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Re: -ie + -iva = ?

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  • Carl F. Hostetter
    In Elfling message 33021 (
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 5, 2006
      In Elfling message 33021 (<http://groups.yahoo.com/group/elfling/
      message/33021>), Helge Fauskanger writes:

      > Matthew Dinse asked (some time ago):
      > > If I were to try and say something like "of meetings (pl.)"
      > ending in
      > -ie, I assume I would add -iva to the singular form _yomenie_. For the
      > singular, I comprehend _yomenieeva_, but with the plural, how would
      > the
      > vowels change when -ie + -iva occurs?
      > This is one of the unsolved problems of Quenya grammar. I discuss
      > it and
      > other problems in the most recent of the appendices to my Quenya
      > course
      > ("Words We Don't Quite Know How to Inflect"):
      > http://www.uib.no/People/hnohf/qappend.rtf
      > At least you may have the comfort that you are not the only one who
      > has
      > wondered about this.
      > - HKF

      A "problem" arises here only because Helge (and through him many
      others like Mr. Dinse) wrongly assumes that 1) anything that either
      is _or can be used as_ a noun in Quenya _must_ have a plural
      inflection, and further that 2) any case ending that occurs in the
      singular _must_ have a corresponding plural form. Tolkien however
      dares to disagree with Helge here (as so often).

      Concerning the first mistaken assumption, that _all_ noun-like forms
      _must_ have plurals, it has already been noted in numerous places (as
      Helge knows but for his own reasons prefers not to acknowledge) that
      this is not true of all real languages, and in particular is not true
      of most Western Indo-European languages, the character of which
      Tolkien's Elvish languages were deliberately modeled upon. Thus, for
      example, gerunds, which are in effect nominal forms of verbs, do not
      have distinct plural forms in such languages as Latin and German (and
      no doubt in many other I.E. languages). So there is no reason
      whatsoever to assume that Quenya has plural forms of gerunds --
      particularly as _not a single instance has ever been attested_. The
      same is true of many abstract noun formations, sc. of the type that
      Tolkien himself refers to as having "abstract" or "general
      significance". There is thus no more reason to assume that such
      abstract/general nouns as _tengwestie_ 'Language, as a whole' (of
      which _tengwesta_ 'a system or code of signs' is the corresponding
      concrete noun), or _yomenie_ 'meeting, gathering' (whether abstract/
      general or gerundial in origin and derivation here makes no
      difference, though it is quite clearly one or the other; and note
      that the gloss is not **'_a_ meeting' etc.) have distinct plural
      forms than there is to assume that the English noun "linguistics" or
      Latin and German gerunds have plural forms.

      Concerning the second mistaken assumption, that any case ending that
      occurs in the singular must have a corresponding plural form, if
      Helge read his sources a little more carefully and expanded his
      reading beyond his preferred sandbox to include _all_ of Tolkien's
      writings, he would find Tolkien _repeatedly_ and _consistently_
      failing to agree with him. It has _long since_ been noted and
      discussed that the "Plotz Declension" shows that Book Quenya had _no
      plural form_ of the singular adjectival suffix _-va_ (yes, even
      before anyone studying Tolkien's languages had ever heard of Helge
      Fauskanger, except for Helge himself), and this fact is explained by
      Tolkien himself in "Quendi and Eldar": "It was a later development in
      Quenya, after the elements _-ô_ and _-vâ_ had become inflexions,
      applicable to all nouns, to pluralize _-o_ by the addition of the
      plural sign .... Similarly with _-va_; but this was and remained an
      adjective, and had the plural form _-ve_ ***in plural attribution***
      [_note_ that Tolkien specifies _adjectival attribution_ only!] ...
      ***it could not, however, indicate plurality of source,
      originally,*** and the Q distinction _Eldava_ 'Elf's' and _Eldaiva_
      'Elves'' was a Q innovation" (XI:407, emphases mine). In other words,
      originally there simply _was no plural adjectival case ending in the
      Quenya noun_, because such nouns _did not indicate plurality of
      source_. Further, while such plural indication later arose in Quenya
      in some nouns at least, there is nothing to indicate that this
      applied to abstract or general nouns, let alone gerunds.

