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195Re: [Lambengolmor] Re: i and y in Quenya: two phonemes or one?

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  • Ales Bican
    Aug 8, 2002
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      atarinke wrote:

      > > I thought about it today: are sounds _i_ (as in _Quendi_) and _y_
      > > (as in _Yavanna_) two phonemes or variants of one phoneme in
      > > Quenya?
      >
      > Hrm... I don't quite like the idea of having a consonant and a vowel
      > as one phoneme (but I haven't read Grundzüge, so what do I know ;).

      **Well, I have not either. My German is very poor and the book
      was not translated to Czech. I do not know whether it was translated
      to English (was it?). But many books reiterated Trubetzkoy's ideas,
      so I know them.

      > I guess it could be possible however and if one accepts such a view one
      > might also want to look at /w/ and /u/. I do however have a few
      > objections to adopting it in this case.

      **You are right. There might be a problem with [u] and [w]. I realize
      the both _u_ and _w_ may occurs at the beginning of words before
      vowels: _wilya_, _Uinen_, though in case of _u_, the _u_ is always
      a part of the diphtong _ui_.

      > Firstly, others (Hans and Petri I think) have already mentioned that
      > you'd have to think of diphthongs and the palatalised consonants as
      > separate phonemes in order for such a view to work.

      **I have already mentioned palatal/palatalized consonants. As for
      diphthong, it is a difficult question whether they are monophonematic
      or biphonematic. It is not certain even in living languages.

      > Whether one
      > prefers /Cy/ together with /i/ or /C/+/y/ with /i/ and /y/ seems like
      > a matter of choice but a choice does seem necessary.
      >
      > Secondly, I think I might have found a (admittedly single) possible
      > minimal pair distinguishing them, namely _heruion_ (IX, p291) meaning
      > "of lords" and an unattested but probably possible word _heru-yon_,
      > "lord-son". Now, _heru-yon_ is unattested and would in all
      > probability be seen as quite archaic (yondo being the standard form)
      > but I would still say it's a possible Quenya word.

      **I am convinced that _heru_ plus a patronymic ending _-ion_
      would produce *_heruion_, because we have _Eruion_ "son of
      god" (VT44:12). And whether we can have *_heruyon_, I am
      not sure, I think such a form would become *_heruion_.

      As for _heruion_ itself, it depends on how it was pronounced. The
      morpheme boundary is evidently between _u_ and _i_, so it might
      be pronounced as [he-ru-i-on]. If this was the case, the [i] may
      then occur between vowels and be distinct to [y]. However, if it was,
      and I believe it was, pronounced as [he-rui-on], then it is parallel
      to _haia_/_haiya_.

      > I here think that
      > the /i/ in _heruion_ is syllabic while the /y/ in _heru-yon_ is not
      > so the difference in meaning would come across.

      **It would. -- I wonder whether the pair _heruion_ "of lords" /
      *_heruion_ "son of lord" was distinguished in speech. I would say
      no, though I cannot prove or disprove it.

      > Now, this is not a good minimal pair, I know. In part because one of
      > its constituents is made up by me, in part because they differ in the
      > position of the stress as well. But I do think _heru-yon_ is a
      > possible Quenya word, even if _heru-yondo_ or _heruion_ (with the
      > patronymic -ion suffix) would be more probable. And the difference in
      > stress lacks importance in this case since stress in Quenya does not
      > carry any information (is not phonemic), correct?

      **I think so.

      > On the other hand, I'm a physics undergrad, not a linguist, so all of
      > the above might just be (and probably is) nonsense.

      **Not at all.


      Ales Bican

      ps. It may be also convenient to remark that Tolkien adapted
      Maria's name to Quenya as _María_ not *_Maria_, because I believe
      this form would become *_Marya_.

      --
      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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