Select Elvish Words 1.24: Dale, Valley

Select Elvish Words 1.24: Dale, Valley

1.24 Dale, Valley

Q. imbë n. “deep valley, (wide) ravine, [ᴹQ.] glen, dell, (lit.) tween-land”

A Quenya noun that is more or less the equivalent of S. imlad for a deep (and relatively narrow) valley or a wider-than-normal ravine.

Conceptual Development: ᴹQ. imbe “dell, deep vale” appeared in the Qenya Lexicon as a derivative of ᴹ√IMBE, which was also the basis for N. imm and N. imlad of the same meaning (EtyAC/IMBE). The form imbe “dell” appeared as a (deleted) name for a tengwar in notes on the Feanorian Alphabet from the early to mid 1940s (PE22/52). The word imbe “ravine, glen” appeared in rough (and ultimately rejected) notes on irregular verbs from the Quenya Verbal System of the late 1940s, where Tolkien contrasted it with ᴹQ. tumbo used of wide valleys, indicating imbe meant the valley was narrow (PE22/127). In this note Tolkien again connected imbe to N. im(b)lad as in N. Imladris, and gave the fuller Quenya form ᴹQ. latimbe its actual equivalent.

However in notes from the late 1960s on Galadriel and Celeborn, Tolkien gave Q. imbilat as the equivalent of S. imlad, and mentions primitive ✶imbē as an ancient word for a “cleft of great length in mountains between very high stone walls”, a variant of ✶imbi “between” (NM/355). This contradicts an earlier etymology given by Tolkien for imbe around 1965, where Tolkien said:

imbĕ < imbĭ [between] is a strengthened form of √IMI “in, within” giving the preposition > mi “in” ... The noun imbe (< imbē) is also probably a derivative, or felt to be: meaning a deep valley or wide ravine between high mountain sides (as Rivendell): sc. = “tween-land”. It is possibly from a similar but different stem √IBI, and to be compared with S îf (< *īb-), a cliff, a sheer descent (PE17/92).

Neo-Quenya: For purposes of Neo-Quenya, I would use imbe as the normal word for “deep valley”, and assume the more elaborate forms latimbe and imbilat exist only as hypothetical counterparts to S. imlad and were not used as actual words. I would also assume imbe is either a narrow valley or a wide ravine, as opposed to Q. tumbo which was a deep valley and Q. nan(do) for a wide valley. I would further assume it was derived from √MI/IMI as in the late 1960s notes on Galadriel and Celeborn, and assume the 1965 derivation from √IBI was a transient idea.

Q. nan(do) n. “(wide) valley, vale; ⚠️[ᴹQ.] water-mead, watered plain; [ᴱQ.] woodland”

A common Quenya word for “vale” or “valley”, cognate of S. nan(d) and derivative of the root √NAD (Ety/NAD; NM/351). In one place, Tolkien indicated this word was used more specifically for wide valleys (PE17/80). A narrow valley might be better described with a word like Q. imbe “deep valley”, ᴹQ. cirisse “cleft” or ᴹQ. yáwe “ravine”.

This word appears as nan(d) in numerous compounds (Let/308, UT/253, RC/384). The independent form of this word is more difficult to determine. It variously appeared as nanda (Ety/NAD, PE17/80), nando (PE17/28, 80) and nandë within the compound Laurenandë (UT/253). This entry uses nando because it looks more noun-like than nanda while avoiding conflict with (ᴹQ.) nande (ñande) “harp”, but any of these forms could be correct.

Conceptual Development: The earliest appearance of this word was as ᴱQ. nan (nand-) “woodland” from the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s from the early root ᴱ√NAŘA [NAÐA] (QL/64), but its use in actual names in this period indicates the actual meaning was “land”, such as ᴱQ. Hisinan “Land of Twilight” (QL/40) and ᴱQ. Tasarinan “Land of Willows” (LT2/140). It appeared as ᴹQ. nanda “water-mead, watered plain” in The Etymologies of the 1930s as a derivative of the root ᴹ√NAD (Ety/NAD), but this meaning also seems to be an aberration since it still appeared in ᴹQ. Tasarinan “Land of Willows” in this period (LR/261; TI/417). In later writings, the various nand- variants were regularly glossed “valley”, as reflected in the new gloss for Q. Tasarinan as “Willow-vale” (RC/384).

