OS. syllabic initial [s] became [es]; [ṣ-] > [es-]

OS. syllabic initial [s] became [es]; [ṣ-] > [es-]

In some cases in Sindarin, an initial [s] before a consonant could become syllabic and develop into [es-], such as ✶skalā > S. esgal “cast shadow” (PE17/184), ✶spini- > S. esbin “thin thread” (PE17/17), or √STEN > S. esten “short” (PE17/184). All of the attested examples of this development involve an initial [s] followed by a voiceless stop.

Conceptual Development: In the Gnomish and Early Noldorin of the 1910s and 1920s, it seems syllabic [ṣ] was part of the normal phonetic inventory of Primitive Elvish, although it was rare. In Gnomish it seems that [ṣ] became [us], at least before labialized consonants: ᴱ√ṢQṢ > G. usc or usg “fog” vs. ᴱQ. usqe (QL/98, GL/75). In the Early Noldorin of the 1920s [ṣ] became [is]: ᴱ✶sṣt- or ᴱ✶pṣt- > ᴱN. hist “spits” (PE13/147, 163). This may have been the normal development of [ṣ] in the Early Period when it did not precede a labialized consonant (we see the same in Early Qenya). In the Ilkorin language of the 1930s, we also see that initial [s] became [es] before voiceless stops, which may be the inspiration for this Sindarin sound change.

Order (01900)

Before 02100 voiceless stops became spirants after initial [s]

Related

Phonetic Rule Elements

[ṣ-] > [es-]

Phonetic Rule Examples

ṣkala > eskala ṣ- > es- skalā > S. esgal ✧ PE17/184
ṣpine > espine ṣ- > es- spini- > S. esbin ✧ PE17/17
ṣpine > espine ṣ- > es- SPIN-ID > S. esbin ✧ PE17/119
ṣtenna > estenna ṣ- > es- STEN > S. esten ✧ PE17/185

Ilk. initial [s] became [es] before voiceless stops; [s{ptk}-] > [es{ptk}-]

In some cases in Ilkorin, an initial [s] before a consonant could become syllabic and develop into [es-], such as ᴹ✶spálass(e) > Ilk. espalass (Ety/PHAL) and ᴹ✶skal(a) > [eskal >] Ilk. esgal (Ety/SKAL¹). All of the attested examples of this development involve an initial [s] followed by a voiceless stop. In Tolkien’s notes associated with the Comparative Tables, he said (PE19/27):

Beleriandic partly shared this early tendency [of simplifying initial clusters] but in general shows its early connexion with Telerin in hesitation in this matter (producing both f and esp from initial sp)

In Tolkien’s notes on the development of the Beleriandic mode of Tengwar from the 1940s, he said (PE22/31):

in Doriathrin ... est etc. was the normal form taken by old PQ initial st

Both the quotes indicate that the normal development was [s] into [es] from an initial s + voiceless stop, though perhaps not universally. One possible counter-example is Ilk. istil “moon” which might have developed from *ṣtil < ᴹ√SIL. If so, the quality of the vowel that developed from the syllabic [ṣ] may have depended on the following vowel.

References ✧ PE19/27; PE22/31

Variations

Order (02100)

Before 02200 [esk] became [esg] ᴹ√SKAL¹ > Ilk. esgal Ety/SKAL¹
Before 02400 initial [s] spirantalized following voiceless stops ᴹ√SPÁLAS > Ilk. espalass Ety/PHAL

Phonetic Rule Elements

[sp-] > [esp-]
[st-] > [est-]
[sk-] > [esk-]

Phonetic Rule Examples

skal > eskal sk- > esk- ᴹ√SKAL¹ > Ilk. esgal ✧ Ety/SKAL¹
skar > eskar sk- > esk- ᴹ√SKAR > Ilk. esgar ✧ Ety/SKAR
skar > eskar sk- > esk- ᴹ√SKAR² > Un. esgar ✧ EtyAC/SKAR²
spalasse > espalasse sp- > esp- ᴹ√SPÁLAS > Ilk. espalass ✧ Ety/PHAL