Essekenta Endamarwa: Names from The Return of the Shadow, The Treason of Isengard and The War of the Ring
Dec. 23rd 2006
If we seek to recapture what they had forgotten, and examine each of the original elements in turn, it must be rather for the pleasure of the hunt than in hope of a final kill.
|J.R.R. Tolkien — Medium Ævum III 2 p. 95|
√TĂR > tāra, tall, ups…sta…
The aim of this article is to compile the Elvish names of persons and locations from The Return of the Shadow, The Treason of Isengard and The War of the Ring, volumes VI, VII and VIII of The History of Middle-earth, and to analyze them linguistically. These volumes deal with earlier drafts of The Lord of the Rings and thus nearly all of the names presented here are external predecessors of those later ones which have found a way into the book.
For the most part I have ignored those names that have not changed and are identical to those in The Lord of the Rings (like Aragorn, palantír.. etc.), unless analyzing them was helpful to understand the earlier forms.
All words are presented roughly in the order of their occurrence in the three books, but sometimes it was suitable to summarize several forms sharing the same elements or referring to the same place or person. As I also intend to keep the possibility of using this article as a reference for particular forms, repetitions were inevitable, since a couple of elements occurs over and over again.
Tolkien’s reconstructions are not asterisked, just my own. Whenever roots were used in the analysis, they are from The Etymologies (LR:347-400, VT45/46), unless differently glossed. The work on this source was begun by Tolkien simultaneously with the writing of The Lord of the Rings and is thus highly important in the context of this article.
Some interpretations are easy and unambiguous, which is why they are given without much commentary. Others remain a riddle even with the help of The Etymologies. Clearly, Tolkien had no necessity to note the root and origin corresponding to every single name in his legendarium, while there might still be unpublished linguistic material (from this stage or another) which could throw a light at some of the names.
The main problem is that Tolkien was perfectly free to invent new roots and origins for the new names as he went along. An analysis in terms of the known roots or elements might prove totally wrong, but no other way is left to us. So, as Tolkien puts it in the introduction to an analysis of his own, it must be rather for the pleasure of the hunt than in hope of a final kill.
Another problem in analyzing all these names is the lack of knowledge about the actual language they belong to. At this stage of mythological conception the Elves of Beleriand spoke Ilkorin, while the external predecessor of Sindarin, Noldorin, was spoken by the Noldor that came to Middle-earth (see e.g. LR:177). In its development from Old Noldorin it was also influenced by Ilkorin and both languages are overall very close phonetically, which makes them difficult to distinguish. Such a distinguishing is not really important in order to understand the names, but it may lead to a wrong picture of either language.
Earlier discussions of some of the forms were led on the Lambengolmor mailing list and in the Quettaron minaþúrie thread  on the site Aglardh.
Tolkien started to write a sequel for The Hobbit end of 1937 and began the work several times all over again, until he came to the Mines of Moria by the end of 1939 (RS:11,461). Most of the linguistic material is found in the third phase, which began some time in 1939 (RS:309).
Some of the manuscripts presented in this book were written on paper Tolkien had received in August 1940, others are still from the end of 1939 (TI:67). The story reached Lothlórien and the departure of Boromir by the winter of 1941-42 (TI:379,387) and continued then until Fangorn, the return of Gandalf and his visit to king Theoden in the same year, before taking a long break.
After the previously mentioned long break Tolkien continued to write, starting with The Taming of Sméagol in April 1944 (WR:77-78, Let:59). The first names below still belong to 1942 (cf. WR:59, note 10), from Sern Erain onwards they are from 1944. The story is now almost brought to its end, the thread with Frodo and Sam is brought until the point when Frodo is captured by orcs (cf. WR:219-220). The western thread reaches the journey to Morannon after the victory of the Pelennor Fields.
Much less is written by Tolkien himself and published about the ’Celtic branch’ of Eldarin languages, i.e. Noldorin, Sindarin and Ilkorin, than about Quenya, so that every bit of information is very helpful. Therefore a short final summary and conclusion seems necessary.
As lenition is the main driving force of these languages both in phonological development and grammar, it is worthwhile to take a look at the names under this viewpoint. Surprisingly there is little of it in many of the words discussed above. For example,
show no lenition of the second element at all, Rathcarn has been even changed from Rathgarn. This is surprising, as we know words like basgorn ’loaf’ < bast-gorn < *bast-corn ’round bread’ (MBAS-, KOR-, once glossed Ilkorin and once Noldorin), where in the contact s-c the second word is lenited, although the combination -sc- seems to be permitted both in Noldorin and Ilkorin when it comes from the same stem, compare N. asgar, ascar, Ilk. ascar ’violent, rushing, impetuous’ (SKAR-).
