AQ. unstressed medial long vowels shortened; [V́CV̄] > [V́CV̆]

AQ. unstressed medial long vowels shortened; [V́CV̄] > [V́CV̆]

In (Ancient) Quenya, unstressed medial long vowels shortened, a change mentioned in the Outline of Phonetic Development [OP1] from the 1930s:

(2) After this syncope, but still before the Q. accent shift: Long vowels that remained in unstressed medial syllables were shortened, but not lost. So Òrōmḗ > Oromḗ (Q. Orome) (PE19/58).

As this quote indicates, this shortening took place after the Quenya syncope (because the long vowel prevented the syncope), but before the Quenya stress shift. Indeed, there are examples of long vowels both shortening and not shortening, and this must be the result of variations in primitive stress patterns. Here are examples of shortening:

Here are examples where shortening does not occur:

Note that aráto has an alternate form arato derived from a primitive form where the long vowel was unstressed: ✶árātō (PE17/118), which is a strong indication that shortening (or lack thereof) was tied to stress. There are, however, a few aberrant examples where shortening occurs despite the stress mark:

Indeed, Tolkien seems to have vacillated on the interaction of the Quenya stress shift and the Quenya syncope, and these vacillations may have influenced the nature of unstressed long-vowel shortening as well. However, some of these apparent “vacillations” might be the result of grammatical reformations. For example:

In general such interior long vowels as had remained at end of archaic period were still kept - since the accent in fact so frequently stood on them, as in torṓmā > toróma. But long vowels in open syllables that were now in the antepenult and just before the main stress tended to be shortened in PQ and though spelling is usually maintained are always shortened in TQ. But a stress-less long vowel is usually maintained in the stem-syllable. Thus torṓmànna > PQ torō̆mánna > TQ torománna. But kṓmā, kṓmallṑ > Q. cṓma, cōmállō̆ (OP1, PE19/59).
The treatment of medial long vowels was however complicated by many reformations. Phonetically oxytone nouns ending in a long vowel would retract [in] forms uninflected or followed by an asyllabic inflection (so Ulmṓ, Ulmṓn > Úlmō, Úlmōn) but the earlier accent would remain before a syllabic inflection, gen. Ulmṓvā. But in declensions the oxytone type became a special form limited to animates. Hence kiryā́, kiryā́va > kíryā, kíryăvă after type kándā, kándāvā̀ > kandava, aided also by fact that the two coalesced in longer inflected forms as kiryālī́nen, kandālī́nen > kiryalīnen, kandalīnen (OP1, PE19/60).

These various treatments of stressed and unstressed medial long vowels probably influenced the development of prosodic lengthening in Quenya.

Conceptual Development: Tolkien mentioned similar behavior for Early Qenya in The Qenya Phonology from the 1910s:

The practical results were a throwing forward of the accent, so that: ... (4) Vowels still preserved long which were by this change unaccented between 2 accents were shortened (PE12/5).
Under the Qenya system accent came therefore under the influence of syllable length or weight but where rhythm clashed with this the unaccented syllables were as far as possible shortened and lightened (PE12/6).

In Early Qenya, it seems the shortening occurred after the stress shift, not before. As a result, in Early Quenya it seems the connection between stress and vowel length was even stronger:

Therefore vowel length is no longer etymological and morphological purely, as it was in Eldarin and still largely remained in Cor-eldarin, but is mostly to be determined by that vowel’s place in the word and its neighbourhood. Length marks are therefore given up: a stress mark is retained instead (PE12/6).


Only vowels under a stress could be long (PE12/6).

In other words in Early Quenya an unstressed vowel is always short, and any long vowel in an open syllable (one followed by a single consonant) is almost always stressed. This was no need to distinguish length markers and stress markers in the Early Qenya of the 1910s because a long vowel was generally also where the stress fell. This was frequently true in later conceptual iterations of Quenya, but not invariably so. Compare the ablative form cōmállō̆ of cṓma [“from the ball”?] against the allative form torŏmánna of torṓma [meaning unknown], but this vowel-shortening within inflected forms was reflected only in pronunciation, not spelling, as noted in the quote given above (PE19/59).

Order (03400)

After 00300 second short vowel of same quality lost Orǭmē > Q. Orome PE17/153
After 02100 initial [s] plus voiceless stops became voiceless spirants ᴹ✶farāyā́ > fárăyā > ᴹQ. farea PE22/111
After 03300 [ę̄], [ǭ] became [ē], [ō] Orǭmē > Q. Orome PE17/153
Before 03800 [j], [w] often reduced between vowels ᴹ✶farāyā́ > fárăyā > ᴹQ. farea PE22/111

Phonetic Rule Elements

[V́CV̄] > [V́CV̆]

