Select Primitive Elvish Roots: TEFE-TELES

Select Primitive Elvish Roots: TEFE-TELES

ᴱ√TEFE “*hate, dislike”

An unglossed root in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s with derivatives like ᴱQ. tempe “hate” and ᴱQ. teve- “hate, dislike” (QL/90), where the -v- was because intervocalic voiceless spirants became voiced in Early Qenya (PE12/17-19). It also had derivatives in the contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon such as G. tîf “resentment, ill feeling, bitterness” (GL/70). I think it is worth positing a Neo-Root ᴺ√TEB “hate, dislike” to serve as the basis for Elvish “hate” words; I think it is the best option among the various other early roots Tolkien used for this purpose: the derivatives of ᴱ√ÞṆKṆ conflicts with later ᴹQ. sanka/N. thanc “cleft, split” < ᴹ√STAK (Ety/STAK), and ᴱ√MOKO as the final element of G. Gothmog was replaced by ᴹ√MBAW (Ety/MBAW).

TEG “line”

Tolkien used a number of similar root as the basis for “line” words throughout his life. The earliest of these appeared in the Qenya Lexicon as ᴱ√TEHE [teχe] “pull” (gloss marked with a “?” by Tolkien) with derivatives like ᴱQ. tea “straight”, ᴱQ. telya “attractive; importunate”, and ᴱQ. tie “line, direction, route, road” (QL/90), the last of these surviving more or less unchanged all the way into the published version of The Lord of the Rings (LotR/377). The early root ᴱ√TEHE also had derivatives in the contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon such as G. “mark, line; track; path”, G. or tion “straight”, and G. tîr “honest; esteem, regard, honour”, originally “straight, upright” (GL/69, 71). Primitive ᴱ✶tegna > ᴱQ. tína/ᴱN. tain “straight” from Early Noldorin Word-lists from the 1920s may represent a shift in the form of the root to *ᴱ√TEGE (PE13/153, 165).

In The Etymologies of the 1930s the root appeared as {ᴹ√TEƷ >>} ᴹ√TEÑ “line, direction” with derivatives like ᴹQ. tie/N. “line, way” and ᴹQ. téra/N. tîr “straight, right” (Ety/TEƷ, TEÑ). In the Outline of Phonology Tolkien gave √TEG “line”, whereas √TEÑ was given as the basis for Q. tenna “a thought, notion, idea” and thus clearly with a different meaning; see the entry √TEÑ for further discussion. In any case it is clear that Tolkien considered various ancient velar consonants for the second consonant of this root, all ultimately vanishing in the child languages with similar vocalic effects: 1910s teχ-, 1920s teg-, 1930s {teʒ- >>} teñ- and 1950s teg-.

TEK “make a written mark, sign, write, [ᴹ√] write or draw (signs or letters)”

The root √TEK was the basis for Elvish words for writing for much of Tolkien’s life. It first appeared as ᴱ√TEKE “make marks” in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s with derivatives like ᴱQ. teket “letter” and ᴱQ. tekta- “to write” (QL/90). It also had derivatives in the contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon such as G. taith “letter” and G. tectha- “write” (GL/68-69). In The Etymologies of the 1930s it was ᴹ√TEK “make a mark, write or draw (signs or letters)” with derivatives like ᴹQ. tek-/N. teitha- “write” and ᴹQ. tengwa/N. tîw “letter” (Ety/TEK).

The root √TEK continued to appear in Tolkien’s writings of the 1950s and 60s with glosses like “make a written mark” (PE17/43), “sign” (PE17/44) or “write” (PE22/149). However, one of its major derivatives, Q. tengwa “letter” (or originally < ᴹ✶tekmā), was transfered to the root √TEÑ after Tolkien decide that km > kw rather than ngw in Quenya phonology, as noted by Christopher Gilson (PE17/44; PE19/85-86 note #79); see the entry on √TEÑ for further discussion.

