The Many Ways of Intensifying Words in Sindarin

1.) The Prefixed Basic Vowel

These intensifiers are listed in the “Addenda and Corrigenda to the Etymologies” in VT45 and 46. The most important thing you need to know for these intensifiers is that the words “prefixed basic vowel” applies to the “Noldorin/Sindarin base”, not the CE root. To get an idea what the correct basic stem is, you need to have the book “The Lost Road and Other Writings”. What you do is basically look at all the words under the root listing that are listed as Noldorin. They will look different than the Quenya words and you will see a “part of each word” that is basically seen in all or most of the Noldorin words. (Under STAG-, for instance, … you have thang, Thangorodrim, havathang, hadafang …. so your “Noldorin/Sindarin base stem would be “thang”). The book is relatively inexpensive … about $7.00 US.

A- is the first intensive prefix listed. “A-” is used when the Noldorin/Sindarin base vowel is “A“. While the Etymologies do not state whether to use lengthening or a fortified consonant with “A-“, we can see that lengthening does occur:
Noldorin/Sindarin base: barth (from MBARAT) > ammarth > amarth [LOTR appendix i]; fate > doom
Noldorin/Sindarin base: bar (from MBAR) > amar [LR414]; dwelling place> everyone’s dwelling place … earth

E- is the next intensive prefix listed. “E-” (followed by a fortified consonant) is used when the base vowel is “E“.
The example to follow will prove true my statement that the “base vowel” relevant to Sindarin intensives means the vowel of the “Noldorin/Sindarin base stem“, not the original “root”.
First let me note that Tolkien deleted intensive example N “enner” from NDER [VT45] ……. why? Because the Noldorin/Sindarin base stem for NDER is actually “daer” and would not require an “e” intensive prefix. The proof is in the name “Lammasethen” [LR211] …. Lammas + ethent (attested meaning “The Shorter Account of Tongues”). The Noldorin/Sindarin base stem is “thent” (from STINTA) and gets the “e” intensive prefix, not an “i” (“nt” at the end of compound shortened to “n”). Since we have no attested meaning of “estent”, we can’t be sure what it means, and if it contains an intensifier or not. It may be a later version of “ethent” with the once “initial” … now “medial th” reverting back to “st” (see also “gwastar” from gwa + thâr [from STAR]).

I- is another intensive prefix listed. “I-” is used as an intensive prefix (with or without fortified following consonant) when “I” is the base vowel. An example of this construction is “Ithil” [VT45] which would mean “very bright sheen” or “great sheen” from I + THil. “Fortified” also means “strengthened”. See below **.

O It seems like there should be the prefixes O- and U- to cover word stems that have base vowels of O and U, but they are not listed as separate entries in the Etymologies or in the Addendas to them. However, in the Addendas, it is written (under entry ÑOL) that “Noldorin “angol” and its intensive antecedent (predecessor) “aññol” appear to have had their initial vowel subsequently (afterwards) altered, possibly to “ongol” and “oññol” [VT45] respectively.” This should be the “go-ahead” to use O- as an intensive for base stems having the vowel O with original initial consonant undergoing fortification. The original consonant of the stem is “Ñ” (from ÑOL), therefore O + NGol > ongol.

U- We have one word that definitely uses the vowel U as an intensive prefix. This is the word “urun/Urundil” [PM366] (copper/lover of copper) from RUN (red, glowing) [PM366].

2.) Prefix A- with or without -N- and fully formed words

The prefixed A- (not “an-” which is a Quenya intensifier) is different from the “prefixed stem vowel A” and could be applied to fully formed words with any base vowel. It was usually combined with dynamic lengthening of the original initial consonant. Most consonants just double, but you can see below that “P” changes to “F”. Dynamic lengthening is discussed below.
parch > a + pparch > apparch > afarch (dry > very dry)
naur > a + nnaur > Anor (flame/fire > great flame/fire)
goss > a + ggoss > a + ñgoss > angos (dread/horror) … note dynamic lengthening of gg > ñg
When a word begins with a vowel, insert an -N- after A- to avoid any illegal vowel clusters.

3.) Blends

Blends are the running together of two elements (consonants or vowels) that could be analyzed phonetically as separate gestures or movements into a combination that had, and was intended, to have a unitary effect and significance. Certain vowel blends and consonant blends are used to denote intensification.

Tolkien used “blends of vowels” in the form of diphthongs AI and AU for intensive meaning …. usually in the form of AU. This can be seen in “taur” (from TUR, meaning ” ‘great’ forest”), “raug” (from RUK, meaning “very terrible creature/demon), and “caul” (from KOL, meaning ” ‘great’ burden/affliction). This is not the diphthong due to J or W being lost, these are diphthongs that have no other way of forming except for intentional use as an intensive.
The “blending of vowels” is a tricky process from the original root and the examples of ai, au of this origin are not very numerous. Thus you will probably not want to use it to form your own intensive forms. I am just mentioning it so you know of its existence.

Tolkien also lists some “consonant blends” used to show intensification in the form of the “augmentative prefix g-“. They are: r > gr and l > gl.
Some examples of prefix g- (often seen prefixed to L and R) are:
“gloss” (snow-white/dazzling-white) from loss (snow) [RGE69]
“glam” (barbarous language/din-horde) from “lam” (language) [WJ416]
“graug” (extremely terrible creature) …. used in Balrog from “raug” (demon/ very terrible creature) [WJ415]
The augmentative prefix g- makes the seemingly elusive name of the river “Glithui” easy to understand as “very ashy” or perhaps “very ash-coloured”.

4.) The augmentative suffix

In addition to all these intensive forms, Tokien tells us of an “augmentative suffix” …. to augment means “to make greater, more numerous, larger, or more intense”.

Suffix -on (used on nouns) …. as in:
“aearon” (great sea) from “aear” (sea)
“ardhon” (world) from “ardh” (region)

5.) Reduplication

The last method of intensification is the “reduplication of the beginning of a root-syllable” as a intensive marker:
gorgor (extreme horror)
Gorgoroth (land of extreme horror)

I have made up a tentative chart for dynamic lengthening/fortification below (dynamic simply means “changing”). With more research, some letters may change.
b > bb > b or mb
b (from mb) > mmb > mm > m
c > cc > g
d > dd > d or nd
d (from ND) > nnd > n
f > ff > f
g > gg > g or ng
g (from ng) > nng > nn > n
h > would prob. depend on original root consonant
l > ll or ld
m > mm > m or mb
n > nn > n or nd
p > pp > f
r > rr or r
s > ss or s
t > tt > t or th
th > th or st (when from original root beginning with ST)
w > ww > w

….. by Naneth
The Many Ways of Intensifying Words in Sindarin