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The adjectival case and number agreement

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  • Emanuele Vicentini
    Greetings, Recently I was sorting some references to Tolkien s works when it came to me the following: in _Namaarie_ the adjectival case seems to be invariable
    Message 1 of 4 , Sep 28, 2002
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      Greetings,

      Recently I was sorting some references to Tolkien's works when it came
      to me the following: in _Namaarie_ the adjectival case seems to be
      invariable and _lisse-miruvooreva_ doesn't agree with _yuldar_; this is
      well known, but the really puzzling thing is: why?

      Sorting some documents chronologically I got the following list:

      1) in _Namaarie_ (194X, LotR1/II chap. 8) the adjectival case seems to be
      indeclinable

      2) in "Quendi and Eldar" (1959-1960, XI:369 and XI:407) the adjectival case
      agrees in number with the object it describes and we see that plural
      nouns are declinable with this case

      3) again in _Namaarie_ (1966, RGEO:66) the adjectival case seems to be
      indeclinable

      4) in the Plotz Letter (1966-1967, VT6) we don't have anything that could
      tell us if the adjectival case agrees in number or not, but we learn
      that in "`Classical' or Book Quenya" it cannot be applied to a plural
      noun (or so I understand the long line next to _ciryava_)


      The Plotz Letter doesn't directly contradict "Quendi and Eldar" because
      it lists the forms of `Classical' Quenya (in XI:407 it is said that "it
      [i.e., -va] could not, however, indicate plurality of source, originally,
      and the Q distinction _Eldava_ `Elf's' and _Eldaiva_ `Elves'' was a Q
      innovation"; I wonder if with those Tolkien was trying to detail the
      differences between Vanyarin and Noldorin Quenya) even if it isn't clear to
      me whether we're facing the same time-frame or not.

      What hardly fits into this system is, of course, _Namaarie_. In the
      second edition of LotR Tolkien changed some little bits of Quenya here and
      there, but kept _lisse-miruvooreva_ as it was in the first edition; the text
      of RGEO:66 is the same of the Lotr second edition and it and the linguistic
      notes were written in 1966 (or a bit earlier, I don't know, but I'm quite
      sure after "Quendi and Eldar"). In RGEO we still have _lisse-miruvooreva_
      where we could expect _**lisse-miruvooreve_. Why?

      Did Tolkien change his mind again about number agreement of the
      adjectival case? Did he simply forget to change an _-a_ into _-e_? Wasn't he
      willing to change _Namaarie_ text again? Is there any reason, perhaps a very
      particular use of the adjectival case, behind the invariability of
      _lisse-miruvooreva_?


      Saluti,
      Emanuele.


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    • Tchitrec@aol.com
      ... invariable and _lisse-miruvooreva_ doesn t agree with _yuldar_; this is well known, but the really puzzling thing is: why? (...) ... indeclinable ...
      Message 2 of 4 , Oct 6, 2002
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        On September 29th, Emanuele Vicentini wrote :

        >in _Namaarie_ the adjectival case seems to be
        invariable and _lisse-miruvooreva_ doesn't agree with _yuldar_; this is
        well known, but the really puzzling thing is: why? (...)

        >1) in _Namaarie_ (194X, LotR1/II chap. 8) the adjectival case seems to be
        indeclinable

        >2) in "Quendi and Eldar" (1959-1960, XI:369 and XI:407) the adjectival case
        agrees in number with the object it describes and we see that plural
        nouns are declinable with this case

        >3) again in _Namaarie_ (1966, RGEO:66) the adjectival case seems to be
        indeclinable

        >4) in the Plotz Letter (1966-1967, VT6) we don't have anything that could
        tell us if the adjectival case agrees in number or not, but we learn
        that in "`Classical' or Book Quenya" it cannot be applied to a plural
        noun (or so I understand the long line next to _ciryava_)

        > Did Tolkien change his mind again about number agreement of the
        adjectival case? Did he simply forget to change an _-a_ into _-e_? Wasn't he
        willing to change _Namaarie_ text again? Is there any reason, perhaps a very
        particular use of the adjectival case, behind the invariability of
        _lisse-miruvooreva_?


        It would not be very surprising if he changed his mind back and forth : just
        remember how his opinion changed as ebb and flow to decide if the Sindarin
        word for sea would be "aear" or "gaear"...

        It is clear from "Quendi and Eldar" (XI:368-369 and 407) than the -va suffix
        is originally a derivational and more specifically adjectival ending. Quite
        naturally such adjectives could often be used to show possession (does
        Russian not display a similar method ?). Consequently the -va ending slowly
        came to be considered as a case suffix, a change shown by the fact that
        Quenya speakers introduced a singular/plural distinction : _Eldava_ vs.
        _Eldaiva_ (XI:407). I am not aware of other adjectival suffixes that can be
        added to specifically *plural* stems like Eldai-. Invariability of the suffix
        is the further step in this transformation of a derivational into a regular
        case ending.