Even more surprising is Erceleb, a unique example of an unchanged contact r-c, although Erchamui ’One-handed’ (KAB-) and numerous other words show that a stop after r would become a spirant or at least undergo lenition.
Pensarn has unchanged contact n-s, while we can see from the name Arassuil (LotR App.A) < *aran-suil ’king-greeting’ that n-s assimilates to -ss- in later Sindarin; although it may be here due to the medial simplification of *pendsarn > pensarn. Still, one would have at least expected *Penharn, as in Calenhir, Tolharn. Note that according to a conception of the later Northern Sindarin dialect s is unlenited initially (PE17:134) and it was also unlenited in Goldogrin and Early Noldorin (GL:7, PE13:121) – perhaps the same applies at that time to Ilkorin?
In Dincelon the word celon is not lenited; instead we are perhaps observing *dim- assimilating to the following c-. However, in examples like
we see even a lack of assimilation, with the clusters -rnb- and -rnv- allowed medially, as well as -nb-, although Calenbel or Calen-Bel was changed to Calembel, Cálembel and later Calembrith can be found.
Lenition occurs in the following words:
One has to point out Beleghir and Calenhir in contrast with Narosîr. The usage of the circumflex for the second unlenited element in Narosîr is noticeable – it is usually used in monosyllables and the other compounds with lenited sîr shorten their vowel. Perhaps this is indeed a different (more loose) kind of compound *Naro-sîr and therefore without lenition.
The lenition of g- to the spirant gh in Morghul, Dúghul ignoring primitive ñg- is also different from later Sindarin, where we find i ngaurhoth *’the wolf-host’ (LotRII ch.4, ÑGAW-), di-nguruthos ’beneath-death-horror’ (LotRIV ch.10, Rgeo:72, ÑGOROTH-, ÑGUR-); also earlier di-ngorgoros (or di-ngorgoroth, reading uncertain) in The Etymologies (VT45:37). Such a special treatment of former nasalized stops goes in fact all the way back to the Gnomish Lexicon (e.g. golda > i·Ngolda ’the gnome’ (GL:8)).
Lenition g > gh may be either an analogical development – historical forms would tend to become forgotten by the time of the Third Age, compare dor ’land’ > i·nnor, indor ’the land’, analogical i·dhor (PE13:161). The voiced velar spirant surely strengthens the effect of -ghul applied to dark magic.
But in Angrobel, Fornobel, Ered Orgoroth initial g- is lenited to zero (gorgoroth also may have had initial ñg-, but The Etymologies give primitive gor-ngoroth). Perhaps they had been lenited *ʒobel, *ʒorgoroth at an intermediate stage before the spirant fell away, although remaining in monosyllabic elements (as Mor-ghul, Dú-ghul) – otherwise those would have become unrecognizable. Or gh only remained after r or a vowel and fell away after other consonants or clusters. Compare the later Sindarin development nāba-grota ’hollow’ + ’excavation, underground dwelling’ > nǭv-ʒrot > novrod (WJ:414).
The forms with hoth ’host’ show three different results – lenition, no lenition and the dropping of h. Perhaps this has to be understood as a suffix rather than part of a compound:
There are some examples of trailing and lenited adjectives:
But there are about twice as much without lenition:
The interpretation of Arad Dain *’High Pass’ is too uncertain to work with. Minas-berel may also contain an unlenited adjective berel *’valiant’.
Adjectival endings like -imā or -(r)inā are found in many Elvish words. In Noldorin and Sindarin we see a shift i > e caused by final -ā . In the sources discussed three forms look like candidates for the lack of a-affection:
A-affection in isolated words is seen in:
Three names (if correctly analyzed) show forms with a-affection medially in a compound:
One name probably shows no a-affection medially:
With adjectives in such a position it probably depends on the time of compound formation – whether before or after the shift i > e. Thus Melthinorn *’Gold-tree’ (a name of Laurelin; SMAL-) beside N. malthen ’of gold’ is an ancient name from the First Age, whereas Calenardhon, Calenhir, Borthendor are regions named in the Third Age.
