Sindarin Phonetic Development (Part 15)

Sindarin Phonetic Development (Part 15)

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OS. initial [ml], [mr] became [bl], [br]; [m{lr}-] > [b{lr}-]

In Noldorin and Gnomish there are a number of examples of initial mr- becoming br-; this sound change must have occurred after unstressed initial syllables were reduced to favored clusters. This same sound change occurs in the history of Welsh, sometime between Proto-Keltic and Britannic (WGCH/§99ii). Some Gnomish and Noldorin examples:

  • ᴱ✶mṛt > G. Bridwen “Fate” (GL/24).
  • ᴹ✶morókō [> mroko] > N. brôg “bear” vs. ᴹQ. morko (Ety/MORÓK).
  • ᴹ✶mrekjā > N. breig “wild” vs. ᴹQ. merka (Ety/MERÉK) [these forms were later deleted and replaced by derivatives of ᴹ√BEREK].

In Welsh there was a related sound change where ml- became bl- (WGCH/§99ii) and there are examples of this phonetic development as well in Gnomish and Early Noldorin (but no examples after the 1920s):

In Early Noldorin and Gnomish, there are further examples of dental nasal [n] becoming [d] before [r], [l]:

For the last example, bear in mind that [dl] became [gl] in Gnomish, as described by Roman Rausch in his Historical Phonology of Goldogrin (HSG/§2.4). He also identified the above sound changes in Gnomish, where initial nasals [n], [m] becoming stops before [r], [l] (HSG/§2.1).

Neo-Sindarin: There is no evidence of any of the above changes in Sindarin. Since mr-/ml- > br-/bl- in Welsh, Tolkien might have allowed these changes in Sindarin as well, and I include them in my phonetic rules for Neo-Sindarin. The nr-/nl- > dr-/dl- changes seem more dubious to me, so I don’t include them. David Salo attributed the mr- > br- change (but excluded the ml- change) to Old Sindarin in Gateway to Sindarin (GS/§4.36). Salo also included ŋl- > gl-, but I can find no evidence of this and I don’t know where he got it from.