S. initial [x-] became [h-]; [x-|x{lr}-] > [h-|{l̥r̥}-]

S. initial [x-] became [h-]; [x-|x{lr}-] > [h-|{l̥r̥}-]

At all stages of the languages (Sindarin, Noldorin, Gnomish) an initial [x] (χ) developed into [h], as noted by David Salo (GS/§4.130). Tolkien mentioned this change in his notes on the Noldorin use of the Feanorian Alphabet from the 1930s:

The sign ½ was reintroduced from the original Feanorian general alphabet only in late ON to denote h (at first absent in ON) redeveloped from initial kh, hy and intervocalic s (PE22/25).

Examples are easy to find. Here is a representative sample from the various conceptual stages:

As shown in the examples above, initial χ- could arise from a variety of primitive sources, such as kh-, khy- or sk-. In Tolkien’s earliest conception of Primitive Elvish from the 1910s and 1920s, χ was part of the phonetic inventory of Primitive Elvish, but in later iterations of the language, Sindarin h- mostly arose from aspirated kh- [kʰ].

This sound change played a role in the development of Sindarin soft-mutation in a somewhat unusual way. Normally soft-mutation was the result of a medial phonetic change that was caused initially by a lost final vowel from a preceding word. Here soft-mutation of h- > ch- was caused by the preservation of medial form (ch) which was prevented from reaching its normal initial form h- by the lost final vowel of the preceding word.

Where this change occurred in an initial cluster with a liquid (χl-, χr-) the result was a voiceless liquid (lh-, rh-), as noted by David Salo (GS/§4.131). The only clear example of this is in Noldorin:

  • ᴹ✶khrassē > N. rhass “precipice” (Ety/KHARÁS).
  • The change of khl- > lh- was mentioned by Tolkien in the Comparative Tables of phonetic development from the 1930s (PE19/21). Those tables indicate that chr- was preserved, but this is contradicted by the example above, so it is likely Tolkien changed his mind by the time The Etymologies was written.

    Order (04300)

    After 00300 initial [s] vanished before spirants ON. skhalla > N. hall Ety/SKAL¹
    After 00400 initial voiceless [j̊] became [x] sy- > S. h LotR/1115
    After 02100 [ǭ] became [au] Kh. Khazād > chaðǭd > chaðaud > S. Hadhod WJ/388
    Before 05200 [mb], [nd] became [mm], [nn] ᴹ√KHAN > hand > N. hann Ety/KHAN
    Before 05700 non-initial [m] usually became [v] khadmā > chaðw > S. haðw PE22/148
    Before 05800 [ðv] became [ðw] khadmā > haðma > S. haðwa PE22/148

    Phonetic Rule Elements

    [x-] > [h-]
    [xl-] > [l̥-]
    [xr-] > [r̥-]

    Phonetic Rule Examples

    x- > h- x- > h- khy- > S. h ✧ LotR/1115
    x- > h- x- > h- sy- > S. h ✧ LotR/1115
    xaðaud > haðaud x- > h- Kh. Khazād > chaðǭd > chaðaud > S. Hadhod ✧ WJ/388
    xaðm > haðm x- > h- khadmā > chaðw > S. haðw ✧ PE22/148
    xaðma- > haðma- x- > h- khadmā > haðma > S. haðwa ✧ PE22/148
    xaeð > haeð x- > h- khagdā > S. haeð ✧ PE19/91
    xauð > hauð x- > h- khabdā > S. haudh ✧ PE19/91
    xauð > hauð x- > h- KHAWAD > S. haudh ✧ PE19/91
    xauð > hauð x- > h- KHAW > S. hauð ✧ PE19/92
    xaun > haun x- > h- KHAN > S. †hawn ✧ VT47/14
    xelemorn > helemorn x- > h- Kh. kheled > S. Hele(ð)vorn ✧ PE17/37
    xēn > hēn x- > h- khīnā/khinā > S. hên ✧ WJ/403
    xeruin > heruin x- > h- herūnī > S. heruin ✧ PE17/97
    xeryn > heryn x- > h- herūnī > S. heryn ✧ PE17/97
    xī > hī x- > h- khĭn- > S. ✧ VT49/34
    xīn > hīn x- > h- khīnā/khinā > S. hîn ✧ WJ/403
    xīr > hīr x- > h- kherū > S. hir ✧ Let/282
    xīθlūm > hīθlūm x- > h- χīþilōmē > hithlũṽ > S. Hithlũ ✧ PE17/133
    xollen > hollen x- > h- KHOL > S. hollen ✧ PE17/98
    xoθθ > hoθθ x- > h- khottă > S. hoth ✧ PE17/39
    xū > hū x- > h- > S. ✧ PE17/86

