√YA root. “*there, over there; (of time) back, ago”
√YA was demonstrative and relative pronominal root with particular reference to the past for much of Tolkien’s life. Its first appearance was as ᴱ√YA “demonstrative pointing back” in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s with variants ᴱ√DYA, ᴱ√YE, ᴱ√DYE, appearing above the entry for ᴱ√DYĒ “behind, back (before of time)” (QL/105). In the Early Qenya Grammar of the 1920s, ᴱQ. ya was given as an indeclinable relative pronoun (PE14/54), and it was used as such in the ᴱQ. Nieninqe poem from around 1930: ᴱQ. yar i vilya anta miqilis “to whom the air gives kisses” (MC/215).
In The Etymologies of the 1930s, Tolkien gave the root as ᴹ√YA “there, over there; (of time) back, ago” with derivatives like ᴹQ. yá/N. io “ago”, ᴹQ. yana “that (the former)”, and ᴹQ. yára/N. iaur “ancient, old(en)” (Ety/YA; EtyAC/YA). Tolkien continued to use Q. yára/S. iaur “old” in later writings (RC/579; UT/384; WJ/192), but the only clear reference to the primitive form yā- in later writings (as currently published in 2021) was as the basis for extended roots √YAG “gap” and √YANA “wide” (PE17/42).
Tolkien continued to use Q. ya as a relative pronoun as well, most notably in the draft and final versions of the Q. Namárië poem (VT28/11; LotR/377), in Quenya prayers from the 1950s (VT43/27), and in the 1955 version of the Q. Nieninquë poem. Tolkien also had a personal variant of the relative pronoun: Q. ye in notes from the late 1960s (VT47/21). It is not clear whether the personal/impersonal relative pronouns ye/ya were directly derived from √YA, or if they were independent developments.
Reference ✧ PE17/42 ✧ yā-
ᴹ√YA root. “there, over there; (of time) back, ago”
References ✧ Ety/GENG-WĀ, YA; EtyAC/YA