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Lenition is a phonological and grammatical aspect of Sindarin which reflects the phonological mutations of the language in its evolution from Old Sindarin.

Historical background[edit | edit source]

In the phonological development of Sindarin, lenition refers (primarily) to the mutation of medial consonants, occurring usually between two vowels (VCV). It affected the Old Sindarin sounds p, t, k, b, d, g, m and s.

More specifically, the evolution of these sounds can be visualized in these examples:

p > b
OS *kelepe > S celeb "silver"
t > d
OS *atar > S adar "father"
k > g
OS beleka > S beleg "great"
b > v
OS *jabasse > S Iavas "autumn"[note 1]
d > dh
OS *edelo > S Edhel "Elf"
g > ∅
OS *khugo > *huȝo[note 2] > S "dog"[note 1]
m > v
OS *Amān > S Avon "Aman"
s > ∅
OS *as(a) > *ah(a) > S ah "and"

In compounds[edit | edit source]

As a consequence, this process took place also in Old Sindarin compounds, when the initial letter of a word was no longer initial in a compound. Even in later compounds that would be pure Sindarin, the lenition was solidified as a rule, envisioning retroactively the lenition process from a theoretical Old Sindarin compound.

For example the word athrabeth "debate, converse (lit. 'across-word')" can be analyzed both as a derivative of OS word *athrapettha but also as a compound of Sindarin words athra- "across" + peth "word".

The fact that the above sounds mutated when medially was solidified as a rule

Grammatical and Syntactical significance[edit | edit source]

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Inspiration[edit | edit source]

Sindarin, being inspired from the Welsh language, also borrowed heavily from its mutation system[1]. The grammatical lenition is generally prominent in the Celtic languages.

External links[edit | edit source]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Similar softening occurred in Quenya also.
  2. The intermediate stage of g to extinction was yogh


  1. Jim Allan (ed.) An Introduction to Elvish "Sindarin grammar"