The Quenya phrase Anaxartaron Onyalie is the title pencilled on an amanuensis typescript of the tale of the creation of the Ents and the Eagles of the Lords of the West (XI:340). This tale (probably dating to c. 1963; see XI:341) was used by Christopher Tolkien to provide the second half of Ch. 2 of the published Silmarillion, “Of Aule and Yavanna” (S:44-46). A second amanuensis typescript of the tale bears a pencilled title in English: “Of the Ents and the Eagles”.
There has been some interesting discussion online over whether ‘Of the Ents and the Eagles’ translates Anaxartaron Onyalie, or whether the Quenya title means something else; see in particular Tolklang messages 33.73, 33.74, and 33.82, and Elfling messages 125, 131, 138, 144, 148, 150, 155, 3736-38, and 3742-46. The general concensus in these postings has been that the Quenya title probably means something else, a view largely predicated on the assumption that anaxar- in Anaxartaron is a borrowing of Valarin *anaškād ‘ring’ seen in V. māχananaškād ‘Doom-ring’, the latter adapted into Quenya as Máhanaxar (XI:401).
I would like to make a case here for the possibility that Anaxartaron Onyalie does in fact mean ‘Of the Ents and the Eagles’, and that Anaxartaron consists entirely of native Elvish elements. In the following discussion, forms cited are Quenya unless otherwise noted.
Interpretation of Onyalie as ‘Ents’ presents few difficulties (as has been noted in the online discussions); the form can be analyzed as *onya ‘Ent’ + lie ‘people’ (V:369 s.v. LI-), the latter element seen also in the compound Eldalie ‘the Elven-folk’ (S:326), making Onyalie the semantic equivalent of S. Onodrim ‘the Ents’ (L:178, 224). It has been proposed (see Salo, Elfling message #144) that given S. onod ‘Ent’ (L:224), apparently from *onot-, one would expect the Quenya equivalent to be *onto. However, the pair Q. *onya, S. onod could suggest instead that the Quenya form derives from a simple base *ONO- (perhaps whence also the augmentive suffix seen in Q. andon, pl. andondi ‘great gate’, vs. ando ‘gate’; V:348 s.v. AD-), while the Sindarin form derives instead from an extended form *ONO-T- of the same base. A similar disparity in primitive stems also occurs, for example, in the Eldarin words for ‘seven’ — on the basis of N. odog alone (< base OTOK) one would expect the Quenya equivalent to be **ohto (**otokō > **otko > **ohto), but the Quenya word for ‘seven’ is in fact otso (< base OTOS, with different consonantal extension; V:379 s.v. OT- (OTOS, OTOK) ‘seven’).
Anaxartaron appears to be the genitive pl. of a noun *anaxarta. If Anaxartaron Onyalie means ‘Of the Ents and the Eagles’, *anaxarta would have to mean ‘Eagle’. The usual Quenya word for ‘eagle’ is however soron, sorne < THOR- ‘come swooping down’ (V:392-93). According to the Etymologies, this same root is the source of the final element in the river-name Brilthor: adj. thôr ‘swooping, leaping down’ (the language of Brilthor, thôr, and thórod ‘torrent’ is not identified; they are probably Ilkorin). An interesting parallel to this connection between a river-name and a word for ‘eagle’ occurs in Adunaic, in which the neuter pl. subjective form Narīka ‘Eagles’ is attested (IX:251). This Adunaic word, the normal sg. of which would be *narak or *narāk, appears to be cognate with the Eldarin base NARAK- ‘tear, rend’, whence Q. naraka ‘harsh, rending, violent’ (< *narāka ‘rushing, rapid, violent’) and the Noldorin river-name Narog (V:374).
