Select Elvish Words 1.22: Hill, Mountain

Select Elvish Words 1.22: Hill, Mountain

1.22 Hill, Mountain

Q. ambo n. “hill, rising ground, ⚠️mount”

The basis word for “hill” in Quenya (MC/222; PE17/90), also referring to “rising ground” in general (PE17/92).

Conceptual Development: The earliest precursor of this word was ᴱQ. †amun (amund-) “hill” in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s, a derivative of ᴱ√AM(U) “up(wards)”, though this word was marked as poetic (QL/30); amund- “hill” was also mentioned in the Poetic and Mythological Words of Eldarissa (PME/30). The form ᴱQ. ambo “hill” first appeared in Early Noldorin Word-lists of the 1920s as a cognate of ᴱN. amon (PE13/137, 159), and it (mostly) retained this form thereafter.

ᴹQ. ambo “hill” reappeared in The Etymologies of the 1930s as a derivative of ᴹ√AM² “up” (Ety/AM²). In notes on the comparative from early in 1967, Tolkien coined some different roots as the basis for this word, first √MAB “lump, mass” (PE17/90) and then √MBON, the latter producing Q. umbo(n) “hill, lump, clump, mass” (PE17/90-93), his motivation being that he wanted √AMA to have a new meaning “addition, increase, plus” to serve as the basis for the intensive. But in other notes from 1967 he derived Q. ambo from √AM “go up”, though in that note he glossed the word as “mount” (PE17/157). In the Q. Markirya poem from late 1960s, ambo was used for “hill” (MC/222).

Neo-Quenya: For purposes of Neo-Quenya, I would assume Q. ambo was derived from √AM “up”, and would limit its used to hills, ignoring its 1967 “mount” gloss.

Q. ambuna adj. “hilly”

An adjectival form of Q. ambo “hill”, used when “describing ground that was generally flat but dotted with hummocks, hills, knolls” (PE17/92-93).

ᴹQ. nóla n. “round head, knoll, round hilltop; ⚠️summit, [ᴱQ.] top (only used of mountains etc.); crown of head”

A word for a type of hill, a “round head, knoll”, appearing in the The Etymologies of the 1930s as a derivative of ᴹ√NDOL (Ety/NDOL).

Conceptual Development: This word was mentioned quite frequently in Tolkien’s early writings, appearing as ᴱQ. nōla “head, hill” in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s as a derivative of ᴱ√NOHO “extended” (QL/67), and appearing in many word lists from the 1910s through early 1930s with glosses like “round hill” (PME/67), “head, summit” (PE15/73), “top (only used of mountains etc.)” (PE15/78), or “summit, round hilltop, head” (PE21/8). In the English-Qenya Dictionary of the 1920s Tolkien clarified that it “is not used of human head except colloquially” (PE15/73). Tolkien’s ongoing use of its cognate S. dol(l) “head, hill” in later writings indicates is ongoing validity.

Neo-Quenya: For purposes of Neo-Quenya, I would limit this word to round hills and knolls and not use it for mountain tops.

Q. oro n. “mount, mountain, ⚠️hill”

An element meaning “mountain” or “hill” given as a derivative of √ORO/RŌ (PE17/64, 83) and appearing in various Quenya compounds in the 1950s and 60s: Q. Orocarni “Red Mountains” (MR/77), Q. Orofarnë “Mountain Ash” (PE17/83), Q. oromandi “mountain dweller[s]” (PE16/96), and Q. Pelóri “Mountain Wall” (PE17/26). It also appeared as ᴱQ. oro “hill” in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s as a derivative of the early root ᴱ√ORO¹ (QL/70).

See the discussion in the entry for Q. oron “mountain” for more details on the conceptual developments of this and related words.

Q. oron (oront-) n. “mountain”

A word for “mountain” in Quenya whose stem form was oront-, so that it’s plural would be oronti (Ety/Ety/ÓROT).

