Internal or external history? (was: Bilabial V in Quenya)
- 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,
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
> 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.
[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]
- --- In lambengolmor@y..., "gentlebeldin" <gentlebeldin@h...> wrote:
> Are you speaking of internal or external history of Quenya? An ill-I was speaking both of the internal and external devopment. "Mature
> defined (and undefinable, in my humble opinion) term like "mature
> Quenya" makes it easy to confuse the two very different matters.
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,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:
> > [...]Because Carl F. Hostetter's question concerned external history, the
> > 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.
reference to internal history was only a sidetrack, but still illuminating.
> [ ... Petri's point stands: the combination KT was allowed in the QenyaIt is funny to note that modern Finnish doesen't consider the combination
> 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]
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
- 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
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
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",
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.