      So, from both of these rejoinders it can be seen that there is no
      reason to assume that _yomenie_ has a plural form _at all_; and so it
      is incumbent upon Helge (as upon anyone proposing any inflected form
      in any of Tolkien's languages), to first demonstrate that the stem or
      base form being inflected (here, _yomenie_) can in fact reasonably be
      thought to belong to the inflectional class being assumed (here,
      concrete noun), and further that it is thus susceptible to the
      particular inflection being applied (here, adjectival/possessive
      plural). For in fact (though you'd never know it if you rely only on
      Helge's artificial and prescriptive synthesis of Quenya grammar, as
      so very many do), inflectional distinctions between concrete/
      particular nouns and noun cases and abstract/general nouns, and
      variability in the susceptibility of nouns and nominal formations to
      various inflections, is a consistent feature of every conceptual
      stage of Tolkien's languages. Thus, in addition to the statement from
      "Q&E" above, in the _Early Qenya Grammar_ (c. 1920-25, published in
      _Parma Eldalamberon_ 14 three years ago, though to date studiously
      ignored and summarily dismissed by Helge Fauskanger as
      "preclassical"), we find such statements as the following (all
      emphases mine):*

      "These [adverbial] endings are ***not included in the ordinary
      declensional system***; for, although they are freely employed (i)
      ***they naturally cannot be formed from every noun and
      adjective***; ...." (p. 78)

      "These [oblique noun] forms being adverbial are not ***normally***
      susceptible of a plural form [as] the stem has a ***general***
      significance: so that, for instance, KIRYANTA can be used of ***many
      people*** embarking in ***different ships***. But (esp. in poetic
      language) plural forms are ***sometimes*** made".... these are
      ***usually*** added to the plural stem of the consonant-declension,
      and to ***the singular stem ... of the vocalic declension*** ..." (p.

      "There is also a ***general*** adjectival suffix of vague
      signification: -VA..." (ibid.)

      It must be emphasized: these "preclassical" statements (as Helge
      dismissively labels them) nonetheless represent _Tolkien's own
      thoughts_ both on language in general and on his own linguistic
      creations in particular. To ignore them in favor of one's own
      preconceived notions about language (in general or Tolkien's), or (as
      is most typical it seems) in favor of Helge's or David Salo's
      instincts about what must or must not be true of Tolkien's languages,
      is to lazily and needlessly blinder yourself to the real and full
      nature and character of Tolkien's languages.

      * These citations further bring out an important, indeed _vast_ and
      _fundamental_, difference between how Tolkien thought about his
      languages and the mode in which he described his languages, and how
      Helge thinks about them and the significance he attaches to Tolkien's
      descriptions. It is quite clear that when Tolkien gives a paradigm,
      e.g. the "Plotz Declension" or those in the EQG, he does so with the
      intention that they have precisely the same significance that they do
      in any historical and/or descriptive grammar: sc., as a _summary
      union_ of formation _patterns_ observed in and among various attested
      formation classes, but _not_ implying that EVERY member of a given
      formation class shows, or is necessarily even theoretically _capable_
      of showing, EVERY case-inflection in the paradigm. Helge, and through
      him so very many others, turns this significance on its head: it is
      equally clear that he not only treats such paradigms as
      _prescriptive_, in that EVERY member of the class (or _summarily
      assumed_ member) is treated as _necessarily_ susceptible to EVERY
      case in the paradigm; and further, he treats such paradigms as though
      they were _definitional_ and _generative_, that is, as though it was
      by them that Tolkien _defined_ his languages and _generated_ their
      formations. In other words, whereas for Tolkien such paradigms were
      intended to _appear_ to have been _derived_ from an underlying data
      set of attested forms, and thus to reflect general _patterns_
      observable in those forms, and thus to have precisely the same
      _descriptive_ and _summary_ significance and implications that such
      paradigms do for real languages, for Helge such paradigms (whether
      written down or held only in Tolkien's mind) are _the mechanisms by
      which Tolkien generated actual forms_ (a notion which, by the way,
      even a casual acquaintance with _Tolkien's_ writings about his
      languages readily dispels, if one bothers to question the notion in
      the first place), and further are, and are _intended by Tolkien to
      be_, the mechanism by which "users" of Tolkien's languages _are to
      generate new forms themselves_. Whereas, in fact -- as I'm certain
      any teacher of a real language can attest -- while descriptive and
      summary paradigms of the sort Tolkien gave, namely, of the sort
      derived by linguists in descriptive and/or historical grammars, are
      very useful as aids for students in translating texts _from_ those
      languages _into_ their own, they are _not_ sure guarantees that
      students translating _into_ the language _from_ their own will by
      their use produce idiomatic forms in that language. Such
      prescriptive, paradigm-driven generation of forms may work well for
      such fundamentally (and even deliberately) artificial languages as
      Esperanto and Klingon, but it is _clearly_ not what Tolkien intended
      his _descriptive_, _derived_ paradigms to signify or to be used for.
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