An experiment in translation
- While I have ruled efforts at translation _into_ Tolkien’s languages out as suitable topics for this list, the recent news:
that a recording of J.R.R. Tolkien’s remarks in Rotterdam in 1958* is being prepared for publication, and particularly the detail that Tolkien recites some Elvish verse in it, presents an opportunity for what I think would make an interesting experiment, one that will give a truly scholarly value to such efforts. Namely, this news, and the pre-publication of the English text/translation of Tolkien’s verse, presents us with an opportunity to make something like a controlled experiment in Quenya translation, allowing us to judge just how close it is possible for others to approach how Tolkien himself would render a given text in Quenya, before his Quenya text is actually published.
I would therefore like to invite any and all interested parties to submit to this list (using this thread, please) their Quenya translation of the following English text from Tolkien’s speech:
"Twenty years have flowed away down the long river
And never in my life will return for me from the sea.
Ah, years in which, looking far away, I saw ages long past
When still trees bloomed free in a wide country.
Alas, for now all begins to wither in the breath
of cold-hearted wizards.”
Two stipulations: I already know Tolkien’s own Quenya rendering of this (or at any rate, a best guess at it as gleaned from listening to the unrestored, 56-year-old reel-to-reel recording), so 1) I will of course not be participating in the experiment myself; and 2) nor will any of those whom I know or am able to discern also already know the Quenya rendering.
And please, give your translation careful thought, and feel free to discuss and hash them out with each other, either on list or off. In this way, when the Quenya verse is published later this year, we’ll have the rare opportunity to see just how close the best efforts of others at Quenya translation can come to Tolkien’s own.
* On March 28 of that year. A brief excerpt from the remarks is found in Carpenter’s _Biography_, pp. 225-26; and a rather detailed account by René van Rossenberg, who discovered the recording in 1993, was published in _The Proceedings of the J.R.R. Tolkien Centenary Conference_, pp. 301-9 (Mythlore 80/Mallorn 30; 1995). Neither account includes any excerpt from Tolkien’s Quenya. See also the “Chronology” volume of Scull and Hammond’s _J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide_, pp. 522-23.
- I had better rule out myself then, as I was press-ganged into reading out the Quenya
text eleven years ago. I wasnt allowed to retain a copy, and I wouldnt be able to
reproduce any of it from memory, but if I were to try and translate it back in
earnest, with my very limited proficiency in Quenya, inevitably bits of subconcious
memory would come up. So Im also going to stay out of discussion on possible
Harm J. Schelhaas.
On Sa, 24 mei, 2014 10:19 am email@example.com wrote:
> 1. An experiment in translation
> Posted by: Aelfwine@... endorendil
> Date: Fri May 23, 2014 6:07 pm ((PDT))
> ....., the recent news:
> that a recording of J.R.R. Tolkiens remarks in Rotterdam in 1958 is being
> prepared for publication, and particularly the detail that Tolkien recites some
> Elvish verse in it, .....
> ....., and the pre-publication of the English text/translation of
> Tolkiens verse, .....
> I would therefore like to invite any and all interested parties to submit to this
> list (using this thread, please) their Quenya translation of the following English
> text from Tolkiens speech:
> Two stipulations: I already know Tolkiens own Quenya rendering of this (or at
> any rate, a best guess at it as gleaned from listening to the unrestored,
> 56-year-old reel-to-reel recording), so 1) I will of course not be participating in
> the experiment myself; and 2) nor will any of those whom I know or am able to
> discern also already know the Quenya rendering.
> Carl Hostetter
- I present here my own submission. I have tried to imitate the "Galadriel's Lament" style and I wanted to use as many words from the LotR-times as possible (my main source of the vocabulary was "Parma Eldalamberon" #17).
Ai! yúquëan loar anduinenen undu-siriër
ar ullúmë cuilenyassë entuluva nin ëarello.
Ai! loar yassen palantirala cennen yéni-andë vanwë
írë ambë i aldar lehta-lostaner yanda-noriessë.
Ai! sí ilya queluva súlinen
The only truly coined word is here ullúmë 'never'.
I would love to see Tolkien's Quenya text. I hope it will happen soon. I am open to your comments and questions.
- Please note that the misspelling of Ryszard Derdzinski's name in the post to which this is a reply (#1149) was due to me: I edited the post to add Ryszard's real name, in accordance with Lambengolmor list policy, but in the process made a typo. My apologies to Ryszard and the list.--Carl Hostetter
- Here's my version, as I've finally thought on it enough where it's reached a level I'm willing to show to others. As it is a text from Tolkien, I expect there could be words derived from previously-unattested roots, morphology we wouldn't have expected (such as using a-infixion for present-continuative taula in PE17:99), etc. Nonetheless I'll try my hand, and while I'm at it use some forms I wouldn't normally have chosen, in an attempt to see if any of them pay off.
The parentheses represent letters which may or may not be included.
Loar(on) yucainen célier i anda sír
Ar alen mi coivienya nanwenuvar nin var-ëar.
Ai, loar yasse(n), palantirya, cennen yéni andané
Yá en' aldar lostaner rávië yánanóriessë.
Ai, an sí illi yesta quelë súlenen
yucainen, as I don't think Tolkien had thought of changing "ten" to kwaya(m) yet in 1958; its occurrences in VT42 and VT48 are from texts dating to 1968 and after.
*célier is a possible perfect-tense form for a verb from √kel(u), echoing the one from PE14:58. Though Tolkien had certainly thought of using an augment when conjugating the perfect before 1958, in some (earlier?) texts it wasn't always adopted. Thus vánier in the 1st edition of LotR, as well as (a)mátie, mátie (PE17:13), vánie and (a)vánie (63, 74, 77). Now, why kelu- ? Though UT glosses it as "flow out swiftly," PE17:156 has "flow (down)," PE18:58,103 have "flow, flow away, run (of rivers)," VT45:19 has "flow away downhill." I therefore thought it more appropriate than using √sir and trying to add elements for "down" and "away."
