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Etymology of Gnomish plurals

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  • Helios De Rosario Martínez
    Happy new year to all the Lambengolmor! I am trying to find out what Tolkien meant in one of the paragraphs of the Gnomish Grammar, where the historical
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 2, 2009
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      Happy new year to all the Lambengolmor!

      I am trying to find out what Tolkien meant in one of the paragraphs of
      the Gnomish Grammar, where the historical phonology of Gnomish plurals
      is discussed (PE11:10), and I would like to know if any of you have a
      clearer view of it.

      There is a table with the singular and plural forms of the
      nominative/inessive, genitive/ablative and dative/allative cases. And
      then the origin of all those forms is briefly discussed, comparing them
      with their Qenya cognates.

      Of the nominative/inessive forms: _-in_ or _-th_, is written:

      "_-in_ is a double plural _-î_ = Q _i_ + _-n_, cp. adjectives."
      "_-th_ is original and same as Q _-r_"

      But then the following note is provided:

      "The existence in G. of an _-r_ plural sign in verbs has given rise to
      conjecture [...] that G _-th_ does not represent Q _-r_ but that _-r_
      is a true plural ending (i.e. _r_ liquid) and _-tt_ = Q _-t_ dual from
      _-tt@_ [@ = schwa] a dual ending = _-nt@_. This is possible."

      That is the paragraph that I don't entirely understand.

      The last part ("_-tt = Q _-t_ dual ...") does not say anything of Gn.
      _-th_, the object of the previous part of the note. Had it been "_-th_ =
      Q _-t_ dual" instead, I would have understood that those who said that
      Gn. _-th_ does not represent Q. _-r_, believed that its origin was the
      same as Qenya dual _-t_ (both < _-tt@_).

      If that is the implied meaning, _-tt_ could be explained (if it is not
      just a mere slip) as a prehistoric form of _-th_, like in _gôtha_
      'possess, have, hold' < _iotta_ [semivocalic _i_], or _nith_ 'wax_ <
      _nêgitte_ (PE11:42, 60).

      But what follows is also somewhat ambiguous: "_-tt@_ a dual ending =
      _-nt@_". Both _-tt@_ and _-nt@_ seem to be old dual endings, but what is
      their relation, and why is _-nt@_ introduced in the discussion? Perhaps
      because they are genetically related (_-tt@_ < _-nt@_ by assimilation,
      or the opposite)? Or because _-nt@_ was still active as a Gnomish dual
      in some cases? Notice that _-tt@_ could not have that function if it
      yielded Gn. plural _-th_, and among the "commonest old duals" below in
      PE11:10 there is _hunt_ 'the nose (originally nostrils)', from "old
      _-nt_ ending" (cp. PE11:50). It is even possible that the gentive dual
      _-wint_ (PE11:11) was formed as a "double dual" = _-wi_ + _-nt_.
      However, this would not mean that _-nt@_ had no reflex in Qenya. At
      least in verbs and pronouns, _-nt_ was also a dual mark (cf. PE15:46,
      s.v. _munt_, _lunt_).

      Helios
    • Roman Rausch
      ... I think that s exactly the intended meaning, the correspondence of _th_ and _tt_ probably being so trivial for Tolkien that he doesn t explicitly mention
      Message 2 of 2 , Jan 22, 2009
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        >Had it been "_-th_ = Q _-t_ dual" instead, I would have understood
        >that those who said that Gn. _-th_ does not represent Q. _-r_,
        >believed that its origin was the same as Qenya dual _-t_
        >(both < _-tt@_).

        I think that's exactly the intended meaning, the correspondence of
        _th_ and _tt_ probably being so trivial for Tolkien that he doesn't
        explicitly mention it.

        >But what follows is also somewhat ambiguous: "_-tt@_ a dual ending =
        >_-nt@_". Both _-tt@_ and _-nt@_ seem to be old dual endings, but what is
        >their relation, and why is _-nt@_ introduced in the discussion?

        It might be a bit of an overinterpretation, but I propose the following:

        In Quenya, a dual ending _-t_ is seen, but it may come from _-tt@_
        with loss of the schwa just as well as from _*-t@_. The parallel
        existence of _-nt_ suggests that there were different modifications of
        a more simple suffix _*-t@_, one with reduplication of the consonant,
        another with nasalization.

        Note that there is a suggested alternative reading _-tta_, _-nta_; in
        either case both suffixes are most probably derived from the dual root
        ATA (PE12:33, beside WI/U).

        So basically the existence of _-nt_ supports _-tta/-tt@_ which on its
        turn might be the source of Goldogrin pl. _-th_. Or else Tolkien
        simply mentions it for the sake of completeness.

        The suffix _*-t@/*-ta_ seems to appear in _-wid_ (PE11:11). Note also
        the allative endings _-nta_, _-tta_ in EQG (PE14:46).

        Roman Rausch
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