√TEK root. “make a written mark, sign, write”
The root √TEK was the basis for Elvish words for writing for much of Tolkien’s life. It first appeared as ᴱ√TEKE “make marks” in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s with derivatives like ᴱQ. teket “letter” and ᴱQ. tekta- “to write” (QL/90). It also had derivatives in the contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon such as G. taith “letter” and G. tectha- “write” (GL/68-69). In The Etymologies of the 1930s it was ᴹ√TEK “make a mark, write or draw (signs or letters)” with derivatives like ᴹQ. tek-/N. teitha- “write” and ᴹQ. tengwa/N. tîw “letter” (Ety/TEK).
The root √TEK continued to appear in Tolkien’s writings of the 1950s and 60s with glosses like “make a written mark” (PE17/43), “sign” (PE17/44) or “write” (PE22/149). However, one of its major derivatives, Q. tengwa “letter” (originally < ᴹ✶tekmā), was transfered to the root √TEÑ after Tolkien decide that km > kw rather than ngw in Quenya phonology, as noted by Christopher Gilson (PE17/44; PE19/85-86 note #79); see the entry on √TEÑ for further discussion.
References ✧ PE17/43-44, 187; PE19/86; PE22/149
ᴹ√TEK root. “write or draw (signs or letters), make a mark”
References ✧ Ety/TEK; PE19/43
ᴱ√TEKE root. “make marks”
Reference ✧ QL/90 ✧ “make marks”