However, given that it is sometimes especially written as √kel-u and not just √kel, a perfect form *célier may not be appropriate after all. Note PE18:86 as well as other forms like pal-u, smal-u, tel-u. √kel-u seems to have derived words both using -u- (as kel-u-me) and without (such as etkelē > ehtele). If -u- shows up in conjugation, the past tense might be *celune (following nicune in PE17:168, instead of celūne in PE14), and the perfect either (e)kelwie (kelwie is actually listed as a possible pa.t. in 14:58) or (e)kelunie based on the pattern of ortanie and ehentanie.
*alen is a reconstruction "not again, not once more." I had planned to use *allume (based on the assumption that in 1958 Tolkien was still using √al/la for negation and not ū), formed off words like illume (VT44:5) and Patrick/Arden/Carl's interpretation of ullume possibly being "not-ever, not-always" (9). However, the appearance of úlume (PE17:156) with the opposite meaning of "never" led me to think that *allume wouldn't be such a good idea after all. Therefore I reconstructed this, though knowing that Tolkien may very well have created a word that we don't know about yet. *alen is therefore a placeholder in the meantime.
coivie: I was undecided whether to use cuile, coivie, or cuivie. Given that cuile from Etym. seems to be the most popular selection for neo-Quenya, I figured I'd pick one of the others.
var-ëar: normally I would have used eärello, but chose var- from Átaremma Ib (VT43:10) because of the existence of preposition forms like sē "at" for -ssë (VT43:30) which aren't used often in neo-Quenya. My hopes are that by straying from common practices I will increase the chance of hitting on something unexpected Tolkien had chosen.
en': I wasn't sure whether "when still trees bloomed" is an inversion of "when trees still bloomed," or if "still" is actually an adjective modifying "trees." I translated it as if it were the former, but if it is the latter, I would expect that if Tolkien didn't form an adjective from a root we don't know about yet, "still" would either be from √lur "be quiet, still, calm" (VT45:29) or related to even earlier √RU'U (PE12:80) or QḶŘḶ (PE12:78), if not √sib (VT44:35). Certainly I would expect it to be an adjective from a root related to calm/tranquility, instead of trying to form a compound such as "motionless." Tolkien sometimes took roots from earlier Eldarin and transplanted them into later conceptions with some changes, such as how qilda, qilde, qildi- seem similar to qilir in PE21:34, though its etymology of ku̯ilẹz is a bit changed from its incarnation in the QL. If Tolkien translated the adjective "still" in 1958 as something from a root somewhat inspired by those earlier ones, it might be similar but not identical.
rávie: though something from √lek or √ler was tempting, I think an adverb from rāva "free, unfettered, uncontrolled, lawless" (PE17:78) is more appropriate. Tolkien may not have formed it with -ie, though.
yánanóriessë: yanda or palla might also have been chosen for "wide," and though using nórie as in sindanórie was too tempting to pass over, Tolkien marks the latter as archaic/poetic in PE17:72, with the more-usual form being sindie-nóre or nóre-sindiëo. Thus he very well may have used nóre instead of nórie ... if not *yandessë from yandē "a wide region, or country" (PE17:42)!
illi: ilyar might have been used instead
yesta: I realize that this is a noun in yestarë, but it could possibly have had a verb homonym.
- A belated addition: upon searching for unrelated material on Elfling, I came across Bill Welden's post on Translating into Elvish (32167). After reading it I came to the conclusion that—while unintentional—my thoughts and comments in my previous message on what an original Tolkien text (compared to standard neo-Quenya) would look like were essentially copied from Welden's comments 9 years ago. I have no doubt that I read his post years ago, and it must have struck a note, as I later passed off parts of it as my own thoughts years after the memory of his post had frazzled out in my recollection. I therefore want to give credit where it is due.
Interesting enough, in that post he raises the idea of a thought-experiment much like the one we have now!
- Matt Dinse
A version produced after some discussion within the Mellonath Daeron. As can be seen we have avoided reconstructions: only genuine vocabulary from published sources known to us has been used. Naturally this has necessitated paraphrase in a few places.
Loar yucainen avánier celuménen i anda síresse
ar úlume vehtenyasse lá entuluvar nin earello.
A loar yassen, palantírala, cennen yéni vanwe andave yáíre ena aldar lostaner lérine palla nóresse.
Ai! an ilya sí yestasse queliéva súlenen
i anda síresse: instead possibly anduinesse, if a reference to Anduin (the Great River) is intended.
avánier: or vánier without the augment
vanwe andave yá: an alternative could be andave vanwe
palla nóresse: a more poetic form would perhaps be pallanóriesse, modelled on Galadriel's sindanóriello.
Suilad o Mellonath Daeron
- Dear all,
Here I give and comment yet another proposal for the experiment. I have
touched a few details after looking at the contributions of Ryszard,
"Tyrhael Idhraen", and Björn: basically I have corrected a few of verb
conjugations and declensions (I consider that the forms they used may be
better than my original ones), and included the adverb _en_ ("still"),
which I did not remember from PE17.
I'm also adding some notes about common points and remarkable
differences of all these four versions. This may help us see what
elements of the published Quenya grammar and lexicon are more pervasive
in the "collective knowledge" that we have of the language. And upon the
publication of Tolkien's original text, it will be interesting to check
to what extent the new features that we will encounter affect such "well
As a reminder, the English text to "translate" into Quenya is:
"Twenty years have flowed away down the long river
And never in my life will return for me from the sea.
Ah, years in which, looking far away, I saw ages long past
When still trees bloomed free in a wide country.
Alas, for now all begins to wither in the breath
of cold-hearted wizards."
And this is my proposal:
"Loar yucainen célier anda sírinen
Ar nin ter coivienya earello uant' entuluva.
Ai! loali yassen palantíranen cénen yéni avanwe
Ya lostaner en aldar latine nóressen yande.
Ai! an sí ilya yesta quele súlinen
I have not preserved the order of the words in the English text.
