"How wonderful! Now we have all got Elvish names!" (Sauron Defeated p. 126)
For the benefit of non-Scandinavian readers, I should mention that Swedes are crazy. This is how they are always portrayed in the jokes we Norwegians tell about them. They prove that they really are crazy by telling exactly the same jokes about the Norwegians. But a certain Swedish whim during the Nordic Tolkien Festival in Uppsala last year constitutes even more compelling evidence: During the Middle-earth costume party, everybody had to use a Middle-earth name! The result was obvious. There were scores of Gandalfs, Aragorns, Frodos, and Arwens. You could call out, "Galadriel, is this your handkerchief?" - and about ten young women would be looking your way. Being brainy Norwegians, we predicted this months in advance. The editor of our local Tolkien fanzine desperately searched the 62 chapters of LotR looking for a name that was so little known that he could be reasonably sure that it would be his and his alone. He settled on Galdor, the name of an elf who asks a few stupid questions during the Council of Elrond and is never mentioned again. I think this strategy worked, but to be absolutely certain, I decided to do something more drastic. I would try to translate my normal name into Quenya according to its etymological meaning!
In modern Norwegian "Helge" has no obvious meaning, but in Old Norse it meant "Holy One". Anyone who has wasted hours of his life studying the Silmarillion Appendix knows that the High-Elven word for "holy" is aina. But how could I turn it into a name? When Frodo started speaking in tongues in Cirith Ungol, he referred to Eärendil as Elenion Ancalima "brightest of Stars" (cf. Letters p. 385). The adjective ancalima "brightest" clearly corresponded to the name of one of the Númenorean kings, Ancalimon. The name Sauron "the Abhorred" showed the same relationship to the adjective saura "foul, evil-smelling, putrid" (LR:393). Adjectives in -a, it seemed, could be turned into masculine names by changing the ending to -on. From the adjective aina I made the name Ainon and tried to look it up in Robert Foster's Guide to Middle-earth. It wasn't there, so at last I had an Elvish name that was only mine!
After the festival, I continued studying the possibility of name-translations. I discovered that -ë was the feminine counterpart of the masculine -on; beside the Númenórean king Ancalimon there is a queen called Ancalimë. The Silmarillion mentiones a star called Alcarinquë; this name is evidently derived from the adjective alcarinq[u]a "radiant, glorious" (LR:348), the star being personified as a feminine being. Similarly, the feminine name Írimë is formed from the adjective írima "lovely" (MR:207, LR:361). So beside the masculine name Ainon "Helge" I could make the feminine variant Ainë "Helga", and I also concluded that if Sauron had been a female being, his (her!) name would probably have been Saurë.
But not all names are derived from adjectives. As an exercise for myself I have tried to render into Quenya some of the names that have been mentioned in the first three issues of Tyalië Tyelelliéva. (Names from TyTy #4 are not included because this issue is being fossilized in one of the upper strata of the pile of mess covering 78 % of the floor of my room, and I don't know where to dig for it. Sorry!) Missing from the list are 1) names with etymologies I coudn't find (assuming that all names have one), 2) names with etymologies I coundn't translate because the necessary Q words haven't been published (assuming that Tolkien ever made them), and 3) names I overlooked (assuming that pre-senility is already starting to manifest in my 23-year-old brain).
ALEC: This is a shortened form of the Greek name Alexander, which is composed of elements from alexein- "to defend" and aner, andros "man", thus meaning "defender of men" or something similar ("man of defence" is another possibility). When translating this, we should probably use atan rather than nér for "man"; the latter simply means "sentient male", while atan is the generic term for humans (at least originally - later it was used of the Elf-friends only). But what is "defender" in Quenya? We have a verb varya- "protect" (BAR), and we know that -do is an agentive suffix (cf. hilya- "to follow" [KHIL] and Hildor "Followers", an Elvish name of Men in the Silmarillion). A possible translation of "protector, defender" must therefore be *vardo. The High-Elven equivalent of Alexander thus appears to be Atanvardo. (The combination nv is rare in Quenya, but it is allowed in compounds. Cf. Aragorn's title Envinyatar "Renewer".)
