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Bilabial V in Quenya

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  • Petri Tikka
    In Appendix E of LR Tolkien informs us that V has the sound of English v in Quenya and Sindarin. Now, as is well known, the V of English is a voiced
    Message 1 of 6 , Sep 8, 2002
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      In "Appendix E" of LR Tolkien informs us that V "has the sound of English v"
      in Quenya and Sindarin. Now, as is well known, the V of English is a voiced
      labio-dental fricative. F in Quenya is also identical to English F, being an
      unvoiced labio-dental frecative. Yet this was not always so. Before the
      exile of the Ñoldor it was a bilabial fricative (VT41:7,8). It was
      strengthened to labio-dental by the influence of Telerin, to avoid merging
      with the bilabial approximant HW. This change did not occur in the Valarin
      dialect.

      _wilya_ is listed as the older form of _vilya_ in "Appendix E" and the
      "Etymologies" lists several words originally beginning in W changing to V,
      e.g. _wahta_ > _vahta_. This change does not seem plausible if it were
      straight to fricative _and_ labio-dental. Such immediate changes do not
      usually occur. It would seem more reasonable, if the change was first from
      the weak bilabial approximant W to a stronger bilabial fricative V. The
      resulting forms would not collide with any pre-existing forms, since the
      "Etymolgies" list no words beginning originally with V. After getting close
      to F in form, it would change with it to labio-dental.

      But why the change? Maybe the Eldar of Aman did not consider the approximant
      W very euphonious. To state my personal sound-taste, I think that the sound
      is too loose and floating. To me, it is in too large a contrast with the
      other sounds of Quenya. Why did Tolkien change it? Perhaps also for euphony.
      The sound is unknown in Finnish, Tolkien's inspiration for Quenya. Through
      the years as he gradually perfected Quenya, he seems to have made the
      phonology of Quenya closer and closere to Finnish. This would be one example
      of it.

      Petri Tikka Helsinki, Finland
      kari.j.tikka@...
      http://www.geocities.com/petristikka/
    • Carl F. Hostetter
      Just a couple of brief comments arising from Petri s latest post on the change of _w_ to _v_ in late Quenya: ... You mean Vanyarin , surely? ... The same
      Message 2 of 6 , Sep 8, 2002
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        Just a couple of brief comments arising from Petri's latest post on the
        change of _w_ to _v_ in late Quenya:

        On Sunday, September 8, 2002, at 06:10 AM, Petri Tikka wrote:

        > This change did not occur in the Valarin dialect.

        You mean "Vanyarin", surely?

        > The sound is unknown in Finnish, Tolkien's inspiration for Quenya.
        > Through the years as he gradually perfected Quenya, he seems to have
        > made the phonology of Quenya closer and closere to Finnish. This would
        > be one example of it.

        The same change of _w_ to _v_ also occurred in Latin, another of
        Tolkien's chief influences in creating Quenya.

        Your observation about Tolkien making the phonology of Quenya closer to
        that of Finnish over the years is intriguing. Could you give us some
        other examples of this?

        Carl
      • Petri Tikka
        ... [...] ... Yes, of course. ... By the way, if it wasn t enitrely clear, the sound W has never occurred in the development of Finnish from
        Message 3 of 6 , Sep 8, 2002
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          --- In lambengolmor@y..., Carl F. Hostetter <Aelfwine@e...> wrote:
          [...]
          > On Sunday, September 8, 2002, at 06:10 AM, Petri Tikka wrote:
          >
          > > This change did not occur in the Valarin dialect.
          >
          > You mean "Vanyarin", surely?

          Yes, of course.

          > > The sound is unknown in Finnish, Tolkien's inspiration for Quenya.
          > > Through the years as he gradually perfected Quenya, he seems to have
          > > made the phonology of Quenya closer and closere to Finnish. This would
          > > be one example of it.
          >
          > The same change of _w_ to _v_ also occurred in Latin, another of
          > Tolkien's chief influences in creating Quenya.

          By the way, if it wasn't enitrely clear, the sound W has never occurred in
          the development of Finnish from proto-Finno-Ugrian. This is also, in
          another way, a bad example of the closening to Finnish over the years,
          since early Qenya seemed to have about as much Ws as mature Quenya. Both
          the early and late _Oilima Markirya_ seemed to have only a couple of words
          with W (MC:213-213, 221-222). But there are real examples of a nearing of
          Finnish and Quenya phonology in its external hisroy, cf. below.