Conceptual Development: There were a number of competing “mountain” words in Quenya of similar derivation, all based on the root √ORO “rise”; its Sindarin cognate S. orod “mountain” was much more stable in form. The earliest iteration of these Quenya words was ᴱQ. oro “hill” in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s as a derivative of the early root ᴱ√ORO¹, unglossed but with other derivatives like ᴱQ. oro- “rise” and ᴱQ. orto- “raise” (QL/70). The word oro “hill” also appeared in the Poetic and Mythological Words of Eldarissa from this period, along side a variant form oron(d) of the same meaning (PME/70).

The variant oron reappeared in the Declension of Nouns from the early 1930s, now with the gloss “mountain” (PE21/33); its inflected forms indicate a stem form of {orom- >>} orum- (PE21/34 and note #125). ᴹQ. oron “mountain” appeared again in The Etymologies of the 1930s as a derivative of the root ᴹ√OROT, this time with a stem form oront- as indicated by its plural oronti (Ety/ÓROT). Oron appeared once more in the name Q. Oron Oiolossë “Mount Everwhite” from the Quendi and Eldar essay of 1959-60 (WJ/403).

In Notes on Galadriel’s Song (NGS) from the late 1950s or early 1960s Tolkien gave the variant forms oro, orto “mountain” as derivatives of √ORO/RŌ “rise, mount” (PE17/63-64). ᴹQ. orto had previously appeared in The Etymologies of the 1930s as a derivative of the root ᴹ√OROT but with the gloss “mountain-top” (Ety/ÓROT). Hints of this earlier meaning can be seen in the 1968 word Q. orotinga “mountain-top” though in this compound the second element Q. inga also means “top” (VT47/28). Orto “mountain” is probably the final element of the 1968 name Q. Tarmacorto “High Mountain Circle” (NM/351).

As for oro, it meant “mountain” as an element in many late names: Q. Orocarni “Red Mountains” (MR/77), Q. Orofarnë “Mountain Ash” (PE17/83), Q. oromandi “mountain dweller[s]” (PE16/96), and Q. Pelóri “Mountain Wall” (PE17/26), though in one place Tolkien glossed the prefix oro- as “hill” (PE17/83), perhaps a callback to its meaning in the 1910s.

Neo-Quenya: For purposes of Neo-Quenya, I feel oron(t) for “mountain” is better established among Neo-Quenya writers; it is the form used in Helge Fauskanger’s Neo-Quenya New Testament (NQNT), for example. The word Q. orto was not used for “mountain” until quite late, and I would stick with its 1930s meaning “mountain-top”. As for Q. oro, I would use it as “mountain” only in compounds, not as an independent word.

Q. orto n. “[ᴹQ.] mountain-top; ⚠️[Q.] mount, mountain”

A word meaning “mount, mountain” given as a derivative of √ORO/RŌ in Notes on Galadriel’s Song (NGS) from the late 1950s or early 1960s (PE17/64). In The Etymologies of the 1930s, ᴹQ. orto “mountain-top” appeared as a derivative of the root ᴹ√OROT (Ety/ÓROT).

Neo-Quenya: For purposes of Neo-Quenya, I think it best to use orto with its 1930s sense “mountain-top”, and use Q. oron for “mountain”; see that entry for more details on the conceptual developments of this and related words.

Q. quín(ë) n. “crest, ridge”

A noun glossed “crest, ridge” appearing in various notes from the late 1950s and early 60s as a derivatives of √KWIN “crest, salient or top edge”, with variants quín and quíne (PE17/24, 173).

Q. quinna adj. “crested”

An adjective glossed “crested” appearing in various notes from the late 1950s and early 60s as a derivatives of √KWIN “crest, salient or top edge” (PE17/24, 173).

ᴹQ. tundo (tundu-) n. “hill, mound [isolated]”

A noun in The Etymologies of the 1930s glossed “hill, mound” derived from the root ᴹ√TUN (Ety/TUN). Tolkien’s continued use of Q. Túna for the name of a hill in Valinor implies the ongoing validity of its root, so perhaps this word remained valid as well.