Tolkien's published examples demonstrate that the syntax of Quenya may
be very unlike the one observed in the English translations, and that in
poetry such syntax is sometimes difficult to predict. The syntax that I
have used may be, of course, as different from Tolkien's unknown text as
his English rendering, or even more. I have not chosen it as an attempt
to approximate such unknown text, but for stylistic purposes. Most
notably, I have taken advantage of the opportunity to make some rhymes
(with scheme ABCCAB). I think this way of doing resembles Tolkien's
style, whatever the resemblance between this version and Tolkien's might
be in the end.
It is also noticeable that the poem recalls Galadriel's "Namárië".
Therefore, I have tried to imitate the style of that known poem, since
Tolkien might have also reused some elements of it.
Regarding lexicon and grammar: It is a happy chance for this exercise
that Tolkien's text is dated in 1958, since that falls in the period
when Tolkien was composing the lists of words, translations and notes
published in "Words, Phrases and Passages in The Lord of the Rings"
(published in PE17, henceforth WPP). Therefore, I have tried to use as
much information from that text as possible. When using words from other
(previous or later) periods, I have deliberatly modified them to match
the grammar and spelling conventions generally observed in WPP or The
Lord of the Rings (LR), if there were obvious differences. Most
remarkably, I have spelt /k/ always with "c", as Tolkien often did after
the publication of The Lord of the Rings. On the other hand, I have not
added the diaeresis to words ending in _-e_, since Tolkien did not use
that convention in WPP, and my bet is that he did not do it either in
_loar_: 'years'. There are different possible choices for "years". The
most obvious one is _yéni_, like in "Namárië". But that poses two
challenges: first, although I don't know the exact context of the poem
we are working with, one could say that it is a personal lament for the
industrialization of Tolkien's country, rather than a poem set in
Tolkien's fiction. (I can imagine who were the metaphorical
"cold-hearted wizards" in the Primary World, but not in Middle-earth --
where there was only one wizard of that type; see my commentary to the
last line.) Now, the Elvish _yéni_ were actually "long years" (144 solar
years), so twenty _yéni_ would account for thousands of our years, and I
don't think that Tolkien meant that. Moreover, that word comes in handy
for the "ages" of line 3 (q.v.). So, I decided to use _loa_ ('season[al]
year', WPP:120), and reserve _yéni_ for 'ages'. This choice is shared by
all four proposals, although it has been rather done by convenience, and
there are many chances to fail. Another possibility would have been
_coranar_ (íbid.), although I see it less poetic. And Tolkien could have
also though on a different thing, or even used _yéni_ by imitation of
"Namárië", and translated "ages" with yet another word.
_yucainen_: 'twenty'. The only place where I recall having read a
Q(u)enya word for "twenty" is the Early Quenya Grammar (EQG, in PE14). I
have taken _yukainen_ from there (PE14:49), since the Qenya numbers of
EQG do not seem that much different from the ones found in WPP (p. 95).
At least the words for 10 and 12, that contain the components _yu-_ and
_-kainen_ of _yukainen_, are exactly the same in both texts
(10=_kainen_, 12=_yunque_). WPP also has 10=_këa_, wherefrom I suspect
that Ryszard coined _yúquëan_. Both "Tyrhael" and Björn used _yucainen_
as I have done.
_célier_: 'flowed away down'. I coincide with "Tyrhael"'s choice (see
notes in his message). I have used the root KEL- ('flow (down)',
WPP:156) as a Quenya stem verb, with lengthened vowel and the perfect
tense suffix _-ie_. I hesitated about using the "augmented" form of the
perfect tense *_ecénier_. But in 1958 this feature was not still
generalized, and I have chosen to rule it out for similarity with
_vánier_ in "Namárië" (only changed to _avánier_ in the Second Edition
of the book, 1966).
_anda sírinen_ 'in the long river'. All four translations use the
adjective _anda_='long'. I have chosen the instrumental case for _sír_
'river', to resemble _súrinen_ at the end of the first line of
"Namárië". I suppose that this "long river" a metaphor of life; there
could be a Quenya idiom different to the common word of "river" for it.
_ar_: 'and'; _nin_: 'for me'. As in "Namárië". All four translations
coincide in these words. I have freely changed the position of _nin_ to
the beginning of the line for prosodic purposes.
_ter coivienya_ '[never] in my life'. This expression is very likely to
receive some specific idiom in Quenya. All four translations differ in
this, and I would expect Tolkien's text to be very different from all of
them. I have borrowed _ter koivierya_ (*'throughout his/her life') from
the rather late "volitive inscription" _Nai amanya onnalya ter
koivierya_ *'May your child be blessed throughout his/her life' (dated
1968-1969, VT49:41). The stem _koi-_ related to 'life' or 'awakening'
(as 'coming to life') dates back to the Qenya Lexicon, that already had
_koivie_ 'awakening' (PE12:48). Carl noted in VT49:43 that the proper
meaning of _ter koivierya_ could have been *'through his/her awakening
to life', i.e. 'throuh his birth', but it could also be suitable for a
more general context.
The negation expressed in English by the adverb "never" is transferred
to the verb later in this line, partly because it is coherent with
Tolkien's comments about negation (see below), but also because I did
not find a satisfactory translation of such adverb. Ryszard and Björn
coincided in using a compound of _ú-_ + _lúme_ 'time' (V:370), i.e. *'in
no time', that reminds of _ullume_ in Fíriel's song (IV:72), but that
word is problematic. The complete sentence of Fíriel's song is _úye sére
indo-ninya símen ullume_, 'my heart resteth not here for ever', where
the negative sense is already present in the verb _úye_ *'does not'. So
it could be a double negation (lit. *'does not rest ... not for ever'),
which could support using _ullume_ or something similar as 'never'; but
it could also be that _ullume_ *'in no time' just meant 'for ever'.
Actually, WPP:156 cites a note dated 1964 glossing _úlume_ as "'ever',
at all times (in a series or period)". This problem was already
mentioned by "Tyrhael", who coined *_alen_ 'not again, not once more' as
a "placeholder" for such adverb.
_earello_: 'from the sea'. As in Aragorn's oath _Et Eärello Endorenna
utúlien..._ (LR:967). Shared with Ryszard and Björn, but not "Tyrhael".
