Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

465The Noldorin pa.t. _mudas_

Expand Messages
  • Patrick H. Wynne
    Jul 12 9:07 AM
      Carl F. Hostetter wrote, regarding Helge Fauskanger's statement
      that the Noldorin pa.t. _mudas_ (< _mudo_ 'labour, toil', < MÔ-)
      is "totally abnormal" and that "Nowhere in the entire published
      Tolkien-linguistic corpus is there any past tense formation even
      resembling this, nor any hint of how such a past tense form could
      possibly be historically justified":

      > I would direct Fauskanger's attention to the information on the
      > Noldorin verb found in the "Early Noldorin Grammar" published in
      > _Parma Eldalamberon_ 13 (in particular, pp. 126-32), wherein we
      > find numerous examples of past-tense verbs in _-th-_; this is not
      > so very far removed from the _-s_ of _mudas_.

      Moreover, such pa.t. Noldorin verbs in _-th_ (e.g. _mad- 'to eat',
      past indicative singular _madath_, PE13:131) also date back to
      Goldogrin. In the Gnomish Lexicon there are a large number of
      verbs that form a weak pa.t. by addition of a suffix _-thi_. The
      following list, only a small sample, demonstrates the addition of
      this pa.t. ending to a wide variety of verbal stems:

      _belu-_ 'runroll, unfurl', pret. _beluthi_.
      _haw-, hau_ 'to lie', pret. _hui_ or _hauthi_.
      _ilta-_ 'to stick in, prod, prick', pret. _iltathi_.
      _îr-_ 'am willing', pret. _airi_ or _irthi_.
      _ol-_ 'appear, seem', pret. _ûli_ or _olthi_.
      _pâ-_ 'put', pret. _pôthi_ or _pâthi_.
      _rô-_ 'remain, stay; stand', pret. _rûthi_ or _rôthi_.
      _sana-_ 'can, know how to', pret. _sôni_ or _santhi_.

      Etymologically, this weak pa.t. ending _-thi_ is probably
      identical to _thi_, pret. of the verb _na(1)-_ 'is' (described
      as "quite irregular", as further demonstrated by its
      participle _ol-_ (PE11:58).

      This would make the Goldogrin weak pa.t. forms in _-thi_ quite
      similar in etymology to the Latin imperfect tense, marked by an
      element _-ba-_ (e.g., _amabam_ 'I was loving, I used to love')
      that is thought to derive from the Indo-European root BHEU@-,
      BHEU- 'to be, exist, grow', which is also the source of English
      _be_.

      This parallel with the formation of the Latin imperfect also
      appears in the early Noldorin material published in Parma 13.
      In the "Noldorin Dictionary", various Noldorin pa.t. forms in
      _-th_ are labeled as "past imperfect": _amró_ *'rise' - "p. impf."
      _amro(a)th_; _mad_ 'eats' - _madath_ "past imperfect, was
      eating"; _dadnú_ *'sink' - "impf." _dadnovath_ (PE13:159, 163,
      164). This early Noldorin pa.t. ending _-th_ might be cognate
      with _tha-_ 'to make, cause to be' (< *_s'ta-_), given in the
      "Noldorin Word-lists", a verb that is also said to be the source
      of the causative suffix _-tha_ (PE13:153).

      The forms cited above amply demonstrate that Fauskanger's
      assertion that the Noldorin pa.t. _mudas_ is "totally abnormal"
      and does not resemble any past tense formation found "in the
      entire published Tolkien-linguistic corpus" is simply wrong, as
      is his claim that there is no "hint of how such a past tense form
      could possibly be historically justified". Exactly how the etymol-
      ogies of Gn. _-thi_ and N. _-th_ proposed above relate to the
      etymology Tolkien envisioned for N. _-s_ in _mudas_ is unclear,
      to say the least -- but it _is_ clear that N. _mudas_ cannot
      be simply dismissed as an isolated anomaly.

      Two further points should be made. In "Reconstructing the Sindarin
      Verb System", Fauskanger writes: "If the verb _mudo_ '[to] labour,
      toil' is the source of a form _mudas_, the latter would therefore be
      expected to mean 'labour, toil' as a noun. It seems entirely possible
      that Tolkien distractedly wrote 'pa.t.' intending 'noun'." Possible,
      perhaps -- but not probable, given that _mudas_ appears simply
      to be part of a conceptual continuum of Goldogrin/Noldorin
      pa.t. forms in _-thi_, _-th_, _-s_. That Tolkien envisioned irregu-
      larities in the Elvish languages is well attested, whether it be the
      "irregular vocalism" of Q. _málo_ 'friend' < base MEL- (V:372),
      the "irreg. pret." _(e)halle_ of Q _halta-_ 'to leap' (PE12:39), the
      "quite irregular" Gn. verb _na-_ 'is', or the "irregular pret."
      _tîli_ of Gn. _teltha-_ 'cover in' (PE11:70), to cite but a few
      examples. Such deliberate irregularities were a conscious part
      of Tolkien's linguistic artistry, adding an element of realism to
      his languages that would otherwise be lacking were they perfectly
      regular. To attempt to dismiss _mudas_ as a pa.t. simply
      because it is irregular or "abnormal" fails to recognize this
      aspect of Tolkien's creative process.

      Fauskanger also proposes an alternative means of explaining away
      the troublesome form _mudas_ as a pa.t. verb: "Alternatively, what
      Christopher Tolkien transcribed as 'pa.t.' may well be a highly
      tentative reading of an illegible scrawl in the original manuscript;
      he describes the M-stems of his father's manuscript as 'faint and
      difficult to interpret, and some are very confused' (LR:370)." This
      is, fortunately, not the case with this particular entry -- I can
      confirm, having examined my photocopy of the entry for the
      base MÔ-, that the reading "N _mudo_ (pa.t. _mudas_)" is clear
      and unambiguous.

      -- Patrick H. Wynne
    • Show all 14 messages in this topic