Neo-Quenya: For purposes of Neo-Quenya, I would assume that tundo refers mainly to a single isolated hill standing out from its surroundings, as opposed to Q. ambo for hills in general, but that’s speculation on my part.

S. achad n. “rock ridge, neck (geographically)”

A noun mentioned in several places as a translation of “neck” as in Tarlang’s Neck (LotR/790), in Sindarin properly S. Achad Tarlang (PE17/92, 146; RC/537). It was a derivative of √AKAS “neck, ridge” (PE17/146). Somewhat curiously, S. lang “neck” was also an element in the name S. Tarlang. As Tolkien explained it:

It is not certain whether this was named after some ancient man with the Sindarin name Tarlang (“stiff-neck” sc. “proud”) or was due to the obsolescence of Tarlang “the stiff, tough, passage” to which S achad had been prefixed in explanation, so that Achad Tarlang “the crossing called Tarlang” was interpreted as “Tarlang’s Neck”. Achad is another word for “neck”, referring properly only to the vertebrae (the bony part of the neck not including throat). √AKAS: Q akas (later akse) pl. aksi, S ach, geographically achad (< aks). This was also applied geographically to rock ridges. The Neck was not the name of the passage but of the lower, narrower ridge (crossed by the road) between the main mountains, and the mountainous region at southern end of the spur (PE17/92).

Hence S. lang refers to the entire throat, the passage from the mouth to the lungs/stomach, whereas S. ach was the vertebrae and upper spine, and achad was for geographic features resembling the spine, hence rock ridges.

S. amon n. “hill, (isolated) mountain; lump, clump, mass; ⚠️[G.] steep slope”

The basis Sindarin word for “hill”. In one set of notes from around 1967, Tolkien said it could be applied also to any “lump, clump, mass” (PE17/93). In this same note Tolkien said it was “often applied to (especially isolated) mountains”, the most notable example being S. Amon Amarth “Mount Doom”. Its plural form emyn “hills” also appears in many names.

Conceptual Development: This word had a long history in Tolkien’s Elvish languages. It first appeared as G. amon “hill, mount, steep slope” in the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s (GL/19), where it was probably a derivative of the early root ᴱ√AM(U) “up(wards)”. ᴱN. amon “hill” also appears in Early Noldorin Word-lists from the 1920s again connected to am- “up” (PE13/137, 159), and was given as N. amon “hill” in The Etymologies of the 1930s as a derivative of the root ᴹ√AM² “up” (Ety/AM²).

Its Quenya cognate Q. ambo was given as derivative of √AM “go up” in notes from 1967, but in other 1967 notes on the comparative, Tolkien coined some different roots as the basis for this S. amon “hill”, first √MAB “lump, mass” (PE17/90) and then √MBON, the latter being the basis for the alternate meanings “lump, clump, mass” mentioned above (PE17/90-93). Tolkien’s motivation for this change was that he wanted √AMA to have a new meaning “addition, increase, plus” to serve as the basis for the intensive.

Neo-Sindarin: For purposes of Neo-Sindarin, I would assume S. amon was derived from √AM “up”, since I prefer Q. an- for intensives, but it may have been influenced by √MBON and this was the reason for its alternate meanings “lump, clump, mass”.

S. orod n. “mountain”

The Sindarin word for “mountain”, a derivative of √RŌ/ORO “rise” (PE17/63). Its proper plural form is eryd; the plural form ered in The Lord of the Rings is a late [Gondorian only?] pronunciation (PE17/33).

Conceptual Development: The singular form of this noun was extremely stable. It first appeared as G. orod “mountain” in the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s beside variant ort (GL/63), and it reappeared as N. orod “mountain” in The Etymologies of the 1930s as a derivative of the root ᴹ√OROT “height, mountain” (Ety/ÓROT). It appeared in a great many names in the sixty year span that Tolkien worked on the Legendarium.

