Select Elvish Words 1.23: Plain, Field

Select Elvish Words 1.23: Plain, Field

1.23 Plain, Field

ᴹQ. landa n. “plain”

A noun for “a plain” in the Quenya Verbal System (QVS) of the 1940s derived from ᴹ√LAD “lie flat, be flat” with variants landa and lanna (PE22/126), the latter probably derived from *ladna with the voiced stop d becoming a nasal before nasal n. It might simply be the noun form of adjective ᴹQ. landa¹ “wide” from The Etymologies of the 1930s (Ety/LAD).

Neo-Quenya: For purposes of Neo-Quenya, I’d stick to the form landa, which appears in an inflected form landannar “to the plains” early in QVS (PE22/125).

ᴱQ. nendo n. “water mead”

A noun given as ᴱQ. nendo “water mead” in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s under the root ᴱ√NEŘE [NEÐE] (QL/66). It was also mentioned in the Poetic and Mythological Words of Eldarissa with the same form and gloss (PME/66). In the Qenya Lexicon, Tolkien indicated it might instead be derived from the root ᴱ√NESE, though how is not entirely clear.

Neo-Quenya: I think this word might be salvaged as ᴺQ. nendo “water mead, *watered plain” for purposes of Neo-Quenya but reimagined as a derivative of √NEN “water”. This can replace ᴹQ. nanda of the same meaning from The Etymologies (Ety/NAD), since in later writings the various Q. nand- forms were exclusively used with the sense “valley”.

ᴹQ. palar n. “plain, flat field, ‘wang’”

A noun from The Etymologies of the 1930s given as {palad >>} palar “plain, flat field, ‘wang’” written in the margins next to the root ᴹ√PAL “wide (open)” (EtyAC/PAL). The deleted form palad is probably its primitive form, with the usual change of final -d to -r; indeed the primitive form ✶palad “plain” appears in Common Eldarin: Noun Structure (EVS2) from the early 1950s, indicating the ongoing validity of this word. As pointed out by Carl Hostetter and Patrick Wynne, the gloss “wang” is an archaic word for “field, flat area” which Tolkien used in names like “Wetwang” (RC/779).

Conceptual Development: The word ᴱQ. palume “a plain” and its variant {palanka >>} palante may be a percursor to ᴹQ. palar; it likewise was a derivative of the root ᴱ√PALA, probably an elaboration of ᴱQ. palo (palu-) “plane surface, plain, the flat” (QL/71-72).

ᴹQ. peler n. “fenced field, ⚠️[ᴱQ.] fence”

A noun in The Etymologies of the 1930s glossed “fenced field” along with cognate N. pêl, both derived from the root ᴹ√PEL(ES) “revolve on fixed point” (Ety/PEL(ES)).

Conceptual Development: A possible precursor is ᴱQ. pelto “hedge, hedged field” from the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s, a derivative of ᴱ√PELE¹ “fence in” (QL/73). The form ᴱQ. peler appeared in Early Noldorin Word-lists as a cognate of ᴱN. helai “fence”, derived from primitive ✶pelesa (PE13/147). Tolkien’s continued use of its cognate S. pêl in names like S. Pelennor “Fenced Land” (LotR/749; PE17/65) indicates the ongoing validity of ᴹQ. peler.

S. lad n. “plain, ⚠️valley; [G.] a level, a flat; fair dealing”

An element meaning “plain” in many Sindarin names, such as S. Dagorlad “Battle-plain” (S/292) and S. Lithlad “Plain of Ashes” (LotR/636; RC/457). Christopher Tolkien translated it as “plain, valley” in The Silmarillion appendix, but it only seems to have had the sense “valley” as the word S. imlad as in S. Imladris “Rivendell”, so I think “plain” is the better translation.

Conceptual Development: This word was connected to flat things very early in Tolkien’s notions of the Elvish languages. It first appeared as G. lad “a level, a flat; fair dealing” in the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s (GL/52), probably a derivative of the early root ᴱ√LATA (QL/51). The element -lad also appeared in many Noldorin names from the 1930s and 40s, though in this period it likely had the form N. lhad, as in N. lhaden “open, cleared” (Ety/LAT). It seems to appear in the earliest name for the “Gladden Fields” from Lord of the Rings drafts form the 1940s: N. Palath-ledin (TI/114). Here it has an unusual plural form ledin using the plural suffix -in, but whether that would have remained true in Sindarin is unclear.

