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301Finnish and Quenya future

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  • Petri Tikka
    Jan 29, 2003
      There's a formation in Finnish to express future time: a conjugated
      (person, time) form of the verb _olla_ 'to be' and the present
      participle of a verb, e.g. _olen oleva_ 'I will be'. (Present
      participles are formed from a verb stem + _-va_ adjectival
      ending.) It is quite a formal and archaic construction. It is used
      in the Finnish translation of the Bible (_Raamattu_), and people
      often remember it thence.

      Now, in Qenya the future tense is marked with an ending _-va_,
      e.g. in _antáva_ 'will give' (V:72) < _anta-_ 'give' (V:348). (This
      persisted to later Quenya in _-uva_.) It is possible that this future
      construction was inspired by Finnish, since it also uses an ending
      _-va_ to mark the future. Cf. "my 'own language' ... became heavily
      Finnicized in phonetic pattern and _structure_" (L:214; emphasis mine).

      Quenya is probably not overmuch influenced by Finnish in
      vocabulary or syntax, but it has some similar or identical grammatical
      endings, e.g. Quenya _-sse_ locative case (VT6:14) vs. Finnish
      _-ssa/-ssä_ inessive case ending; and Quenya _-ra_ adjectival ending
      (e.g. in _tára_ 'lofty' < TA3-, V:389) vs. Finnish _-ra_ adjectival
      ending (e.g. in _avara_ 'expansive' < *_ava_ 'open'). Tolkien seems
      to have borrowed old or obsolete grammatical features, e.g. Quenya
      _-nna_ allative case ending vs. Finnish _-nne_ lative case ending.
      This future formation could be another such a loan.

      Petri Tikka Helsinki, Finland
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