_uant' entuluva_: 'they will not return'. _Entuluva_ as future tense of
'return' is present in Húrin's cry in the Nirnaeth Arnoediad (in the
Silmarillion): _Aurë entuluva!_ 'Day shall come again!'. That verb was
also chosen by Ryszard and Björn, although I have used in a different
way. Ryszard used it just as in the Silmarillion; Björn added the plural
suffix _-r_, and preceded the verb with the negative article _lá_ 'not'.
On the other hand, I have used the "normal way of expressing normal
negation" mentioned in WPP:144: verbalizing the stem _ua-_, followed by
the impersonal tense form. Since there is no explicit subject in the
sentence, I have added to _ua-_ the 3rd pl. pronoun _-nte_, with the
last vowel assimilated to the first one of _entuluva_. I had also
thought on using the verbal prefix- _ú-_, or the "completely conjugated"
_ua_ + impersonal aorist (*_uvant' entule_), cited in the same passage
as especially used in verse. But I have chosen the "normal way", partly
to keep the (weak) rhyme with the last verse. Note that in WPP:143 (also
cited by Bill Welden in his article "Negation in Quenya", VT42:32),
Tolkien maked the roots AL, LA as "quite unsuitable" for negation,
although he would use it again in later texts.
_Ai!_: 'Alas!'. As in "Namárie". Also used by Ryszard and Tyrhael. Björn
chose _A_, although Tolkien mostly used that shorter form as a vocative
particle (cf. VT44:12).
_loali_: '(many) years'. The other translations use *_loar_, as in line
1. I have chosen the "particular and complete" plural (WPP:135), because
here the poem refers to some specific years, not to "years" in general.
_yassen_: 'in which'. As in "Namárië". This word is used in all four
_palantíranen cénen_: 'looking far away, I saw'. Literally a
juxtaposition of 'I looked far away' and 'I saw'. Starting by the second
part, *_cénen_ is the root KEN- 'see, perceive, note' (WPP:156) used as
stem verb, ended in _-(n)e_ and with augmented vowel to mark the past
tense, plus the pronominal suffix of 1st person sing. _-n_. All four
versions use that root and suffixes, but the other three give *_cennen_,
with lengthened _n_ (and keeping the short _e_, since it cannot be long
in a closed syllable).
For the adverb phrase "looking far away", all four versions resort to
the verb _palantíra_ 'watch, look afar' (WPP:86), at least in my case
inspired by the _palantíri_ and also Sindarin _palan-díriel_
('far-having gazed', R:72), but we conjugated it in different forms.
"Tyrhael" used *_parlantirya_ without explanation (and I cannot guess
the intended literal meaning). Ryszard and Björn, on the other hand,
imitated the so-called "active participle" in _-la_ seen in the late
version of "Oilima Markirya" (OM, cf. MC:221), following the English
syntax. But I see three problems in that choice. First, in OM such
participles have an adjectival function, whereas here we have an
adverbial phrase. Moreover, there is no "concrete" tense associated to
the verbs _falastala_ 'surging', _hlápula_ 'blowing', etc. in OM; in
fact some verbs with the same adjectival function are seemingly
expressed in aorist tense: _yarra_ 'roaring', _nurrua_ 'mumbling', etc.,
but the phrase of this poem has a definite past meaning (it could have
been "having looked far away"). Finally, in OM those verbs express
actions of the nouns that just precede them, whereas the subject that
"looked far away" was the poet (1st person). All in all, I think that
the verbal forms of OM do not suit the meaning implied by "looking far
away", in spite of the apparent similarity in English.
Unfortunately, the information that we have about the Quenya conjugation
is not enough to derive such a "1st sing. past active participle" form,
at least in the period of the poem. It could be possible to do it
according to the very detailed and well-structured Early Qenya Grammar
(PE14:57): using the past participle *_palantírien(d-)_, and the "noun"
(i.e. gerundial) form of "to be" (_iesta_, _yesta_), I would guess
something like *_ya ni·yesta palantírien_, or *_ya ni·palantíriendiesta_
to mean 'by my having looked far away'. However, I don't think likely
that Tolkien used such form in his verses from 1958, and lacking
information or wits to do anything better, I have just conjugated
_palantíra_ in the indicative past tense, with the suffix _-ne_, plus
_-n_ to indicate the 1st sing. person. Incidentally, after writing this,
I saw that the resulting ending _-nen_ looks like the instrumental case,
which could also be suitable in the context: if the stem or aorist form
_palantíra_ could be taken as gerund, *_palantíranen cénen_ could
alternatively be interpreted as 'by looking far away I saw', which would
also fit the sense of the sentence.
_yéni_: 'ages'. The Elvish "long years", see commentary to _loar_ in line 1.
_avanwe_: 'long past (pl.)'. Derived from _avanwa_ 'past, over, passed,
away, gone, dead' (WPP:143), with the plural adjectival ending _-e_.
Although originally different, that adjective is said to be "blended in
form and sense with _vanwa_" (íbid.), which is better known from
"Namárië", and was the choice of Ryszard and Björn. They incorporated
the sense of "long" explicitly with the adjective _anda_ (pluralized as
*_ande_) or the adverb _andave_, respectively. But I speculated that
_avanwa_ could also convey such intensive meaning, by two possible
analogies. One the one hand, there are many other words with emphasized
meaning, formed by the intensive prefix _a-_ or repetition of the basic
vowel (VT45:5). On the other hand, the prefix _an-_ equivalent to the
adjective _anda_ (WPP:90), added to _vanwa_, would probably result in
*_anwanwa_, and _avanwa_ could be interpreted as a simplification of
that word by dissimilation.
_Ya ... en_: 'when still'. The first particle is the undeclined relative
_ya-_, "originally a demonstrative referring back to something behind,
or previous in time" (WPP:66). With long vowel, _yá_ would later (c.
