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Ñ(G)AL root. “gleam, sheen, shine (by reflection)”

Ñ(G)AL root. “gleam, sheen, shine (by reflection)”

A root Tolkien introduced in a late note of unclear date to provide a new explanation for the name of Galadriel and Gil-Galad (PE17/59-60). The second element of N. Gil-galad was originally N. calad “light” (Ety/GIL, KAL), and the name of N. Galadriel was originally associated with trees (TI/246, 249); Galadriel was so spelled (rather than Galadhriel) because in Lord of the Rings drafts Tolkien often represented [ð] as d: compare N. Caradras with S. Caradhras. In notes on the words and phrases in The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien revisited Galadriel’s name, deciding that it, like Gil-Galad, was connected to light, from the root √KAL (PE17/50). But this was also unsuitable, since Galadriel began with a g and could not have undergone soft mutation like the name of Gil-Galad.

The introduction of the root ÑGAL “gleem, sheen” resolved this problem, as ✶Ñ(g)alatā-rigelle would become Galadriel in Sindarin, but the intermediate nasal would be lost in *Gil-(ñ)galatā (PE17/59-60). Tolkien mentioned this new etymology in a few other places, with slightly different glosses for the root such as √Ŋ(G)AL “shine clear” (PE17/169), √ÑAL “shine, glitter (applied to light reflected from water, metal, glass, gems, etc.)” (NM/353), and √ÑAL “shine by reflection” (PM/347), the last of these from The Shibboleth of Fëanor from 1968, one of the last detailed discussion of the etymologies of these names.

References ✧ NM/186, 280, 350, 353; PE17/59, 169; PM/347




ÑGAL strengthened “gleam, sheen” ✧ PE17/59; PE17/169
ŊGAL strengthened “shine clear” ✧ PE17/169