881Meaning of _umne_
- Feb 5, 2006On 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
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'.
[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]
- Next post in topic >>