2793Re: Sindarin past-tense from TIR- (was Re: [elfscript] December 16th Movie Trilogy (Help!))
- Oct 18, 2003Carl F. Hostetter wrote:
> The Noldorin singular past tense form of the verb _tiri-_/_tiria-_ isgiven as the weak formation _tiriant_ (_Etymologies_ s.v. TIR-). From this
we can see that the Noldorin pa.t. form was built directly on the stem
I see no evidence for a stem "tiri-". The actual wording in the entry TIR
is: "N _tiri_ or _tirio_, pa.t. _tiriant_." The form _tirio_ is clearly an
infinitive in _-o_, very well attested in Etym. This suggests that _tiri_
occurring before it is also an infinitive, with exactly the same infinitive
ending as in (say) _gedi_ "[to] catch" vs. the simple consonant stem _gad-_
(both are mentioned in the entry GAT). _Tiri_ would likewise be the
infinitive of a consonant stem _tir-_; the final _-i_ of _tiri_ is no part
of the verbal stem, but merely the infinitive ending.
The past tense _tiriant_ connects with the immediately preceding infinitive
form _tirio_; it is not necessarily intended as the pa.t. of the synonym
_tiri_ as well. _Tiriant_, as I see it, is the regular past tense of a
derived (A-stem) verb *_tiria-_, the regular infinitive of which (at least
in Noldorin) is the form provided: _tirio_. On the other hand, _tiri_ is
the regular infinitive of a consonant stem, and its past tense is not
given. I will argue that it is most likely *_tirn_, directly corresponding
to Quenya _tirne_ mentioned in the same entry, and also indirectly attested
in the passive participle _tirnen_ (lenited _dirnen_) "watched". Other
examples show that passive participles are formed by adding _-en_ to a past
tense form, e.g. the form _dolen_ "hidden" as the "p.p." (past/passive
participle) corresponding to the past tense form _daul_ "hid" (entry DUL;
the diphthong _au_ regularly becomes _o_ in a polysyllabic word).
> Helge's proposal *_tirnin_ appears to assume a weak pa.t. stem *_tirn-_,which he presumably has isolated from the Noldorin name _Dalath Dirnen_
'Guarded Plain' (_Etymologies_ s.v. TIR-). But note that this Noldorin name
appears in the same source, indeed in the same entry, as the only attested
Noldorin pa.t. form of the verb, _tiriant_. Thus, contrary to supporting a
theory that the pa.t. stem of the verb derived from TIR- is the unattested
*_tirn_, the underlying pp. *_tirnen_ 'guarded' must be explained in
relation to the attested, coexistent stems _tiri-__tiria-_ and pa.t. form
CFH still confuses the infinitive form _tiri_ with a longer "stem"
**_tiri-_, even supplying a hyphen Tolkien did not include, and jumps to
the conclusion that _tiriant_ is the past tense of _tiri_ as well as
_tirio_. In no way is this an obvious and inevitable interpretation of what
Tolkien actually wrote. The past tense _tiriant_ is mentioned only after
> The pp. *_tirnen_ is thus perhaps to be understood as derived by syncopefrom *_tiri-nen_, again suggesting a Noldorin 1st sg. pa.t. form *_tirin_.
Such a "pa.t." form would be awfully easy to confuse with a PRESENT-TENSE
(or aorist?) form like _ú-chebin_ "I do not keep", wouldn't it? No,
_tirnen_ would rather come from *_tir-nê-nâ_, i.e. consonant stem _tir-_ +
old past tense marker _-nê_ + old participial ending _-nâ_. Compare _tirne_
as the Quenya past tense (< *_tir-nê). A "past participle" indeed; the
early Lindar apparently had this great idea that past participles could be
formed by adding _-nâ_ to past-tense forms. Compare _thoren_ as the "pp."
of a verb "fence"; Tolkien explicitly derived it from _thaurênâ_, which
would be the past tense *_thaurê_ "fenced" (formed by A-infixion from the
root THUR, compare the pa.t. _daul_ vs. the root DUL) + the participial
The form **_tiri-nen_ > _tirnen_ once again reflects CFH's strange desire
to turn the simple infinitive marker seen at the end of _tiri_ into an
integral part of the verbal stem, even if he must postulate a syncope to
get rid of it in the attested p.p. _tirnen_.
> Helge's other proposal, *_idiren_, presumably is formed on analogy with S_agor_ (XI:415),
Correct so far...
> which Tolkien derives from primitive *_akâra_ (the circumflex hererepresents a macron in the published text) and describes as characterized
by "the 'augment', or reduplicated base-vowel, and the long stem-vowel"
(thus explaining the appearance of S _o_ for earlier long *_â_; note too
the apparent stem-vowel *_-a_, _not_ *_-e_). There is, of course, no
evidence that any Sindarin verb derived from TIR- employs this pa.t.
formation; but I would point out that if this formation mechanism is to be
applied, the result is not Helge's *_idire-_, but instead *_idíra-_ <
As for the final vowel before the pronominal ending, CFH surely recalls the
Turin Wrapper form _agorech_ instead of **_agorach_ -- which his reasoning
above would lead us to expect. For all we know, -e- may have become a
universal connecting vowel before pronominal suffixes in this kind of past
tense, perhaps by analogy with such forms as _onen_ "I gave" or _*drammen_
"I hewed" (where this connecting vowel is historically justified).
