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N. fileg n. “small bird” (Category: Bird (other))

N. fileg, n. “small bird, [G.] *sparrow” (Category: Bird (other))
G. fileg “fern”

A noun in The Etymologies of the 1930s glossed “small bird” derived from the root ᴹ√PHILIK and cognate to ᴹQ. filit (filik-) of the same meaning (Ety/PHILIK). Tolkien said fileg was an “analogical singular” form (along with another singular form filigod) based on its plural form filig. That is because the final -k in *philik was lost in ancient times, as explained in Common Eldarin: Noun Structure from the early 1950s (PE21/72) so that its historical phonetic development would have produced singular N./S. *fil. This form was deemed unsuitable, and a new singular form fileg was constructed based on the plural. Something similar happened with S. thoron “eagle”.

Conceptual Development: The Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s had G. bilin or bilinc for “a small bird, especially sparrow”, a diminutive form of G. bil “bird” (GL/22, 23).

Neo-Sindarin: I think it is likely that fileg can also be used to refer to sparrows for purposes of Neo-Sindarin, since its Quenya cognate filit was in one place glossed “sparrow, small bird” (PE21/56).

References ✧ Ety/PHILIK




filig plural ✧ Ety/PHILIK



Phonetic Developments

ᴹ√PHILIK > filig [pʰilike] > [ɸilike] > [filike] > [filik] > [filig] ✧ Ety/PHILIK

G. bilin(c) n. “small bird, sparrow” (Category: Bird (other))

See N. fileg for discussion.

References ✧ GL/22-23, 47; LT1A/Tinfang




bil “bird”
inc “little”

Element In