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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."
- ― J.R.R. Tolkien's note in the Qenya Lexicon
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. 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).
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
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part One, "X. Gilfanon's Tale: The Travail of the Noldoli and the Coming of Mankind"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, "Tengwesta Qenderinwa and Pre-Fëanorian Alphabets Part 2", in Parma Eldalamberon XVIII (edited by Christopher Gilson, Arden R. Smith, and Patrick H. Wynne), p. 84