S. ness n. “headland; [G.] (water) meadow; long grass”

An element appearing in the name Taras-ness for the headlands under the mountain Taras (UT/28).

Conceptual Development: This word might be a remnant of G. ness “water meadow; long grass” from the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s (GL/60) which was probably a derivative of the early root ᴱ√NESE “give to feed; feed, pasture; graze” (QL/66). Given its Early Qenya cognate ᴱQ. nesse “(green) fodder, herb, grass”, it likely that “long grass” is the original sense of G. ness, and “water meadow” is an extrapolated meaning. If so, then “headland” = “hills leading up to a mountain” is plausible conceptual shift from “meadow”.

S. parth n. “field, enclosed grassland, sward, *meadow”

An element in the names S. Parth Celebrant “Field of Celebrant” and S. Parth Celebrant “Parth Galen”, variously translated “field, enclosed grassland” (UT/260) or “sward” = “*field of short grass” (RC/349). Its etymology is unclear: it might be a derivative of √PAR “arrange”. It may also be a later iteration of N. pathw “level place, sward” < ᴹ√PATH, and is perhaps derived from *path-re with metathesis to parth(e).

N. pathw n. “level place, sward”

A noun appearing as N. pathw “level place, sward” in The Etymologies of the 1930s derived from primitive ᴹ✶pathmā, where the m became w after the aspirate th as in ON. pathwa (Ety/PATH). This final -w would be pronounced “-u”, and having -w in the written form seems to be an orthographic convention of Noldorin of the 1930s and 40s. In (Neo) Sindarin it would probably be written as ᴺS. pathu as suggested in Hiswelókë’s Sindarin Dictionary (HSD/pathu); compare for example S. hadhu “seat”.

S. sâdh n. “sward, turf”

A noun glossed “sward, turf” derived from √SAD “strip, flay, peel off” in notes on The Rivers and Beacon-hills of Gondor from 1967-69 serving as the second element of S. Calenhad “Green Space”, where Tolkien explained the abnormalities of the spelling by saying that that “dh” was generally represented as “d” in his maps (VT42/20).

S. talath n. “flat lands, plain, vale”

A word appearing as an element in the names S. Talath Dirnen “Guarded Plain” (S/168) and S. Talath Rhúnen “East Vale” (S/124). Christopher Tolkien gave this word the glosses “flat lands, plain” in the The Silmarillion appendix (SA/talath).

Possible Etymology: This word was probably connected to the root √TAL “foot” in some way, which had other elaborations referring to flatness, such as √TALAM “a flat space” (PE17/52). Perhaps it was based on *√TALATH. In notes from 1964 (PE17/150; see below) Tolkien also considered giving the root √TALAT the sense “ground (bottom)”, so primitive *talatte is another possibility, though elsewhere √TALAT was usually a triconsonantal root unrelated to √TAL.

Conceptual Development: In earlier writings, this word was dalath. The first appearance of this earlier word was as ᴱN. dalath “vale” in the ᴱN. Nebrachar poem from around 1930 (MC/217). It appeared as N. dalath “flat surface, plane, plain” in The Etymologies of the 1930s as a derivative of the root ᴹ√DAL “flat” (Ety/DAL). In the contemporaneous Silmarillion drafts the name “Guarded Plain” appeared as N. Dalath Dirnen (LR/299). In Silmarillion drafts from the 1950s and 60s, this name was revised to S. Talath Dirnen (WJ/140).

Tolkien was vacillating on this issue as late as 1964, where in some etymological notes on the name Daleth Dirnen (DD) he first wrote: “DAL-, bottom, ground, (in Quenya > LAD-). Alter dalath to dalad, low lying / flat ground” but then above this wrote “X Dalath Dirnen. dalath won’t do = ‘plain’. {alter to talad. no that = slip, fall} TALAT = ground (bottom). hence TALAT- fall down” (PE17/150). Here he seems to have rejected dalath, but did not quite finish the transformation to talath, first considering talad as an alternative but rejected it because should mean “slip, fall” instead. He eventually settled on talath though, as indicated by the Silmarillion revisions mentioned above.

S. talf n. “wang, flat field, topographical flat area”

A noun for a “topographical flat area” (PE17/52) or “flat field” (RC/779) in the name S. Nindalf “Wetwang”, where Tolkien indicated that “wang” was an archaic English word for “field, flat area” (RC/779). It was derived from the root √TALAM “flat space” (PE17/52).