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933[elfscript] úr (e) and yanta (was: Re: úr >> úre )

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  • Arden R. Smith
    Jun 3, 2002
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      When viewed in relation to the familiar 1960s application of the
      tengwar to Quenya, the names _úr(e)_ and _yanta_ are certainly
      anomalous. These names are best explained as relics.

      When _úr_ was first used as a tengwa-name (in the late 1930s, as far
      as I can tell), the tengwa to which it was applied in fact
      represented a vowel, as it does in such full modes as the Mode of
      Beleriand.

      When the name _yanta_ was given to that particular tengwa, the letter
      was used to represent /y/. Thus the word _yanta_ was spelt with the
      tengwa _yanta_ rather than with _anna_ and a subscript double-dot
      y-tehta.

      Of course, these explanations refer to the development of the tengwar
      during Tolkien's lifetime. The manuscripts don't really give any
      answers to these questions with respect to the mythological timeline.
      We have to rely on our own theories to explain why letters used for
      diphthongal off-glides were called _yanta_ and _úre_ in the Third
      Age. This is my theory:

      In the fictional history (as in the real one), the spelling _anna_ +
      y-tehta was a late addition to the Feanorian system. A hypothesis
      that _yanta_ originally represented /y/ in all positions (and _wilya_
      /w/ in all positions) is supported by the analogy of the forms of
      _yanta_:_hyarmen_::_wilya_:_hwesta_. After the introduction of the
      _anna_ + y-tehta spelling, the letter _yanta_ came to be used for the
      off-glide alone, though the old name was retained. The letter _úre_
      was then created (as a modification of _wilya_) to be its labiovelar
      counterpart.

      To explain why this letter was called _úre_, I'll go along with the
      theory that Danny mentioned:

      >I once proposed that perhaps the word/name 'úre' was originally
      >written as 'u' curl over úre, a 'uw' diphthong representing 'ú',
      >based on similar usage in the sarati.

      Danny's not the first to propose this theory. Jim Allan presented it
      in _An Introduction to Elvish_ (p. 243), but I like Danny's addition
      about the Rúmilian basis.

      --
      ********************************************************************
      Arden R. Smith erilaz@...

      "Do you know Languages? What's the French for fiddle-de-dee?"
      "Fiddle-de-dee's not English," Alice replied gravely.
      "Who ever said it was?" said the Red Queen.

      --Lewis Carroll,
      _Through the Looking-glass_
      ********************************************************************
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