102The etymology of _imíca_
- Jul 14, 2002There are currently two theories about the etymology of the Quenya word
_imíca_ "among" (VT43:28):
1. by Carl Hostetter: _imi_ (VT34:30) + partitive ending _-ika_ (VT28:29-30)
2. by Helge Fauskanger: an extension or intensification of _mi_ (LR:373)
= _imî_ + adjectival suffix _-ca_ (PM:363)
Carl's theory conflicts with _mika_ (VT43:11), which doesen't include a
long _í_ from the merging of _i_+_ika_. Of course, Tolkien may have
only forgotten to mark the long vowel, but that must not be used as
The adjectival ending _-ca_ is seen only after dipthongs and consonants,
cf. _faika_ "contemptible, mean" (V:387), _helka_ "icy, icecold"
(V:364), _nwalka_ "cruel" (V:377) and _soika_ "thirsty" (VT39:11).
But there is the word _néka_ "pale, vague, faint, dim to see" (MC:221-223),
which has either
1. lengthening of the stem wowel *NE + adjectival ending _-ca_
2. *NÉ + an adjectival ending
Both options are neither supported nor denied by the available material,
since stem vowel can't be lengthened if it already has a dipthong or it is
a closed syllable, cf. _oilima_ "last" (MC:213, 214) vs _métima_ "last"
(MC:221-223) and _oantië_ vs _avánië_ (WJ:366). The firs option might
refute Helge's theory, but it wouldn't support Carl's either, since _mica_
doesen't have a long vowel.
Helge's theory is slightly supported by the fact that his endings are
attested in a latter period and Carl's because it is more succint. Still
yet Helge's theory of the adjectival ending _-ca_ being used to make a
preposition, supported by _hekwâ_ "leaving aside, not counting, excluding,
except" (WJ:365), accounts for _mika_, while Carl's doesen't. It can thus
explain with attested parallels both _imíca_ and _mika_, while Hostetter's
Petri Tikka Helsinki, Finland
[If the partitive ending _-ika_ cannot account for both _imíca_ and
_mika_, then I fail to see how an adjectival ending _-ka_ can be held to
account for _mika_ and _imíca_, when *_imí-_ is unattested.
Moreover, your treatment of the two explanations of _imíca_ fails to take
the _meaning_ of _imíca_ into account. 'among' is an inherently partitive
meaning; a partitive ending is thus eminently suitable for this
preposition. And 'among' is _not_ an adjective.
If Helge can point to a non-partitive preposition in _-(i)ka_, then I
might give some credence to this. Until then, I see no reason to count
Helge's adjectival-conjunction-in-_-wa_ as evidence in support of his
adjectival derivation of a partitive preposition in _-ka_, nor to prefer
it to my explanation; and I certainly do not agree that my explanation
cannot account for both forms. Carl]