Select Elvish Words 1.76: Snow

Select Elvish Words 1.76: Snow

Q. hrissë n. “fall of snow”

A word for “fall of snow” appearing beside deleted {hritse “fall”} in notes from around 1959, derived from the root √SRIS “snow” (PE17/168). Note that this word is for a “snow fall”, basically a noun form of the verb †hríza “it is snowing” (ᴺQ. hrísa). The word for the “snow” itself, especially after it is already fallen, is lossë.

Q. hriz- vb. “hriz-”

In notes written around 1959, Tolkien experimented with various roots for impersonal “snow” verbs, first giving the aorist form of a derived verb Q. hrisya “it snows” < hriþya from the root √SRITH, then the present tense form of a basic verb Q. hríza “it is snowing” from the root √SRIS (PE17/168).

Neo-Quenya: The basic verb form †hriz- is likely archaic, since z usually became r in Quenya’s phonetic development. In this case, though, I suspect the medial z dissimilated back to s after the hr, since Quenya disliked repeated r’s (PE19/73-74). This occurred, for example, with the verb ras- “stick out” < †raz- < √RAS.

Thus, I would use modern Quenya hrise “[it] snows”, hrinse “[it] snowed”, ihrísie “[it] has snowed”. Since this is an impersonal verbs, no explicit subject is required.

Q. lossë n. and adj. “snow, fallen snow; snow-white, snowy”

The general Quenya word for “snow” derived from the root √(G)LOS (PE17/26; VT42/18), more specifically “fallen snow” (RGEO/61), as opposed to a “snow fall” or “*falling snow” which is hrissë (PE17/168). At various points Tolkien said this word could also be used as an adjective “snowy, snow-white” (RGEO/61; PE17/161), but I would do so only in poetry or in compounds. For more ordinary speech, I would use the adjective form lossëa for clarity (PE17/71, 161; VT42/18). Strictly speaking, the noun and adjective forms of lossë have distinct primitive origins: ✶lossē “snow” vs. ✶lossĭ “snowy, snow-white” (PE17/161), so the stem form of the adjective would be lossi-.

Conceptual Development: In The Etymologies of the 1930s there was a word ᴹQ. olosse “snow, fallen snow” derived from the root ᴹ√GOLOS; Tolkien modified the entry to mark this form as poetic (†) and gave it a variant olos (Ety/GOLÓS).

Q. lossëa adj. “snowy, (snow) white”

A word for “snowy” or “snow-white”, an adjective form of lossë “snow” (PE17/161; VT42/18). In one place it was simply glossed “white” (PE17/71), though in most places the generic Quenya word for “white” is ninquë.

Conceptual Development: In some poems from written around 1930, Tolkien used similar words for “white” in a couple places, for example in the phrase ᴱQ. ondoli losse karkane “the white rocks snarling” from the Oilima Markirya poem (MC/213); here the word for “white” might be the plural of an adjective ᴱQ. lossa as suggested by Gilson, Welden and Hostetter (PE16/84). An element losse “white” also appears in the phrase ᴱQ. losselie telerinwa “the white people of the shores of Elfland” from the Nieninqe poem (MC/216). However, for this most part in the earliest period, losse was use for “flower” words; see that entry for discussion.

Q. nieninquë n. “snowdrop, [ᴹQ.] (lit.) white tear”

A word for “snowdrop”, perhaps a reference to that species of flower, appearing in The Etymologies of the 1930s as a combination of ᴹQ. nie “tear” and ᴹQ. ninqe “white”, so literally “white tear” (Ety/NEI, NIK-W). ᴱQ. nieninqe also appeared with the same form, meaning and etymology in the Qenya Lexicon and the Poetic and Mythological Words of Eldarissa of the 1910s (QL/68; PME/68). In later writings, it appeared in adjectival form nieninquëa “like a snowdrop” in the 1950s version of the Nieninquë poem (PE16/96); the same form appeared in the version of the poem written around 1930, and its drafts (MC/215; PE16/90, 92). The word nieninquë likewise served as the title of that poem.

ᴱQ. tiqilin n. “thaw, melting snow, slush”

This word appeared as ᴱQ. tiqilin “a thaw, melting snow, slush” with stem form tiqilind- as an elaboration of ᴱQ. tiqile “melting, thawing, thaw” (QL/92).

Neo-Quenya: I think this word can be salvaged as ᴺQ. tiquilin, but I would revise its etymology to be a combination of ᴺQ. tiqu- “melt” and √LIN¹ “pool”.

S. loss n. “snow”

The usual Sindarin word for “snow” (Let/278; PE17/161; RGEO/62), especially fallen and long-lying snow (VT42/18), derived from primitive ✶lossē (PE17/161) based on the root √(G)LOS (PE17/26; RGEO/62). It sometimes appeared in a shorter form los (PE17/26, 161). See the entry on [s] for a discussion of these long vs. short variations; for purposes of Neo-Sindarin loss is probably preferable.

Conceptual Development: Perhaps the earliest iteration of this word was G. glui “snow” from the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s, likely related to nearby words like G. gloss “white” (GL/40). In The Etymologies of the 1930s, N. gloss from the root ᴹ√GOLOS was both noun “snow” and adjective “snow-white” (Ety/GOLÓS), but in later writing Tolkien split these into S loss “snow” (see above) and S. gloss “(dazzling) white” (RGEO/62; VT42/18).

S. lossen adj. “snowy”

A word for “snowy” mentioned in passing in The Road Goes Ever On, adjectival form of S. loss “snow” (RGEO/62).

G. nib n. “snowflake”

A word appearing as G. nib “snowflake” in the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s (GL/60), clearly based on the early root ᴱ√NIQI “white” (QL/66), since medial and final q became p and then b.

Neo-Sindarin: I think this word can be salvaged as Neo-Sindarin ᴺS. nibis “snowflake”, cognate of Q. niquis.

G. nictha- vb. “to rain, hail, snow”

An impersonal verb in the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s appearing as G. nictha “it is raining, hailing, is snowing” (GL/60), clearly based on the early root ᴱ√NIQI “white” (QL/66) with qt [kʷt] > cth [xθ].

Neo-Sindarin: If updated to Neo-Sindarin, this verb would be ᴺS. nítha- since since k spirantalized and then vocalized before th. However, I would limit its use to “snow, hail”, and for the verb “rain” I’d instead use ᴺS. ail-.