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530Re: Finnish words from QL

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  • cgilson75
    Nov 9, 2003
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      --- In lambengolmor@yahoogroups.com, "Pavel Iosad" <edricson@d...>

      > Petri Tikka wrote (on the subject of Qenya words similar to Finnish):
      >> _kantl_ 'a large harp', _kantele_ 'harping' (45) | kantele 'harp'
      > With this, one has to compare Welsh _cathl_ 'hymn, lay, song'. Together
      > wth [Old] Irish _cétal_ it points to an earlier *_knt-l-_ (syllabic
      > nasals yield -en- in Goidelic, hence *kentl- > *kétl- > *kédl > kédal
      > (orthographic _cétal_)). Now these two words [*_kntl_ and _kantele_] do
      > show a remarkable similarity, both in the form and content (surely the
      > meanings are akin).

      Specifically, Tolkien would have encountered this Celtic etymology in
      J. Morris Jones's _Welsh Grammar_ (pp. 17, 150), with mention also of
      a variant Irish form _céol_; Breton _kentel_ 'lesson'; and
      interestingly enough Old Welsh _centh(i)liat_ 'singer', a gloss of
      Lat. _canorum_. The second (principal) mention is in connection with
      his explanatation of the development of original nasal + stop +
      resonant combinations like -ntl-, which brings out the connection of
      these words with the root *_kan-_ 'to sing': Lat. _canere_, W _canu_,

      If my interpretation of the Naffarin verse is correct -- message 492
      -- then this particular sound-sense association was long-standing in
      Tolkien's private language, with Naff. _cangor (luttos)_ == *'song,
      poetry'. So the combined resemblance with Finn. _kantele_, _kantelo_
      'harp' would certainly have attracted Tolkien's attention.

      The earlier mention of these forms by Jones is in connection with the
      "inorganic _y_" that appears in certain Middle Welsh word-final
      consonant combinations, as in _pobyl_ for _pobl_ 'people'. In Old
      Welsh the spelling is _i_ (there is an Early Middle Welsh attestation
      of _cathil_ == _cathl_) and the sound can occur medially, as in
      _centhiliat_. This is remarkable because QL seems to have certain
      forms with an _i_ that have a similar "inorganic" origin and in a
      context phonetically similar to the pattern of _centh(i)liat_:
      _evandilyon_ 'gospel' (beside _evandl_ 'Christian missionary'); and
      _Earendilyon_ 'sailor' == *'son of Earendl' (beside _Earendl_ "the

      Qenya forms ending in an _-e_ that alternates with _-i-_ when followed
      by an inflection at least sometimes reflect an earlier form in _-y-_
      (or consonantal _i_) followed by a reduced vowel (schwa), as stated
      explicitly for QL _ande_ 'long' and _ore_ 'seed, grain'. So to the
      extent that _kantele_ is structurally equivalent to *_kantely-_ +
      schwa, we can see its first _e_ as phonotactically comparable to the
      _i_ of _evandilyon_. Thus its relation to _kantl_ is comparable to
      the relation of _evandilyon_ to _evandl_. Since the inorganic vowel
      has no inherent quality, we can suppose that its actual realization is
      assimilated to the following vowel or semivowel, according to the
      latter's ultimate realization. The pair _kantl_, _kantele_ is
      comparable to _mantl_ 'glove' beside _mantele_ 'gauntlet'; and
      rejected _qintl_ or _-ele_ 'a lyre'.

      > I think it possible to suggest that here we see a reflection of
      > Tolkien's early conception of the Elvish languages as a sort of
      > 'mediators' between the language of North-Western Europe. The words in
      > Celtic and Finnish are, to the best of my knowledge, unrelated, but
      > Tolkien supplies a story-internal explanation for the perceived
      > similarity.
      > Or is it just wishful thinking?

      As to whether W _cathl_ and Finn. _kantele_ are *actually* related, I
      can only note that Aimo Turunen in his _Kalevalan Sanat ja Niiden
      Taustat_ explains the latter as "joko baltt[ilainen], vrt. liett[uan]
      _kãnklis_, tai omaper. _kansi_, _kanta_-sanoihin liittyvä nimitys." I
      don't know what all of this says literally (perhaps Petri or our other
      Finnish-speaking members can illucidate further), but I think Turunen
      is suggesting a connection either with Lithuanian _kãnklis_ (I also
      don't know the meaning or etymology of this), or else with Finn.
      _kansi_ 'lid, cover; deck (of ship)' or _kanta_ 'base; heel (of shoe);
      head (of nail)'.

      But I do agree with Pavel that Tolkien must have imagined a common
      Elvish origin as the explanation for the resemblance between W _cathl_
      'song' and Finn. _kantele_ 'harp'. This is especially suggested by
      the fact that Q (_kantil_ 'a small harp' >>) _kantl_ 'a large harp' is
      closer in form to W _cathl_ (Early MW _cathil_) 'song', while Q
      _kantele_ 'harping' is equivalent in form to Finn. _kantele_ 'harp'.
      Apparently then, Tolkien intended to suggest that these various
      concepts and forms developed from a single original.

      And indeed, if we imagine the typical context in which all of these
      concepts have a role, i.e. the performance of a song or recital of a
      poem together with the playing of a harp, then each of these -- the
      harp, the song, and the playing -- is *instrumental* to the overall
      purpose of the presumably underlying verbal concept, which is to
      convey the sense of the song or poem to the listener. Perhaps the
      various Q. forms in both _-l_ and _-ele_ are to be seen as
      instrumentals derived ultimately from an enclitic application of the
      form _le_ 'with' (accompaniment).

      -- Christopher Gilson
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