Thanks to Ales Bican, I see now that we can't know the phonetic nature of
the original sound of óre. My supposition that it'd be an approximant _r_
like in English was based on my wrong assumption that 'semi-vocalic' was a
synonym of 'approximant'. Here's a use of the word 'semi-vocalic' by Tolkien
where it clearly doesn't mean 'approximant': "_Mussi_ included (voiced)
continuants, or 'semivowels': _l, r, m, n, ([ng-sign; note by J.'M.'W.]), y,
w_, which could function vocalically though except for _y, w_ (as _i, u_)
this didn't occur in Quenya" (Quendi and Eldar, app. D, in: VT 39, p. 17).
> **Opposition? Could you be specific? For this would mean
> that Quenya had two _r_ phonemes (I do not count _hr_).
Right, that's exactly how I interprete the following passage: "[...] 21
[i.e. óre] was often used for a weak (untrilled) _r_, originally occuring in
Quenya and regarded in the system of that language as the weakest consonant
of the _tincotéma_ [...]" (App. E, (i) The Fëanorian Letters, second to last
paragraph). Okay, I see two possible ways of interpreting this, not just
one: Either (a) the two sounds are in opposition to each other or (b)
they're not in oppostion to each other, but they're phonetically so
different that they can't be written with the same sign.
An argument (not a proof) for (a) is the name _óre_. App. E says the
following about the letter names: "Each 'full name' was an actual word in
Quenya that contained the letter in question. Where possible it was the
first sound of the word; but where the sound or the combination expressed
did not occur initially it followed immediately after the initial vowel." So
the r-sound expressed by the letter _óre_ didn't occur initially, but
An argument (not a proof) for (b) is the use of _rómen_ and _óre_ in English:
_Rómen_ was used for the approximant _r_ as in _merry, bright, roots_, while
óre was used for the vocalic 'dropped' _r_ as in _under, there, beard_ (all
examples from DTS 18), even though these two sounds are most probably not in
opposition to each other.
If we assume that the two sounds represented by _rómen_ and _óre_ are not in
opposition to each other, then I think it's highly unlikely that _óre_
represents a tapped _r_ and _rómen_ a trilled _r_, since a tapped and a
trilled _r_ are hard to tell from each other unless they're in direct
As I've explained in a previous post, I don't think that the reasons why the
sounds of _óre_ and _rómen_ are different enough to use different letters have
been pointed out anywhere.
> What would be the opposition like? Like in Spanish? ; )
;) You got me!
> >Ales Bican says that <silme> can belong to the _tincotéma_ "supposing it
> >is a modification of <thúle>". I wouldn't suppose this since <silme> is
> >explicitly stated to be a "strictly independent letter" in App. E.
> **If it is written there, then I was of course wrong. Could you tell me exactly
> it is written, for I am unable to locate it. Thanks.
App. E, (i) The Fëanorian Letters, third paragraph.
j. 'mach' wust