1968) be used in the place of English "when": _yá hríve tene_ 'when
winter comes' (VT49:23). This seems to be the reason for "Tyrhael"'s
using _yá_. On the other hand, Ryszard and Björn used _íre_ 'when' from
Fíriel's song. (I initially thought that Björn had written _yáíre_ by
blending both words, but that seems to be a fortuituous result of a lost
line break: the notes of the message and the oddly juxtaposed long
vowels suggest that _yá_ belongs to the previous verse, although Björn
did not explain its meaning there.) The second particle is the adverb
'still', that seems to be normally placed after the verb (WPP:167). Also
used by "Tyrhael" and Björn (the latter with the variant _ena_).
_lostaner_: 'bloomed'. Identical in all four translations. The verb
_losta_ 'to bloom' is cited in the "Rivers and Beacon Hills of Gondor"
(VT42:18). That text is rather late (c. 1967-9), but the discussion of
the Eldarin roots LOT-, (G)LOS- contained in it coincides in many points
with the one about LOT, LOTH, LOS- in WPP:160-1. *_lostaner_ is
conjugated in past tense, with the plural _-r_ mark.
_aldar_: 'trees'. The obvious choice, shared by all four texts.
_latine_: 'free' (pl.). Plural of the adjective _latina_ related to
"freedom of movement, of things not encumbered with obstacles", derived
from the root LAT- (WPP:159, also cited in VT41:5). Each author has made
a different proposal for this adjective. The closest one is Björn's
*_lérine_: he likely derived it from the adjective _lerina_ 'of things:
not guarded, reserved, made fast, or "owned"', cited in a note about the
root LER- (WPP:160, VT41:5), which Tolkien obviously wrote in parallel
with the note of LAT-. I hesitated between _latina_ and _lerina_, and
finally decided for the former, in part because I think that the
"freedom" expressed in the poem is rather related with lack of
obstacles, but also to provide an alternative option.
_nóressen yande_: 'in a wide country' (lit. 'in countries wide'). I have
dared to change the number to plural, to provide a rhyme with the
previous verse. That is also the major reason for the order of the
words. *_nóressen_ is the plural inessive of _nóre_ 'land'. Björn also
used this form (with singular _-sse_, instead of plural _-ssen_), but
his notes also comment on the possibility of using *_-nóriesse_, by
analogy with _sindanóriello_ in "Namárië" (that was actually the choice
of Ryszard and "Tyrhael" -- Ryszard writing it with short _o_). However,
_Sindanórie_ is marked in WPP:72 as an archaic compound and a specific
place-name, of a mythical region in Valinor, coming from _sindie-nóre_.
I interpret this as implying that *_nórie_ derived from metathesis of
the _i_ in _sindie-_, and it is not to be used as a word for 'country'
in general. For 'wide' I have used _yanda_ in plural form, which served
for the rhyme (WPP:115). It is the same choice as Ryszard's, whereas
"Tyrhael" used the variant _yána_ (íbid).
_Ai!_: 'Alas!'. See line 3.
_An sí_: 'for now'. Like in "Namárië". "Tyrhael" wrote exactly the same.
Ryszard and Björn have used similar, but not identical expressions
(Ryszard ommited the preposition _an_, and Björn changed the syntax
_ilya_: 'all'. As in "Namárie". Also used by Ryszard and Björn.
_yesta quele_: 'begins to wither'. _Yesta_ is only cited by Tolkien as
the noun 'beginning' (WPP:120), but it is reasonable to think that a
related verb with that shape could also have existed; the phrasal verb
is completed with the stem *_queli-_ (cf. _Narquelie_, *'Sun-fading',
the name of the 10th month in Gondor's calendar), conjugated in aorist.
After many doubts, I have adopted this form upon reading "Tyrhael"'s
version, which I think is quite good in this point.
_súlinen_: 'in the breath(s)'. Instrumental plural form of _súle_, that
combines the notions of 'spirit' and 'breath'. I think it is specially
adequate for the meaning implied in the poem: a metaphorical cold wind,
breathed by an unnatural power, that withered the trees and plants of
the country. Particularly interesting in this respect is the gloss of
Eldarin _thúle_ in WPP:124: 'blowing forth = spirit' in the special
sense of "emission of power (of will or desire) from a spirit". All four
translations have used the instrumental case of this word, but only
Ryszard coincides in using the plural, in agreement with the number of
the "emissors" of such breath (see next line). Both "Tyrhael" and Björn
have preferred singular *_súlenen_, imitating the English syntax. My
using the plural also helps to keep the rhyme with _sírinen_ in the
_Istarion_: 'of wizards'. Genitive form of _Istari_ 'wizards'. The
obvious choice, shared by all four versions. I suppose that Tolkien was
using "wizards" here as a metaphor, rather than an allusion to fictional
wizards of the Secondary World. He seems to refer to the "ones who knew"
(cf. the gloss in WPP:119) in his time: the industrial society that
fomented progress at the cost of nature; say, the transposition of
Saruman to our modern Primary World.
_ringóreva_: 'cold-hearted' (lit. 'with a cold heart' or 'of the cold
heart'). Genitive partitive/comitative of the compound _ringa_ 'cold'
(cf. _Ringarë_ *'Cold day'..., and _ringa_ > _ringe_ 'cold' in Etym.
(V:383, VT46:11) + _óre_ 'heart, inner mind' (LR:1123). The other three
versions use the adjective *_ringahonda_ (with varying orthographies,
and in plural form *_ringahonde_ by Ryszard and Björn), seeminlgy by
imitation of Treebeard's qualification of the orcs as _sincahonda_
'flint-hearted' (LR:979). My choice of the genitive partitive or
comitative (ending in _-va_, WPP:64) is due to my wanting to make a
rhyme with the second verse (ended in _entuluva_), but gives place to
interesting interpretations of the Quenya phrase, and indirectly to my
choice of _óre_.
