAC/ROD).

Conceptual Development: Perhaps the earliest precursor to this word was G. grûd(a) “cavern” (archaic †rûda) from the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s, derived from the early root ᴱ√roto “hollow” (GL/42, 45, 66; QL/80). This was followed by a word ᴱN. gorod “cave” in the Early Noldorin Grammar of the 1920s (PE13/123), and ᴱN. gronn (archaic †grond) in contemporaneous Early Noldorin Word-lists with glosses like “cave” (PE13/145) or “cavern” (PE13/162).

In The Etymologies of the 1930s it was N. rhonn (archaic †rhond) “roof, cave” from the root ᴹ√ROD of the same meaning (Ety/ROD). In The Etymologies as published in The Lost Road Christopher Tolkien gave the gloss “cave” (LR/384), but in their Addenda and Corrigenda to the Etymologies, Carl Hostetter and Patrick Wynne corrected this to “roof, cave” (EtyAC/ROD). In this document it was already the basis of N. Elrond = “Starry-dome” (Ety/EL). In the Quendi and Eldar essay from 1959-60, Tolkien seems to have kept the basic definition from the The Etymologies of the 1930s but updated its form and etymology, deriving it from a new root √RON “arch over”.

Neo-Eldarin: For purposes of Neo-Eldarin, I prefer the earlier root form ᴹ√ROD as this lets us retain more of the 1930s forms.