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OPO root. “before of place, ahead, in front”

OPO root. “before of place, ahead, in front”

This primitive form was noted in the margins and rough notes from Late Notes on Verbs from 1969, glossed “before of place” (PE22/167) and “before, ahead, in front of place” (PE22/168). Primitive or Quenya forms opo/pō “before, in front of” and pōna/ompa “forward” appear in other late notes from this period associated with the Q. Ambidexters Sentence, as part of an explanation for Q. potai “therefore” (VT49/12), though this word was eventually revised to Q. epetai (VT49/8). Quenya or primitive forms opo, po, pono, poto “in front, of place” appeared in notes from the mid-1950s (VT49/32 note #12), and as suggested by Patrick H. Wynne might be a reemergence of the early root ᴱ√POT-I “after, behind (of place)” with a reversal in its meaning (QL/75). Other similar roots in the same semantic space are √APA and √EPE.

Neo-Eldarin: Tolkien’s treatment of “before” and “after” words was wildly inconsistent, but I generally prefer ✶epe for “after (of time); before (of space)” and ✶ for its opposite. However, I think √APA and √OPO can serve as variants of √EPE, with √OPO more specifically referring to the front of things, especially given Tolkien’s use of √OP as a root referring to the front of the (open) mouth (PE17/126).

References ✧ PE22/167-168



ᴱ√POT-I root. “*back, behind, after”

The root ᴱ√POT-I appeared (unglossed) in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s with various derivatives having to do with the “back” or “rear” (QL/75). Many of its Gnomish equivalents began with b-, which would typically indicate the true form of the root was ᴱ√BOT-I, given that initial b- > p- in Early Qenya. In this case, though, Tolkien specifically said that the Gnomish forms like G. bont “back(wards)” were the result of “atonic development” via the loss of an initial vowel (GL/23), and there were in fact Gnomish forms beginning with p- such as G. pont “the back, reverse or far side” (GL/64).

In the Early Noldorin of the 1920s, Tolkien gave the root as {boto >>} *bot- (PE13/139), possibly indicating a conceptual shift despite the continued presence of Qenya derivatives beginning with p-. However, ᴹQ. opto “back” from the 1940s points to *ᴹ√POT (PE22/50). This root was likely the conceptual precursor to various later directional roots like √OPO or √APA.

References ✧ PE13/139; QL/75