√PEL root. “fence, border, edge; bound, limit; go round, encircle”
This root was connected to fences, encirclement and rotation for much of Tolkien’s life. It first appeared as two distinct roots in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s. The first was ᴱ√PELE¹ “fence in” with derivatives like ᴱQ. pelin “fenced in, pent”, ᴱQ. pelto “hedge, hedged field”, and ᴱQ. pelle “town” (QL/73). It had some clear derivatives in the contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon such as G. pel “village”, G. pelu- “fence, enclose”, and G. pless “hedge, fence” (GL/64). The second root in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s was unglossed ᴱ√PELE² with derivatives like ᴱQ. pelko “leg”, ᴱQ. pelte- “run”, and ᴱQ. peltas “pivot” (QL/73), but the “leg” word in the Gnomish Lexicon was unrelated: G. bactha “a leg” (GL/21).
Indeed, in Quenya the “leg” word was also shifted to a new root by The Etymologies of the 1930s: ᴹ√TELEK > ᴹQ. telko “leg” (Ety/TÉLEK). As for the root ᴹ√PEL, it was given the gloss “revolve on fixed point” in The Etymologies and seems to be a blending of 1910s ᴱ√PELE¹ and ᴱ√PELE², with derivatives like ᴹQ. pel- “go round, revolve, return” and ᴹQ. peltas/N. pelthaes “pivot” (Ety/PEL) but also ᴹQ. peler/N. pêl “fenced field” and ᴹQ. opele/N. gobel “walled house or village, town” by way of extended root ᴹ√PEL(ES) (Ety/PEL(ES)).
The root √PEL appeared a number of times in Tolkien’s later writings with glosses like “edge, bound, fence, limit” (PE17/65), “fence, border” (PE17/90) and “go round, encircle” (SA/pel). Tolkien declared that:
The basic sense should not be “revolve”; but “edge, bound, fence, limit”. Thus [S.] pelennor = fenced land; ephel, Sindarin < eppel < etpel = “outer wall or fence”; [Q.] peltakse- (peltas) should mean a fence of fixed stakes etc., or a “pale” and fencing stakes; and pelma a border, fringe, edge, limiting device (PE17/65).
Tolkien reassigned the sense “revolve” to the root √KWER. The most notable derivative of the new sense “boundary” for √PEL was Q. pella “beyond”, more literally “beyond the boundary” (PE17/65, 80); this word was likely Tolkien’s motivation for removing the sense “revolve” from √PEL.
References ✧ PE17/65, 90, 92, 171; SA/pel
ᴹ√PEL(ES) root. “revolve on fixed point”
References ✧ Ety/PEL, PEL(ES), TAK, TAM, TIN; EtyAC/PEL(ES)
ᴱ√PELE¹ root. “fence in”
Reference ✧ QL/73 ✧ “fence in”
ᴱ√PELE² root. “*revolve”
Reference ✧ QL/73