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309Re: Finnish and Quenya future

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  • Petri Tikka
    Jan 31, 2003
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      Partit (Patrick) tence:

      > Since Quenya, unlike Finnish and English, _does_ possess
      > morphologically distinct present (continuative) and aorist
      > tenses, it would be highly confusing to refer to the Q. aorist
      > as a "present" tense, all the moreso since the Q. aorist
      > does not refer specifically to the present, but is instead used
      > to express general truths or habitually recurrent actions,
      > without specifying whether said action takes place in the
      > past or present (hence the term 'aorist' < Gk. _aoristos_
      > 'indefinite'). [...]

      Thank you, I understand now. But what about _Eleni SILIR
      lúmesse omentiemman_ 'The stars SHINE on the hour
      of our meeting' (VI:324)? Here the time is locked by
      _lúmesse_ 'on the hour', so it can not express a recurrent
      action, let alone a general truth. The moment is thus
      defined as present.

      Petri Tikka Helsinki, Finland


      [I disagree that the time in this phrase is locked by
      _lúmesse_, "so it can not express a recurrent action,
      let alone a general truth." There is nothing inherent in
      _lúmesse_ 'on the hour' that would restrict its point
      of reference to a single, non-recurrent moment in
      present time. In English, for example, one can say
      "My grandfather clock chimes _on the hour_", which
      expresses both a recurrent action and a general
      truth: the clock in question rings every hour, 24
      hours a day, seven days a week. Note that "chimes"
      in this sentence would be a gnomic present
      (= aorist).

      In the phrase _Eleni silir lúmesse omentiemman_
      'The stars shine on the hour of our meeting', the
      aorist _silir_ comes first in the sentence, and its
      context affects the interpretation of the next word
      _lúmesse_, not vice versa. Since the aorist indicates
      a general truth rather than a specific present event, the
      sense of the greeting in this case must be something
      like *'The stars shine whenever we meet'. No matter
      that the words are uttered by Frodo on his _first_
      meeting with Gildor -- this is, after all, meant to be a
      traditional greeting, not an expression coined by
      Frodo for that specific occasion.

      This contrasts with the Elvish greeting as it finally
      appears in _The Lord of the Rings_: _Elen síla
      lúmenn' omentielvo_ 'a star shines on the hour
      of our meeting' (LR:79). As you noted in message
      #307, this contains the present continuative _síla_,
      so that in the final text the Elvish greeting now (in
      contrast to the earlier aorist versions) refers only
      to the present, specific encounter: *'a star is
      shining (now) upon the hour of (this) our meeting'.

      -- Patrick Wynne]
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