    N. initial [x-] became [h-]; [x-|x{lr}-] > [h-|{l̥r̥}-]

    GS/§4.130 @@@

    Reference ✧ PE22/25

    Order (04100)

    After 00400 initial [s] vanished before spirants ON. skhalla > N. hall Ety/SKAL¹
    After 00500 voiceless [j̊], [w̥] became [x], [xw] ON. hyūle > N. hûl Ety/SIW
    Before 05300 [mb], [nd] became [mm], [nn] ᴹ√KHAN > hand > N. hann Ety/KHAN

    Phonetic Rule Elements

    [x-] > [h-] ✧ PE19/21 (χ- > h-)
    [xl-] > [l̥-] ✧ PE19/21 (khl- > lh-)
    [xr-] > [r̥-]

    Phonetic Rule Examples

    xab- > hab- x- > h- ᴹ√KHAP > N. hab- ✧ Ety/KHAP
    xabad > habad x- > h- ON. skhapa > N. habad ✧ Ety/SKYAP
    xad- > had- x- > h- ᴹ√KHAT > N. had- ✧ Ety/KHAT
    xadlaθθ > hadlaθθ x- > h- ᴹ√KHAT > hadlath > N. haglath ✧ Ety/KHAT
    xadlaθθ > hadlaθθ x- > h- ᴹ√LATH/LAT > hadlath > N. haglath ✧ Ety/LATH
    xadr > hadr x- > h- ᴹ√KHAT > N. hador ✧ Ety/KHAT
    xað- > hað- x- > h- ᴹ√KHAD > N. hað- ✧ EtyAC/KHAM
    xāð > hāð x- > h- ᴹ✶syadā > N. †hâð ✧ Ety/SYAD
    xaem > haem x- > h- ᴹ✶khaimē > N. haew ✧ Ety/KHIM
    xal- > hal- x- > h- ᴹ√KHAL² > N. heli ✧ EtyAC/KHAL²
    xāl > hāl x- > h- ᴹ✶khala > N. hâl ✧ EtyAC/KHAL¹
    xalaθθ > halaθθ x- > h- ᴹ√SKAL > N. ?halath ✧ EtyAC/SKEL
    xeleθθ > halaθθ x- > h- ᴹ√SKAL > N. heleth ✧ EtyAC/SKEL
    xall > hall x- > h- ON. skhalla > N. hall ✧ Ety/SKAL¹
    xall > hall x- > h- ON. khalla > N. hall ✧ Ety/KHAL²
    xall > hall x- > h- ON. skhalla > N. hall ✧ EtyAC/SKEL
    xalm > halm x- > h- ᴹ✶syalmā > N. half ✧ Ety/SYAL
    xalθa- > halθa- x- > h- ON. skhalia- > N. haltha- ✧ Ety/SKAL¹
    xalθa- > halθa- x- > h- ON. skhalta- > N. haltha ✧ EtyAC/SKEL
    xam- > ham- x- > h- ᴹ√KHAM > N. haf- ✧ EtyAC/KHAM
    xamma- > hamma- x- > h- ᴹ√KHAP > N. hamma- ✧ Ety/KHAP
    xammad > hammad x- > h- ᴹ√KHAP > N. hammad ✧ Ety/KHAP
    xamp > hamp x- > h- ᴹ√KHAP > N. hamp ✧ Ety/KHAP
    xand > hand x- > h- ᴹ√KHAD > N. ?hand ✧ EtyAC/KHAM
    xand > hand x- > h- ᴹ√KHAN > hand > N. hann ✧ Ety/KHAN
    xanw > hanw x- > h- ᴹ✶hamwa > N. ham/hanw ✧ EtyAC/KHAM
    xarad > harad x- > h- ᴹ√KHYAR > N. harad ✧ Ety/KHYAR
    xarð > harð x- > h- ᴹ√KHAR > N. harð ✧ EtyAC/KHAR
    xarmen > harmen x- > h- ᴹ√KHYAR > N. harfen ✧ EtyAC/KHYAR
    xermin > harmen x- > h- ᴹ√KHYAR > N. herfin ✧ EtyAC/KHYAR
    xarn > harn x- > h- ᴹ√KHYAR > N. harn ✧ Ety/KHYAR
    xarn > harn x- > h- ᴹ✶skarnā > N. harn ✧ Ety/SKAR
    xarn > harn x- > h- ᴹ√KHAR > N. harn ✧ EtyAC/KHAR
    xarna- > harna- x- > h- ᴹ√SKAR > N. harno ✧ Ety/SKAR
    xarw > harw x- > h- ᴹ✶skarwē > N. harw ✧ Ety/SKAR
    xast > hast x- > h- ᴹ✶syad-ta > N. hast ✧ Ety/SYAD
    xaθθel > haθθel x- > h- ᴹ✶syatsē̆la > N. hathel ✧ Ety/SYAD
    xauð > hauð x- > h- ᴹ✶khagda > N. hauð ✧ Ety/KHAG
