Select Elvish Words 2.25-2.26: Boy, Girl

Select Elvish Words 2.25-2.26: Boy, Girl

2.25 Boy

ᴹQ. seldo n. “child [m.], *boy”

A word for a (male) child in The Etymologies of the 1930s added to its entry when the meaning of the root ᴹ√SEL-D was changed from “daughter” to “child” (Ety/SEL-D). It was written above its feminine equivalent ᴹQ. selde and an apparently neuter form ᴹQ. selda was written to the right, making seldo likely the masculine form as suggested by Carl Hostetter and Patrick Wynne (EtyAC/SEL-D), hence = “*boy”.

Q. yonyo n. “(big) boy, son”

A name for the middle finger in notes on Eldarin Hands, Fingers and Numerals from the late 1960s, variously glossed “big boy” (VT47/10), “son” (VT47/16) or “boy, son” (VT47/27). As a finger name, it was revised to hanno “brother”, but it seems likely it could still be used as an ordinary (though possibly diminutive/affectionate) word for “boy” or “son”.

G. nogin n. “boy, lad, urchin”

A noun appearing as G. nogin “boy, lad, urchin” in the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s (GL/61); its derivation is unclear since no nearby words seem to be related, but it could be a variation on G. naug “a dwarf” (GL/59).

Neo-Sindarin: I think this word may be salvageable as Neo-Sindarin ᴺS. nogen, reinterpretted as a derivative of the root √NUK “stunted”, originally an adjective *nukina used to refer to short persons or children in a less-than-flattering way. Given its glosses, I would use this word mainly for a mischievous or irritating male child; for a more ordinary word for “boy”, I’d instead use S. ion(n).

2.26 Girl

Q. nettë n. “(little) girl, ⚠️sister (diminutive), ️daughter, pretty little thing”

A word appearing in several sets of notes from the late 1960s having to do with Hands, Fingers and Numerals. It was related to the finger name of the fourth finger (representing the sister). Tolkien mostly glossed it either as “(little) girl” or “sister (diminutive)”, but in one placed indicated it originally meant “pretty little thing” (VT47/33) and in another that it might be used for “daughter” (VT47/15). He also gave it several derivations, from √NET “trim, pretty, dainty” (VT47/33) or the root √NETH which itself was given a variety of meanings: “sister” (VT47/12, 26, 34), “(young) woman” (VT47/15, 32, 39) or “fresh, lively, merry” (VT47/32).

Neo-Quenya: For purposes of Neo-Quenya, I think the meaning “(little) girl” is the most useful. For “sister” I would use †nésa.

Q. riel(lë) n. “garlanded maiden, maiden crowned with a festive garland”

A word meaning “a maiden crowned with a festive garland” (PM/347), a feminine agental form of ría or rië “garland” (NM/353; PM/347; PE17/182). Most notably it is an element in the Quenya name of Galadriel: Altáriel.

Q. vénë n. “*virgin; ⚠️[ᴹQ.] girl”

A word given by Tolkien as Véne “Virgin” in the Quenya Prayer Ortírielyanna, a translation of Sub Tuum Praesidium (VT44/5-6). Tolkien initially wrote several hesitant forms Ven > Wen > We before writing Véne, which he retained for several iterations of the phrase. In the last phrase he wrote down for the prayer, he revised it to Vénde though the prior phrase with Véne’ was not deleted. As suggested by Wynne, Smith, and Hostetter, Vénde was an alteration from Véne, and its long vowel was probably not intended (VT44/10). Elsewhere Tolkien used wendë for “virgin”, for example in the Quenya translation of the Litany of Loreto prayer (VT44/12); see the entry for wendë for further discussion.

Conceptual Development: In The Etymologies of the 1930s ᴹQ. wéne, véne was given as a word for “girl” or “maiden”, or possibly “virginity” (Ety/WEN).

Neo-Quenya: For purposes of Neo-Quenya, I think it is useful to be able to distinguish “virgin” and “maiden”. I’d use vénë for “virgin” and [ᴹQ.] venessë for “virginity” (irrespective of gender), but wendë for “maiden, *young woman” and wendelë for “maidenhood”.

Q. vénëa adj. “*virginal”

A hypothetical adjectival form of vénë, implied by the elided form Véne’ in the phrase á Véne’ alcare ar manquenta (VT44/7), since it appears to proceed a noun form alcarë “glory” as suggested by Wynne, Smith, and Hostetter (VT44/10).

ᴹQ. venesse n. “virginity”

A noun in The Etymologies of the 1930s glossed “virginity”, an abstract noun form of ᴹQ. véne which seems to mean “girl” or “maiden”, both appearing under the root ᴹ√WEN-ED “maiden” (Ety/WEN).

Q. wendë n. “maiden, ⚠️*virgin”

The usual Quenya word for “maiden”, derived from the root √WEN(ED) (Ety/WEN; PE17/191; VT47/17).

Conceptual Development: This word was fairly stable in Tolkien’s mind. In the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s this word was ᴱQ. ’wen (wend-) “maid, girl” with longer variant wendi “maiden” derived from the early root {ᴱ√WENE >>} ᴱ√GWENE (QL/103). The form wendi was also mentioned in the contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon, but there the root was {ᴱ√gw̯ene >>} ᴱ√gu̯eđe (GL/45). In the ᴱQ. Nieninqe poem written around 1930 it was ᴱQ. wende “maiden” (MC/215), a form that reappeared in the version of the poem from the 1950s as well (PE16/96).