        Hence I think that the discrepancy between "Quendi and Eldar" and "Namárië"
        may lie only in the stage reached by Quenya ; i.e. Tolkien knew what the
        general direction of linguistic change was, but found it hard to decide if
        the transformation was or was not complete. That's, of course, fully
        hypothetical.

        There is an example of a similar phenomenon in the development of Old
        Noldorin sm- to hm- or m-. Hm- looks like an intermediary stage. Some
        Noldorin words have m-, which was changed later to hm-, but not consistently
        : see V:386-387 entries SMAG and SMAL.. At the time of that change Tolkien
        evidently thought that the development had reached hm- only. But in later
        Sindarin Tolkien chose m- again, otherwise the _mallorn_ would be presumably
        a _**hmallorn_.

        Nai Anar caluva tielmanna !

        Bertrand Bellet


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Carl F. Hostetter
        This is another reminder to be judicious when quoting a post to which you are responding. Please keep quoting to the minimum necessary to establish the context
        Message 3 of 4 , Oct 6, 2002
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          This is another reminder to be judicious when quoting a post to which
          you are responding. Please keep quoting to the minimum necessary to
          establish the context for a reply, or portion of a reply. Paraphrase
          where possible, or even simply refer to the message with a link to the
          message in the Lambengolmor archives:

          http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lambengolmor

          In the message that sparked this reminder:

          http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lambengolmor/message/274

          the lengthy opening quote (representing nearly the whole of the
          original message!) could have been eliminated entirely and replaced
          with the words:

          "In his post of Sep. 28, Emanuele Vicentini
          (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lambengolmor/message/251) listed
          examples showing both the presence and lack of number agreement in the
          adjectival case in Quenya."

          The URL could even have been left out, if necessary, with no loss of
          relevant context.

          Please, folks, take the time to keep this list reader friendly.

          Thanks
        • Hans
          ... Actually, that would contradict JRRT s words (XI:407) Similarly with -va; but this was and remained an adjective, and had the plural form -ve in plural
          Message 4 of 4 , Oct 6, 2002
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            --- In lambengolmor@y..., Tchitrec@a... wrote:

            > Consequently the -va ending slowly
            > came to be considered as a case suffix, a change shown by the fact that
            > Quenya speakers introduced a singular/plural distinction : _Eldava_ vs.
            > _Eldaiva_ (XI:407).

            Actually, that would contradict JRRT's words (XI:407) "Similarly with
            -va; but this was and remained an adjective, and had the plural form
            -ve in plural attribution". According to that, the adjectival
            character did not change later.

            JRRT usually was reluctant to change words he had written, especially
            those published already, when he could re-interpret them. Remember the
            name _Ungoliante_ or _Ungweliante: in Etymologies, it's derived from
            UÑG- (V:443) "gloom, shadow" and SLIG- (V:431) "spider, spider's web,
            cobweb". Among the derivations of the latter root, there is _líne_,
            and some may wonder whether it could be used for the WWW... Don't even
            dream! If you look at the names of the tengwar in Quenya, you'll find
            the name of tengwa 8, _ungwe_ "spider's web" (LR:1096).

            Could he re-interpret the sentence to be close enough to his (not
            literal) translation and circumvent the problem with agreement? That
            would be easy, in fact. Remember that _miruvóre_ is not exactly mead,
            but the drink of the Valar, "nectar". So _miruvóreva_ (sg.) would be
            an attribute, "nectarous". Mead is a beverage made of honey, and
            that's the gloss you find in the entry LIS- in Etymologies (V:411).
            _lisse_ could be "mead", and we have "nectarous mead", close enough to
            "sweet mead" in the translation. The words for the beverage would be
            simply in apposition with _yuldar_, draughts, without any genitive
            here ("swift draughts of the sweet mead" in the translation, LR:368).
            That's not possible in English or some other languages, but it may be
            possible in Quenya. It's costumary in German, where you say "ein
            Schluck Wein" (a draught of wine) or "ein Glass Bier" (a glass of
            beer), without any copula or case inflection.

            Necessary warning: that's just to show that a later re-interpretation
            would be possible. There is no doubt that _lisse_ meant "sweet" when
            JRRT wrote the poem, there's such a root LISI- meaning sweetness (and
            grace) already in QL (cf. VT43:29). But at that time, _-va_ had very
            likely another meaning than in Quendi and Eldar! And I'm not sure
            about _-ie_ being seen as a plural of _-ea_, at that time, or
            agreement in numbers...

            Hans
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