    xaust > haust x- > h- ᴹ✶khau̯-stā > N. haust ✧ Ety/KHAW
    xebeid > hebeid x- > h- ON. skhapa > N. hebeid ✧ Ety/SKYAP
    xeir > heir x- > h- ᴹ√KHYAR > N. heir ✧ Ety/KHYAR
    xelaθθ > helaθθ x- > h- ᴹ√SKEL > N. helath ✧ EtyAC/SKEL
    xeledir > heledir x- > h- ᴹ√KHAL¹ > N. heledir ✧ Ety/KHAL¹
    xeledir > heledir x- > h- ᴹ√SKAL² > N. heledir ✧ Ety/SKAL²
    xeledirn > heledirn x- > h- ᴹ✶khalatirnō̆ > N. heledirn ✧ Ety/TIR
    xeleð > heleð x- > h- Kh. kheled > S. heleð ✧ PE17/37
    xeleg > heleg x- > h- ᴹ√KHELEK > N. heleg ✧ Ety/KHEL
    xeleh > heleh x- > h- ON. kheleha > N. hele ✧ Ety/KHYEL(ES)
    xeleθθ > heleθθ x- > h- ᴹ√SKEL > N. heleth ✧ Ety/SKEL
    xell > hell x- > h- ON. skhella > N. hell ✧ Ety/SKEL
    xell > hell x- > h- ᴹ√KHEL > N. hell ✧ Ety/KHEL
    xelm > helm x- > h- ᴹ✶skelmā > N. helf ✧ Ety/SKEL
    xelθa- > helθa- x- > h- ᴹ✶skelta- > N. heltha ✧ Ety/SKEL
    xelx > helx x- > h- ᴹ√KHELEK > N. helch ✧ Ety/KHEL
    xēn > hēn x- > h- ᴹ√KHEN-D-E > N. hên ✧ Ety/KHEN-D-E
    xend > hend x- > h- ᴹ√KHEN-D-E > N. henn ✧ Ety/KHEN-D-E
    xend > hend x- > h- ᴹ√KHEN-D-E > N. hint/hinn ✧ Ety/KHEN-D-E
    xenia- > henia- x- > h- ᴹ√KHAN > N. henio ✧ Ety/KHAN
    xerond > herond x- > h- ᴹ√KHER > N. heron ✧ EtyAC/KHER
    xerθ > herθ x- > h- ᴹ√KHER > N. herth ✧ Ety/KHER
    xervenn > hervenn x- > h- ᴹ√KHER > N. hervenn ✧ Ety/KHER
    xervess > hervess x- > h- ᴹ√KHER > N. hervess ✧ Ety/KHER
    xeθw > heθw x- > h- ᴹ✶khithwa > N. hethw ✧ Ety/KHIS
    xīm > hīm x- > h- ᴹ✶khīmā > N. hiw ✧ Ety/KHIM
    ximb > himb x- > h- ᴹ√KHIM > N. him ✧ Ety/KHIM
    xīn > hīn x- > h- ᴹ√KHEN-D-E > N. hîn ✧ Ety/KHEN-D-E
    xīr > hīr x- > h- ON. khēro > N. hîr ✧ Ety/KHER
    xīril > hīril x- > h- ON. khíril > N. hiril ✧ Ety/KHER
    xīθ > hīθ x- > h- ᴹ✶khīt(h)i > N. hîth ✧ Ety/KHIS
    xiθw > hiθw x- > h- ᴹ✶khithme > N. hithw ✧ Ety/KHIS
    xobass > hobass x- > h- ᴹ√KHOP > N. hobas ✧ Ety/KHOP
    xorn > horn x- > h- ᴹ√KHOR > N. horn ✧ Ety/KHOR
    xorθa- > horθa- x- > h- ᴹ√KHOR > N. hortha- ✧ Ety/KHOR
    xost > host x- > h- ᴹ√KHOTH > N. host ✧ Ety/KHOTH
    xoθθ > hoθθ x- > h- ᴹ✶khotsē > N. hoth ✧ Ety/KHOTH
    xū > hū x- > h- ᴹ√KHUG > N. ✧ Ety/KHUGAN
    xuan > huan x- > h- ᴹ✶khugan > N. Huan ✧ Ety/KHUGAN
    xūb > hūb x- > h- ᴹ√KHOP > N. hûb ✧ Ety/KHOP
    xūd > hūd x- > h- ᴹ√KHOTH > N. hûd ✧ Ety/KHOTH
    xūl > hūl x- > h- ON. hyūle > N. hûl ✧ Ety/SIW
    xūn > hūn x- > h- ᴹ√KHŌ-N > N. hûn ✧ Ety/KHŌ-N
    xuor > huor x- > h- ᴹ✶Khōgore > N. Huor ✧ Ety/GOR
    xūr > hūr x- > h- ᴹ√KHOR > N. hûr ✧ Ety/KHOR
    xœria- > hœria- x- > h- ᴹ√KHOR > hoerio > N. herio ✧ Ety/KHOR
    xrass > r̥ass xr- > r̥- ᴹ✶khrassē > N. rhass ✧ Ety/KHARÁS

