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GAL¹ root. “light; shine, be bright”

GAL¹ root. “light; shine, be bright”

A Sindarin-only root for “light; shine”, a variant of √KAL of the same meaning. Its most notable derivative is S. galad “radiance, light”, an element in the names Galadriel and Gil-galad. This root did not explicitly appear in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s, where the base for Qenya light words was given as ᴱ√KALA “shine golden” (QL/44), but nearly all the Gnomish derivations of this root begin with g-, as in G. gal- “to shine” and G. glarw(ed) “bright, light” (GL/39). Given that initial [g] > [k] in early Quenya, this makes it very likely the actual early root was *ᴱ√GALA, or at the very least a blending of ᴱ√KALA and ᴱ√GALA.

The first explicit appearance of the root ᴹ√GAL¹ “shine” was in The Etymologies of the 1930s (Ety/GAL), where it was given along with an extended root ᴹ√GALAN “bright” (EtyAC/GAL¹). Tolkien considered but rejected having some Quenya derivatives of these roots: ᴹQ. ala “day” and ᴹQ. alan “daytime” (EtyAC/GAL¹), but he seems have to decided that ᴹ√GAL was a Noldorin-only root, as described in the ᴹ√KAL entry from the same set of documents (Ety/KAL).

The root √GAL reappeared in various etymological notes from the 1950s and 60s, where Tolkien again iterated it was not used in Quenya, and was a root specific to Sindarin (PE17/59) and possibly also Nandorin (PE17/50). The root was potentially problematic in the name Gil-galad, however, in that it was not mutated to Gil-’alad. It seems likely that when Tolkien first coined this name, the second element was from N. calad “light” from the root ᴹ√KAL. This root and word survived into Sindarin (UT/65), and Tolkien sometimes still considered it the basis for Gil-galad (PE17/50).

However, at one point he decided the elements in the names Galadriel and Gil-galad were the same; to explain the lack of mutation in Gil-galad, he posited that the root was actually strengthened to √ÑGAL (PE17/59). Galadriel’s name in the Shibboleth of Fëanor from 1968 was based on the root √ÑAL “shine by reflection” (PM/347), so it seems this was the path Tolkien eventually followed. This make the eventual status of √GAL “shine” rather unclear, especially since some of its other derivatives like S. uial twilight (PE17/153) were sometimes derived from √ÑAL (PE17/169).

References ✧ Let/278; PE17/50, 59, 84, 146, 153; SA/kal

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ᴹ√GAL¹ root. “shine”

References ✧ Ety/GAL, GYEL, KAL; EtyAC/GAL¹

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