√SPAN root. “cover, veil, cloak, conceal”
A root appearing in The Etymologies of the 1930s as ᴹ√SPAN “white” (Ety/SPAN) with derivatives like ᴹQ. fanya/N. fein “white” and ᴹQ. fána/N. faun “cloud”, the latter an element in ᴹQ. Fantur/N. Fannor “Lord of Cloud” as the basis for N. Gurfannor and N. Olfannor which were alternate names of Mandos and Lórien (Ety/SPAN). In writings from the 1910s, these alternate names were instead based on ᴱQ. Fantur/G. Fanthor < ᴱ√FANA; this early root seem to mostly have to do with dreams and visions (QL/37; GL/34).
Starting in the late 1950s, Tolkien began using √FAN or √PHAN “white” as the basis for cloud words (PE17/26, 36). √SPAN “cover, veil, cloak, conceal” was restored in a 1967 discussion of the root √SKAL of similar meaning where Tolkien said “√SKAL was applied to more opaque things that cut off light and cast shadows over other things ... √SPAN was applied to things of lighter texture, and corresponds closer to our veil” and “SKAL was primitively verbal [whereas] SPAN was primitively nominal” (PE17/184). However, towards the end of this note Tolkien wrote “Keep this part so far as it affects SKAL”, hinting that √SPAN was discarded; this rejection may have been tied to his introduction of a privative sense to prefixal √S- which worked for √S-KAL (“without light”) but not √SPAN. He wrote several other lengthy essays in 1967 with √PHAN = “veil”; see that entry for discussion.
References ✧ PE17/184-185
ᴹ√SPAN root. “white”
References ✧ Ety/LEP, ÑGUR, ÓLOS, PHAY, SPAN, TĀ