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MAY root. “excellent, admirable, beautiful; make [art]; suitable, useful, proper, serviceable; right”

MAY root. “excellent, admirable, beautiful; make [art]; ⚠️suitable, useful, proper, serviceable; right”

A root appearing in Tolkien’s later writings with a variety of glosses: √MAY “make (in artistic sense as ποιήτης [Greek: make, create])” in Quenya Notes (QN) from 1957 (PE17/145, 163), {√MAGA >>} √(A)MAY “suitable, useful, proper, serviceable; right” in Definitive Linguistic Notes (DLN) from 1959 but this note was crossed through (PE17/172), √MAY “excellent, admirable” elsewhere in DLN (PE17/172), again as √MAY “excellent, admirable” in notes contemporaneous to the Quendi and Eldar essay from 1959-60 (PE17/150, 163) and finally as √MAY “beautiful” in notes from the late 1960s (VT47/18).

Two notable derivatives of √MAY were S. mae “well” (PE17/17, 163) and Q. Maia (PE17/163; VT47/18), but elsewhere these two words were derived from the root √MAG “good (useful)” (PE17/16, 162; PE19/46, 62, 75, 94). In the aforementioned notes from the late 1960s, however, Tolkien said “maga was distinct from maʒa and maya” (VT48/18). For purpose of Neo-Eldarin, I would assume the root √MAY was distinct from √MAG, having the meaning “excellent, admirable, beautiful” and by extension the creation of beautiful things such as art, to allow the retention of 1957 words like Q. maitar “artist” (PE17/163).

A possible precursor to this root is unglossed ᴱ√MAẎA from the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s with derivatives like ᴱQ. mai “too much” and ᴱQ. maira “excessive, strong” (QL/60); perhaps a more extreme version of its later sense “excellent”. The entry also included ᴱQ. mairu “(horse ?); mane, flowing hair”, but Tolkien marked this word with a “?”, perhaps indicating he was unsure it was from this root (QL/60).

References ✧ PE17/145-146, 150, 162-163, 172; VT47/18

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ᴱ√MAẎA root. “*excessive”

See √MAY for discussion.

Reference ✧ QL/60

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