Neo-Quenya: For purposes of Neo-Quenya, I’d limit this word to nando “valley”, ignoring its earlier meanings and alternate forms. For “water mead[ow]”, I’d restore the Early Qenya word ᴱQ. nendo instead.

Q. tumba adj. “[ᴹQ.] deep, lowlying; ⚠️[Q.] deep valley”

The adjective ᴹQ. tumba “deep, lowlying” appeared in rough (and ultimately rejected) notes on irregular verbs from the Quenya Verbal System of the late 1940s as a derivative of ᴹ√TUB “fall low, go down” (PE22/127). In a 1961 letter to Rhona Beare tumba was glossed “deep valley” as an element in the Entish phrase Q. Taurelilómëa-tumbalemorna Tumbaletaurëa Lómëanor “Forestmanyshadowed-deepvalleyblack Deepvalleyforested Gloomyland” (Let/308; LotR/467), but I think this is only an approximate translation, and the word is better understood as adjectival in sense: “*like a deep valley”. As further evidence of this, in notes from the late 1960s the form tumba was changed to a more typical noun form Q. tumbo in the name Q. i Tumbo Tarmacorto “the Vale of the High Mountain Circle” (NM/351).

Neo-Quenya: For purposes of Neo-Quenya, I’d treat this word as an adjective only, and use Q. tumbo for the noun.

Q. tumbo n. “deep vale, valley, [ᴱQ.] dale”

This word was used for “valley” or “vale” for much of Tolkien’s life. In notes from the 1940s Tolkien specified it was a “deep valley with hi[gh] sides though often a wide extent” (PE22/127) and in notes from the late 1960s Tolkien described it as a valley which was “more or less circular, but deeply concave, and had high mountains at the rim” (NM/351).

Conceptual Development: The earliest appearance of this word was as ᴱQ. tumbo “dale, vale” in the Qenya Lexicon as a derivative of the early root ᴱ√TUM(B)U (QL/95). It reappeared in The Etymologies of the 1930s as ᴹQ. tumbo “deep valley under or among hills” derived from ᴹ√TUB (Ety/TUB), and again in the Quenya Verbal System of the 1940s as a derivative of ᴹ√TUB with the gloss “deep valley with hi[gh] sides though often a wide extent” as noted above (PE22/127).

In Words, Phrases and Passages from The Lord of the Rings from the late 1950s or early 1960s it was given as the equivalent of Q. tumbalë “depth or deep vale” (PE17/81). In notes from the late 1960s it was described as a valley that was “more or less circular, but deeply concave, and had high mountains at the rim” as noted above, with a primitive form ✶tumbu (NM/351), the same primitive form it had in The Etymologies of the 1930s (Ety/TUB). Thus it seems this word and its basic meaning was pretty well established in Tolkien’s mind.

S. †im n. “valley; [N.] dell, deep vale”

An archaic element meaning “valley” that survived only in compounds, a derivation of ✶imbi “between” (VT47/14). The basic sense “valley” was transferred to its more elaborate form imlad as in Imladris “Rivendell”, and †im “valley” fell out of use due to its conflicted with other words like the reflexive pronoun im.

Conceptual Development: N. imm “dell, deep vale” was mentioned in The Etymologies of the 1930s as a derivative of the root ᴹ√IMBE, along side its elaboration N. imlad of the same meaning (Ety/IMBE).

S. imlad n. “deep valley, narrow valley with steep sides, gap, gully, [N.] dell, glen”

A common Sindarin word for “valley”, an elaboration of the more ancient element †im of similar meaning which fell out of use due to its conflicts with other words like the reflexive pronoun im (VT47/14). S. imlad was more or less the equivalent of Telerin imbe meaning “a gap, gully; low, narrow tract between high walls”; in Telerin the ancient element ✶imbi survived. More specifically S. imlad referred to a “narrow valley with steep sides but a flat habitable bottom” (RC/234, 482).

Conceptual Development: N. imlad “dell, deep vale” was mentioned in The Etymologies of the 1930s as a derivative of the root ᴹ√IMBE, along side its shorter form N. imm of the same meaning (Ety/IMBE). N. im(b)lad was also mentioned in rough notes on irregular verbs from the Quenya Verbal System of the 1940s with the gloss {“ravine” >>} “glen”, more accurately a “glen with a long bottom, much longer than its width, that still has much habitable ground” (PE22/127).

