√(G)WAN root. “pale, fair”
A root appearing several times in notes written on or shortly before 1960 with a general meaning “pale, fair” (PE17/150, 154, 165, 189; WJ/383), as opposed to √BAN which was simply “beautiful”. It seems Tolkien introduced this root when he realized that “VAN cannot only = fair (blonde), since vanima is applied in LR to Arwen who was like Lúthien dark” (PE17/165). In the Quendi and Eldar essay from 1959-60 he used this root for a new etymology for the tribal name of the Vanyar referring to their fair, blond hair.
This root appeared as √GWAN, √WAN and √GWAY, though the note where the last of these appeared was marked through (PE17/154). With √GWAN the root would merge with √BAN in both Quenya and Sindarin: Q. vanya and S. bain “fair and beautiful” (PE17/154). But with √WAN the two would remain distinct in Sindarin, as in bain “beautiful” vs. gwain “fair haired” (PE17/150). I find the second paradigm more interesting, and thus recommend assuming the ancient root was √WAN for the purposes of Neo-Eldarin.
This root might be a restoration of an earlier separation of ᴱ√ɃANA versus ᴱ√WANA in the Elvish languages as Tolkien conceived of them in the 1910s, though the semantic divisions in the earlier conception were not the same. See the entry on √BAN for further discussion.
References ✧ PE17/150, 154, 165, 189; WJ/383
Reference ✧ PE17/154