AQ. syllabic initial [s] became [is]; [ṣ-] > [is-]

AQ. syllabic initial [s] became [is]; [ṣ-] > [is-]

On rare occasions an initial s before p, t, k became syllabic, producing a preceding vowel i in most cases. Tolkien mentioned this sound change in both the Outline of Phonetic Development (OP1) from the 1930s and the Outline of Phonology (OP2) from the 1950s:

A third form, parallel to that seen in the nasal groups but rarer, was the development of s before p, t, k to syllabic > Q is. As in ... [Tolkien never filled in the example] Hence for sp, sk also ips, iks (OP1: PE19/36).
A third development is also found, parallel to the development of syllabic nasals, whereby s became syllabic > PQ is (before all consonants). This is only seen in individual derivatives or isolated words, never in a stem or base with all its derivatives. The PQ results were: ups, iks with metathesis, and ist (OP2: PE19/79).

In the 1930s, Tolkien said the result was > is in all cases. In the 1950s Tolkien said ṣp > ups. It isn’t clear whether ṣp > usp first or whether the u was introduced after the reversal of sp to ps, but Tolkien’s statement that “syllabic > PQ is (before all consonants)” strongly indicates the latter.

Tolkien said in OP2 that the PQ [Parmaquesta] result was is, but > is probably occurred before initial [s] plus voiceless stops became voiceless spirants, a sound change that itself was probably in AQ [Ancient Quenya] (@@@ revisit). His reference to the “PQ results: ups, iks” probably refers to later metathesis of sp, sk, so that ṣp, ṣk > isp, isk > ups, iks.

The only Late Quenya (1950s or later) example of this sound change I’ve been able to find is: ✶skalā > (archaic) Q. †ixal “a cast shadow” (PE17/184).

Conceptual Development: Similar developments were mentioned in the Qenya Phonology of the 1910s:

If ṣ̄̆ or ẓ̄̆ is to be assumed: ṣ̄̆ gave -is-, ẓ̄̆ gave ir. before explosives or voiceless consonants, before spirants, nasals, or voiced explosives, cp. siste, “ulcer, boil” (sṣtē), mirde, “mist” (mẓđē) (PE12/14).

In addition to the above, Early Qenya examples include:

The first two examples imply that long ṣ̄ had a distinct development: to as. There were similar differences in the developments of long syllabic ṇ̄, ḹ, ṝ > an, al, ar in Early Quenya (PE12/10). The example ᴱQ. usqe implies the vowel u was produced before labials and labialized consonants, as was the case in OP2 in the 1950s.

Reference ✧ PE19/79

Order (02000)

Before 02100 initial [s] plus voiceless stops became voiceless spirants
Before 03500 Q. [sp], [sk] became [ps], [ks]


Phonetic Rule Elements

[ṣ-] > [is-] ✧ PE19/79 ( > is)

Phonetic Rule Examples

ṣkal > iskal ṣ- > is- skalā > Q. †ixal ✧ PE17/184

ᴹAQ. syllabic initial [s] became [is]; [ṣ-] > [is-]

Reference ✧ PE19/36

Order (02100)

Before 02200 initial [s] plus voiceless stops became voiceless spirants
Before 03500 ᴹQ. [sp], [sk] became [ps], [ks]


Phonetic Rule Elements

[ṣ-] > [is-]

ᴱQ. syllabic [s] developed a vowel; [ṣ|ṣCʷ|ṣ̄|ẓ] > [is|usCʷ|as|iz]

Reference ✧ PE12/14 ✧ for example: siste < ᴱ✶sṣtē, mirde < ᴱ✶mẓđē

Phonetic Rule Elements

[ṣ] > [is]
[ṣCʷ] > [usCʷ]
[ṣ̄] > [as]
[ẓ] > [iz]

Phonetic Rule Examples

pṣt- > pist- ṣ > is ᴱ✶pṣt- > ᴱQ. piste ✧ PE13/163
pṣt- > pist- ṣ > is ᴱ✶pṣt > ᴱQ. piste ✧ PE14/58
sṣte > siste ṣ > is ᴱ✶sṣtē > ᴱQ. siste ✧ PE12/14
sṣte- > siste- ṣ > is ᴱ✶sṣt- > ᴱQ. histe ✧ PE13/163
sṣtʲ > sistʲ ṣ > is ᴱ√SṢT͡YṢ > ᴱQ. sist ✧ QL/86
ṣkʷe > uskʷe ṣCʷ > usCʷ ‽ᴱ√ṢQṢ > ᴱQ. USQE ✧ QL/98
pṣ̄tie- > pastie- ṣ̄ > as ᴱ✶pṣt > ᴱQ. pastie ✧ PE14/58
pṣ̄tʲe- > pastʲe- ṣ̄ > as ᴱ✶pṣt > ᴱQ. pastye ✧ PE14/58
sṣ̄tʲa > sastʲa ṣ̄ > as ᴱ√SṢT͡YṢ > ᴱQ. sastya ✧ QL/86
mẓðe > mizðe ẓ > iz ᴱ✶mẓđē > ᴱQ. mirde ✧ PE12/14