          > Your observation about Tolkien making the phonology of Quenya closer to
          > that of Finnish over the years is intriguing. Could you give us some
          > other examples of this?
          >
          > Carl

          1. _findl_, _petl_, _tantl_, _nark_ (Q) and other words ending with
          multiple consonants are unacceptable in Finnish phonology and in later
          Quenya,cf. L:425.

          2. KT is a common consonant cluster in Q (e.g. _ekta-_, _mekta_ and
          _palukta_), but it is unacceptable in the phonology of both Finnish and
          mature Quenya. Earlier KT developed to HT in both languages, e.g. a
          body of _kaksi_ "two" _kaht-_ < *_kakte_ in Finnish and _ehte_ "spear"
          from EKTE in Quenya (V:355).

          3. There are some known "Qenya" words that begin with two successive
          vowels that would normally be diphtongs, but are inidcated as seperate
          vowels by _¨_, e.g. _kaïkta-_ (Q), _oïkta_ (VT40:8). This phenomenon is
          unknown in mature Quenya and Finnish, and is probably allowed in neither
          of them.

          I can not currently think of any other firm examples of change in the
          external history of the Quenya phonology that brought it closer to
          Finnish. I can neither think of anything that distanced it from Finnish
          phonology. As an example of how close their phonology is, L:425 states
          that Quenya permitted "the 'dentals' _n_, _l_, _r_, _s_, _t_ as final
          consonants". This is exactly the same in Finnish!

          Petri Tikka Helsinki, Finland
          kari.j.tikka@...
          http://www.geocities.com/petristikka/


          [Thanks, Petri! Carl]
        • gentlebeldin
          Your [Petri Tikka s] examples are interesting, but the impression is slightly marred by a certain vagueness in terminology. Are you speaking of internal or
          Message 4 of 6 , Sep 9, 2002
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            Your [Petri Tikka's] examples are interesting, but the impression is
            slightly marred by a certain vagueness in terminology. Are you
            speaking of internal or external history of Quenya? An ill-defined
            (and undefinable, in my humble opinion) term like "mature Quenya"
            makes it easy to confuse the two very different matters.

            --- In lambengolmor@y..., "Petri Tikka" <kari.j.tikka@w...> wrote:

            > 2. KT is a common consonant cluster in Q (e.g. _ekta-_, _mekta_ and
            > _palukta_), but it is unacceptable in the phonology of both Finnish
            > and mature Quenya. Earlier KT developed to HT in both languages,
            > e.g. a body of _kaksi_ "two" _kaht-_ < *_kakte_ in Finnish and
            > _ehte_ "spear" from EKTE in Quenya (V:355).

            The development EKTE > _ehte_ reflected in Etymologies was internal,
            obviously.

            What does the acronym "Q" mean? Qenya, Quenya or the Qenya Lexicon?
            Your "(Q)" is used like a reference, but it isn't one of the common
            abbreviations (and a reference without a page number would be Elfling
            style).

            > [...]
            > I can not currently think of any other firm examples of change
            > in the external history of the Quenya phonology

            Why "other"? You're explicitly speaking of external history only now.

            Hans

            [The "Q" in Petri's post was clearly a slip for "QL", an error which your
            humble but human moderators ought to have caught. The forms _ekta-_,
            _mekta_, and _palukta_ cited by Petri are all from QL. The term "mature
            Quenya" is a well-known Fauskangerism referring in an external sense
            to Quenya in accord with _The Lord of the Rings_ and other late
            writings, and I didn't find Petri's use of it in his post to be either
            confusing or inaccurate. And Petri's point stands: the combination
            KT was allowed in the Qenya of the Lost Tales era (as in the three
            examples cited), but was not retained in Quenya of the LotR era
            and later, where it "became" (in both internal and external
            senses) HT. -- Patrick Wynne]
          • Petri Tikka
            ... I was speaking both of the internal and external devopment. Mature Quenya is a term based on Tolkien s assesment s that his early Qenya of the 1910s
            Message 5 of 6 , Sep 9, 2002
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              --- In lambengolmor@y..., "gentlebeldin" <gentlebeldin@h...> wrote:

              > Are you speaking of internal or external history of Quenya? An ill-
              > defined (and undefinable, in my humble opinion) term like "mature
              > Quenya" makes it easy to confuse the two very different matters.

