Sindarin Phonetic Development (Part 14)

Sindarin Phonetic Development (Part 14)

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OS. medial [m] became [n] before [j], [w]; [m{jw}] > [n{jw}]

In Sindarin and Noldorin it seems that medial [m] became [n] before the semi-vowels [j], [w]. There are no published notes by Tolkien explicitly describing this change, but there are several Sindarin and Noldorin examples that demonstrate it:

  • ᴹ✶ramya- > N. rhenio “fly, sail” (Ety/RAM).
  • ᴹ✶hamwa > N. hanw “?chair” vs. Q. hamma (EtyAC/KHAM).
  • MAY > amya- > amya- > S. ein- “excellent, admirable” vs. Q. amya- (PE17/163).

This sound change is the most plausible explanation of the medial n in the Noldorin forms above, and the development is even more explicit in the Sindarin example. David Salo described this sound change in Gateway to Sindarin, but he attributed it to Ancient Telerin (GS/§4.31). Since there is no evidence of this change in Telerin, I prefer to be a bit more conservative and assume it is a Sindarin-only change, albeit an early one.