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Some musings on _VT_ 49

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  • F.S.
    I too find the similarity in form and meaning between _sanya_ regular, law-abiding, normal (V:388) and _senya_ usual intriguing (see VT49:22), but I wonder
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 12, 2007
      I too find the similarity in form and meaning between
      _sanya_ 'regular, law-abiding, normal' (V:388) and
      _senya_ 'usual' intriguing (see VT49:22), but I wonder
      if it is not just a chance resemblance from a
      story-internal point of view. Still there might be an
      external connection. The editor argues that _senya_
      might be related to _sen-_ 'let loose, free, let go':
      'If _senwa_, _senya_ originally meant 'freed,
      unconstrained', this could naturally give rise to the
      sense 'normal, usual', referring to the "default"
      behavior or attitude of a person or thing'. But a
      similar argument could be made for Q _senda_ 'resting,
      at peace' < SED (V:385). It could conceivably have
      referred to the natural state of a thing when left
      undisturbed: the state to which a thing returns when
      left at peace. So a sense 'natural, normal' might have
      developed. Internally, would a blend of derivatives of
      STAN and SED be possible? Externally, is it possible
      that Tolkien mixed them up?

      [A member of the VT review panel also suggested that I
      include Q. _senda_ as a possible cognate of _senya_; but
      the fact that the former derives from SED- seemed to me
      to argue against this -- _senda_ is presumably from *_sed-_
      + adj. _-na_, whereas _sed-_ + adj. _-ya_ would evidently
      yield *_serya_. Perhaps we could suppose that _senya_ is
      from *_sed-nya_ > *_sendya_ > _senya_, or that adj. _-ya_
      was added to a variant *_send-_, with nasal infix. In any
      event, I agree that SED- is certainly a possibility as an
      etymon of _senya_, and I ought to have mentioned it
      -- PHW]

      I don't know if such a 'blend' would help explain
      _sennui_ in the King's Letter (IX:129), although a
      meaning such as 'truly' would fit the context nicely.
      However I doubt that _sennui_ is connected to _sen-_
      'let loose, free, let go' as suggested in VT49:35
      n.26. To me, it seems no more likely that Tolkien
      would have referred to _Panthael_ as a 'looser' or
      'freer' rendition of _Perhael_ than that he would have
      accepted _full moon_ as a 'loose' or 'free' rendition
      of _half-moon_. Speaking of _sennui_ though, there is
      _sennas_ in Sennas Iaur 'Old Guesthouse' (RC:523)
      which might be < SED (*sendasse?) and refer to a
      resting-place. Is there a connection? I doubt it, but
      still it might be worth mentioning.

      [You are right that attempting to explain _sennui_ as
      referring to a "loose" rendition of a name is rather weak.
      I had completely overlooked _Sennas Iaur_ in the RC;
      thanks for pointing it out -- your interpretation of _sennas_
      as *'resting-place' seems quite probable to me. -- PHW]

      On another note, the use of _epe_ to mean either
      'before' (spatially) or 'after' (temporally) (VT49:12)
      must have been quite confusing to the poor Elves! --
      not to mention _apa_ being glossed as both 'before, of
      time' and 'after (later than)' (VT44:36). In XI:387,
      there is Q. _apanónar_ 'after-born' next to S.
      _aphad-_ 'follow' < _ap-pata_ 'walk behind, on a track
      or path'. At this time _ap(a)_ thus meant 'after (of
      time)' and 'behind'. At some other stage _ap-pata_
      would probably have meant *'walk ahead of' instead!
      (Provided that apa/epe were indeed variants of the
      same stem, and that the semantics were the same in
      both languages.)

      [The whole 'before' and 'after' thing only seems confusing
      to US, of course, because a) Tolkien was constantly changing
      the meaning of the various stems, and b) even had the stems
      been utterly stable, we are non-native students of fragmentarily
      attested dead languages -- much that seems confusing to us
      would not have given a native speaker a moment's pause.

      Interesting point about _aphad-_ 'follow'. The sense of _ap-_
      in this form _might_ nonetheless be temporal rather than spatial
      -- yes, to 'follow' or 'walk behind' somebody you must be
      physically located _behind_ them, but you must also be going
      _after_ them in time -- you cannot follow somebody's path
      unless they have already proceeded along that path at an
      earlier time. -- PHW]


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