[Home] » Languages » Neo-Primitive Elvish »  Neo-Primitive Elvish Roots[Search] [← Previous] [Next →][Search]

MAK root. “cut, hew with a sharp edge; kill, slay; forge metal”

MAK root. “cut, hew with a sharp edge, [ᴹ√] cleave; sword, fight (with a sword); ️[√] forge metal; ⚠️kill, slay”
ᴹ√DYELEK “sword?”
ᴱ√MAKA² “*net, mesh”
ᴱ√TYAKA “hew”

This root was the basis for “sword” words throughout Tolkien’s life, but the meaning of the root itself shifted over time. The first appearance of this root was as ᴱ√MAKA¹ in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s, unglossed but with derivatives like ᴱQ. mak- “slay”, ᴱQ. makil “sword”, and ᴱQ. makka “slaughter” (QL/57-58). The root was also given the gloss “slay” in a section of the contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon along with etymologies of names of the various Valar, but this section was deleted (GL/18). Derivatives of this root appeared elsewhere in the Gnomish Lexicon, however, such as G. mactha- “slay, kill” and G. magli “a great sword” (GL/55). Thus, the meaning of this root in the earliest period seems to be “slay”.

The root ᴹ√MAK appeared in The Etymologies of the 1930s, but the entry went through quite a few revisions. The gloss apparently was “cleave” >> “kill, cleave with sword” >> “sword, or verbal [stem] fight with sword, cleave” >> “sword, or as verb-stem: fight (with sword), cleave” (EtyAC/MAK; Ety/MAK). Thus the 1930s root was more directly connected with swords and wielding swords, and its derivatives included ᴹQ. makil/N. magol “sword” and ᴹQ. mahta-/N. maetha- “fight” (Ety/MAK).

In Tolkien’s later writings, the words for “sword” remained nearly the same: Q. macil and S. megil (PE17/130, 147), but the gloss of the root √MAK varied considerably based on whatever linguistic puzzle Tolkien was trying to solve at that particular moment. In notes associated with the Quendi and Eldar essay from 1959-60, its gloss was very similar to that from The Etymologies: “cut, hew with a sharp edge” (VT39/11). In notes associated with The Shibboleth of Fëanor from 1968 Tolkien glossed {m(b)aka- >>} maka- as “forge metal” as part of a new etymology of the name S. Maglor as an adaptation Q. Makalaure “Forging Gold” (PM/353; VT41/10). In notes on Eldarin Hands, Fingers and Numerals from the late 1960s Tolkien gave √MAK “strike” as the basis for ✶makwā > S. mâb “hand”, but this idea was rejected immediately (VT47/19). This was part of Tolkien’s rather surprising decision to abandon the long-standing root √MAP (VT47/20 note #13); elsewhere in these notes he said √MAK meant “kill, slay” as it did in the 1910s (VT47/20).

Lokyt suggested in a Discord chat from 2018 that there may be a common underlying meaning for all these glosses, referring to “the movement one does when chopping with a tool”. Assuming this is true, the other associations of the root (“sword; slay; fight; forge”) may be the result of a narrowing of the meaning of the root in more specific contexts. While it is hard to know whether Tolkien himself interpreted the root this way, I think this is the best way to treat the root for purposes of Neo-Eldarin, as it allows us to retain the largest array of derivatives of the root.

References ✧ VT39/11; VT41/10; VT47/19-20

Glosses

Variations

Related

Changes

Derivatives


ᴹ√MAK root. “sword; fight (with a sword), cleave”

See √MAK for discussion.

References ✧ Ety/MAƷ, MAK; EtyAC/MAK, MOR

Glosses

Changes

Derivatives


ᴱ√MAKA¹ root. “slay”

See √MAK for discussion.

References ✧ GL/18; LT1A/Makar, Telimektar; QL/57

Glosses

Related

Derivatives