In the form _akâra_, even the FINAL -a may be an echo of the stem-vowel
(some kind of ómataina added to the root KAR). If the stem TIR formed its
past tense by the same pattern, maybe we would see *_itîri_ as the
Just like the long vowel of _akâra_ has been shortened in _agor_ (where _â_
became _au_ and then _o_), it may be assumed that *_itîr-_ would produce
*_idir_ rather than *_idír_, though the long vowel would perhaps still
persist at the stage sometimes called Middle Sindarin (a post-Tolkien
CFH returns to _tirnen_ in a later letter:
> On further reflection, I think it is better to instead view N *_tirnen_as simply an analogical formation based on the very frequent occurrence of
p.ps. in _-nen_ among both basic and derived verbs in Noldorin, e.g. N.
_dant-_ 'to fall', _dannen_ 'fallen' < DAT-, DANT-; N _presto_ 'to affect,
trouble, disturb', _prestannen_ 'affected' < PERES-; etc.
On still further reflection, CFH may reach the insight that _prestannen_ is
the past tense *_prestant_ "disturbed, affected" + the actual past
participle marker _-en_ (the longer form -nen only occurs incidentally, so
to speak, where there happens to be or arise an -n- before this shorter
ending). In_prestannen_, we have intervocalic _nt_ becoming _nn_, a regular
development. _Dannen_ "fallen" may suggest that the past tense "fell" is
*_dant_, formed by nasal infixion from the root DAT; again we have
intervocalic nt > nn.
The past participle marker _-en_ historically evolves from _-e_ (the vowel
all past tense-forms originally seem to have ended in, still so in Quenya)
+ the participial ending _-nâ_, worn down to _-n_ in Noldorin/Sindarin. In
many cases, the older past tense marker was _-ne_ (as in Quenya), and then
the Noldorin/Sindarin p.p. comes to end in _-nen_, of course.
> In any event, whatever the explanation of the Noldorin p.p. *_tirnen_,its co-attestation with N sg. pa.t. _tiriant_ demonstrates that it cannot
simply be assumed or asserted to be based upon a pa.t. stem *_tirn-_. Nor,
above all, can we use such an assumption or assertion as an excuse to
ignore the fact that the _attested_ verb, _tiri-_/_tiria-_ is _derived_.
For the umpteenth time: _Tiri_ (notice that there is NO final hyphen in
Tolkien's text) is IMNSHO just the infinitive of the very much non-derived
(basic, primary) verb *_tir-_. Surely CFH must have noticed that many
Noldorin verbs have infinitives in -i, derived from older -ie? In the entry
NAR2 Tolkien derives _treneri_ "[to] tell" from older _trenarie_, which he
explicitly calls an "inf." form: Dead giveaway! Likewise, we would have the
inf. *_tirie_ "to watch" > later inf. _tiri_ (and likely *_tirn_ as the
pa.t., directly cognate with Quenya _tirne_ and underlying the past
participle _tirnen_ "watched, guarded" < *_tir-nê-nâ_). It is the following
synonymous verb *_tiria-_, infinitive _tirio_, which is derived and has the
past tense _tiriant_ (and then also a distinct past participle
_*tiriannen_, I guess). Let us make this crystal clear:
STEM INF. PA.T. P.P.
*tir- tiri *tirn tirnen
*tiria- tirio tiriant *tiriannen
(I don't asterisk _tirnen_ just because it happens to be lenited [_dirnen_]
in the source.)
While *_tirn_ is my best guess as the past tense of _tir-_, *_idir_ may be
considered as well. As for CFH's statement that "there is...no evidence
that any Sindarin verb derived from TIR- employs this pa.t. formation", he
is of course right that there is no direct or conclusive evidence. But once
we realize that _tiri_ is the infinitive form of a PRIMARY verb *_tir-_,
Tolkien's statement in WJ:415 surely becomes relevant: "Past tenses of
this form [the _agor_ type] were usual in Sindarin 'strong' or primary
verbs." Now Tolkien only says that they were usual, not universal, but this
does open up the _possibility_ of *_idir_ as one past tense of _tir-_. In
other words, I would initially put my money on *_tirn_, but if Tolkien's
angry ghost appears to me saying "This is totally wrong!", I will
immediately respond: "Ah...it is *_idir_, then?"
Well, this is getting off topic: nothing about the scripts. By all means,
since we do happen to have the past tense of a verb meaning "watch"
directly attested, we may just as well use it: _Im ha(n) tiriant minui_ "I
[emphatic] it saw first" (with the word order SOV, as in the Moria Gate
inscription: _Im Narvi hain echant..._). Otherwise CFH and I should
continue this discussion on Elfling. Ooops...a practical problem in his
end. Well, I think we have pretty much exhausted this topic anyway.
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