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881Meaning of _umne_

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  • David Kiltz
    Feb 5, 2006
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      On page 32 of VT 48 Patrick Wynne wrote [on Tolkien's: "The old str.
      pa.t. is seen in OQ _umne_ future-past , _matumne_ "I was going to
      eat".] "If "str." in this last sentence == "strong" it is extremely
      puzzling, since OQ _umne_ appears instead to be a *weak* past tense
      (< _*ub-_ + pa.t. suffix _-nê_); ..."

      I have a question. Is the translation really 'I was going to eat'?
      If that's the case, shouldn't _umne_ contain a suffix of the 1st sg.
      'I' ? If so, the form is, perhaps, to be interpreted as _*ub + ni_ (> ne),
      where _ne_ would be an OQ (?) form for later _-(V)n_, the marker for
      the 1st sg. The pa.t. formation would then resemble _úme_ (UGU-/UMU-
      Etym.) with _-ne_ instead of _-e-_ as a marker of the 1st sg. and
      subsequent shortening of _ú_ > _u_ before two consonants. For a
      different interpretation, see 2).

      If we analyze the form as containing _*ub + nê_ it would seem we have
      two problems:

      1) The form should typically be a 3rd sg.

      2) In the case of the regular 'strong' _-n-_ pa.t. morpheme, an
      infixed outcome _**umbe_ after the pattern of _tampe_ (TAP-, Etym)
      and _rende_ (RED-, Etym.) or _anwe_ (XI:366 _auta-_) would have
      seemed more likely.

      So, maybe we even have to analyze it as _**ub + n + ni_ > _*umbne_ >
      _umne_, thus accounting for both the infixed _n_ of the str. pa.t. as
      well as the suffix of the 1st sg.

      The latter interpretation might be favourable if T/D + n > nT/D was a
      phonetic process in Q., not a grammatical one, as seems to be the case.

      A form _*umben_ 'I pondered' would then be a later 'regularization'.

      David Kiltz

      [Yes, the translation of _matumne_ in the MS is clearly 'I was going to
      eat'. It doesn't necessarily follow from this that OQ _umne_ *must*
      contain a suffix of the 1st sg. 'I', however, since Tolkien does not
      translate _umne_ as a 1 sg. form, but instead describes it in more
      general terms as "future-past". It was this that led me to assume --
      I now think mistakenly -- that it analyzed as *_ub-_ + pa.t. _-nê_,
      and, concomitantly, that the gloss of _matumne_ as a 1 sg. form was
      a minor slip (cp. Tolkien's gloss of the ON infinitive _naróbe_ as 3 sg.
      'he tells a story', V:374).

      However, David's proposed interpretation of OQ _umne_ as strong
      pa.t. *_ûb-_ + 1 sg. *_ni_ seems quite plausible, and is certainly
      preferable to such "Homer nodded" arguments. The Q. form _karne_
      'I make, build' (== _karin_) given in the _Etymologies_ (V:362) shows
      suffixion of 1 sg. _-ne_ directly to a basic stem in the aorist, which
      suggests that the same could have happened in certain past tense
      forms as well. -- PHW]
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