Friday, November 30, 2012

Reconstructed lexis in Tolkien’s Middle English Vocabulary

Most of my regular readers are aware that Tolkien’s first published book was a glossary of Middle English compiled to accompany Kenneth Sisam’s collection of Fourteenth Century Verse and Prose. I won’t rehearse the history of the book here, but you can learn more at the Tolkien Gateway.

In the glossary, Tolkien offers etymologies for the words he glosses, and many of these etymologies contain reconstructions, or “asterisk-words”. These are word-forms that do not survive in any recorded text. Their form and shape have been reconstructed according to the principles of historical linguistics. Such words are of enormous interest to me in my philological work, just as they were to Tolkien in his. I found myself wishing that I had a list of the words Tolkien had reconstructed, so I made one.

As a public service for the linguistically minded, here is the complete list of the asterisk-words from Tolkien’s Middle English Vocabulary, arranged by language and then alphabetically. I had thought this to be a complete list, but seemingly I missed quite a few words in the initial compilation. See Diego Segui’s comments below! Eventually, I’ll update the list here in the main blog post, but it may take a little time.

The headword in the glossary where the asterisked etymology may be found is given in boldface. I think that all the abbreviations I’ve used will be obvious to anyone who would actually have an interest in this list, but if not, just ask. And if anybody spots any typographical or other errors, please let me know. Typing these out almost gave my word processor a seizure! Enjoy! :)

OLD ENGLISH (“frequently differ[ing] from the normal West-Saxon”)

*ǣniges cynnes, later ME eny kyns; at Eny
*alra cynna; at Alkyn
*be līfe; at Belyue
*be-cwiss, rel. to be-cweþan; at Biqueste
*blencan, poss. identical with blencan; at Blenk
*brēo; at Bre
*cāpe, from ML cāpa; at Cope
*clēat; at Clete
*cyllan; at Kille
*dasian, cf. darian, ON dasa-sk; at Dase
*dawe; at Daw
*dearf-, cf. ON djarf-r; at Derffe
*dingan, cf. dencgan, ON dengja; at Dynge(n)
*dræht; at Draught
*dūfe, cf. ON dúfa; at Dowue
*for-fǣran; at Ferde
*halian, from OFris halia or OFr haler; at Hale
*hecg; at Hegges
*hlysnan, ONth lysna, infl. by hlystan; at Lystens
*hyppan, cf. hoppian; at Hypped
*lēfn–, from *lau(h)mni–, cf. Goth lauhmuni; at Levyn
*lēof-man; at Lemman
*lēomian, cf. ON ljóma; at Leme
*mylnere; at Mullere
*naglas; at Naule
*nēdig; at Nedy
*on-bufan, var. of abufan; at Aboue(n)
*pīn; at Pine
*pīpian; at Pypynge
*rāmian; at Rome
*rīfe, var. of rȳfe; at Rife
*ryccan; at Ryched
*salu; at Sale
*scǣre, rel. to scīr, cf. ON skǽr-r, skír-r; at Scere
*slūmerian, cf. slūma; at Slombrende
*smīlian, rel. to MHG smielen, Swed smila; at Smyle
*snēowan, var. of snīwan; at Suewe
*solgian, cf. solian; at Solowe
*spræg, cf. spraec; at Sprai
*stēorne, var. of stȳrne; at Sturn(e)
*stertan, var. of styrtan; at Start
*strāc, rel. to strīcan; at Strok(e)
*talcian, rel. to talu; at Talk
*þeorc; at Þerk
*toht, rel. to tēon; at ToȜt
*tollian; at Tolled
*untō, cf. OS untō (prep.), Goth, untē (conj.); at Vnto
*widr(i)an; at Widder
*ymb(e)-þencan, cf. ymbe-þanc, but prefix infl. by ON umb; at Vmbethoncht
ān + *hǣdu; at Onehed
+ *ryccan; at To-rochit
+ *rittan; at To-rett
wōd + *hǣdu; at Wodehed


*, cf. OE ; at Cou
*certel, cf. OE cyrtel; at Kirtel(l)
*scettan; at Vnschette


*anowrned; at *Anowrned
*blissefulest; at Blisseful
*kyþeȜ (MS lyþeȜ); at Kyþe


*demeur, in demeurement; at Dimuir


be + *veila; at Beweile
*bredd–, cf. Swed. bräddfull; at Bretfull
*dreog–, later drjúg-r; at Dregh
*myk(i)-dyngja; at Mydyng
*stern–, later stjarna; at Starne
*þéht–; at Tyste
*þoh, or unacc. form of OE þah; at ÞaȜ(e)
*wrá; at Wro
*wrang–; at Wrang(e)
*þoh, later þó; at Þogh