This semantic association of rivers and eagles as things that ‘rush, tear, swoop or leap down’ points to a possible etymology for *anaxarta as ‘eagle’. The Etymologies gives a root SKAR- ‘tear, rend’, whence *askarā ‘tearing, hastening’ > N. asgar, ascar ‘violent, rushing, impetuous’, Ilk. ascar, the latter also providing the name of the river Ascar (V:386). No Quenya development of *askarā is given, though if one existed it would have the form *askara, or *axara (*aksara) with metathesis of sk > ks (See “Note on sk > ks (x)” at the end of this article). an- is an intensive/superlative prefix applied to adjectives, as ancalima ‘exceedingly bright’ < kalima ‘shining brilliant’ (letter to Rhona Beare dated 1958, L:278-79). Added to our hypothetical Quenya adj. *axara ‘rushing, hastening’, this prefix would yield *anaxara ‘exceedingly swift’, which I propose is the primary element in *anaxarta ‘eagle’. The final element in *anaxarta might be arta ‘exalted, lofty’ (XII:354), used substantively as *‘lofty one, exalted one’, with *anaxarta being a haplological shortening of *anaxara-arta, lit. ‘exceedingly swift and lofty one’. We might assume, since soron-, sorno continued to exist as a word for ‘eagle’ (letter to Richard Jeffery dated 1972, L:427), that *anaxarta was perhaps a learned term referring only to one of the spirit-inhabited Eagles of Manwe, whereas sorno ‘eagle’ was a general term encompassing both the *Anaxartar (hence its use in the name Sorontar ‘King of Eagles’, XI:272) and the more ordinary varieties of non-spirit-possessed, non-talking, non-wizard-carrying eagles we are familiar with today. In other words, all *Anaxartar were sorni, but not all sorni were *Anaxartar.
This still leaves the syntax of Anaxartaron Onyalie to be explained. Two factors appear to come into play in this phrase:
1) — In the Quenya titles of literary works, a genitive plural is often used alone, with a preceding noun such as quenta ‘account, history’ or nyarna ‘legend’ (XI:420) implied but unexpressed; thus Silmarillion ‘(the History) of the Silmarils’, Narsilion ‘(the Song) of the Sun and Moon’ (S:99), and Atanatárion ‘(the Legendarium) of the Fathers of Men’ (X:373), in which the nouns history, song, and legendarium are not explicitly present.
2) — According to the Quenya rule of apposition, “in the case of two declinable names in apposition, only the last is declined”; hence *Elendil Voronda ‘Elendil the Faithful’, gen. Elendil Vorondo (UT:305, 317 n.43). Another example of this occurs in Namna Finwe Míriello ‘the Statute of Finwe and Míriel’ (X:258). In Finwe Míriello ‘of Finwe and Míriel’ only the last name is declined, although both genitivally modify Namna ‘Statute’. Also notable here is that the conjunction ar ‘and’ is implied but not expressed.
It appears, then, that Anaxartaron Onyalie ‘of the Ents and the Eagles’, like Finwe Míriello ‘of Finwe and Míriel’, may be a phrase consisting of two appositional nouns, with only one of the nouns explicitly declined for the genitive and with ar ‘and’ implied but not expressed. The reason why the first noun in Anaxartaron Onyalie is declined rather than the last (as one would expect according to the rule of apposition) is probably due to the fact that the noun that these genitives modify is implied rather than explicitly present (quenta ‘account’, nyarna ‘legend’, etc.). In the titles of literary works it is usual for a genitive to follow the noun modified, for example, Quenta Silmarillion, Yénie Valinóreo ‘The Annals of Valinor’ (X:200), Indis i·Kiryamo ‘The Mariner’s Wife’ (UT:8), Heru i·Million ‘The Lord of the Rings’ (PE10:46 n.40) — so if the last form in ‘Of the Ents and the Eagles’ were declined, say **Anaxartar Onyaliéva, this would appear to mean **‘The Eagles of the Ents’. Similarly, if the existing forms were reversed, **Onyalie Anaxartaron would seemingly mean **‘The Ents of the Eagles’. Declining the first noun for the genitive in this title rather than the second makes it clear that a preceding but unexpressed noun quenta or nyarna is to be understood: *(Quenta) Anaxartaron Onyalie ‘(Account) of the Ents and the Eagles’. This may be a refinement or elaboration of the rule of apposition, rather than a contradiction of it.