stressed [wŏ] became [wa]; [wŏ́] > [wa]

stressed [wŏ] became [wa]; [wŏ́] > [wa]

In both Quenya and Sindarin, a stressed short became wa; this change did not apply to long . The most notable examples of this change was the (Sindarin) prefix wo- “together”, which became wa- and eventually developed into gwa- after initial [w] became [gw]. When unstressed, this prefix did not change its vowel and developed into go-, because later [wo] became [o] in Sindarin. A similar sound change occurred in Welsh (WGHC/§65v). Since this sound change occurred in both major branches of Eldarin, it likely occurred in Common Eldarin.

In Primitive Elvish the combination wo was fairly rare, so there aren’t many clear examples of this phonetic change, the best being the Sindarin prefix go-/gwa- noted above. However, Tolkien did explicitly describe this change a number of times:

The last note from the late 1960s is associated with a Quenya example of this sound change, where the verbal adjective suffix -oiti became -aiti when it appeared after w (PE22/155). A second Quenya example seems to indicate the opposite development), however ✶ñwa-lōth > Q. olos “inflorescence” (PE17/160), where ñwa- > ñwo- and then later the initial [ŋ] vanished and ultimately [wo] became [o] [@@@ discuss possible unstressed wa > wo]. A third potential example appears in The Etymologies of the 1930s:

Since we have final -wō > -wa in both Quenya and Noldorin [pre-Sindarin], this might be an example of this phonetic rule. However, the rule specifically applied to primitive short stressed , and this example is long (and quite possibly unstressed). Thus this last example could easily be some distinct phonetic development, as theorized by David Salo, who proposed that final -wō > -wā in the Common Eldarin period as a separate sound change (GS/§4.15).

As a final note, Tolkien mentioned that later S. gwa- became gwo- and then go- after stress shifted in Sindarin (WJ/368), indicating that wŏ́ > wa (or at least gwa- > gwo-) remained an active phonetic rule in Sindarin for some time. David Salo also recorded this later application of the phonetic rule (GS/§4.103).

Conceptual Development: The prefixal variation gwa-/go- dates all the way back to Gnomish, but as suggested in Roman Rausch’s Historical Phonology of Goldogrin (HPG/§1.4), in the earliest period this sound change seems to be reversed, in that unstressed wa > wo rather than stressed wo > wa:

[G.] go unaccented form < gwa-. [primitive] *ŋu̯a. cp. Q. ma- together, in one, etc. (GL/40)

This also seems to be true of the Early Noldorin of the 1920s:

[ᴱN.] go-. Originally unaccented form < gwá- = together, etc. (Q, T va-) (PE13/162)

Based on the Early Quenya and Early Telerin forms ma- and va-, this change to unstressed wo seems to apply only in Gnomish/Early Noldorin, not to the other languages.

By the 1930s, Tolkien revised the sound change to stressed wŏ́ > wa, and designated it as a Common Eldarin sound change that applied to both Quenya and Noldorin (Ety/WŌ, PE19/53). Base on notes appearing in the Outline of Phonology (OP2) given above, this seems to still be a Common Eldarin sound change in the 1950s (PE19/106).

References ✧ PE19/106; PE22/155; WJ/367

Order ()

After [wou] became [wō]

Phonetic Rule Elements

[wŏ́] > [wa]
[wa] > [wo]

Phonetic Rule Examples

gwalassiē > gwolassiē wa > wo gwa-lassa/gwa-lassiē > Q. olassiē ✧ Let/282
ŋwalōtʰ > ŋwolōtʰ wa > wo ñwa-lōth > Q. olos ✧ PE17/160
walassiē > wolassiē wa > wo walass(s) > Q. olassie ✧ PE17/84
gwo- > gwa- wŏ́ > wa gwo > Q. wa- ✧ PE19/106
wó- > wá- wŏ́ > wa WO/WONO > S. gwa´ ✧ PE17/191
wó- > wá- wŏ́ > wa WO > S. gwa- ✧ WJ/367
-woite > -waite wŏ́ > wa -iti > [w]oiti > Q. aite ✧ PE22/155

ᴹ✶stressed [wŏ] became [wa] “together”; [wŏ́] > [wa]

GS/§4.15 GS/§4.77 GS/§4.103 WGHC/§65v @@@

References ✧ Ety/WŌ; PE19/53


Order (02300)

After [wou] became [wō]

Phonetic Rule Elements

[wŏ́] > [wa] ✧ Ety/WŌ ( > wa; if stressed)

Phonetic Rule Examples

gwo- > gwa- wŏ́ > wa ᴹ✶gwo- > ᴹQ. ✧ PE19/53
nidwō > nidwā wŏ́ > wa ᴹ✶nidwō > ᴹQ. nirwa ✧ Ety/NID
nidwō > nidwā wŏ́ > wa ᴹ✶nidwō > ON. nidwa ✧ Ety/NID
wó- > wá- wŏ́ > wa ᴹ✶wō/wŏ > N. †gwa- ✧ Ety/WŌ
wo > wa wŏ́ > wa ᴹ√WŌ̆ > ON. wa ✧ Ety/TOR
wostar > wastar wŏ́ > wa ᴹ√STAR > N. gwa-star ✧ Ety/STAR
wanōrō > wonōrō wŏ́ > wa ᴹ✶wa-nōrō > ᴹQ. onóro ✧ Ety/TOR
wapele > wopele wŏ́ > wa ᴹ√PEL(ES) > ᴹQ. opele ✧ Ety/PEL(ES)

G. unstressed [wa] became [wo]; [{wˌa|wo}] > [o]

HPG/§1.4, HPG/§2.8

Order (01900)

After 00700 initial [w] became [gw] ᴱ✶ŋu̯a > G. go GL/40

Phonetic Rule Elements

[wˌa] > [wo]

Phonetic Rule Examples

gʷa- > gʷo- wˌa > wo ᴱ✶ŋu̯a > G. go ✧ GL/40
gʷamat > gʷomat wˌa > wo ᴱ✶ŋwa·mat > G. gomod ✧ GL/44