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KAN root. “cry aloud; (Q. only) command; lead, rule”

KAN root. “cry aloud; (Q. only) command; lead, rule; ⚠️[ᴹ√] dare”

The root √KAN was used to explain the Sindarin element -gon in names like S. Fingon and Turgon. For this function, it was introduced in The Etymologies of the 1930s as ᴹ√KAN “dare” with derivatives like N. cann “bold” and ᴹQ. káne/N. caun “valour”, the latter becoming -gon in names (Ety/KAN).

It appeared again in Notes on Names from 1957 with the gloss {“govern, manage” >>} “lead” (PE17/113), but in this document it was ultimately replaced by √KON which could serve as the basis for both -gon in Fingon/Turgon as well -gond [<< -gund] in the name Felegond [<< Felagund] (PE17/118). This √KON (and Felegond) seems to have been transient, and the root √KAN reappeared with the sense “ruler” in a 1967 notes on the derivation of Q. Incánus “Mind Master”, where Tolkien again mentioned in passing its use in deriving -gon in Fingon/Turgon (UT/400).

A new interpretation for this root appeared in the Shibboleth of Fëanor written in 1968. Tolkien there stated that √KAN originally meant “cry, call aloud”, and was used only for this purpose in Sindarin (PM/361-362, note #36). In Quenya, however, it shifted to primarily have the sense “command” which served as the basis for Q. cáno “commander, chief” as an element in the names Q. Findecáno and Q. Turucáno (PM/345). These were adapted phonetically into Sindarin as Fingon/Turgon, and the suffix -gon was perhaps interpreted as “-lord” in other names, such as Felagon “Fair-minded Lord”: a Sindarization of Felagund which in 1959 notes had been redefined as a loan word from Khuzdul (PM/352).

Thus, while √KAN was generally the basis for -gon, it went through many different interpretations in Tolkien’s life: 1930s “dare” >> 1957 “lead” >> 1967 “ruler” >> 1968 “cry, call aloud” with the Quenya-only sense “command”. This conceptual evolution makes a hash of other derivatives of the root, particularly those appearing in The Etymologies of the 1930s which have mainly to do with boldness and daring. √KAN is also one of the better candidates for the derivation of S. caun “prince”, but that’s incompatible with the 1968 notion that the root meant only “cry, call aloud” in Sindarin, and indeed those notes gave another meaning to caun: “outcry, clamour” (PM/362).

For purposes of Neo-Eldarin, I think the 1930s derivatives from ᴹ√KAN “dare” are probably best avoided, and using derivatives of ᴹ√BER “valiant” is preferable.

References ✧ PE17/113, 156; PM/361; UT/400; VT47/16, 41

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ᴹ√KAN root. “dare”

References ✧ Ety/KAN, PHIN

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