The development of its plural form is a bit more complex. Its Gnomish plural was orodin (GL/63), but by the Early Noldorin of the 1920s, its plural was eryd (MC/217). In The Etymologies of the 1930s, however, Tolkien gave its plural form as oroti > ereid > ered (Ety/ÓROT). This fits with normal Noldorin plural patterns of the 1930s: compare plurals N. eregdoseregdes, N. golodhgeleidh, N. doronderen, N. thorontherein. Sindarin plural patterns consistently show oy in final syllables, such as S. golodhgelydh or S. NogothNegyth.

This Noldorin plural for orod “mountain” made it into Lord of the Rings drafts, and Tolkien never corrected it before publication. This meant Tolkien was stuck with this remnant of Noldorin plural patterns, which was contradicted by other plural forms in The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien was forced to contrive an explanation for this phenomenon:

S. Ered. This is used always in L.R. as plural of orod, mountain. But Emyn, pl. of Amon. Cf. also Eryn Forest (oron originally plural = trees?) in Eryn Lasgalen. Rodyn, pl. of Rodon = Vala. It seems necessary to assume that: eryd > ered by late change, but y unstressed remained in certain circumstances, e.g. before nasals. † Use Eryd in Silmarillion (PE17/33).

Despite his statement that y only remained before nasals, ered is the only Sindarin word that retains the Noldorin plural pattern: see the examples golydh and nogyth above, neither involving nasals. Also, despite J.R.R. Tolkien’s intent to use eryd in The Silmarillion, his son Christopher Tolkien retained the form ered in The Silmarillion as published, most likely to avoid confusing readers when they compared this plural to the plural forms in The Lord of the Rings.

Neo-Sindarin: Most knowledgeable Neo-Sindarin writers assume oy in final syllables is the correct Sindarin plural pattern, and orodered is an aberration. I personally assume it is a late Gondorian-only (mis)pronunciation. See the discussion of Sindarin plural nouns for more information.

S. pind n. “crest, ridge”

A word for “crest, ridge” (PE17/24) or a “long (low) hill with a sharp ridge against the skyline” (PE17/97). Tolkien seems to have coined this word to explain the abnormal “double plural” form pinnath in S. Pinnath Gelin “Green Hills or Ridges” (LotR/771; RC/525). It is clear he originally intended pinnath to be derived from S. pend “slope” < √PED, but it was a somewhat peculiar combination of the normal plural form pind with the class plural suffix -ath (PE17/24). By introducing S. pind “ridge” < √KWIN, Tolkien resolved this quandary (PE17/158).

Conceptual Development: The notion of this “double plural” form dates all the way back to the Early Noldorin Word-lists of the 1920s, where it seems the noun ᴱN. binn “slope, hillside, bank” was developed from the plural form of the adjective ᴱN. benn “sloping”, and the plural of the noun was binniath (PE13/138, 160). It seems likely that pinnath was initially a remnant of this double pluralization, before Tolkien reconceived of it as a derivative of √KWIN.

N. tunn n. “hill, mound, [ᴱN.] bare hill”

N. tunn “hill, mound” appeared in The Etymologies of the 1930s as a derivative of the root ᴹ√TUN (Ety/TUN). Tolkien’s continued use of Q. Túna for the name of a hill in Valinor implies the ongoing validity of its root, so perhaps this word remained valid as well.

Conceptual Development: The word ᴱN. tûn “mound, bare hill” appeared in Early Noldorin Word-lists of the 1920s (PE13/154). G. tûn also appeared in the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s, but there it was unglossed and had no obvious cognates, so it is not clear what Tolkien intended it to mean (GL/72).

Neo-Sindarin: In keeping with the rule whereby nd was retained “at the end of fully accented monosyllables” (LotR/1115), I’d represent this form as ᴺS. tund in Neo-Sindarin.