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-ma is a Quenya nominal (concretizing) ending denoting a thing (usually object) having something to do with the root meaning; either having its properties or being produced by the verbal action in question; or even being a tool used to accomplish it.

In general, -ma seems to be stuck to naked roots or stems to produce the nouns. Eg. RIL > rilma "glittering light"; verb stems par- "to learn" > parma "book". However, full nouns can also be suffixed with -ma to produce another object: Eg. líco "wax" > lícuma "candle".

[edit] Etymology

-ma derives from Primitive Quendian -mâ frequent in the names of implements.[1] Such PQ nouns have yielded Quenya -ma nouns, for example tuimâ > tuima or sjalmâ > hyalma.

In some phonological environments, -ma appears in allomorphs in later Quenya: Nouns in -wa or -ba might conceal a primitive -mâ. For example PQ labmâ > Q lamba (metathesis of bm to mb) or PQ takmâ > Q tangwa (nasalization and strengthening of k before m and velarization of m).[2]

It is obviously related to similar endings like -mo (which indicates a person or doer) or -me (which form a more abstract noun) which behave and operate similarly. For example alma "wealth" vs alme "blessing", carma "tool" vs carme "art".

[edit] Examples

A list of most known Quenya nouns that include the suffix -ma, along with the words' root, and Primitive Quendian origins where they are known.

[edit] Other possible examples

Many Quenya nouns might end in -ma however that does not indicate the existence of a suffixed -ma proper ending. For example, the word ráma derives from a root RAM[3]. Therefore it is not analyzed as **rá-ma but as rám-a.

There are other nouns of such ambiguous etymology, as for example lamma "sound" from root LAM. It could be analyzed as LAM + -ma but also the double mm might simply be the result of antoryame (q.v.) of the radical consonant LAM.

Nouns of ambiguous or unknown etymology that might contain -ma are:

cauma "protection", emma "picture", erma "physical mater, farma, lamma "sound", namma "claw, talon", orma "physical matter", querma "spinning wheel", síma "mind, imagination", solma (also sól) "helmet", súma "hollow cavity"

[edit] Cognates

Because of lenition and apocope of final vowels, all endings -ma, -me and -mo have been reduced to a final -v in Sindarin which doesn't seem to work as a productive suffix. In some cases it even has disappeared according to the phonological environment. For example Q. tengwa > S. têw

[edit] Inspiration

-ma is a frequent ending of Greek neutral nouns, such as thelema, schema, stigma, enigma etc.[4]


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels p.416
  2. Helge Fauskanger, Vicente Velasco (ed.) The Evolution from Primitive Elvish to Quenya
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Three: "The Etymologies", entry RAM
  4. Lise Mann "Elvish Loanwords in Indo-European" An Introduction to Elvish