S. caun¹, n. “prince, chief, head”

The third-age Sindarin word for “prince” (PE17/102), appearing in its plural form conin in the Praises of Cormallen: Daur a Berhael, Conin en Annûn “Frodo and Sam, princes of the west” (LotR/953, Let/448). More generally, caun means “chief” or “head”, and appears as an element in the word condir “mayor, (lit.) *chief-man” (SD/129). There is another more archaic Sindarin word for “prince”, †cund, which appears in some old names from Beleriand: Baragund, Belegund and (possibly) Felagund.

Possible Etymology: The etymology of caun “prince” is unclear. David Salo suggested (GS/245) that it is derived from ✶kānō “leader, commander” (originally “crier, herald”). This primitive word also appears as an element in the Quenya names of the sons of Fingolfin: Q. Findecáno (S. Fingon) and Q. Turucáno (S. Turgon). However, caun might instead be derived from an a-fortified form of the root √KUN “lord; to lead”, so that: ✶kun- > ✶kaun- > S. caun. This second derivation would make S. caun a cognate of Q. cundo “prince”.

Given the uncertain status of √KUN in later writings, a derivation from ✶kānō might be preferable. However, Tolkien stated than in Sindarin, the derivatives of √KAN were used for “cry out, shout, call” but not “order, command” (PM/361). If the Sindarin derivatives of √KAN had nothing to do with leadership, perhaps the archaic word †cund “prince” was altered to caun under the influence of Q. cáno and names like S. Fingon and Turgon, and that is the origin of the modern Sindarin word.

@@@ Grammar, irregular plural

References ✧ Let/448.3509; LotR/0953.2204; PE17/102.2702; PE17/102.2708

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Conin plural “princes” ✧ Let/448.3509
Conin plural   ✧ LotR/0953.2204
Cōnin plural   ✧ PE17/102.2702

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