Questions about a cobbled-together name, “ Tarwëndil”

Christopher Powers #1648

Hi there,

So, I was trying to put together an elvish name that means ‘Friend of the Cross’ (as in, the cross of Christ). I came up with Tarwëndil using...pretty simply, tarwë=cross and -ndil=friend.

I have two questions, the second one with two parts:

1) Does this work? I just stuck together two pieces without knowing the language and...from other languages I know, you can’t always do that.

And 2) I was—admittedly—disappointed upon returning to Elfdict to see that Tarwë is ‘fan invented’ (I mean..,the name I’m putting together is ‘fan invented’ too, but still). What exactly does that mean? Is it built on other Quenya roots / words? For instance, would Tolkien have been likely to recognize it for what it is?

And secondly, is there, perhaps, a more ‘Tolkienian” way to form this name that I might be missing?

Thanks very much for any help!


Tamas Ferencz #1649

Tarwendil is fine (you don't need the dieresis on the e).

Tarwe is a word from Early Qenya, which was invented decades before the later Quenya Tolkien used in LotR, so strictly speaking to use it as a late Quenya word can be classified as "fan-invented". But the shape of the word fits the phonology of late Quenya, so I don't see any reason to oppose it.

Christopher Powers #1650

Hi Tamas,

Thanks very much for your input; I’m amazed by the knowledge of Tolkien’s languages on this site—what a great find!

So, ‘Tarwe’ was a word Tolkien actually came up with for ‘Cross,’ its just that, as the legendarium developed and a word like ‘Cross’ no longer fit as well, that word dropped out of later Quenya? I do seem to remember something about the earlier languages having a number of ‘anachronistic’ words that dealt with Catholicism etc....might this have been part of those?

Thanks again!

Röandil #1651

It likely was one of those words, yes.

I’m going to disagree with Tamas, however — while tarwe does fit the phonology of late Quenya, its root (√TARA “across”) later took the form √THAR. Using the same derivational suffix, this would yield *tʰar-wē > þarwe, sarwe in the later conceptual period, so the name should likely rather be þarwendil Þarwendil or Sarwendil.

Christopher Powers #1652

Wow - so interesting. I really appreciate your guys’ help with this. I’m actually trying to see if I can come up with a name for our son whose going to be born this Spring; that’s why figuring out a legitimate name is fairly significant (!)

So, ‘wē’ is a ‘derivational suffix’, implying something derived from the previous root (in this case, ‘cross’ from ‘across’)? And since TARA becomes THAR in later Quenya, the name would become ‘Tharwendil’ (I don’t know how to type a ‘thorn’ on iOS).

What is the relation of ‘Taru’ which also shows up in the dictionary for ‘cross, crucifix, crossing’? I really like the sound of ‘Tarundil’ as well, but....not sure if it would carry the same meaning?

Röandil #1653

I see. I don’t want to rain on your parade, but for something as permanent as someone’s name, I’d actually recommend against all these forms in favor of a name already attested.

Tolkien’s linguistic material is still being (periodically) published, and there’s always a chance that some new note will invalidate a vocabulary item or grammatical framework — a recent major publication, for example, overhauled our understanding of Sindarin verbs almost completely. It’s the same reason I recommend against fully translated tattoos.

Christopher Powers #1654

I definitely get what you’re saying - that’s an inherent factor and understood risk in a language invented within the last century by an individual philologist. Plus, I’d have to get my wife on board before anything could be official and that’s by no means certain at this point, haha.

But, as far as the ‘Taru’ part does that fit into things?

Röandil #1655

I’d recommend against that, too, I’m sorry: taru is a Gnomish (very early draft-Sindarin) noun for “cross, crossing” and so wouldn’t combine sensibly with the -ndil suffix. The corresponding Qenya (again, very early draft-Quenya) form is a noun meaning “horn,” as of an ox or bull.

We don’t see the form taru in mature, late-period Quenya, so any meaning of a name Tarundil would be pure conjecture.

Christopher Powers #1656

Good to know. Ok, well, that gives me some things to think over - thanks for your expert help!

Röandil #1657

You're very welcome. Please feel free to post any other questions or ideas here! We're a fairly responsive and active community.