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Re: Quenya inscription: "Sí man i·yul mar men enquantuva?"

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  • Carl F. Hostetter
    I d like to expand on my analysis of this inscription, first by providing a little more detail on the recipient and circumstance of this inscription, and then
    Message 1 of 2 , May 13, 2013
      I'd like to expand on my analysis of this inscription, first by providing a little more detail on the recipient and circumstance of this inscription, and then by comparing it with a similar and possibly closely-contemporary inscription.

      The Bloomsbury Auctions listing notes that this inscription and the other (English) inscriptions made to this three-volume set of _The Lord of the Rings_ "appear to relate to [Thomas Patrick] Dunning's departure for Ireland". According to Scull & Hammond's _J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide_, Tolkien was appointed the "supervisor of recognized student T.P. Dunning for his thesis on early English homiletic literature" on Oct. 17, 1952 (C&G I:390), and Tolkien continued to supervise Dunning through (and beyond) his acceptance as a probationer B.Litt. student in Oct. 1953 (ibid. 414)[1]. Dunning was indeed already a noted Langland scholar by 1937, having published _Piers Plowman: An Interpretation of the A-Text_ in that year (Dublin: Talbot Press; also London: Longmans), the preface to which moreover notes that it was "based on a thesis accepted by the National University of Ireland for the M.A. degree." By 1964 he was a Member of the Royal Irish Academy (see: <http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/25505122>). Tolkien mentions Dunning's recent death in a May 1973 letter to Christopher Tolkien (L:430), in the notes to which (453) we learn that Dunning at some point became a scholar of Anglo-Saxon at University College, Dublin, and (so I interpret the title "C.M." there), a priest and member of the Congregatio Missionis (see <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congregation_of_the_Mission>).[2] I have not yet been able to determine the date of Dunning's "departure for Ireland" that putatively occasioned the Quenya inscription, but while it seems likely not to have occurred until after Dunning finished his studies at Oxford, it could even so have occurred as early as July, 1954, when _The Fellowship of the Ring_ was published.

      It is interesting to compare this inscription for T.P. Dunning with a similar inscription dated, by Tolkien, specifically to 1954, in a copy of _The Fellowship of the Ring_ auctioned from the library of Richard Manney:[3]

      _Sí man i·yulmar ngwen enquantuva_[4]

      Of particular interest here is the pronoun _ngwen_, where the Dunning inscription has _men_. In both cases the occasion of making an inscription for a recipient and the occurrence of _i·iyulmar_ 'the cups' suggests that _ngwen_ and _men_ mean 'for us', but two questions remain open 1) whether their number is plural or dual, and 2) whether they are inclusive or exclusive. Certainly the dual number would be appropriate to an inscription made by Tolkien for a single recipient, as appears to have been the case in at least the Dunning inscription; and certainly the inclusive, indicating both the recipient(s) and Tolkien himself, might be expected in such an inscription; but neither is inevitably the case.

      Considering the Dunning inscription's _men_, this can most readily be compared with the independent 1st dual pronoun _met_ 'us two' attested in "Galadriel's Lament" (LR:377-8, with dual termination _-t_ as in _máryat_ 'her two hands', R:67). This _met_ must, at least in its usage here, be exclusive, since it refers specifically to Varda and Galadriel, not to the listeners of her Lament; and indeed, Tolkien analyzed this form in 1964 as "excluding those to whom Galadriel is singing" (PE17:135). A 1st plural exclusive (again at least in usage) pronominal ending _-mme_, which may be cognate with both _men_ and _met_, is attested in its possessive form in the title of the 1950s _Ataremma_ 'Our Father' (VT43), as well as in the verbs avamme_, _vamme_ 'we won't' in c. 1959-60 essay "Quendi and Eldar" (XI:371); while in a June 1964 pronominal chart 1st pl. exclusive _-mme_ is formally contrasted with 1st pl. inclusive _-lme_ (alternative _ngwe_) and 1st dual exclusive _-mmo_ (VT49:48). Given this evidence, if the Dunning inscription was indeed made in the period from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960, and if its _men_ is indeed cognate with _-mme_, it would appear to be specifically 1st exclusive (whether plural or dual), meaning "for me and one/some other(s) but not you, Dunning", with the implication that it was Dunning who had previously filled the cups for Tolkien and one/some other(s). (If instead we could date the inscription to the latter half of the 1960s, by which time the pronominal ending _-mme_, and presumably any independent pronouns cognate with it, had become specifically 1st dual exclusive (cf. VT49:51), it would mean "for me and one other, not you, Dunning".)