The literal way of expressing a comitative phrase would be "wizards with
a cold heart", which is not very different from the interpretation of
the original English wording; here other terms of 'heart' would also be
suitable (like *_hondo_, following the other versions, or _indo_ 'inmost
heart, thought, mind', cf. WPP:155). On the other hand, a partitive
phrase should be something like "wizards of the cold heart", making the
"cold heart" something greater or more general, of which the "wizards"
are part or are associated to. Here, the sense of _óre_ as defined in
VT41:13 comes in handy: "things arising in the mind or entering the mind
[...] sometimes the result of deep reflection [...] and sometimes of
actual messages or influences on the mind -- from other minds". It is
very suggestive to think on the "cold heart" as a metaphorical
expression for the cold, inhumane, industrial way of life, to which the
abovementioned "wizards" belong.
Helios De Rosario
negation expressed in English by the adverb "never" is transferred
> to the verb later in this line, partly because it is
also because I did
> Tolkien's comments about negation (see below), but
Ryszard and Björn
> not find a satisfactory translation of such adverb.
'time' (V:370), i.e. *'in
> coincided in using a compound of _ú-_ + _lúme_
(IV:72), but that
> no time', that reminds of _ullume_ in Fíriel's song
Fíriel's song is _úye sére
> word is problematic. The complete sentence of
for ever', where
> indo-ninya símen ullume_, 'my heart resteth not here
_úye_ *'does not'. So
> the negative sense is already present in the verb
... not for ever'),
> it could be a double negation (lit. *'does not rest
similar as 'never'; but
> which could support using _ullume_ or something
meant 'for ever'.
> it could also be that _ullume_ *'in no time' just
_úlume_ as "'ever',
> Actually, WPP:156 cites a note dated 1964 glossing
> at all times (in a series or period)".
My use of _úlume_ is based on that note. I assumed that _úlume_ ... _lá_ 'ever ... not' would equal 'never'.
_íre_ 'when' from
> On the other hand, Ryszard and Björn used
written _yáíre_ by
> Fíriel's song. (I initially thought that Björn had
fortuituous result of a lost
> blending both words, but that seems to be a
> line break: the notes of the message and the oddly
verse, although Björn
> vowels suggest that _yá_ belongs to the previous
> did not explain its meaning there.)
Yes, somehow the line break disappeared on its way to Yahoo.
The _yá_ is that of the Etymologies ('ago', V:399). Thus _vanwe andave yá_ is intended to mean 'past (pl.) long ago'.
_latina_ related to
> _latine_: 'free' (pl.). Plural of the adjective
with obstacles", derived
> "freedom of movement, of things not encumbered
Each author has made
> from the root LAT- (WPP:159, also cited in VT41:5).
one is Björn's
> a different proposal for this adjective. The closest
_lerina_ 'of things:
> *_lérine_: he likely derived it from the adjective
"owned"', cited in a note about the
> not guarded, reserved, made fast, or
wrote in parallel
> root LER- (WPP:160, VT41:5), which Tolkien obviously
> with the note of LAT-.
The _é_ is a typo; it should be _lerine_ of course. Thank you for spotting this.
<> Björn Fromén
- Dear Helios,
A few thoughts and comments:
I think your endeavor to compare translations—in order to illuminate what's commonly held in our neo-Q conceptions—is a good idea. On that note, there are two other translations of this that I'm aware of - one is by "beriolon," quoted on the Gwaith-i-Phethain Facebook page, said to be "sent but not accepted," and the other by "Gladhaniel," though she didn't submit hers to Lambengolmor so I'm not sure if she'd want hers discussed.[Re: "Sent but not accepted" — because sent by someone _not_ the author. I asked the sender to ask the author submit it themselves, which has not (yet) happened. CFH]
yúquëan: more likely Ryszard coined this based on quëan/quain in Eldarin Hands, Fingers, and Numerals (VT48:6), though as that dates from the late 1960s my expectation is that in the Rotterdam poem JRRT had not yet switched from k- to qu- in his words for "ten." beriolon uses yurasta, and similar to yours has anda sírenen.
never: beriolon has uvoro where Gladhaniel has lá lúmesse "at no time."
uante: you note that in WPP:143 Tolkien abandons AL/LA for negation, and Bill Welden notes in VT42:32 that this may be "possibly soon after publication of The Lord of the Rings." I used al in a gamble that he didn't make this change until 1959 (where we have attested links to yes/good/pleasure), but it may very well have been before 1958. PE17:149 links ALA with "good" in a note the editors date c. 1957-9 in VT49:12. At any rate, the Rotterdam poem will hopefully allow us to more accurately pinpoint the dating of that change (if "never" cooperates), though some cross-referencing of ba(n) vs. men would also perhaps be of use.
return: like you, Gladhaniel has entuluva, where beriolon uses peluvar, presumably in a sense of "rotate back" (before Tolkien switched to √kwer in PE17:65).
loali: I think you are correct with this; if I were to amend my version I'd probably use this.
palantirya: my formation is based on melumatya and saukarya (PE17:68, 1967), as well as fantarkenya (p. 176, perhaps c. mid-60s, cf. p.110). Those are admittedly later than the Rotterdam poem, but so is Markirya, and you note some convincing reasons why you wouldn't use -la. Admittedly, -ya is "present" ... but I figure cennen marks the tense enough for context to clarify. beriolon uses qui palantirin, cennen, "*when I look far away, I saw" and Gladhaniel cendala háyave, cennenye "watching far away, I saw."
ages: belioron yéni, Gladhaniel randar (Etym.)
yá: you are right about my choice coming from yá hríve tene, but we also see a similar form in Aia María III (VT43:27,34) from the 1950s. Gladhaniel also uses yá, where beriolon has ívë (if not a typo for írë, perhaps related to the deictic stem i- as in ier (VT43:16) and -ve as in síve/tambe (VT43:17)).
lostaner: the other possibility is that "bloom," rather than refer to flowers, is more in a general sense using ala- (PE17:132) from GAL(A) "grow, flourish, be vigorous, bloom" (153). Gladhaniel thereby uses aldar alle, though aldar alaner/áler might also happen. Beriolon's simply has haryaner lóti "possessed flowers."
free: Gladhaniel has lerine like Björn's, where beriolon has ranyave (VT46:10 plus -ve as in andave).
