"before" and "after"
- On Freitag, September 6, 2002, at 11:47 Uhr, Patrick Wynne  wrote:
> Elements meaning 'before' and 'after' in Elvish have a disconcertingJust as they have e.g. in English... "the world of those who will be
> tendency to reverse their meaning depending on context
after us still lies before us". "To judge afterwards what was before".
_Before_ here refers one time to the future and one time to the past. As
we can see both ways this is only natural.
It's just a question of using a descending or ascending time model.
Let's, e.g. take a film tape that runs through a camera (projector).
Our point of reference is the lens that represents the moment of the
film we see. Now you can focus on the tape that runs out of the camera.
That is what we saw *before*. Focussing on the tape going in you can
equally say it is "before" the point of being seen. This is by no means
contradictory... The relative values are necessarily so due to the
nature of the phenomenon [time] or its description.
[In all these examples "before" means the same thing: 'to the fore,
in front of', with respect to a point of view. What changes is the
attendant metaphor. Spatially, that which is before us is that which lies
in front of us, and, with an attendant implication of traversal to the
fore, is what we will traverse in the future. The first example David
gives uses this of time metaphorically, presenting future time as a land
we have yet to traverse. Temporally, that which is before us is that
which has gone in front of us, ahead of us. (The translation of the QL
root Pat mentioned, N�,NOWO, NONO, as both 'ahead, in front' and 'after,
of time', shows the two differing metaphors, spatial and temporal
respectively.) The translation of _apacenye_ as 'foresight' relies on the
spatial metaphor to refer to looking forward from our present point of
view to what lies _before_ us, though what is seen is what will come
_after_ our present. Indeed, the apparent contextual change of meaning in
the _apa-_ words between 'before' and 'after' may only be due to the
English metaphors of time employed in the translation, not to the literal
meanings of the Elvish words. _apacenye_ is perhaps to be translated
literally as *'aftersight', or less literally (but still more literally
than 'foresight') as 'sight of that which is after the present'. Carl]
So it seems that we have three prepositions of similar meaning.
1) "before" (*_A naa calima epe B_ - VT42:32, VT44:38)
2) "after" (_epesse_ - XII:339)
1) "fore-" (_apacenye_ - X:216)
2) "after" (_Apanoonar_ - XI:387)
"behind" (_ap-pata_ - XI:387)
1) "before" (_merin sa haryalye alasse noo vanyalye Ambarello_ - MS),
"ahead, in front" (PE12:66)
2) "*next" (_Nootuile_ - XII:135),
"after (of time)" (PE12:66)
Let's try to make it clear. _epe_ "before" (A is bright before B) is
obviously not temporal, so it is spatial. _epe_ "after" (after-name)
_apa_ "fore-" is spatial (to see what lies before one), _apa_
"after" (after-born) is temporal. But is _ap(a)_ "behind" temporal or
_noo_ "ahead, in front" is spatial, but is _epe_ "before" (before
you leave Middle-earth) spatial or temporal? _noo_ "after (of time)"
is temporal, but is _noo_ "*next" spatial or temporal? I'm a bit
Namaarie! S.Y., Elenhil Laiquendo [Boris Shapiro]
: masse sii nar i nuunatani · elessar · elessar? :
[I think the question to ask is, what is the _primary_ sense of each word?
Looking at the occurrences of _apa-_, I think we can fairly surely take
'after' as the primary meaning (and taking the translation of _apacenye_
as 'foresight' being non-literal, as I suggested before, since it refers
more literally to sight of something that occurs after the present time).
With _epe_ and _nу_, it is much harder to say. _nу_ in particular seems to
have had its primary meaning changed by Tolkien, since its usages in both
the "_merin_" sentence ('before') and the QL ('after, of time') are
temporal and apparently irreconcilable. Carl]
- Carl wrote:
> _nó_ in particular seems toBefore we start using it as data: do we know that the "_merin_" sentence
> have had its primary meaning changed by Tolkien, since its usages in both
> the "_merin_" sentence ('before') and the QL ('after, of time') are
> temporal and apparently irreconcilable.
