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Roots are in capitals, and are not words in use at all, but serve as an elucidation of the words grouped together and a connection between them.

Sundocarmë or "Base-structure" is the title of a section in Tolkien's Tengwesta Qenderinwa (Quendian Grammar) dealing with the three main shapes of Elvish etymological roots and their modifications.[2] All Elvish and Mannish words (and in a sense, also Khuzdul) derive from a base root or sundo.

Roots are not actual words, but bases that contain the general meanings, and from which, during the process of evolution and times, real words were derived through affixes, suffixes, or modifications.

In the very first phase of the Primitive Quendian, roots were probably used as actual words; in that period the Elves could speak only through uninflected words, without any differentiation between parts of the speech (Tradition says that the very first word ever said by an Elf was el-e!, a primitive exclamation "look!", referring to a star).

The consonantal frame of the root was called canta and the central radical vowel called sundóma.


Roots usually have the construction combinations:

  • VC or CV (examples: KWE "speak"; this category is called monoconsonantic)
  • (C)VCV (examples: DELE- "walk", ABA- "deny"; this category was preferred for meanings related to actions/verbs)
  • CVC(V) (examples: TATA- "two", TUR- "power, control")


These are some of the roots, with their derivatives in various languages

GALÁD: Proto-Quendian galadâ, Telerin galla, Sindarin galadh, Quenya alda
Quenya nárë, Sindarin naur
A-NÁR: Quenya anar, Sindarin anor
KWETE: Quenya quetta, quenta, quet, Sindarin peth
KWENE: Proto-Quendian kwendê, Quenya quendë, Sindarin pen, Avarin penni etc.
A-LAK: Proto-Quendian alakwâ, Quenya alqua, Sindarin alph.
Quenya rocco, Sindarin roch

Some Mannish roots (which sometimes derived from Elvish words) have been:

Adûnaic abâr, abrazân, Westron brand(a), bara
Adûnaic bêth, saibêth, Westron batta
Adûnaic zîr, izrê, zâir, nimruzîr

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