At that time Tolkien considered the spelling of [k] with the letter k instead of c also for the ’Celtic branch’ and not only for Quenya as before, e.g.:
The endings -on and -ion are quite frequent in names, but their role is not always clear. So I will try to treat them more carefully.
Already in the earliest Celtic-style language Goldogrin both -on and -ion are adjectival endings (beside -n, -in), e.g. argulthion ’equal, equivalent’ (GL:20), gwedhwion ’looped, bending’ (GL:46), martion, mart ’fated, doomed, fey’ (GL:56), taithion, godaithion ’educated’ (GL:68) or falon, falin ’naked’ (GL:33), helon ’frozen’ (GL:48), hebon ’bound – also bounded, surrounded’ (ibid.), malon ’yellow’ (GL:56), melon, meltha ’dear, beloved’ (GL.57).
At the same time -ion is the genitive plural of consonantal nouns, e.g. glôr ’gold’ > glorion; and -on is the genitive singular of nouns ending in -a/-u, as coma ’disease’ > comon, culu ’gold’ > culon (GL:12-14).
By the time of The Etymologies Noldorin, Ilkorin and Doriathrin are the languages of the Celtic branch. Both -on and -ion occur as agentive suffixes, as in #faron ’hunter’ (SPAR-), Dúrion/durion ’a Dark-elf’ (DOƷ-, DÔ-, MOR-) or else form names as Mirion ’ordinary N name of the Silevril (Silmarilli)’ (MIR-), Gelion ’merry singer’, also a river (GYEL-). Probably associated with this is the patronymic suffix -ion < YŌ, YON- ’son’. Tilion ’hyrned’ or ’the Horned’ (TIL-), Brithon ’pebbly’ (BIRÍT-) and Erchamion ’one-handed’ (beside Erchamui, Ermabuin, Ilk. Ermab(r)in (MAP-, LR:427,146,405)) look like adjectival forms but are also names at the same time. N. Erchamron and later S. Erchamon ’one-hand Man’ (VT47:7) are not adjectives. Purely adjectival seem to be Ilk. gelion ’bright’ from GAL-, tovon ’lowlying, deep, low’ < tubnā (TUB-).
At the same time Ilkorin shows the genitival inflection sg. -a, pl. -ion as in Dor-thonion ’Land of Pines’, Torthurnion ’King of Eagles’ . The genitive pl. -ion is probably also found in Noldorin in Eredwethion ’Mountains of Shadow’ (TI:345, WATH-). This is explicitly Noldorin, the Ilkorin variant being Urthin Gwethion. However, another translation is ’Shadowy Mountains’ (LR:447) hinting at an adjective #gwethion ’shadowy’. Also Duil Rewinion ’Hills of the Hunters’ (LR:286).
But that is not all yet – the simple addition of -ion seems to denote a region: Dor. Regornion ’Hollin’ (ÉREK-) from regorn ’holly’.
The suffix -on (and -ion for i-stems) is also often augmentative: N. annon ’great gate’ (AD-), later S. (g)aearon ’the Great Ocean’ (Rgeo:72-73, PE17:27) < aear ’sea’, Sirion ’the Great River’ < sîr ’river’ (Silm.index).
See also .
The close association between patronymic -ion and gen. pl. -ion that also occurs in Quenya and is given account in the Early Qenya Grammar:
-ion, old patronymic ending, which has appearance of being a genitive plural and hence is often formed from -li form of vocalic nouns, as Noldolion (pl. noldoliondi) ’descendant of the Gnomes’ (PE14:45).
In Noldorin/Ilkorin names -ion is indeed of a manifold ambiguity. So how should it properly be: Dufinnion *’dark-hair-person’ or adj. *’dark-haired’; Annerchion *’gate of goblins’ or *’goblinish gate’; Torfirion *’high-man + name-suffix’ or maybe *’high-men-place’, Andon *’long one’ or adj. *’very long’, Amarthon adj. *’doomed’, *’greatly doomed’ or *’doom + name-suffix’, Duil Rewinion *’hills of hunters’,*’hunting hills’, *’hills of the hunting region’, Eredwethion ’Mountains of Shadow’ (gwath, gen. pl. #gwethion), ’Shadowy mountains’ (adj. #gwethion) or even *’mountains of the shadow-region’?
It will not be surprising that Tolkien often adjusted the conceptions and interpretations when it came to explanations.