wide country: Gladhaniel has yanda nóresse where beriolon uses landa nóresse.
alas (etc.): beriolon uses Ai, sí like Ryszard, where Gladhaniel has Nai! an sin using nai and sin (both from Etym.), the latter perhaps because the next word begins with i-.
all: beriolon has ilya like most, Gladhaniel illi.
begin to wither: beriolon also posits a verb yesta-, but uses fire where we have quele; Gladhaniel has hestuvar "shall wither," using a verb from QL. They both use i foasse for "in the breath," cp. √PHAW "emit (foul breath etc.)" (PE17:181), foa in VT47:35-6, and foalóke.
cold-hearted: beriolon's is the same as Ryszard's, where Gladhaniel has lé ringe óri, with lé "with" from PE17:95.
wizards: beriolon has istarion, Gladhaniel has curuvarion (QL:49). The latter still could be valid, considering Curumo/Curunír "Saruman", with adjectival -va and agentive -r.
Matt Dinse (I see I forgot to sign my name earlier)
Now I (“beriolon”) should officially present here my own translation.
I’ve found some small mistakes which I want to correct:
- _Ívë_ of course is a typo for _Írë_;
So whole translation is as follows:Loar yurasta isírië anda sírenenAr uvoro coivienyassë peluvar nin eärello.Ai, loar yassen, qui palantirin, cennen yéni andanéya vanwaÍrë er aldar ranyavë haryaner lóti landa nóressë.Ai, sí ilya yesta firë i foassëRinga-hondë istarion.Aleksy Bizan, beriolon
- Now I think that instead _Yurasta loar_ it should be _Loar yurasta_.
- I wrote:
>> Actually, WPP:156 cites a note dated 1964 glossing _úlume_ asAnd Björn Fromén replied:
>> "'ever' at all times (in a series or period)".
>I suppose that such of *_úlume ... lá entuluvar_ ('ever ... will not
> My use of _úlume_ is based on that note. I assumed that _úlume_ ...
> _lá_ 'ever ... not' would equal 'never'.
return' = 'never will return') is explained by the principle that you
followed in the translation: "we have avoided reconstructions: only
genuine vocabulary from published sources known to us has been used".
But I would like to highlight that such a construction may have an
ambiguous meaning: I see it very similar in shape (with changed order of
the words) to indo-ninya símen ullume_, 'my heart resteth not here for
ever' in "Fíriel's Song".
In that poem, the meaning was not that the poet's heart would _never_
rest in that place, but that it would rest only for a limited time, "not
for ever". Likewise, If I had to re-translate your Quenya proposal back
into English without knowing the original text, I would do it as "it
will not return for ever", which is not the inteded meaning.
Let aside the self-imposed constraint of using "only genuine vocabulary
from published sources", it is interesting to consider the different
syntactic structures that Tolkien used for negation. Three of them are
commented in Bill Welden's article on "Negation in Quenya" (VT42):
1) A suitable root like the syllabic L-, AL, LA-, Û-, ABA-, etc., used
as prefix. There are plenty of examples of it, throughout the published
corpus of Quenya texts.
2) Verbalization of such roots. VT42:33 cites _lanye_ 'I don't',
simlarly to _alalye_ '(you) do not' in some versions of the Quenya
prayers published in VT43-44. In many other places, the verbalized root
is Û-, e.g. _umin_, _uvin_ 'it is not, does not' (PE12:98), _uin_ 'I do
not, am not', past _úme_ (V:396), and the stem _ua-_ cited in PE17:144.
PE17:143 also mentions _ván_ / _vanye_ and _vamme_, 'I won't, we will not'.
3) The adverb _la_, _lá_ 'no', 'not'. PE17:143 also menitons _va_ as
adverb "expressing will, wish, etc. of speaker".
In addition, there is the imperative particle _avá_ and its variants,
explained in XI:371 and PE17:143.
Most of those structures are used to negate verbs or sentences, or to
express prohibition or disallowance. Only the first option (prefixes) is
used in compounds and in opposite words. Therefore, one of the likeliest
possibilities is that Tolkien negated the verb of the sentence. Or if he
wrote something that literally translated our adverb "never", I guess it
would be such a prefixed word (like *_uvoro_ in Aleksy Bizan's proposal).
Matt Dinse (sorry for not being aware of your real name in my previous
> palantirya: my formation is based on melumatya and saukarya(PE17:68,Thanks for the explanation. But now, if I understand correctly Tolkien's
> 1967), as well as fantarkenya (p. 176, perhaps c. mid-60s, cf.
> p.110). Those are admittedly later than the Rotterdam poem, but so is
> Markirya, and you note some convincing reasons why you wouldn't use
> -la. Admittedly, -ya is "present" ... but I figure cennen marks the
> tense enough for context to clarify.
notes, I would say that the "present (active) participle" function
expressed by that ending _-ya_ is not that different from the function
of _-la_ in Oilima Markirya. Both create words that work as adjectives,
derived from the action of the verb. On the one hand, there are
_falastala_='surging', i.e. 'that surges', etc. On the other hand,
_melumatya_='honey-eating', i.e. 'that eats honey',
_saukarya_='evil-doing', i.e. 'that does evil', _or
fantarkenya_='perspicacious', lit. *'that sees through veils'. It is
told that "simple _-iâ_ [referred to the ending _-ya_] is used only in
compounds" (PE17:68), but for the rest I see that it is more or less the
same as _-la_ in the Markirya poem.
My main concern about _-la_ (that I think can be extended to _-ya_) was
that the English phrase ("looking far away") works as an adverb in the
sentence "years in which I saw...". On the other hand, all those
participles work as adjectives. And there is also the problem of the
implied subject, which is the first person.
However, the possibility that you have suggested, about the tense of the
action being marked by the main verb of the sentence ("I saw"), makes me
think of a similar possibility for marking the subject.
I mean: a participle like those described by Tolkien could convey the
meaning carried by the English phrase "looking far away", if used as a
modifier of the subject of the sentence. It would be like rewording the
"... years in which I who was looking far away saw ages ..."