[Added: Since this article was first published, I have had a closer look on Quenya derivation. After a stem ending in r, the preferred agental suffix is probably no rather than do; the latter is used following l and n. Hence vardo should rather be varno, hence Atanvarno. Another good word for "protector" might be varyar, derived directly from varya-.]
ANDERS, ANDY: These are forms of the Greek name Andreas, English Andrew. It is derived from a word we have already met: andros "man". The meaning is apparently "manly", and under the stem WEG in the Etymologies we find the adjective vea "adult, manly, vigourous". Following the pattern of ancalima/Ancalimon we construct the name Vëon. ("Anders" is Anders Stenström, mentioned in TyTy #2 p. 5. He arranged the Nordic Tolkien Festival and is thus to blame for this article! But he has adopted the name Beregond and has no need of Vëon.)
ANTHONY: The meaning is not certain. It seems to have something to do with the Greek word anthos "flower", so the translation should include lótë (LOT[H]). We could add some masculine ending: Lóto, Lótu, Lótion (not pronounced "lowsh'n" as the English word with nearly the same spelling!) Feminine forms Lótë, Lóta, Lótiel = Antonia.
BRIAN: This is a Celtic name meaning "Strong". Under POL we find an adjective polda "strong, burly", from which we construct the name Poldon.
CARL, CHARLES: These names are both derived from Carolus, a Latinized form of Old Norse Karl, "free man" (as opposed to a thrall). From Quenya mirima "free" (MIS) we derive Mirimon as the High-Elven equivalent. Feminine form Mirimë = Carolyn, Caroline.
CHRISTOPHER: Latin for "Christ-bearer", i.e. Christian missionary (Christos + pherein "to bear"). The Quenya word for "bearer", colindo, is known from Cormacolindor "Ring-bearers" (III:231). But how do we translate "Christ"? Most Christian churches adhere to the doctrine of the Trinity, in which Christ, his Father and the Holy Spirit are different aspects of God. Indeed Hostetter and Wynne concluded that a similar concept of God is actually expressed in Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth and its commentary in MR (see Vinyar Tengwar #34 p. 8-9). Therefore, we can use Eru as a translation of "Christ" and construct the name Erucolindo. As Greek Christos really means "Anointed One" (a translation of Hebrew Mashiach "Messiah"), a more literal rendering could be derived from the stem LIB2 (whence laive "ointment").
COLIN: a reduced form of Latin Columba "dove". Under KÛ Tolkien glosses ku, kua as "dove", perhaps the masculine and the feminine form respectively. Cu could be adopted as a masculine name. But monosyllabic Quenya names are rare, so a masculine ending or another element should perhaps be added (Cuo? Cuner "Dove-man"?).
DAISY: As this is not only the name of Ms Daisy Maryles (mentioned in TyTy #2 p. 6), but also the name of one of Sam's daughters, we have a Tolkien-made Elvish translation in the King's Letter (SD:126, 129): Eirien. But this is Sindarin, and we want a Quenya version. When analyzing Eirien, Hostetter suggested that it has "some connection to the Quenya name Arien of the Maia of the Sun". (VT#31:24) The literal meaning of Daisy is Day's Eye. Arehen, Aurehen (AR, KHEN-D-E-) would mean "Day-Eye".
DAVID: The meaning of Hebrew Dawidh is propably "Beloved One" (cf. dodh "friend"). From the Quenya adjective melda "beloved, dear" (MEL) we derive Meldon. This name occurs in the "Bakken Fragment", published in TyTy #4. Feminine form Meldë = Vida.
DONALD: In Gaelic, Domhnall means nothing less than "world ruler" - in Quenya Ambartur (MBAR, TUR).
EDOUARD: More commonly spelt Edward in English, this name is composed of the Anglo-Saxon elements ead "riches, prosperity, happiness" and weard "protector". The first element corresponds reasonably well to Quenya alma "good fortune, weal, wealth" (GALA) or autë "prosperity, wealth" (LT2:336). However, Tolkien himself translated ead as heren "fortune, governance" in the name Herendil (equated with Eadwine under KHER), and I guess he knew Quenya better than I do. Under ALEC we constructed *vardo as a possible Quenya translation of "protector": Edouard = Herenvardo [addition: or better Herenvarno].
