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TEL root. “close, end, complete, come to an end”

TEL root. “close, end, complete, come to an end”
?ᴱ√FOTO “end, final, last”
ᴱ√TELE “cover in”

Tolkien used words beginning with tel- or tyel- for “end” and these were intermixed with “roof” words, but the exact arrangements evolved over Tolkien’s life. In the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s, the base root was ᴱ√TELE “cover in” with derivatives like ᴱQ. tel (teld-) “roof” and ᴱQ. telimbo “canopy; sky”, along with a vocalic extension ᴱ√TEL+U “to finish, close, end, complete” with derivatives like verb ᴱQ. telu- of the same meaning and ᴱQ. telwa “last, late” (QL/90-91). Both the base root and its extension had derivatives in the contemporaneous Gnomish Lexicon such as G. teld “roof” vs. G. telu “end” (GL/70).

In the Early Qenya Word Lists of the 1920s, however, Tolkien gave the words ᴱQ. talle “ended” and ᴱQ. talma “end” (PE16/143, 144) versus ᴱQ. telu- “cover, roof” and ᴱQ. telume “firmament” and (QL/134, 142). Indeed, in The Etymologies of the 1930s Tolkien had unglossed ᴹ√TEL with the vocalic extension ᴹ√TELU having derivatives like ᴹQ. telme “hood, covering” and ᴹQ. telume/N. telu “roof (of heaven)” (Ety/TEL). The primitive verb form ✶telu- “roof in” appeared in Quendian & Common Eldarin Verbal Structure (EVS1: PE22/98) from the 1930s and again in Common Eldarin: Verb Structure from the early 1950s (EVS2: PE22/135), and finally one more time with the gloss “roof in, put the crown on a building” in the Quendi and Eldar essay of 1959-60 (WJ/411).

The “end” words went down a different route. In The Etymologies Tolkien gave ᴹ√KYEL “run out, come to an end” as an etymological variant of ᴹ√KEL “go, run (especially of water), *flow”; ᴹ√KYEL had derivatives like ᴹQ. tyel- “to end, cease” and ᴹQ. tyelima “final” (Ety/KEL, KYEL). Tolkien mentioned this etymological variation of √KEL “flow” vs. √KYEL “cease, come to an end” in both the first and second version of Tengwesta Qenderinwa from the 1930s and around 1950 respectively (TQ1: PE18/58; TQ2: PE18/103), and the two variants were also mentioned in the Quenya Verbal System of the 1940s (PE22/114). However, in Common Eldarin: Verb Structure of the early 1950s Tolkien gave √TEL “close, end, complete” with vocalic extension telu “roof in” (PE22/135), a paradigm repeated in the Quendi and Eldar essay of 1959-60, though with a bit less certainty:

The stem *TELE, the primary sense of which appears to have been “close, end, come at the end” ... This was possibly distinct from *tel-u “roof in, put the crown on a building”, seen in Q telume “roof, canopy” ... But *telu may be simply a differentiated form of *TELE, since the roof was the final work of a building (WJ/411).

The conceptual development seems to be 1910s ᴱ√TELE “cover” vs. ᴱ√TEL-U “end” >> 1920s *ᴱ√TALA “end” vs. ᴱ√TELU “cover” >> 1930s-1950 ᴹ√KYEL “end” vs. ᴹ√TEL(U) “*cover” >> early 1950s √TEL “end” vs. √TELU “roof in”. Thus Tolkien ultimately came full circle back to his original root forms, but with reversed meanings.

See also the root √TELES for discussion of the conceptual shifts in the derivation of Q. Teleri “Hindmost”.

References ✧ PE22/135; SA/tel; WJ/392, 411

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KYEL² root. “(come to an) end, cease, run out”

See √TEL for discussion.

References ✧ PE18/86, 91, 103

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KEL “flow (down or away), run (of water or rivers), go away” ✧ PE18/103

ᴹ√KYEL root. “come to an end, cease, run out”

See √TEL for discussion.

References ✧ Ety/KEL, KYEL, TELES; PE18/58; PE22/114

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ᴱ√TEL+U root. “to finish, close, end, complete”

See √TEL for discussion.

References ✧ GL/70; LT1A/Teleri; QL/91

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TELE “cover in” extension ✧ LT1A/Teleri

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