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ᴹ√WIL root. “fly, float in air”

ᴹ√WIL root. “fly, float in air”

Tolkien used a similar set of Elvish roots for both “air” and “flight” for much of his life. Their earliest manifestation was in a pair of unglossed roots from the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s: ᴱ√GWILI with derivatives like ᴱQ. ’wili- “sail, fly, float”, ᴱQ. ’wilin “bird”, and ᴱQ. ’wilwarin “butterfly” (QL/104), versus ᴱ√VILI with derivatives like ᴱQ. vīle “breeze — gentle”, ᴱQ. vilina “airy, breezy, light”, and {ᴱQ. Vilna >>} ᴱQ. Vilya “air (lower)” (QL/101). Both these roots had distinct sets of derivatives in the contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon, such as G. gwail “air”, G. gwil- “sail, float, fly”, and G. gwilbrin “butterfly” < ✶gu̯il {<< u̯il} [ᴱ√GWILI] (GL/45), versus G. bilin(c) “small bird”, G. biltha- “flutter, flit”, and G. blith “air, breeze, zephyr” < ✶bil [ᴱ√VILI] (GL/22-23).

In The Etymologies of the 1930s Tolkien gave the root as ᴹ√WIL “fly, float in air” with derivatives like ᴹQ. vilwa {>> wilma} “(lower) air”, N. gwelw “air”, and ᴹQ. wilwarin/N. gwilwileth “butterfly” (Ety/WIL). Tolkien introduced an alternate root ᴹ√WIS in The Etymologies as the basis for ᴹQ. vista “air as substance” (Ety/WIS), though there are no clear signs of ᴹ√WIS in later writings. However, Tolkien’s continued use of words like Q. vilya “air, sky” and Q. wilwarin “butterfly” (MC/222) indicate the ongoing validity of the root ᴹ√WIL.

Tolkien’s vacillation between w- and v- in Quenya derivatives of this root may indicate a variant strengthened root *√GWIL. However, it is also possible Tolkien was simply unwilling to abandon well-established forms like wilwarin “butterfly”, and continued to write them with an (archaic) w- rather than the expected v-.

Reference ✧ Ety/WIL ✧ “fly, float in air”

Derivatives


ᴱ√GWILI¹ root. “*fly”

See ᴹ√WIL for discussion.

References ✧ GL/22, 45; LT1A/Vilna; QL/104

Variations

Related

Changes

Derivatives


ᴱ√VILI root. “*air”

See ᴹ√WIL for discussion.

References ✧ GL/22-23; LT1A/Vilna; QL/101, 104

Variations

Related

Derivatives