(_merin sa haryalye alasse nó vanyalye Ambarello_ 'I hope that you have
happiness before you pass from the world') is authentic? And even if it is,
do we know that it means what it's purported to mean?
In a message to Elfling dated 24 April 1999 David Salo tentatively dated
the "_merin_" sentence to the period 1954-1959. In that same period,
Tolkien was working on _The Athrabeth_, in which Finrod says, on the
subject of Elvish and Human forms of mortality:
"If we are indeed the _Eruhin_, the children of the One, then He will not
suffer Himself to be deprived of His own, not by any Enemy, not even by
ourselves. This is the last foundation of _Estel_, which we keep even when
we contemplate the End: of all His designs the issue must be for His
Children's joy." (X:321)
So based on internal evidence, the interpretation 'I hope that you have
happiness after you pass from the world' is as reasonable as (albeit hardly
any more tactful than) the one usually given.
Irene A Gates Webmaster, aviculturist, linguaphile
Campbellville, Ontario, Canada <112321.3163@...>
"The function of the expert is not to be more right than other people,
but to be wrong for more sophisticated reasons"
-- Dr David Butler, in the Observer, 1969
On Samstag, September 7, 2002, at 03:17 Uhr, Boris Shapiro  wrote:
A few remarks:
> So it seems that we have three prepositions of similar meaning.
> 1) "before" (*_A naa calima epe B_ - VT42:32, VT44:38)
> 2) "after" (_epesse_ - XII:339)
> 1) "fore-" (_apacenye_ - X:216)
> 2) "after" (_Apanoonar_ - XI:387)
> "behind" (_ap-pata_ - XI:387)
> 1) "before" (_merin sa haryalye alasse noo vanyalye Ambarello_
> - MS),
> "ahead, in front" (PE12:66)
> 2) "*next" (_Nootuile_ - XII:135),
> "after (of time)" (PE12:66)
> _apa_ "fore-" is spatial (to see what lies before one), _apa_
> "after" (after-born) is temporal.
As Carl already mentioned, _apa_ in _apacenye_ is hardly spatial. It
does not mean "what I see [spatially] in front of me" but what I see in
times ahead. I think there is no doubt it is temporal. So the use in
Quenya is actually straight forward. _apa_ refers to events that take
place in the future as related to the point of reference. The events
that will lead to the justification of the name of "foresight" lie in
the future at the time the name is given. Also, the birth of Men lies
in the future at the moment of reference, (scil. the birth of the
P.S. It might be interesting to note that Adunaic possesses
prepositions that somewhat recall the Elvish ones phonetically. Cf.
_ob-roth_ "fore-cutting" and _nad-roth_ "hind-track" [XII:376].
- I had forgotten that an interesting text by Tolkien discussing just
this problem has been published, in Verlyn Flieger's fascinating book,
_A Question of Time: J.R.R. Tolkien's Road to _Faërie_ (Kent State,
1997; and recently available in trade paperback, see Amazon.com). The
text is given on pp. 69-70. Some excerpts:
"Our language is confused using _after_ and _before_ both (in certain
circumstances) of the _future_. We sometimes think and speak of the
future as what lies before us, we look ahead, are provident,
forward-looking, yet are ancestors preceded us and are our
fore-fathers; and any event in time is _before_ one that is later. We
speak as if events and a succession of human lives were an endless
column moving forward into the unknown.... As far as a single
experiencing mind goes, it seems a most natural transference of spatial
to linear language to say that the past is _behind_ it and that it
_advances_ forwards into the future, that later events are _before_ or
in _front_ of earlier ones.
"In Elvish sentiment the _future_ was not one of hope or desire, but a
decay and retrogression from former bliss and power.... Their
position, as of latter day sentiment, was one of exiles driven forward
(against their will) who were in mind or actual posture ever looking
"But in _actual language_ time and place had distinct expressions."
And there Tolkien's text breaks off.