Re: [Lambengolmor] The adjectival case and number agreement
- On September 29th, Emanuele Vicentini wrote :
>in _Namaarie_ the adjectival case seems to beinvariable 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 beindeclinable
>2) in "Quendi and Eldar" (1959-1960, XI:369 and XI:407) the adjectival caseagrees 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 beindeclinable
>4) in the Plotz Letter (1966-1967, VT6) we don't have anything that couldtell 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 theadjectival 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
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
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
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
Nai Anar caluva tielmanna !
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"In his post of Sep. 28, Emanuele Vicentini
examples showing both the presence and lack of number agreement in the
adjectival case in Quenya."
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- --- In lambengolmor@y..., Tchitrec@a... wrote:
> Consequently the -va ending slowlyActually, that would contradict JRRT's words (XI:407) "Similarly with
> 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).
-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...