GEORGE: "Earth-worker", from Greek gaia, ge "earth" + the base of ergon "work". Kemen is Quenya for "earth" (KEM), but what is "worker"? Mól "slave, thrall" (MÔ) seems to be too harsh a word. However, we can add an agentive suffix to the verb móta- "labour, toil" given under the same stem. The suffix -r is used on another verb ending in -ta (envinyatar "renewer" being derived from the verb *envinyata- "renew" - see Vinyar Tengwar #34 p. 11). Combining kemen "earth" and *mótar "worker" we get Kememmótar (with the same assimilation of nm to mm as we observe in elen + makil = Elemmakil *"Star-sword" in UT:45). Kememmótar would probably become Kemmótar by haplology. (See Rhona Beare's article about this phenomenon in TyTy #3. I'm sorry, Rhona, but I couldn't find the etymology of your name anywhere.)
HENRY: Germanic Haganrih means "ruler of an enclosure". Tur is Quenya for "ruler" (TUR); for "enclosure" we can choose between panda and korin (PAD, LT1:257). Thus we get Pandatur or Corintur (with C rather than K according to LotR spelling - but when translating George I retained K in kemen because we are all used to this spelling from the word Kementári).
IVAN - see JOHN.
JARED: Hebrew Yaredh or Yeredh seems to mean "descent" or something similar (stem YRD = "go down, descend"). There is no ready Quenya translation. Perhaps we can add a masculine ending to the preposition undu "down" (UNU). Undon or Unduion would have no obvious meaning, but then the Hebrew name is also somewhat obscure.
JEREMY: From Hebrew Yirmeyahu, "Yahu [Yahweh, Jehovah] loosens" (i.e., from the womb). Lehta means "loose, slacken" in Quenya (LEK). We change the final -a to the masculine ending -o and get Erulehto. (An attested Tolkien parallel is mentioned under KLAUS.)
JOHN, IVAN: The English and the Russian form of the Greek name Ioannes, from Hebrew Yochanan = "Yo (Yahweh, Jehovah) Is Gracious". I cannot think of any perfect Quenya rendering, but Eru [ná] antala means "God Is Giving". Treating the participle as an adjective, we construct the name Eruantalon. Perhaps it can be contracted to Eruntalon. (For elision of a after u, compare Ú + *Amanyar = Úmanyar "those not of Aman" - see Silmarillion Index.)
[Added: Since I wrote this, an adjective faila "generous" has been published (PM:352). Using this word (rather than antala "giving") to translate "gracious", we can construct the name Erufailo(n).]
JULIAN: One of several variants of the Latin name Julius. According to one book at least, it means "descendant of Julus" (a king). Knowing that in Latin j corresponds to y in Tolkien's transliterations, this name can be Quenyarized as Yul (dropping the Latin nominative ending). To this name we add -ion "-son" (YÔ). Yulion sounds almost like Julian, doesn't it?
KLAUS: In German, this is a shortened form of Greek Nicolaus, that is composed of elements meaning "victory" and "people" (i.e. "victorious people"?) In Quenya it would become Túrelië (TUR, LI), but there is one important problem: High-Elven names in -ië are feminine, not masculine. We have to change the ending, just as colla "cloak" was changed to collo in the name Sindacollo "Grey-cloak" (see MR:385 or VT#34:20). Túrelio may be a possible form.
LEONID: Latin Leo, Leonis "lion" + a patronymic suffix: "Lion-son". The Quenya word for "lion" is rá pl. rávi (RAW), so Raion or possibly Rávion should be the High-Elven equivalent.(However, Leonid Korablev has long since adopted the Tolkien-made name Lenwë, apparently simply because it has a slight semblance to his normal name.)
LISA: A shortened form of Greek Eleisabet, from Hebrew but with several suggested forms: Elisheva' "my God [is my] oath", Elishava' "My God Has Sworn", Elisheva' "My God [Is] Plenty". Using úve "abundance" for "plenty" (UB), the last of these can be translated as Erunya-úvë > Erunyauvë. As "Lisa" is a much reduced form, we can leave out "my": Eru-úvë > Erúvë. (In Quenya as in Hebrew, "is" can be left out and be understood. Cf. haiya, vahaiya sín atalante "far far away now (is) the downfallen" on the frontispiece of SD.) Erúvë Elen? Well, at least it alliterates nicely!
