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SAP root. “*dig”

This root first appeared in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s as ᴱ√SAPA “dig, excavate” with derivatives like ᴱQ. sapa- “dig” and ᴱQ. sat (sap-) “hole” (QL/82). At some later point Tolkien wrote ÐAPA as a replacement above this root, but that is not reflected in any of its derivatives. Indeed, the contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon has a base form sab- and derivatives like G. sabli “spade, shovel” and G. saptha- “to dig, to bite into” (GL/67), indicating ᴱ√SAPA not ᴱ√ÐAPA. Later hints of ᴱ√ÐAPA can be seen in the root ᴹ√DAG “dig” from The Etymologies of the 1930s, but this root was deleted (EtyAC/DAG).

The root √SAP reappeared in a list of roots from the Outline of Phonology (OP2) of the early 1950s with the derivative ✶sapnā > Q. samna “delved hole, pit” (PE19/86). This list was rejected but only because Tolkien revised his thinking on the demonstrated phonetic developments, not the roots themselves. Indeed, the appearance of S. -habar (soft-mutated *sabar) “delving” in various late words like S. Anghabar “Iron-delvings” (S/138) and S. Nornhabar “Dwarrowdelf” (WJ/209) indicate Tolkien probably never really abandoned √SAP “dig”.

Reference ✧ PE19/86


ᴱ√SAPA root. “dig, excavate”

See √SAP for discussion.

References ✧ GL/67; QL/82