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Nandorin - the Green-elven tongue

From: Helge K. Fauskanger

Also called: Danian, the Silvan tongue, Silvan Elvish

During the long hike from Cuiviénen to the Sea, some Telerin Elves refused to cross the terrifying Misty Mountains. They forsook the March to the sea, where Ulmo would bring the Elves to Valinor (Silm ch. 3). In Quenya, these Elves were later called the Nandor or "Those who go back", though it seems that none of them actually returned into the East; they just stayed behind the Hithaeglir (WJ:384). Lead by one Denethor some of the Nandor eventually did enter Beleriand, though they had lost the boat to Valinor by several milennia. They settled in Ossiriand, which region they renamed Lindon, and by the Sindar they came to be called Green-elves (Sindarin Laegil, Laegelrim). Concerning the relationship between the Green-elven and Grey-elven tongues, it is stated that "although the dialects of the Silvan Elves, when they again met their long separated kindred, had so far diverged from Sindarin as to be hardly intelligible, little study was needed to reveal their kinship as Eldarin tongues" (UT:257). All that is known of the Nandorin tongue is some thirty words, most of which are found in the Etymologies. In Tolkien's own words, "Though the comparison of the Silvan dialects with their own speech greatly interested the loremasters, especially those of Noldorin origin, little is now known of the Silvan Elvish. The Silvan Elves had invented no forms of writing, and those who learned this art from the Sindar wrote in Sindarin as well as they could" (UT:257).
Some of the Sindar that came to Thranduil's realm escaping the destruction of Doriath adopted the Nandorin tongue and took names of Silvan form and style, just like the Noldor had adapted their Quenya names to Sindarin centuries earlier. These Sindar "wished indeed to become Silvan folk and to return, as they said, to the simple life natural to the Elves before the invitation of the Valar had disturbed it" (UT:259). Yet Sindarin somehow sneaked into even the Silvan communities: "By the end of the Third Age, the Silvan tongues had probably ceased to be spoken in the two regions that had importance at the time of the War of the Ring: Lórien and the realm of Thranduil in northern Mirkwood. All that survived of them in the records was a few words and several names of persons and places" (UT:257). Nimrodel would only speak the Silvan tongue even after it had fallen into disuse in Lórien; see UT:241. UT:252-253 suggests that the name Lórien itself may be altered from Nandorin Lórinand, "Valley of Gold (golden light)", or even older Lindórinand "Vale of the Land of the Singers (= Lindar, Teleri)". According to a footnote in Appendix F, not only Lórien but also the names Caras Galadhon, Amroth and Nimrodel "are probably of Silvan origin, adapted to Sindarin".
There is not much we can say about the structure of Nandorin. Very little grammar can be extracted from the few words we have. A Sindarin-style umlaut-plural is seen in urc "Orc" pl. yrc (Sindarin orch, yrch). This umlaut must have developed independently of the Sindarin umlaut on the other side of the Misty Mountains (there is no trace of umlaut in Quenya and the Telerin of Aman, languages that evolved from Common Eldarin after the separation of the Nandor from the other Eldar, just like Sindarin did). In Lindi, the name the Nandor had for themselves, a descendant of the old Primitive Quendian ending *-î is still present. Does the ending -on of Caras Galadhon indicate genitive plural, cognate with and identical to the corresponding Quenya ending? This would give the name the plausible meaning *"fortress of trees". Galadh "tree" could be Sindarin, but this language has no genitive endings.

Nandorin Wordlist

The names Nimrodel "Lady of the White Grotto" and Amroth "Up-climber" are probably of Nandorin origin, but in a footnote in Appendix F they are said to be "adapted to Sindarin" and may be somewhat altered from their original form; hence, they are not included here. (See UT:457, 245 concerning their meaning.) The name Caras Galadhon is also said to be so adapted and is therefore excluded from this list, but caras, that is given independently in UT:257, is included.

alm "elm-tree" -ÁLAM
beorn "man" -BER, BES
caras "moated fortress" -UT:257
cogn "bow" -KU3
cwenda "Elf" (a doubtful word according to Tolkien's later conception; in the branch of Eldarin that Nandorin belongs to, primitive KW became P far back in Elvish linguistic history [WJ:375 cf. 407 note 5]. This was not a problem in Tolkien's earlier conception, in which the Danians came from the host of the Noldor, not the Teleri [see PM:76]. The word cwenda is probably best ignored; simply emending it to *penda would produce a clash with primitive *pendâ "sloping" [cf. WJ:375].) -KWEN(ED)
Danas "Green-elves, Nandor" -DAN
dunna "black" -DUN
ealc "swan" -ÁLAK
edel "Elda, High-elf" -ÉLED
[garma "wolf" -3ARAM (struck out)]
golda "Noldo" -ÑGOL
hrassa "precipice" -KHARÁS
Lindi what the Nandor called themselves, a cognate of Quenya Lindar (Teleri). -WJ:385
Lindon region in eastern Beleriand where the Green-elves settled, formerly called Ossiriand. -WJ:385
Lindórinand "Vale of the Land of the Singers (= Lindar, Teleri)", "Lórien". -UT:253
Lórinand "Valley of Gold (golden light)", "Lórien". Altered from Lindórinand. -UT:252-253
lygn "pale" -LUG1
meord "fine rain" -MIZD
nand "valley", isolated from Lindórinand, Lórinand.
, sciella "shade, screen" (prob. noun) -SKAL1
snæ^s "spear-head, point, gore, triangle" -SNAS/SNAT
spenna cloud -SPAN
swarn "perverse, obstructive, hard to deal with" -SKWAR
urc (pl. yrc ) "Orc" -ÓROK
Utum "Utumno" -TUB

These articles have been reproduced, with permission from Helge K. Fauskanger, from his Ardalambion web page.
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