Phonetic Rule Examples

arātā > aratā V́CV̄ > V́CV̆ (a)rātā > Q. arata ✧ PE17/49
arāta > arata V́CV̄ > V́CV̆ arāta > Q. arata ✧ PE17/186
arātō > aratō V́CV̄ > V́CV̆ árātō > Q. aratō ✧ PE17/118
arōmē > aromē V́CV̄ > V́CV̆ Arǭmēz > Arome > Q. Orome ✧ PE17/138
arōmē > aromē V́CV̄ > V́CV̆ Val. Arǭmēz > Arōmē > Arome > Q. Orome ✧ WJ/400
aθāja > aθaja V́CV̄ > V́CV̆ aþāya > Q. aþea ✧ PE22/165
orōmē > oromē V́CV̄ > V́CV̆ Orǭmē > Q. Orome ✧ PE17/153
silīma > silima V́CV̄ > V́CV̆ sil- > Q. silima ✧ SA/sil
taŋkātā > taŋkatā V́CV̄ > V́CV̆ tankātā- > Q. tankata ✧ PE22/157
telɣūmā > telɣumā V́CV̄ > V́CV̆ Val. delgūmā > Q. telluma ✧ WJ/399

ᴹAQ. unstressed medial long vowels shortened; [V́CV̄] > [V́CV̆]

References ✧ PE19/58-60

Order (03500)

After 00300 second short vowel of same quality lost ᴹ✶Òrōmḗ > Oromḗ > ᴹQ. Orome PE19/58
After 02200 initial [s] plus voiceless stops became voiceless spirants ᴹ✶farāyā́ > fárăyā > ᴹQ. farea PE22/111
After 03400 [ǣ], [ǭ] became [ē], [ō] ᴹ✶Òrōmḗ > Oromḗ > ᴹQ. Orome PE19/58
Before 03900 [j], [w] often reduced between vowels ᴹ✶farāyā́ > fárăyā > ᴹQ. farea PE22/111

Phonetic Rule Elements

[V́CV̄] > [V́CV̆]

Phonetic Rule Examples

alākō > alakō V́CV̄ > V́CV̆ ᴹ✶álākō > ᴹQ. alako ✧ EtyAC/ÁLAK
ɣorōmē > ɣoromē V́CV̄ > V́CV̆ ᴹ✶Górōmē > ᴹQ. Orōme ✧ EtyAC/GÓROM
kandālīnen > kandalīnen V́CV̄ > V́CV̆ ᴹ✶kandālī́nen > ᴹQ. kandalīnen ✧ PE19/60
kandāwā > kandawā V́CV̄ > V́CV̆ ᴹ✶kándāvā̀ > ᴹQ. kandava ✧ PE19/60
kirjālīnen > kirjalīnen V́CV̄ > V́CV̆ ᴹ✶kiryālī́nen > ᴹQ. kiryalīnen ✧ PE19/60
kirjāwa > kirjawa V́CV̄ > V́CV̆ ᴹ✶kiryā́va > ᴹQ. kíryăvă ✧ PE19/60
kukūwā > kukuwā V́CV̄ > V́CV̆ ᴹ✶kukūwā > ᴹQ. kukua ✧ Ety/KŪ
narāka > naraka V́CV̄ > V́CV̆ ᴹ✶narāka > ᴹQ. naraka ✧ Ety/NÁRAK
ontāre > ontare V́CV̄ > V́CV̆ ᴹ√ONO > ᴹQ. ontare ✧ Ety/ONO
ontāro > ontaro V́CV̄ > V́CV̆ ᴹ✶ontā́ro > ᴹQ. ontaro ✧ Ety/ONO
orōmē > oromē V́CV̄ > V́CV̆ ᴹ✶Orǭmē > ᴹQ. Orome ✧ Ety/ORÓM
orōmē > oromē V́CV̄ > V́CV̆ ᴹ√ORÓM > ᴹQ. Orome ✧ Ety/ROM
orōmē > oromē V́CV̄ > V́CV̆ ᴹ✶Òrōmḗ > Oromḗ > ᴹQ. Orome ✧ PE19/58
orōmē > oromē V́CV̄ > V́CV̆ ᴹ✶Orǭmē > ᴹQ. Orome ✧ PE22/37
terēnē > terenē V́CV̄ > V́CV̆ ᴹ✶terēn(ē) > ᴹQ. terene ✧ Ety/TER
terēwā > terewā V́CV̄ > V́CV̆ ᴹ✶terḗwā > ᴹQ. tereva ✧ Ety/TER
torōmanna > toromanna V́CV̄ > V́CV̆ ᴹ✶torṓmànna > torō̆mánna > ᴹQ. torománna ✧ PE19/59
wājāro > wājaro V́CV̄ > V́CV̆ ᴹ✶wā́yārō̆/Vā́yārō̆ > ᴹQ. Vaiaro ✧ Ety/WAY
ɸarājā > ɸarajā V́CV̄ > V́CV̆ ᴹ✶farāyā́ > fárăyā > ᴹQ. farea ✧ PE22/111
βalīndōr > βalindōr V́CV̄ > V́CV̆ ᴹ✶balī́-ndō̆re > ᴹQ. Valinor ✧ Ety/BAL
βalīndōr > βalindōr V́CV̄ > V́CV̆ ᴹ✶Bắlī + ndṓrḗ > Bálīndṑrē > Bálĭndṑrĕ > Balindor > ᴹQ. Valinor ✧ PE19/59
βalīnōr > βalinōr V́CV̄ > V́CV̆ ᴹ✶Balī-nṓrē̆ > Bali-nṓr(e) > ᴹQ. Valinor ✧ PE18/56