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

KOY root. “*live, have life”

KOY root. “[ᴹ√] live, have life”

Tolkien regularly used roots like √KOY for “life” words, but they were often in competition with √KUY. The earliest appearance of this root was as ᴱ√KOẎO “have life” in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s with derivatives such as ᴱQ. koire “life” and ᴱQ. koiva “awake” (QL/48). The corresponding Gnomish derivatives such as G. cuib “alive” and G. cuil “life” had the diphthong ui (GL/27) since [oi] became [ui] in Gnomish (PE15/13). But the Gnomish “awake” words had cwiv-, cwib-, or cwip- such as: G. cwiv- “be awake”, G. cwivros “awakening”, and G. cwimp “alert” (GL/28-29). Tolkien said:

There is confusion between QIV-, QIPI-, KOI̯-(VI) or perhaps original connection. They are more confused in Qenya. Note Qenya confusion between koiva (lively, living), Qîva (awake) and similarly koivie, qîvie, liveliness, awakening, respectively (GL/29).

There are no direct signs of ᴱ√QIVI or ᴱ√QIPI in the Qenya Lexicon, so Tolkien may have introduced or refined this notion in the Gnomish Lexicon.

In The Etymologies of the 1930s, Tolkien gave only the root ᴹ√KUY “come to life, awake”, which had both Quenya and Noldorin derivatives connected to both senses “life” and “awakeness” (Ety/KUY). However, in the Quenya Verbal System Tolkien gave ᴹ√KOY [√KOJ] as the basis for “life” words (PE22/125). In the 1940s, 50s and early 60s there were quite a few Quenya “life” words that must have been derived from √KOY:

In this same period, Tolkien continued to use derivatives of √KUY for words having to do with being “awake”, most notably in Q. Cuiviénen “Water of Awakening” (<< ᴱQ. Koivie-néni). In Common Eldarin: Verb Structure from the early 1950s he gave √KOJ as the root for “life” versus √KUJ as the root for “awake” (PE22/135). In notes from 1957 Tolkien said √KUY meant “awake not live” (NM/274).

Later, however, he seems to have changed his mind, and Quenya “life” words again started to show cui-, such as kuivie “life” in notes on The Rivers and Beacon-hills of Gondor from the late 1960s (VT42/8). In Late Notes on Verbs from 1969, Tolkien again gave the root √KUY and the verb Q. kuita- for “live” (PE22/154, 156), and Q. cuima “animal” from these same notes was probably also based on √KUY “life”. To summarize, the conceptual development seems to be 1910s ᴱ√KOẎO “have life” (blended with ᴱ√QIVI and ᴱ√QIPI “awake”) >> 1930s ᴹ√KUY “life, awake” >> 1940s through early 1960s √KOY “life” vs. √KUY “awake” >> late 1960s √KUY “life” (and probably also “awake”).

Neo-Eldarin: For purposes of Neo-Eldarin, I think it is best to retain the distinct √KOY “life” and √KUY “awake”, especially given the appearance of coirë “stirring” in The Lord of the Rings, which must be from √KOY. These late vacillations makes almost no difference in Sindarin, since the roots √KOY and √KUY would have blended in cui- because [oi] became [ui] in Sindarin as it did in Gnomish.

Reference ✧ PE22/136 ✧ KOJ



ᴹ√KOY root. “live, have life”

See √KOY for discussion.

Reference ✧ PE22/125 ✧ “live, have life”


ᴱ√KOẎO root. “have life”

See √KOY for discussion.

References ✧ GL/29; LT1A/Koivië-néni; QL/48, 52