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882Re: [Lambengolmor] Meaning of _umne_

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  • Thorsten Renk
    Feb 8, 2006
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      > 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]

      I do not agree with the interpretation of _karne_ given by Patrick here.
      But first, the evidence which I know that counts for this interpretation
      is the fact that an ending _-ne_ for 1st person sg. is attested in
      _tye-mel�ne_ (V:61) for a form which is presumably present tense _#m�la-_.
      Furthermore, the actual entry KAR (V:362), listing first _karin_, then
      _karne_ and than the translation 'I make, build' suggests that these are
      alternative forms sharing the translation.

      However, the Etymologies are not a very organized document, and it does
      not require a great leap of faith to assume that Tolkien wrote first the
      verb, then (because his mind was occupied with it) the past tense and then
      added the translation.

      A past tense formation _kar-_ 'make' [pa.t.] _karne_ pr.t. _kare_ is seen
      in PE14:58. Past tenses of this type, i.e. for stem verbs with final
      consonant _-r_ are unusually frequently attested in the Etymologies, in
      particular some are in a context in which the form is identified as past
      tense, cf. _tirin_ pa.t. tirne (V:394) or _mere_ pa.t. _merne_ (V:373). In
      fact, final _-r_ is the best attested case for stem verb past tenses in
      the Etymologies and no other past tense formation is seen for this verb
      class.

      My suspicion as to why this is so is based on the observation that in the
      QL all stem verbs ending with _-r-_ (and possibly a repetition of the root
      vowel), some 24 examples all together, form their past tense by vowel
      lengthening (in particular, _karin_ 'I make, do' pa.t. _k�re_ is attested
      in PE12:45) No stem verb with final root consonant _-r_ is seen taking a
      suffix _-ne_ (although the suffix is active for other verbs).

      The past tense _karne_ in the EQG thus suggests a conceptual change to
      allow the suffix _-ne_ to become productive with these verbs, but in V:47
      the old variant reappears in _ohtak�re_. It is therefore my suspicion that
      the relative large number of past tense suffixes _-ne_ for _-r_-verbs seen
      in the Etymologies reflect Tolkien trying to come to a decision about the
      past tense - which at that time should apparently be by suffix _-ne_ for
      this type of stem verb.

      Thus, if I look at the whole history of the past tense of _kar-_ and
      related verbs up to this point, to my mind it makes more sense to
      interpret _karne_ as a past tense - it agrees well with a previous past
      tense of the verb, and it agrees well with past tenses of similar verbs
      seen in the Etymologies, whereas an interpretation of _-ne_ as 1st person
      sg. would to my knowledge be unique within the Etymologies.

      (As a final remark -- the reappearance of _ohtak�re_ in the "Notion
      Club Papers" (IX:246) indicates that Tolkien was not able to settle the
      question of the past tense of verbs with stems ending in _-r_ -- if he
      ever desired to).

      * Thorsten Renk

      [You might very well be right that _karne_ was intended as the pa.t. of
      _karin_ 'I make, build' rather than an alternative 1 sg. aorist -- as CJRT
      notes, this entry "was very roughly rewritten", which raises the degree
      of possibility that the revised entry might be imprecisely expressed.

      I would only note, with regard to the final paragraph in your post, that
      there is no reason to think that a verb need have one and only one pa.t.
      form -- and so no reason to assume that Tolkien had or was unable to
      "settle" on one or the other. Verbs in real languages can and do have both
      strong and weak past-tense forms happily coexisting: consider English
      "shine", str. pa.t. "shone", wk. pa.t. "shined". The same is true of Quenya
      and the other Elvish languages, in all their conceptual stages. So while
      you have shown that Tolkien strongly favored the weak pa.t. in _-ne_ for
      Qenya basic verbs with stems ending in R in the Etymologies, this does
      not mean that he envisioned this as a rule without exceptions. The form
      _ohtak�re_ 'war-made' that you cited from V:47 -- a form contemporary
      with the Etymologies -- points in this very direction, suggesting that
      Tolkien perhaps envisioned both _k�re_ and _karne_ as coexistent pa.t.
      forms of _kar-_, each with a differing semantic nuance. E.g., _k�re_
      might have been archaic or poetic, which would fit the context of the
      example in which it is used in V:47 -- just as there was no single pa.t.
      of _auta-_ 'go away, leave', but rather three, each with slightly different
      meanings and uses: _anwe_ (archaic), _v�ne_ (associated with ideas of
      death, loss, departure, and vanishment), and _oante_ (purely physical,
      'went away (to another place)'); XI:366. Such variety and unpredictability,
      of course, were a deliberate artistic effect in Tolkien's languages, adding
      to their verisimilitude. -- PHW]
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