Tolkien coined the name Wanōna (also Welinōre, Wanōra, Oanōra) in his Story of Kullervo. It's totally possible they belong to Tolkien's constructed languages. But I think the etymology is still interesting.

*** Thanks to Yellow Sky's comment. Now that it's not a name in the original, the following older content isn't relevant any more. But I'll keep the finnish label just in case.

I came across this name in some articles on Tolkien's works. Kullervo is a mythical figure from the Finnish saga Kalevala. The articles claim that Kullervo sister's name Wanona means "weeping" without adding a reference. All that I can find via searching "Wanona + Kullervo" are articles that are really about Tolkien's Legendarium, which raises some doubt in me.

It's known that Tolkien took much of Kullervo's story into his Children of Húrin Saga. SPOILERS?. The main hero, Túrin, married his lost sister Nienor unknowingly, and both committed suicide when they found out the truth. Same tragedy happened to Kullervo and his sister. Nienor's name is in one of Tolkien's artificial languages, meaning "Mourning". It'd be another interesting parallel if Kullervo's sister is indeed called "Weeping".

But I can't seem to find the name Wanona in the Kalevala texts that are available to me. I know little about Finnish, so it'd be a hopeless task for me to look it up in Finnish sources. It looks like Finnish words for "weep", "mourn" are nothing like Wanona.

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    Tolkien wrote his own variant of the story of Kullervo, in which he gave Kullervo's sister that name Wanona. The original Kalevala doesn't mention her name at all, and Finnish has no sound [w], it doesn't use the letter W in Finnish words.
    – Yellow Sky
    May 20, 2021 at 6:37
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    It looks dangerously close to English wane (from Protogermanic *wanōną (!)) and Latin vanus, but those words aren't Finnish at all. May 20, 2021 at 9:40
  • @YellowSky Finnish used to be less consistent with using <v> and <w> was sometimes used instead. More relevant here though is that the 1888 Crawford translation of the Kalevala, the first into English, uses <w>. The Kirby translation in 1907 would still have been recent when Tolkien wrote his version in 1911, and given his own archaising tendencies, he may have deliberately chosen an orthography more closely matching the earlier translation
    – Tristan
    May 20, 2021 at 9:40
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    @YellowSky Thanks! I can't believe I missed that. I just checked out the Story of Kullervo book, but the etymology is still a mystery. Tolkien had several revisions with her name. Now it's even more unsure whether it's meant to be Finnish.
    – Eugene
    May 21, 2021 at 1:58
  • @杨Eugene - Yeah, it doesn't seem to be Finnic. The closest sounding Finnish word I've found is vannoa ‘to swear/take an oath’.
    – Yellow Sky
    May 21, 2021 at 2:11


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