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194Re: [Lambengolmor] Re: i and y in Quenya: two phonemes or one?

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  • Ales Bican
    Aug 8, 2002
      gentlebeldin wrote:

      > > As far as I can see they seems to agree with Trubetzkoy's third rule
      > > (they never occur in the same phonetic environs) and not to agree
      > > with the forth rule (one does not occurs beside the other).
      > Possibly, they do: There's the pronominal suffix _-lye_ and the
      > suffix _-lie_, as in _Eldalie_.

      **You are right, this would be the same phonetic environs.

      > This could rule out the possibility
      > of allomorphs: they have to be variants of the same phoneme,
      > predictable from the environment where they occur.

      **I am afraid I do not understand you here.

      > However, the _i_ in diphthongs like _ai_ and the _y_ in combinations
      > like _ly_ don't seem to be independent phonemes. Both just modify the
      > pronunciation of the preceding sound, and this is confirmed by the
      > spelling in Tengwar (_ai_ as a-tehta over _yanta_, _ly_ as dots under
      > _lambe_, cf. "Namaarie" in _The Road Goes Ever On_).

      **Speaking of <yanta> and Tengwar, Arden Smith wrote on Elfscript
      (to quote him): "I have seen the tengwa _yanta_ used to represent
      word-initial /y/ in Q(u)enya, but only in other words, e.g. _Yavanna_."
      (Re: [elfscript] úr (e) and yanta (was: Re: úr >> úre ), 6 Jun 2002).
      This may hint something.

      As for _ly_, the _y_ may just denote palatalization, sc. _ly_ would
      stand for either palatal l or palatalized l (I would say the former).
      The _ly_ might be a single phoneme (and single sound), because
      "[Quenya] does not tolerate more than a single basic consonant
      initially in any word" (SD/IX:417-8) and we have _lyenna_ (occurring
      in the sentence _nai elen siluva lyenna_ mentioned by Helge Fauskanger
      on Elfling ([elfling] 1968: "Lyenna" = upon you, 11 May 2002).

      Nevertheless, it is not so easy. It is well-known that Quenya has
      words beginning in _ty_ (e.g. _tyalie_). So the _ty_ would be a
      single sound. Yet Tolkien stated that "_atatya_ remained [unchanged]
      because the second _a_ was not syncopated, being a long syllable"
      (VT42:27). To this Carl Hostetter noted: "A long syllable is one
      that contains either a long vowel (or diphthong), or, as in this
      case, a short vowel followed by two (or more) consonants" (VT42:31).

      But about the word _martya-_ "destine" (Etym, MBARAT-)? If
      we supposed a primitive form *_maratjâ_, why was the second
      _a_ syncopated? And even if the verbal _-jâ_ had been added to
      the stem aften the syncope (i.e. to *_mart-_), the _ty_ would
      preceded a long syllable, because combinations vowel + sonant
      was regarded as a diphthong, at least in Qenya (see PE12:3).

      It seems that Tolkien was either inconsistent (resp. he kept changing
      his mind) or Quenya had two distict _ty_'s: one being a single
      consonant and the other being a combination of _t_ and _y_.
      Let us also note that Tolkien wrote in _Qenya Grammar Excerpt_:

      _ty_ is by origin (i) a single sound, a fronted variety of _k_,
      (ii) the result of the combination of _k_ (_q_) _t_ + _y_ and
      initially also occas[ionally] of _p_ + _y_. In sound it is now
      a very forward palatal stop foll[owed] by a distinct _y_
      off-glide; in some dialects it is practically E[nglish] _ch_
      with or without a clear _y_ off-glide. (PE13:63)

      In both _atatya_ and _martya_ the _ty_ must be a result of _t_ +
      _y_, though.

      A perhaps similar inconsistency may be seen in the pronominal
      suffixes. In Namárie we have _máryat_ suggesting _ry_ is a single
      sound. One would expect the same about the pronominal suffix
      _-nye_. Yet it seems to cause shortening of previous syllables,
      cf. _onye_ vs. _óni_ (presumptively *"with me"; VT43:29).

      Well, I am somewhat off-topic. My point was that if _ly_ in
      _-lye_ is a single sound (which I cannot either prove or
      dissprove), it is not an instance of _y_ being in the same
      position as _i_.

      > The question whether a vocal and a consonant can be similar enough to
      > count as allomorphs, is subjective. _y_ is a half-vowel, after all.

      **I am not sure again if I understand you. In Slovakian (a Slavic
      language very similar to Czech) [i] and [j] are treated like
      allomorphs, for instance.

      Ales Bican

      Mi dissero che a quell'epoca per quindici giorni e quindici notti
      i retori Gabundus e Terentius discussero sul vocativo di _ego_,
      e infine vennero alle armi. (Umberto Eco, _Il nome della rosa_)
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