In The Etymologies of the 1930s Tolkien gave this word as ᴹQ. wende, vende “maiden” under the root ᴹ√WEN-ED of the same meaning (Ety/WEN), In a marginal note Tolkien said that derivatives of ᴹ√WEN-ED should be transferred to ᴹ√GWEN, and under that root Tolkien indicated there was blending with ᴹQ. wende “maid” (Ety/GWEN).

In later writings Tolkien mostly used the form wende, but in Quenya prayers from the 1950s he once wrote Vénde, where the long é was probably a slip (VT44/5, 10). Likewise in later writings Tolkien mostly gave the root as √WEN(ED), but in one place considered deriving wende from √GWEN “fair” (PE17/191). Finally he generally translated this word as “maiden”, but in Quenya Prayers from the 1950s used it with the sense “virgin” in reference to the Virgin Mary (VT44/5, 12).

Neo-Quenya: It is tricky to reconcile Tolkien’s regular use of the form wende with the root √WEN(ED), since ancient w became v in Quenya, making the expected form vende. To retain wende, the most straightforward explanation is that it was derived from strengthened *gwendē, since this initial cluster survived as w at least into Classical Quenya and possibly beyond. However, the strengthening of ✶wendē > *gwendē must have occurred after the Common Eldarin period, otherwise the Sindarin form would have been **bend, whereas Tolkien consistently used S. gwen(d).

Many Neo-Quenya writers avoid this question simply by revising the form to vende, but I prefer to use this word as Tolkien generally wrote it: wende. I also prefer to use wende mainly for “maiden, *young woman” and for “virgin” (of any gender) I recommend vénë.

Q. wendelë n. “maidenhood”

A word for “maidenhood” in Definitive Linguistic Notes (DLN) from 1959, an abstract noun formation from wendë “maiden” (PE17/191).

Conceptual Development: ᴱQ. ’wendele had the same form and meaning in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s, the only difference being the ’ indicating the loss of initial g from the early root ᴱ√GWENE (QL/103).

S. gwend n. “maiden, *young woman”

A word for “maiden” or “*young woman”, frequently appearing as suffixal -wen as an element in female names, derived from the root √WEN(ED) (PE17/191; Ety/WEN).

Conceptual Development: In the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s, the word G. gwin meant “woman, female” and G. {gwen >>} gwennin was “girl” (GL/45). The former was derived from the root ᴱ√giu̯i which had to do with pregnancy, but the latter was derived from {ᴱ√gw̯ene >>} ᴱ√gu̯eđe. In the contemporaneous Qenya Lexicon {ᴱ√WENE >>} ᴱ√GWENE was the basis of words like ᴱQ. ’wen(di) “maiden” (QL/103). In the Gnomish Lexicon Slips it seems G. gwin was also reassigned to the root ᴱ√(G)WENE [ᴱ√u̯enĭ-], derived from ᴱ✶u̯einā́, though possibly shifted or blended in meaning with an adjectival sense “womanly” (PE13/113).

In the Early Noldorin Grammar of the 1920s, Tolkien had ᴱN. uin “woman” (PE13/123), a form that also appeared with this gloss in contemporaneous Early Noldorin Word-lists as a replacement for deleted {gwind, gwinn} (PE13/146, 155). In The Etymologies of the 1930s, Tolkien had N. gwend, gwenn “maiden” under the root ᴹ√WEN(ED) which he said was “often found in feminine names” (Ety/WEN). He noted that “since the [suffixed names] show no -d even in archaic spelling, they probably contain a form wen-”. Tolkien seems to have stuck with these forms thereafter.

Neo-Sindarin: For purposes of Neo-Sindarin, I would use this word for a young woman or adolescent girl, especially prior to marriage, but for female children I would use neth.

S. gweneth n. “maidenhood, [N.] virginity”

A noun meaning “maidenhood” (PE17/191) or “virginity” (Ety/WEN), an abstract noun formation from gwend “maiden”.

Conceptual Development: In the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s, the word for “maidenhood” was {gwendithli >>} G. gwenithli, an elaboration of {gwendi >>} G. gwethli “maiden, little girl” (GL/45).

S. neth n. “(little) girl; ⚠️sister (diminutive)”

A word appearing in several sets of notes from the late 1960s having to do with Hands, Fingers and Numerals. It was related to the finger name of the fourth finger (representing the sister). Tolkien gave it a variety of glosses: “girl” (VT47/33), “little girl” (VT47/33), or as an archaic diminutive for “sister” (VT47/14; VT48/6), where it was replaced by nethig in modern speech. He also gave it several different derivations, from √NET “trim, pretty, dainty” (VT47/33) or the root √NETH which itself was given a variety of meanings: “sister” (VT47/12, 26, 34), “(young) woman” (VT47/15, 32, 39) or “fresh, lively, merry” (VT47/32).

Neo-Sindarin: For purposes of Neo-Sindarin, I think the meaning “(little) girl” is the most useful. For “sister” I would use †nîth or nethel, with nethig as the diminutive form.