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4941Re: spelling of diphthongs (again)

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  • j_mach_wust
    Oct 4, 2005
      Dave Hisilome wrote:
      > Last year, J. 'Mach' Wust wrote (elfscript # 4273), in reply to
      > Florian Dombach's speculation that in Quenya, diphthongs might
      > originally have all been spelt without reversing the "normal"
      > reading direction (for which _nainie_ and _caita_ from the Namaarie
      > inscription were quoted), but that this might (story-internally)
      > have changed in the later ages under the influence of "mannish"
      > orthography:
      > >The modes where the letters bear the preceding tehtar use the same
      > >letters for the second elements of diphthongs as for the initial
      > >approximants /j/ and /w/. This could hardly initiate a system that
      > >splits them up.
      > With the exception of Sindarin as attested in KL, version 3, as you
      > also note in your essay "What is General Use?".
      > In fact, for the Sindarin mode where "tengwar bear the preceding
      > tehtar" (often called "Standard" or "Mode of Gondor"), we seem to
      > have no examples for /w/ at all, be it initial or as second part of
      > a diphthong.
      > As for /j/, as you also point out, yanta is used for the initial
      > sound, but anna for the second part of diphthongs (in marked
      > contrast to English, where anna is used in both positions, just as
      > any /w/ is always represented by vala)--so here we do in fact see
      > the same kind of split for initial and diphthong representation as
      > in modes in which tengwar bear the following tehtar (such as the
      > "classical" Quenya mode).

      Well, no, in Sindarin, yanta is used initially and for second parts of
      diphthongs. What messes things up is the transcription into Latin
      letters that doesn't represent all the yanta letters in the same way:
      Initial yanta is represented by i, but second-part-of-diphthong yanta
      is represented by e. Don't tell me these are different sounds. The /j/
      in the word yes isn't identical to the /j/ in the word boy either.

      > You
      > speculate
      > that "Sindarin texts that use yanta for the consonantal y-sound are
      > spelt according to Westron use". This would seem to contradict what
      > you write in # 4273 about probable Westron spelling, "DTS 52 gives
      > vala and anna the names wí and yé, whereas yanta and úre are given
      > the names ai and au", which would seem to point to yanta for
      > diphthong-glide /j/ rather than initial /j/, and anna for initial
      > /j/ instead--the exact opposite of Sindarin usage.

      This doesn't rule out the possibility that the difference between
      Westron initial y and Sindarin initial i was so pronounced that
      general use writers used different letters for these sounds, just like
      Roman writers thought the difference between Greek y and Roman u to be
      so pronounced that they used different letters.

      Anyway, that hypothesis about Westron pronunciation is very speculative.

      I see and admit that this essay's wording about Sindarin is confusing,
      especially in the resume.

      If someone wanted to read the whole essay, it's in the files section:


      j. 'mach' wust
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