TEL “close, end, complete, come to an end”

Tolkien used words beginning with tel- or tyel- for “end” and these were intermixed with “roof” words, but the exact arrangements evolved over Tolkien’s life. In the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s, the base root was ᴱ√TELE “cover in” with derivatives like ᴱQ. tel (teld-) “roof” and ᴱQ. telimbo “canopy; sky”, along with a vocalic extension ᴱ√TEL+U “to finish, close, end, complete” with derivatives like verb ᴱQ. telu- of the same meaning and ᴱQ. telwa “last, late” (QL/90-91). Both the base root and its extension had derivatives in the contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon such as G. teld “roof” vs. G. telu “end” (GL/70).

In the Early Qenya Word Lists of the 1920s, however, Tolkien gave the words ᴱQ. talle “ended” and ᴱQ. talma “end” (PE16/143, 144) versus ᴱQ. telu- “cover, roof” and ᴱQ. telume “firmament” and (QL/134, 142). Indeed, in The Etymologies of the 1930s Tolkien had unglossed ᴹ√TEL with the vocalic extension ᴹ√TELU having derivatives like ᴹQ. telme “hood, covering” and ᴹQ. telume/N. telu “roof (of heaven)” (Ety/TEL). The primitive verb form ✶telu- “roof in” appeared in Quendian & Common Eldarin Verbal Structure (EVS1: PE22/98) from the 1930s and again in Common Eldarin: Verb Structure from the early 1950s (EVS2: PE22/135), and finally one more time with the gloss “roof in, put the crown on a building” in the Quendi and Eldar essay of 1959-60 (WJ/411).

The “end” words went down a different route. In The Etymologies Tolkien gave ᴹ√KYEL “run out, come to an end” as an etymological variant of ᴹ√KEL “go, run (especially of water), *flow”; ᴹ√KYEL had derivatives like ᴹQ. tyel- “to end, cease” and ᴹQ. tyelima “final” (Ety/KEL, KYEL). Tolkien mentioned this etymological variation of √KEL “flow” vs. √KYEL “cease, come to an end” in both the first and second version of Tengwesta Qenderinwa from the 1930s and around 1950 respectively (TQ1: PE18/58; TQ2: PE18/103), and the two variants were also mentioned in the Quenya Verbal System of the 1940s (PE22/114). However, in Common Eldarin: Verb Structure of the early 1950s Tolkien gave √TEL “close, end, complete” with vocalic extension telu “roof in” (PE22/135), a paradigm repeated in the Quendi and Eldar essay of 1959-60, though with a bit less certainty:

The stem *TELE, the primary sense of which appears to have been “close, end, come at the end” ... This was possibly distinct from *tel-u “roof in, put the crown on a building”, seen in Q telume “roof, canopy” ... But *telu may be simply a differentiated form of *TELE, since the roof was the final work of a building (WJ/411).

The conceptual development seems to be 1910s ᴱ√TELE “cover” vs. ᴱ√TEL-U “end” >> 1920s *ᴱ√TALA “end” vs. ᴱ√TELU “cover” >> 1930s-1950 ᴹ√KYEL “end” vs. ᴹ√TEL(U) “*cover” >> early 1950s √TEL “end” vs. √TELU “roof in”. Thus Tolkien ultimately came full circle back to his original root forms, but with reversed meanings.

See also the root √TELES for discussion of the conceptual shifts in the derivation of Q. Teleri “Hindmost”.

ᴹ√TELEK “stalk, stem, leg”

A root in The Etymologies of the 1930s glossed “stalk, stem, leg” with derivatives like ᴹQ. telko “leg” and N. telch “stem” (Ety/TÉLEK). Tolkien’s continuing use of Q. telco for “leg” or “stem (of a tengwa symbol)” indicates the ongoing validity of this root (PE22/51; PE17/122; LotR/1118). In earlier writings, Tolkien first gave ᴱQ. pelko “leg” < ᴱ√PELE² (QL/73), but ᴱQ. telko “stem” appeared in Qenya Declensions from the late 1920s (PE16/113), and both pelko and telko appeared in declensions from early 1930s (PE21/48, 53) before Tolkien settled more firmly on telko in the mid-1930s, as noted above.