    G. initial [x-] became [h-]; [x-] > [h-]

    HPG/§2.1

    Order (03200)

    After 03100 initial [sj] became [x] ᴱ✶sı̯on > χ̑on > G. ho(n) GL/49

    Phonetic Rule Elements

    [x-] > [h-]

    Phonetic Rule Examples

    xanða- > hanða- x- > h- ᴱ√χ̑ṇđ > G. †hanna- ✧ GL/48
    xapax > hapax x- > h- ᴱ✶χı̯ap > G. habach ✧ GL/47
    xapin > hapin x- > h- ᴱ✶χı̯ap > G. habin ✧ GL/47
    xau- > hau- x- > h- ᴱ✶haw- > G. hau ✧ GL/48
    xauk > hauk x- > h- #ᴱ√haw- > G. haug ✧ GL/48
    xaus > haus x- > h- #ᴱ√haw- > G. haus ✧ GL/48
    xel- > hel- x- > h- ᴱ√χele-k > G. hel- ✧ GL/48
    xelek > helek x- > h- ᴱ√χele-k > G. heleg ✧ GL/48
    xeθ > heθ x- > h- ᴱ√heth¹ > G. †heth¹ ✧ GL/48
    xeθ > heθ x- > h- ᴱ√heth² > G. heth² ✧ GL/49
    xeθk > heθk x- > h- ᴱ√heth² > G. hesc ✧ GL/49
    xeθt > heθt x- > h- ᴱ√heth¹ > G. hest ✧ GL/48
    xeθθedlon > heθθedlon x- > h- ᴱ✶heth·thed·’lon > G. hetheglon ✧ GL/49
    xīl > hīl x- > h- ᴱ√χele-k > G. hîl ✧ GL/49
    xilm > hilm x- > h- ᴱ√χili > G. hilm ✧ GL/49
    xilθa > hilθa x- > h- ᴱ✶χilþē > G. hiltha ✧ GL/49
    xōi > hoi x- > h- ᴱ✶hôwi > G. hui ✧ GL/48
    xon > hon x- > h- ᴱ✶sı̯on > χ̑on > G. ho(n) ✧ GL/49
    xōr > hōr x- > h- ᴱ✶χou̯-ră > G. hôr ✧ GL/49