586Re: Pronunciation and writing of _r_ in Quenya
- Jan 6, 2004Helios cited from app. E:
> > "[Óre] was often used for a weak (untrilled) _r_, originally occurringEdouard Kloczko commented:
> > in Quenya and regarded in the system of that language as the weakest
> > consonant of the _tincotéma_." (LR:1094)
> I read here "originally occurring in Quenya" as meaning "originallyWhy would Feanor create a letter for a sound he didn't use? Sure, he also
> occurring in Common Eldarin (?)or/and Primitive Quendian", e.g. *not* in
> Quenya as the living language of Aman and later in Exile, in which we had
> only one trilled r.
created letters for aspirated sounds, but I guess this was rather because
these sounds were observed in the language of the Valar. Or can we suppose
that the lambengolmor of Feanor's time already knew the sounds of Common
Eldarin (?)or/and Primitive Quendian? To my understanding, these sounds
could only be reconstructed when the Eldar knew Sindarin and other Elvish
dialects from Middle-Earth. And if we suppose that these sounds were known
at the time of Feanor: Why would a letter for a sound that was only
distinguished in Common Eldarin (?)or/and Primitive Quendian become part of
the standard orthography of Quenya?
As I understand it, there's only an external explanation for the duality of
r-letters. J. R. R. Tolkien developed these two letters for a phonetic
representation of his own "r-dropping" dialect of English: rómen for
approximant _r_ and óre for dropped _r_, that is, for the schwa-sound that
replaces an original _r_, e.g. in _here, there, under_ (it's difficult to
decide whether óre is a vowel letter or a consonant letter).
When he wrote Quenya with tengwar, he used both letters in almost the same
way he used them in English. Maybe this was only because he was used to do
so, or maybe because he liked to have diverse letters. Maybe Tolkien's
attitude to the tengwar was somewhat lax, similar to Feanor's: "[...] in any
case his primary interest was in _writing_, in its practical and its
decorative aspects rather than in an accurate phonetic transcription. Not
that he was with without interest in phonetic analysis" (app. E to _Quendi
and Eldar_, in: VT 39, p. 8).
Maybe his use of the two r-letters in Quenya remained unconscient until he
had to explain how the tengwar work, that is, at last until he wrote the
appendices to the Lord of the Rings. Helios' above quote might mean that J.
R. R. Tolkien planned to revise the Quenya phonology by introducing a
distinction of approximant _r_ vs. trilled _r_, but since his attitude to
spelling matters was similar to Feanor's, he forgot to do so.
Is the hypothesis of such a planned but never fulfilled revision plausible,
I mean, do we have any evidence for similar cases?
j. 'mach' wust
[Edouard's reading of "originally occuring in Quenya" (with regard to untrilled
_r_) as meaning "originally occurring in Common Eldarin (?)or/and Primitive
Quendian" is, I think, unjustified and highly idiosyncratic. If one applies Occam's
Razor (the simplest explanation is most likely to be correct) to this question,
the situation regarding trilled R and weak R in Quenya seems rather obvious.
Though R came to be pronounced as "a trilled _r_ in all positions" (LR:1088),
there was originally also a weak R in Quenya (either Old Quenya, or the more
conservative form of the language spoken in Valinor, as opposed to Exilic
Quenya). Tolkien's use of the tengwar Rómen versus Óre in his transcription
of "Namárie" gives us a clear indication of where these two sounds originally
occurred -- trilled R (rómen) was usual at the beginning of words or
intervocalically, and weak R (óre) was usual before consonants and at the
end of words. -- PHW]
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