TELES “come at rear, end a line or series; [ᴹ√] hindmost, tarrier”

The word Q. Teler was a long established word for an Elf in Tolkien’s writing, though it ultimately came to refer only to the third tribe, and had a variety of derivations over time. In the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s ᴱQ. Teler “little elf” was not given a root, but its stem form teleř- implies derivation from *ᴱ√TELEÐ (QL/90), which is consistent with its Gnomish cognate G. Tilith (GL/70). In Early Noldorin Word-lists of the 1920s Tolkien derived ᴱQ. Teler and ᴱN. Tiledh from primitive ᴱ✶Teled- (PE13/154).

In the first version of Tengwesta Qenderinwa from the 1930s Tolkien initially gave the root ᴹ√TELED for the third Elven kindred (PE18/34), but later in the same document he gave ᴹ√TELES (PE18/61), which is the form he used in The Etymologies of the 1930s with the gloss “hindmost, tarrier” (Ety/TELES). In The Etymologies he explicitly contrasted ᴹ√TELES with ᴹ√KYEL “come to an end” (> ᴹQ. tyel-) with which it was sometimes blended in Quenya (Ety/KYEL, TELES). However, in the second version of Tengwesta Qenderinwa from around 1950 Tolkien gave {√TELES >>} √KYELES as the basis for the name of the third tribe, with Teler- being the Telerin variant.

In Common Eldarin: Verb Structure Tolkien reversed himself, decided √TEL meant “close, end, complete” at which point primitive teles “come at rear, end a line or series” was restored (PE22/135). In rough notes associated with Notes on Names (NN) from 1957, he switched to primitive Teler- as the basis for the tribe-name, as supported by Sindarin forms like S. †teleir (PE17/139), and in the Quendi and Eldar essay of 1959-60 he said Q. Teler was based on the old agental suffix ✶-rŏ (WJ/371), again pointing to primitive *teler-.

Neo-Eldarin: For purposes of Neo-Eldarin, I would assume that the tribal name Teleri was based on ancient *tele-rŏ as noted above, but I would also assume √TELES “hindmost, last in a series” remained valid to preserve relevant derivatives from The Etymologies.

TEN “direction; point (toward); end (in sense of point aimed at)”

This root first appeared in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s as ᴱ√TENE “touch, feel”, with derivatives like ᴱQ. tende “sense of touch, sense, sensation, feeling” and ᴱQ. tenya- “feel, touch” (QL/91). G. tent “toe” and G. tentha- “feel with the feet, walk on tiptoe” from the contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon might be related (GL/70). There were then no further signs of this root for many years, except perhaps the preposition ᴹQ. ten “for” in Fíriel’s Song of the 1930s.

The root √TEN “direction” eventually reappeared in Quenya Notes (QN) from 1957 with a single derivative, adverb or preposition Q. tenna “to the object; up to, to (reach), as far as”, as in the phrase Q. tenn’ Ambar-metta “unto the ending of the world” (LotR/967). The root √TEN also appeared with gloss “end in sense of point aimed at” (vs. √MET = “finally”) along with derivatives Q. tenna “to the point, until” and Q. †tenya- “arrive, end (not at speaker’s[?] place)” in notes from the late 1950s or early 1960s (VT49/24).

In notes from 1968, √TEN was at first used for “to, arrive (at), reach” along with derivatives Q. tenna “right up to a point (of time/place); go as far as” and a verb Q. ten- “arrive, come to”, but then Tolkien changed {√TEN >>} √MEN and revised all the verb forms of {Q. ten- >>} men- (VT49/23-24). He then gave a new gloss “point” to √TEN and updated derivatives: Q. tenna “to the point” and Q. tenta- “point to, [point] out, indicate” (VT49/24). In another note associated with 1968 drafts of the Ambidexters Sentence, the root √TEN was glossed “toward” (VT49/24).

Neo-Eldarin: For purposes of Neo-Eldarin, I’d ignore Tolkien’s brief interpretation of this root as “arrive”, and stick with the meaning “(up to the) point”, consistent with its non-deleted derivatives. For “arrive”, I’d use Q. anya- from Late Notes on Verbs written in 1969, reserving √MEN for “go” (LVS).