S. imrath n. “long narrow valley with road or watercourse running through it lengthwise, (lit.) *valley course”

An element in the Sindarin name Imrath Gondraich for “Stonewain Valley”, described in Tolkien’s Nomenclature of the Lord of the Rings as “a long narrow valley with road or water course running [?]lengthwise” (RC/558). Its literal meaning is im + rath = “*valley course” and probably refers as much to the river or road running through the valley as the valley itself.

S. nan(d) n. “vale, valley, [ᴱN.] dale; [N.] wide grassland; ⚠️[G.] field acre”

A word for “valley” or “vale” appearing as an element in many names, mostly referring to wide valleys as opposed to imlad for narrow valleys. As an element in compounds or before another word in names it generally took the form nan as in Mornan “Dark Valley” and Nan Dungortheb “Valley of Dreadful Death”. As an independent word it had the form nand: “In Sindarin this gave nand which as other words ending in nd remained in stressed monosyllables but > nann > nan in compounds” (NM/351). It was a derivative of the root √NAD (NM/351; Ety/NAD).

Conceptual Development: The first appearance of this word was as G. nand or nann “a field acre” where it was probably a derivative of the early root ᴱ√NAŘA [NAÐA] as suggested by Christopher Tolkien (GL/59; LT1A/Nandini). Its use in early names like G. Nan Dumgorthin “Land of the Dark Idols” (LT2/35) and G. Nan Tathrin “Land of Willows” (GL/67; LT2A/Nantathrin) indicates the actual meaning was closer to “land”. The word reappeared as ᴱN. nann or nand “dale” in Early Noldorin Word-lists of the 1920s (PE13/150), consistent with the new gloss “Valley of Willows” for ᴱN. Nan Tathrin in Silmarillion drafts from the late 1920s (SM/35).

The word N. nand or nann “wide grassland” appeared in The Etymologies of the 1930s as a derivative of the root ᴹ√NAD (Ety/NAD), and the word nan(d) “valley” or “vale” was mentioned a number of times in Tolkien’s later notes (PE17/37, 83; RC/269). In notes from the late 1960s it was derived from primitived ✶nandē based on the root √NAD meaning “hollow of structures or natural features more or less concave with rising sides”. In these notes Tolkien said this word was:

... originally used only of not very large areas the sides of which were part of their own configuration. Vales or valleys of great extent, plains at the feet of mountains, etc. had other names. As also had the very steep-sided valleys in the mountains such as Rivendell (NM/351).

This note confirms that imlad was the proper word for a steep and narrow valley, but the notion that nand was not used for “valleys of great extent” contradicts its 1930s gloss “wide grassland” (Ety/NAD), as well as its use in names like Nan Dungortheb which were the extensive plains south of Ered Gorgoroth, or in the name Nan-tathren which had no particular boundaries.

Neo-Sindarin: For purposes of Neo-Sindarin, I would ignore Tolkien’s late 1960s notion that this word was not used for large valleys, and apply it to wide valleys and even extensive grasslands between or below mountains, using imlad for narrow valleys and tum for deep (and round) valleys surrounded on all sides.

S. tum n. “(deep) valley, vale; ⚠️[ᴱN.] flat vale”

A word for a valley or vale derived from primitive ✶tumbu, specifically meaning a deep valley surrounded on all sides as described by Tolkien in notes from the late 1960s: “Those [valleys] such as the valley of Gondolin which were more or less circular, but deeply concave, and had high mountains at the rim were called *tumbu (NM/351)”. Its most notable use was in the name Tumladen for the hidden valley where Nargothrond lay (S/115).

Conceptual Development: This word dates all the way back to the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s, where Tolkien had {tum >>} G. tûm “valley” (GL/71), probably a derivative of the early root ᴱ√TUM(B)U as suggested by Christopher Tolkien (LT1A/Tombo; QL/95). In Early Noldorin Word-lists of the 1920s Tolkien had ᴱN. tumb or tum “flat vale” (PE13/154), and in The Etymologies of the 1930s there was N. tum “deep valley under or among hills” from the root ᴹ√TUB (Ety/TUB). The most complete description of this word in Tolkien’s later writings was in notes on Galadriel and Celeborn from the late 1960s, with the meaning given above (NM/351). In this late 1960s note the primitive form was given as ✶tumbu, which is the same primitive form Tolkien gave in The Etymologies (Ety/TUB).