              I was speaking both of the internal and external devopment. "Mature
              Quenya" is a term based on Tolkien's assesment's that his early Qenya
              of the 1910s (from which the QL dates) was "very primitive", cf. XII:379.

              > The development EKTE > _ehte_ reflected in Etymologies was internal,
              > obviously.

              The development of KT to HT in Quenya was both an internal and external.

              > What does the acronym "Q" mean?

              The (Q) was intended to mean "Qenya Lexicon" published in PE#12. I can't
              quote from it, because I don't own it and it is out of print. I had to
              use Helge Fauskanger's "Index to the Qenya Lexicon" as my source:
              http://www.uib.no/People/hnohf/qlindex2.htm

              > > [...]
              > > I can not currently think of any other firm examples of change
              > > in the external history of the Quenya phonology
              >
              > Why "other"? You're explicitly speaking of external history only now.
              > Hans

              Because Carl F. Hostetter's question concerned external history, the
              reference to internal history was only a sidetrack, but still illuminating.

              > [ ... Petri's point stands: the combination KT was allowed in the Qenya
              > of the Lost Tales era (as in the three examples cited), but was not
              > retained in Quenya of the LotR era and later, where it "became" (in both
              > internal and external senses) HT. -- Patrick Wynne]

              It is funny to note that modern Finnish doesen't consider the combination
              KT contrary to its phonology, as is explicit in such loan words as
              _laktoosi_ "lactose" and _kaktus_ "cactus" used by common people. This
              strange development is quite new in Finnish. A hundred years ago those
              words would have been unpronouncable to lay people.

              Petri Tikka Helsinki, Finland
              kari.j.tikka@...
              http://www.geocities.com/petristikka/
            • Carl F. Hostetter
              Like Hans, I too find the term mature when applied to Tolkien s languages inadequate and best avoided. Even if it in fact reflects the opposite of Tolkien s
              Message 6 of 6 , Sep 9, 2002
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                Like Hans, I too find the term "mature" when applied to Tolkien's
                languages inadequate and best avoided. Even if it in fact reflects the
                opposite of Tolkien's later opinion about his earlier languages (and I
                do not grant that as given), and if in fact that judgment was about the
                internals of the languages (and not about their external presentation
                in the _Lost Tales_ notebooks and associated loose papers and jottings,
                organized on the one hand by internal roots (Qenya) and on the other by
                internal lexical items (Goldogrin), rather than grouped etymologically
                by primitive base), it is an _aesthetic_ judgment, one that Tolkien is
                certainly entitled to, as is everyone else; but as such it is _not_ a
                scientific judgment, and has no value as a term of linguistic
                scholarship.

                The term "perfected" suffers from the same deficiency. There was
                nothing lacking in the Qenya and Goldogrin of the Lexicons _as
                languages_ (certainly, no more so than the later stages of the
                languages): they have a phonology, a grammar, and (if we are to
                consider Helge's pronouncement that Tolkien ultimately "rejected" them
                as accurate) in many ways a richer, fuller, and far more modern
                vocabulary than the later stages. I fail to see therefore how they
                count as any less "perfected" than the later stages. What changed over
                time was not some nebulous level of Platonic perfection, but rather
                Tolkien's own aesthetic (as reflected in the changing phonology,
                grammar, and lexicon), as well as the fictive situations of the
                languages (becoming more and more remote in time from the present), and
                Tolkien's mode and manner of describing the languages and their
                interrelationships.

                The problem that arises in linguistic discourse is finding terms that
                distinguish between the internal development of Tolkien's languages,
                and their external development by Tolkien, without being unwieldy. For
                the former, we have Tolkien's own terms: Primitive, Common, Old,
                Middle, Modern (usually unmarked), Exilic, "of the Third Age", etc.,
                all of which are linguistically precise. To be similarly precise when
                discussing the external development, we can (and on this list should)
                associate stages of the language with 1) the documents in which they're
                found or described (e.g., "the Qenya of the Lexicons", "the Noldorin of
                the 'Lays'," etc.) or 2) the time in which they're found or described
                (e.g., "the Quenya of the late '60s", "the Noldorin of the early '30s",
                etc.

                I will note that my colleagues and I have been writing on Tolkien's
                languages, including editing his papers and describing their history
                and development, for many years now, without once having or wanting to
                use the terms "mature" and "perfected" to do so. And I daresay our work
                is hardly the poorer for it.

                Carl
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