TEÑ “indicate, signify, show, represent, betoken, mark, to point at; [ᴱ√] know, understand”

The first mention of this root was as ᴱ√TEŊE “know, understand” in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s where it had derivatives like ᴱQ. tenge- “know, understand, grasp” and ᴱQ. tengwe “knowledge, understanding” (QL/91). In the The Etymologies of the 1930s, Tolkien instead gave {ᴹ√TEƷ >>} ᴹ√TEÑ “line, direction” with derivatives like ᴹQ. tie/N. “line, way” and ᴹQ. téra/N. tîr “straight, right” (Ety/TEƷ, TEÑ). However, in the original layer of composition for the Outline of Phonology (OP2) from the early 1950s, Tolkien gave √TEG for “line” and gave √TEÑ as the basis for Q. tenna “thought, notion, idea”, perhaps a restoration of its meaning from the 1910s (PE19/97).

In another entry in The Etymologies of the 1930s, Tolkien derived ᴹQ. tengwa from ᴹ✶tekmā = ᴹ√TEK “write” + the instrumental suffix ᴹ✶-mā (Ety/TEK). The foundation of this derivation is the sound change whereby voiceless stops were voiced before nasals in Ancient Quenya, thereafter nasalizing so that ᴹ✶tekmā > tegmā > teñmā > teñgwā (PE19/43). This sound change was still in effect when Tolkien wrote the initial draft of Outline of Phonology (OP2) in the early 1950s (PE19/85-66 note #79), but at some later point Tolkien revised this rule so that the nasal instead unvoiced, so that km > kʰm̌ > > kw (PE19/85), making the derivation of tengwa from the root √TEK invalid.

As pointed out by Christopher Gilson (ibid., note #79), earlier signs of this new phonetic rule can be seen Tolkien’s notes on Words, Phrases and Passages in the Lord of the Rings from the late 1950s, where he gave √TEÑ “show, sign, indicate” instead of √TEK “[written] sign” as the new root for Q. tengwa, now derived from ✶teñwā or ✶teñmā, though Tolkien briefly considered √TEWE as a possible root in drafts to these notes (PE17/44). From this point forward, Tolkien regularly mentioned √TEÑ with glosses like “indicate, signify” (WJ/394), “represent, betoken, indicate (by sign)” (VT39/15) and “indicate, mark, signify” (PE22/149). Finally, in green-ink revisions to OP2 from 1970, Tolkien added tengwa as another derivative of √TEÑ along side Q. tenna “thought, notion, idea” as mentioned above (PE19/97 and note #139).

See the entries on √TEG “line” and √TEK “write” for parallel developments in similar roots.

TER “pierce”

This root first appeared as unglossed ᴱ√TEŘE [TEÐE] in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s, with derivatives like ᴱQ. teret “auger, borer, gimlet”, ᴱQ. tereva “piercing, acute, shrill, sharp”, and ᴱQ. teste “worm”; another set of derivatives based on Q. teren “lissom, lithe” were marked by Tolkien with a “?” (QL/91). In the Poetic and Mythological Words of Eldarissa the root teře was glossed “pierce” (PME/91). Possibly related forms in the contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon include G. tertha- “devour, destroy” and G. tereg “worm”, but if so they may represent a shift of the root from ᴱ√TEÐE >> *ᴱ√TERE (GL/70).

Indeed, in The Etymologies of the 1930s the root was given as ᴹ√TER “pierce” with derivatives like ᴹQ. ter/N. trî “through” and ᴹQ. tereva/N. trîw “fine, acute, [N.] very slender” (Ety/TER). As originally written, the root was ᴹ√TERÉW, but Tolkien changed this to ᴹ√TER and added an extended form ᴹ√TERES that was the basis for ᴹQ. terra/N. tess “fine pierced hole” (EtyAC/TER). The root √TER “pierce” appeared again in notes from 1957 on the origin of Q. Vairë “Weaver” as a variant of √THER “sew” (PE17/33). This specific note was marked through, but given Tolkien’s ongoing use of Q. ter “though”, the root √TER probably survived.