√LAY root. “*be alive, flourish”
This root was primarily used as the basis for Elvish words for summer and, via its extended root √LAYAK, freshness and greenness. Its earliest appearance was as ᴱ√LAẎA “be alive, flourish” in the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s (QL/52) where the Ẏ indicated an ancient palatal spirant, [c] or [ɟ]. In this period it had derivatives like ᴱQ. laiqa/G. laib “green” and ᴱQ. laire/G. glair “meadow” (QL/52; GL/39, 52).
In The Etymologies of the 1930s ᴹ√LAYA was unglossed with a single derivative ᴹQ. laire “summer”, appearing in a marginal note next to more detailed ᴹ√LAYAK (EtyAC/LAYA). In this document, Tolkien gave the derivatives of ᴹ√LAYAK as ᴹQ. laiqa “green” vs. N. lhoeb “fresh” (Ety/LAYAK). The Ilkorin form laig “fresh, lively; keen, sharp” was said to be blended with ᴹ√LAIK “keen, sharp, acute” (Ety/LAIK), so “*fresh” was probably the original meaning of ᴹ√LAYAK.
The root √LAY appeared quite regularly in Tolkien’s later writings, but was never glossed. It was mentioned in the second version of Tengwesta Qenderinwa from around 1950 as an example of a bi-consonantal root (PE18/97). It appeared in 1957 etymological notes as the basis for “summer” and “green”: the former still Q. lairë but the latter now Q. laika (PE17/145, 159). It was mentioned again in a 1958 letter to Rhona Beare as the basis for “summer” and ”green”, with the Sindarin form S. laeg having largely been replaced by S. calen “green” (Let/282).
Most likely this root retained the same basic sense as it had in the Qenya Lexicon, connected as it was to words having to do with freshness and liveliness.
References ✧ Let/282; PE17/145, 159; PE18/97
ᴹ√LAY root. “*be alive, flourish”
Reference ✧ EtyAC/LAYA ✧ LAYA
ᴱ√LAẎA root. “be alive, flourish”
References ✧ LT1A/Tári-Laisi; PME/52; QL/52