is incorrect in the published versions by the way?
The published excerpt in Carpenter's Letters of JRR
Tolkien (letter #227, p303) isn't greatly flawed with respect to context,
but there are four significant deviations which actually have a considerable
impact on the study of Tolkien's invented languages.
In the two sentences at the bottom of the obverse, in the
discussion of the etymology of Númenor, Carpenter's transcription traces
the first element to numé-n from the root(s) ndū and nu.
This makes it seem as though Númenórë, despite the long-vowel
marked with an acute accent on the ú, potentially hails from a root or
stem without long vowel (i.e., num-én from nu). This in
turn allows one to contemplate that the long vowel on the u might
be an emergent property of the compound with nórë ‘land’. But the
actual letter clearly has núme-n and nū, and this resolves any
ambiguity, showing that Númenórë descends directly from núme-n,
ultimately from either ndū or nū.
Note, too, that where Carpenter has nórë and twice
has Númenórë, the manuscript actually has nóre and (in the second
instance, on the penultimate line) Númenóre, both without diaeresis on
the final -e. This isn't a grievous deviation, since it only marks
a vowel which receives its own pronunciation (i.e., not a silent vowel, nor
part of a diphthong) as in, for instance, Noël or Zoë. But this was always
optional, as Tolkien indicates in Appendix E of The Lord of the Rings: Final e is never mute or a mere sign of
length as in English. To mark this final e
it is often (but not consistently) written ë.
Carpenter has perhaps understandably opted for consistency
with the initial instance of Númenórë (so written by Tolkien) but
it's interesting to note that Tolkien was less concerned with mere consistency.
To him, the rule that "[f]inal e is never mute or a mere
sign of length" trumped the need to consistently mark the e.
There are a few other, minor,
typographical deviations from the original. For instance, Tolkien
actually wrote "summarized" (with a z) on the obverse, wheres
Carpenter regularizes this to the more common British spelling "summarised".
In truth, though, and particularly in Tolkien's day, both were equally
acceptable British orthography. It's only in the US that
"summarize" remains the only correct spelling.
Thanks again for the images: most kind.
Assistant Professor, Anthropology
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