MICHAEL: In Hebrew, Mi kha-'el? is the rhetorical question "Who [is] like God?" - in Quenya Man [ná] ve Eru?. This may be contracted to Manveru.
NANCY: According to Webster's New World Dictionary, this name probably originated by a "faulty devision of mine + Ancy" - later interpreted as "my Nancy". Ancy is a diminutive form of Middle English Annis, a form of Agnes, ultimately from Greek Hagne, the feminine form of the adjective hagnos, "clean, chaste". In Quenya, the stem POY yields the adjective poika "clean, pure", from which we derive the feminine name Poicë. Somehow, I don't like this word as a feminine name. It's probably just Scandinavian linguistic prejudice: pojke is Swedish for "boy". But since Ancy is a diminutive form, we can add the diminutive ending -llë (seen in ñande "harp" ñandelle "little harp" < ÑGAN). Poicellë sounds better.
NATHALIE: From Latin (Dies) Natalis "natal (day)". This name was given to girls born on Christmas day, the presumed birthday of Jesus. Quenya Nosta means "birth, birthday" (LT1:272).
PAT, PATRICK: Latin Patricius means "patrician, nobleman". Callo is glossed as "noble man" (KAL). Feminine form *Callë = Patricia.
PAUL: From Latin paulus = "small". Relevant Quenya words are titta "little, tiny" (TIT) and pitya "small" (WOTJ:389) The corresponding masculine names would be Titton, Pityon. Feminine forms Tittë, Pityë = Paulette.
PHIL, PHILLIP: Greek for "horse-lover" (philos "loving" + hippos "horse"), in Quenya Roccondil (ROK, NIL).
RON, RONALD: From Reginald, an old Germanic name composed of the elements *ragina- "judgement, council" and *waldan "to rule", thus meaning "ruler of judgement" or simply "judge". Námo means "judgement" according to MR:150, while namna is glossed as"statute". Námotur, Namnatur should capture the essence of "Ronald".
RUTH: This Hebrew name is probably a contraction of Re'uth = "companion, friend" with a feminine ending. Sermë is Quenya for "(female) friend" (SER). Another possibility is Osellë "associate, sister" (not of bloodkinship, that is onóne - see THEL).
WALTER: Frankish Waldheri means something like "army-commander" (waldan "to rule", heri or hari "army, host"). Rimbe is the Quenya word for "host" - stem RIM. For "ruler, commander" we could use tur again, but cáno, cánu "ruler, governor, chieftain" is even better (UT:400). Thus Walter = Rimbecáno.
Some 14 other names have been mentioned in the first three issues of Tyalië Tyelelliéva, but for one of the reasons given in the introduction I can't translate them. What do names like Arden or Brandon mean? And how can names like Jim (< Jacob < Hebrew Ya'aqov = "Supplanter") be rendered into Quenya? Well, I have nothing more to say except this: The masculine names I derived from adjectives using the ending -on can all have alternative forms ending in -o. I derived Mirimon from mirima "free", but the stem MIS yields Mirimor *"Free Ones" (Teleri), sg. *Mirimo. Compare also Melko "Mighty One", an alternative form of Melkor mentioned in MR:350 - apparently derived from an unattested adjective *melka "mighty" (see VT#34:22).
[Addendum I: One of my readers informs me that Arden comes from a Latin word for "passionate"; I can think of no better translation than Úruvon "Fiery One" from the adjective úruva "fiery" (LR:396). Brandon supposedly means "fire-hill", Quenya Úrambo.]
[Addendum II: I have received a plea to add to this article a plausible Elvish version of the name that variously appears as Clair, Claire, Clara, Klara, Klára. Derived from a Latin word for "bright, pure, clear", this feminine name may be rendered as Calimë, from Quenya calima "bright" (Letters:385). Another possibility is Calinë from calina "light" (as adjective, LR:362).]
[Addendum III: Ales Bican has worked out a very substantial list of Quenya translations of common names; check it out here (your own name is probably included, if it is not too exotic!) I am flattered to notice that Ales mentions my own article as an inspiration.]