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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Etymological roots of 'Galadriel'

Registered User

Jul 9 2013, 9:18pm

Post #1 of 6 (192 views)
Etymological roots of 'Galadriel' Can't Post

Galadriel - Lady of Light
'Galad' - 'Light'

Galadriel - Lady of trees (?)
'Galadh' - 'Tree'

One could argue that her name may have been derived from 'Galadh' not 'Galad'

Does Tolkien reference this specifically or is it subjective?

Et Ešrello Endorenna utķlien.
Sinome maruvan ar Hildinyar tenn' Ambar-metta!


Jul 9 2013, 9:51pm

Post #2 of 6 (135 views)
Well [In reply to] Can't Post

Galadriel, like all the other names of Elvish persons in The Lord of the Rings, is an invention of my own. It is in Sindarin form (see Appendices E and F) and means "Maiden crowned with gleaming hair." It is a secondary name given her in her youth in the far past because she had long hair which glistened like gold but was also shot with silver. She was then of Amazon disposition and bound up her hair as a crown when taking part in athletic feats.
- Letter #348

But yes, there was some confusion:

When Celeborn and Galadriel became the ruler of the Elves of Lůrien (who were mainly in origin Silvan Elves and called themselves the Galadhrim) the name of Galadriel became associated with trees, an association that was aided by the name of her husband, which also appeared to contain a tree-word; so that outside Lůrien among those whose memories of the ancient days and Galadriel's history had grown dim her name was often altered to Galadhriel. Not so in Lůrien itself.
- Unfinished Tales

Revenge is a dish best served with pinto beans and muffins.


Jul 10 2013, 8:43pm

Post #3 of 6 (94 views)
-riel [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes it's -riel as in 'crowned maiden' not merely -iel(le) 'lady, maiden' or a f. ending. Not that you said otherwise necessarily.

I'm just adding [or blathering] Smile

As Darkstone noted there was some internal confusion with the tree-word, but the circumstances of that confusion [in the quote already provided] are notable I think.

(This post was edited by Elthir on Jul 10 2013, 8:49pm)

Registered User

Jul 10 2013, 11:32pm

Post #4 of 6 (70 views)
But of course... [In reply to] Can't Post

Blathering indeed! But I think we can all safely say that we all have a passion and an urge to share our Tolkien knowledge, regardless of it's relevance to the topic! Nothing wrong there, mellon!

Et Ešrello Endorenna utķlien.
Sinome maruvan ar Hildinyar tenn' Ambar-metta!


Jul 11 2013, 10:10am

Post #5 of 6 (65 views)
Light and Tree [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks. I guess I just got too excited about a post on etymology Crazy

Anyway, you might be interested in [possibly parts of, if not the entire essay] Light And Tree, over at...


... it's not actually written by Tolkien himself of course, but still Smile


Jul 11 2013, 10:21am

Post #6 of 6 (85 views)
One other thing... [In reply to] Can't Post

Note also that such a shift would not affect the Sindarin forms substantially, since both g‑ and Ů‑ at the beginning of a Primitive word give g‑ in Sindarin (except in compounds and other constructions); but it is different in Quenya, since in this tongue Ů‑ gave n‑. So related words in Quenya should start with n‑, as seen in the true Quenya name of Galadriel, stated to be —altariel (in post-exilic Quenya it would be Naltariel, as —oldor became Noldor, etc.), although she was given the name Altariel by influence of Alatāriel(lŽ), its form in Telerin, the language in which her name was first devised.

This is from the essay and quite correct.

I annoyingly add that Tolkien's idea was that 'Telporno' gave Galadriel her Telerin nickname in Aman in this conception, but this assumes Celeborn was a Teler of Aman, not -- as Tolkien himself had already twice published -- a Sinda of Beleriand.

So while I accept Naltariel as the true Quenya form, in my head Celeborn the Sindarin Elf would have only 'named' Galadriel in Beleriand. The Sindarin makes sense there -- but I note Tolkien's late letter were he seems, at least, to again be thinking in terms of a version of this nickname arising in Aman [which if so, in itself also makes sense of course, in any case].

Now that's some of my best blathering :bows:

Drat. Some of the special letters came out wrong.

(This post was edited by Elthir on Jul 11 2013, 10:28am)


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