Thus according to one explanation Eregion ’Hollin’ (cf. ’holly-region’ in RC:772) < S. ereg ’holly’ and Nanduhirion are said to add the regional ending -ion (PE17:42) which is the adjective iaun ’large, extensive, wide’. Related are older -ian(d) in Beleriand and pl. -iend, ien often used of a single varied region as Anórien, Ithilien. In older names it usually applied only to a large feature, as in Sirion ’the Great Stream’ (PE17:42).
Another explanation gives -ion < -ı̯aun, from yānā < √YANA ’wide, large, extensive’; also S. iaun ’roomy, wide, extensive’ (ibid.). It was applied especially to topog[raphical] features of large extent, especially long, wide rivers, long (and wide) ranges. So Sirion < siriānā; Eregion, Erydweithion, -ian. Compare essentially the same √YAN- ’vast, huge’, untranslated S. iaun as part of Rhovanion ’Wilderland’ (PE17:99).
But then Tolkien decides that Eryd-weithian(d) should = mountains of the region of the shadows. But then gweithian ’region of the shadows’ should remain unlenited in genitival position. Hence Tolkien concludes: Better return to Eryd-wethrin, shadowy mountains (i.e. with an adjectival suffix). This is how the mountains appear in The Silmarillion – Ered Wethrin
He further decides: Delete entirely yondo = ’son’! Very unsuitable (PE17:43) and comes up with a new etymology: √YŎNO ’wide, extensive’, in regional names yonde, ionde > -ion, yon. Often associated with genitive plural [Also confused with -on, augmentative or male suffix]. So now Sirion is properly ’the Vale or lands about the River Síre’ or ’the great stream’.
A yet different root is √YOD- ’fence, enclose’ yields yonde ’any fairly extensive region with well-marked natural bounds (as mountains or rivers)’ > -yonde, yon / ionde, ion frequent in regional names.
The genitive plural is just briefly mentioned here, but is explored in other notes. Thus Sindarin has gen. sg. -a, pl. -on called purely possessive (PE17:97). For the plural both endings may be combined with the ordinary pluralization via -i: lais galaðon or lais geledhion ’the leaves of trees’, similarly glim maewion or glim maewia ’(the) voices of gulls’. See also elenath ’the (host of all the) stars’ > full genitive elenathon (PE17:24-25).
A remark reads: ion is ia < g[enitive] iōm, later n [?restored]. So presumably the plural marker -n is (for some reason – perhaps by Quenya influence?) restored after having been regularly lost -iōm > *-iōn > *-io > (unstressed?) -ia. (cf. VT42:14, VT47:24 and ai-lin- > N. oel ’pool, lake’, pl. oelin < *ai-lini (AY-)).
At the end, however, Tolkien rethinks it: X DON’T have inflected genitive!
Other Sindarin samples with -on, -ion include:
Different explanations can be found here as well. According to one Galadon is actually a lenited adjective Caladon < calatāna (PE17:84). According to another Galad and especially the apparent genitive plural Galadon ’of trees’ are not Sindarin (PE17:51), but rather Nandorin with galadā > galad (S. galadh). Although the spelling was changed to Galadhon with proper Sindarin dh, caras is assigned to Silvan speech in UT:257. So the whole name should be perhaps regarded at least as dialectal, if not pure Nandorin. The Gladden Fields also lie to the east of the Misty Mountains and fit into this scheme.
From Let:347 we learn that Orbelain was a ’phonological’ translation by the Noldor. So all week days, including Orgilion could be Quenya-influenced. Orbelain includes the reconstructed adjective belain *’of the Valar’ (Q. Valanya), so maybe gilion is an adjective as well, influenced by the gen. pl. -ion in Quenya. Oraearon might also contain an -on adjective, corresponding to Q. Eärenya, or else S. (g)aearon ’ocean’ (PE17:27).
This is also supported by the gloss of Dorthonion as S. Noldorized.
In Nan Gondresgion the position of Gondresgion as a qualifier as well as the Quenya version employing the possessive case suggest that the purely possessive genitive has been intended here.
On the other hand, the sole compound Dorwinion and its translation ’Young-land country’ suggests an analysis dor-win- ’young-land’ (lit. ’land-young’) + -ion ’country’. In any case a genitive plural is not appropriate here. The river name Gwinion follows the pattern of Gelion, Tilion, Mirion and might itself be an adjective *’young’.
update: Apr 3rd 2007 names from WR added, some additional comments added to the older entries]
update: Oct 8th 2007 cross-references and interpretations from PE17 added, note on -on, -ion rewritten
This document was translated from LATEX by HEVEA.