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586Re: Pronunciation and writing of _r_ in Quenya

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  • mach
    Jan 6, 2004
      Helios cited from app. E:

      > > "[Óre] was often used for a weak (untrilled) _r_, originally occurring
      > > in Quenya and regarded in the system of that language as the weakest
      > > consonant of the _tincotéma_." (LR:1094)

      Edouard Kloczko commented:
      > I read here "originally occurring in Quenya" as meaning "originally
      > 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.

      Why would Feanor create a letter for a sound he didn't use? Sure, he also
      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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