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GUR root. “hard, stiff, difficult, cumbrous, slow”

GUR root. “hard, stiff, difficult, cumbrous, slow”

A root appearing in a set of documents referred to as Definitive Linguistic Notes (DLN) written around 1959, with the gloss “hard, difficult” (PE17/154). An apparent draft of this note had a longer gloss “hard, stiff, difficult, cumbrous, slow” for √GUR (PE17/172). In the more extensive notes, Tolkien gave a variety of Quenya (ur-) and Sindarin (gor-) derivatives of this root, but noted that “Sindarin owing to approach of √GUR- to other stems (as ÑGUR- “death”, ÑGOR- “terror, dread”) tends to use gor- in a very strong sense of things very painful and horrible to do; and uses dír- (tough) for lesser efforts” (PE17/154). As an example, Tolkien contrasted S. gorbedui “only to be said with horror or grief, lamentable to tell” versus S. dirbedui “hard to utter, difficult to pronounce”.

Thus it seems as a prefix, this root took on a distinctly negative tone in Sindarin, though some of its other derivatives were more neutral, as in S. gordh “difficult, laborious” and S. gorn “hard, stiff, thrawn”. The last of these was given as a word used for the Dwarves (PE17/46), although there were several other competing forms such as S. dern and S. dorn of similar meaning, all coined around 1959-60.

References ✧ PE17/154, 172