      Considering the Manney inscription's _ngwen_, this can be compared with the 1st inclusive (at least in usage, and in usage possibly either dual or plural) genitival ending *_-nguo_ in _vomentienguo_ 'of our meeting' (XI:407), and with the alternative ending _ngwe_ of 1st pl. inclusive _-lme_ in the same June 1964 chart cited above (VT49:48; and note there 1st dual inclusive _ngo_/_-lmo_). Further, in the same 1964 analysis of _met_ as exclusive cited above, Tolkien goes on to say that “If they [those to whom Galadriel is singing] had been included, a plural form would have been required, not dual, and Quenya would have used _elme_[?] (Old Quenya the special pronoun _ngwe_[?])” (PE17:136), again suggesting that _ngwe_ is a specifically inclusive and plural form. If this situation of 1964 applied to the 1954 Manney inscription, it further suggests that the Manney inscription's _ngwen_ is specifically 1st pl. inclusive, meaning "for me and you and others". (By the later 1960s _ngwe_ had become specifically 1st dual inclusive; cf. VT49:16, PE17:57.)

      All of this would seem to argue for the Dunning inscription's _men_ being specifically 1st exclusive, and probably plural, in contrast with (possibly closely contemporary) 1st pl. inclusive _ngwen_. However, it remains possible that _men_ serves as both dual and plural in the dative, since the formal dual/plural distinction via attachment of the dual termination _-t_ to the pronominal stem seen in acc. _met_ would not be possible in the dative. Further, it is noteworthy that a pronominal element in _-mm-_ with a necessarily _inclusive_ meaning in usage (and in usage possibly either dual or plural), is attested in the 1938 draft form of Frodo’s greeting of Gildor, which has the form _omentiemman_ 'of our meeting' (VI:324). (And with this possibly dual inflection in _-mm-_ of 1938 cf. Tolkien's c.1968 statements that "in dual _inflexions_ duality was shown by duplication of the consonant" (VT49:51, though there dual _mme_ is exclusive) and that “duals were apparently formed by reduplication of elements” (VT49:33 n.19).) If the Dunning inscription was made sufficiently early in the 1950s, then its _men_ could be a preservation of, or reversion to, this earlier inclusive usage — as perhaps most naturally in the context of a personal inscription, absent knowledge of any further circumstance — meaning either dual "for me and for you, Dunning" or plural "for me and you, Dunning, and others".

      Carl F. Hostetter

      [1] Note that the Oxford Bachelor of Letters was a postgraduate degree, entailing a program of one or two years instruction and research; see: <http://books.google.com/books?id=OP5ePl7i5EIC&pg=PA126&dq=oxford+probationer+B.Litt.+student> and <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degrees_of_the_University_of_Oxford#Bachelors.27_degrees>.

      [2] Dunning had become a member of the Congregatio Missionis by 1956, when he published "The Structure of the B-Text of _Piers Plowman_" in _The Review of English Studies_, New Series, Vol. 7, No. 27 (Jul., 1956), pp. 225-237 (<http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/511698>) It is also interesting to note that Dunning went on to edit a critical edition of the Old English poem "The Wander" with another of Tolkien's former students, A.J. Bliss, in 1969 (Methuen).

      [3] On whom see <http://www.nytimes.com/1991/09/29/books/antiques-a-highly-personal-collection-from-shakespeare-to-oz.html>, and for the catalog containing this inscription see: <http://www.oakknoll.com/detail.php?d_booknr=35394>. The inscription was made the first in a three-volume, first-printing set of _The Lord of the Rings_, of which _The Two Towers_ is simply signed "J.R.R. Tolkien", and _The Return of the King_ is inscribed "Sarah from J.R.R.T." So the set may be mixed, and further the _FotR_ may not have been inscribed specifically for Richard Manney.

      [4] Published in VT21. Note that this is my editorial reading of what Tolkien actually wrote in _tengwar_: "Sé man iyulmar nywen enquatuva", and a correction of the reading I gave in VT21. Cf. also Ivan Derzhanski's article "_E man i yulma oi enquanta men?_" (VT38).

      On May 13, 2013, at 7:10 AM, "Beregond, Anders Stenström" <beregond@...> wrote:

      > There is a Quenya inscription by Tolkien in a copy
      > of _The Fellowship of the Ring_ that is up for auction:
      > <http://www.bloomsburyauctions.com/detail/36055/390.0>.
      > As you can see, it says "Sí man i·yulmar men
      > enquantuva?", a variation on the similar question in
      > Galadriel's Lament.
      > Chivalrous greetings,
      > Beregond, Anders Stenström
      > [This must mean: 'Who now will refill the cups for us?' with 1st pl. inclusive dative _men_. CFH]
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