This might be made clearer if the subject is stated explicitly, e.g.
*_inye palantírala ..._ = 'I who-was-looking-far-away ...'
Helios De Rosario
- I wrote:
> ambiguous meaning: I see it very similar in shape (with changed orderI meant: _úye sére indo-ninya símen ullume_ (I deleted the negated verb
> of the words) to indo-ninya símen ullume_, 'my heart resteth not here
> for ever' in "Fíriel's Song".
_úye sére_ during my writing the message.)
- In my first message of this thread I wrote:
> first, although I don't know the exact context of the poem we are...
> working with, one could say that it is a personal lament for the
> industrialization of Tolkien's country, rather than a poem set in
> Tolkien's fiction.
> _Istarion_: 'of wizards'. Genitive form of _Istari_ 'wizards'. TheWhen I wrote that, I was not aware of this news in the Tolkien Society's
> obvious choice, shared by all four versions. I suppose that Tolkien
> was using "wizards" here as a metaphor, rather than an allusion to
> fictional wizards of the Secondary World. He seems to refer to the
> "ones who knew" (cf. the gloss in WPP:119) in his time: the
> industrial society that fomented progress at the cost of nature; say,
> the transposition of Saruman to our modern Primary World.
There they comment on the"unpublished poem", where "Tolkien laments the
devastation of Rotterdam during the Second World War". Then they cite
other words by Tolkien, but obviously this also applies to the verses we
are working with.
The Rotterdam Blitz was in 1940, 18 years before Tolkien's speech. Not
exactly "twenty years", as mentioned in the first verse of Tolkien's
poem, but quite approximately. And the general message of the poem fits
quite well in that context (including the withering breath of the
cold-hearted wizards, which could also be seen as politicians or the
heads of armies).
Helios De Rosario
Twenty years have flowed away
This is my attempt to guess at the Quenya form of the poem Twenty years have flowed away.
I intended to give first the shape the poem might have had if it had been written in the 60s-70s, then a reconstruction of the poem in a 1950s-style Quenya, but I did not have time to work on this during the summer as I would have liked.
Consequently, the present shape of my reconstruction is probably a mix of earlier and later forms. I have not been able to take advantage of previous works on this poem posted on this list (or in any other place, for that matter), due to the aforementioned lack of time. Still, I prefer posting this attempt as it stands than abandoning it completely.
One of my goals was to see whether we could guess where Tolkien uses previously unknown compounds rather than independent words: my guess is that an expression such as “flow away” may be expressed by a single verb rather than a group “verb + adverb” as in English. This is why I have attempted to forge new compounds, even if all the building bricks used here come from well-attested words.
It is of course possible that Tolkien, instead of using words that we already know has forged some new synonyms, maybe from a root with no previously attested Quenya derivatives. But I believe this is impossible to predict, and have refrained from any such attempt, since we seem to have a vocabulary large enough to reconstruct an acceptable (Neo-)Quenya translation for this poem. If this attempt is as close to the actual Quenya poem as the Attolma published in VT32 was to Tolkien’s Átaremma, I believe I will not have entirely failed.
1. Twenty years have flowed away down the long river
> Yén yuquean oasírier nú anda síre
2. And never in my life will return for me from the sea
> Ar earello coanyasse nin úpeluvar
3. Ah years in which looking far away I saw ages long past
> Ai! yéni yassen palantirla cennen vanwë randar
4. When still trees bloomed free in a wide country
> Yá ananta orni lérye lostaner landa nóresse
5. And thus now all begins to wither
> Ar sí sinen ilya yestea hestala
6. With the breath of cold-hearted wizards
> I ringóri istarion súlenen
7. To know things they break them
> Ñólita nati terhateltet
8. And their stern lordship they establish
> Ar tulkalte sarda hérelta
9. Through fear of death
> Ter nurruce
1. yén “year”; yu- “double”; quëan “ten”; oa- “away”; sir- “flow”; nú “down”; anda “long”; sírë “river”. Of course, the “long river” could be the Anduin, in which case it would be Anduinë, but this does not seem very likely.
2. ar “and”; ëar “sea, ocean”; coa “life”; -nya “my”; ú- “not, un-“, pel- “go round, revolve, return”, nin “for me”.
3. ai “halas”; yéni “years”; yassen “in which”; palantir- “to look far away”; -la active participle; cen- “see, behold”; -n(yë) “I”; vanwa “vanished, departed, dead, past, past and over”; randa “cycle, age”.
4. yá “when”; ananta “and yet, but yet”; ornë “tree”; lérya “free”; losta- “bloom”; landa “wide”; nórë “country”
5. sí “now”, sinen “in this way, so”, ilya “all”, *yesta- “begin”, hesta “wither”
6. i “the”; súlë “breath, wind”; ringa “cold”; órë “heart”; Istar “wizard”
7. *ñól- “to know”; -(i)ta infinitive ending; nat “thing”; terhat- “break apart”; -ltë “they” (poet.); -t “them”
8. tulka- “fix, set up, establish”; sarda “hard” (this is one of the least appropriate words, but I have no idea how else we could express “stern”); hérë “lordship”; -lta “their”
9. ter “through”; nuru “death”; ruc- “feel fear or horror”
- Here is my attempt at translating the poem. It dates back to last May, and I finally decided to revise it and post it here. I'm sorry about reviving an old topic; hopefully that's not too much of an inconvenience for everyone.Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!Quenya translation:
Loar yucainen isírier oa lé i anda sírë
Ar lá lúmessë vehtenyassë nin entuluva i ëarello.
Ai! loar yassen, cendala háyavë, cennenyë randar andavë vanwë
Yá en aldar allë lerinë i yanda nóressë.
Nai! an sin illi hestuvar i foassë
curuvarion lé ringë óri.
Literal rendering in English:
Twenty years have flown away with the long river
And at no time in my life will return to me from the sea.
Ah, years in which, watching far away, I saw ages long past
When still trees thrived free in a wide country.
Alas, for now all shall wither in the breath
of wizards with cold hearts.