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Finnish and Quenya future

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  • Petri Tikka
    There s a formation in Finnish to express future time: a conjugated (person, time) form of the verb _olla_ to be and the present participle of a verb, e.g.
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 29, 2003
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      There's a formation in Finnish to express future time: a conjugated
      (person, time) form of the verb _olla_ 'to be' and the present
      participle of a verb, e.g. _olen oleva_ 'I will be'. (Present
      participles are formed from a verb stem + _-va_ adjectival
      ending.) It is quite a formal and archaic construction. It is used
      in the Finnish translation of the Bible (_Raamattu_), and people
      often remember it thence.

      Now, in Qenya the future tense is marked with an ending _-va_,
      e.g. in _antáva_ 'will give' (V:72) < _anta-_ 'give' (V:348). (This
      persisted to later Quenya in _-uva_.) It is possible that this future
      construction was inspired by Finnish, since it also uses an ending
      _-va_ to mark the future. Cf. "my 'own language' ... became heavily
      Finnicized in phonetic pattern and _structure_" (L:214; emphasis mine).

      Quenya is probably not overmuch influenced by Finnish in
      vocabulary or syntax, but it has some similar or identical grammatical
      endings, e.g. Quenya _-sse_ locative case (VT6:14) vs. Finnish
      _-ssa/-ssä_ inessive case ending; and Quenya _-ra_ adjectival ending
      (e.g. in _tára_ 'lofty' < TA3-, V:389) vs. Finnish _-ra_ adjectival
      ending (e.g. in _avara_ 'expansive' < *_ava_ 'open'). Tolkien seems
      to have borrowed old or obsolete grammatical features, e.g. Quenya
      _-nna_ allative case ending vs. Finnish _-nne_ lative case ending.
      This future formation could be another such a loan.

      Petri Tikka Helsinki, Finland
      kari.j.tikka@...
      http://www.geocities.com/petristikka/
    • Pavel Iosad
      Hello, ... If that is a participle, the more literal translation will be I will be being , won t it? ... To my senses as a non-native speaker, that doesn t
      Message 2 of 2 , Jan 30, 2003
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        Hello,

        >There's a formation in Finnish to express future time: a conjugated
        >(person, time) form of the verb _olla_ 'to be' and the present
        >participle of a verb, e.g. _olen oleva_ 'I will be'.

        If that is a participle, the more literal translation will be 'I will be
        being', won't it?

        >Now, in Qenya the future tense is marked with an ending _-va_,
        >e.g. in _antáva_ 'will give' (V:72) < _anta-_ 'give' (V:348). (This
        >persisted to later Quenya in _-uva_.) It is possible that this future
        >construction was inspired by Finnish, since it also uses an ending
        >_-va_ to mark the future. Cf. "my 'own language' ... became heavily
        >Finnicized in phonetic pattern and _structure_" (L:214; emphasis mine).

        To my senses as a non-native speaker, that doesn't sound as if it
        implied wholesale borrowings of formants. Of course, it doesn't preclude
        these, and indeed several affixes are clearly influences from other
        languages, not only Finnish - one can't help thinking of Latin on seeing
        the 3pl. affix _-nte_.

        Which after all raises the question of the etymology of the Quenya (and
        Eldarin) future formation.

        The Sindarin future in -thV- and the Quenya one in _-uv(a)-_ do not seem
        to be immediately related (if there is a phonological possibility, I'd
        be happy to consider it). Their ultimate origin remains obscure (even
        though one can consider the possibility of the Sindarin _-th-_-future
        being somehow connected with THAR- 'across, beyond' (V:392; though it is
        a 'scribbled additional entry', which creates all kinds of textual
        complications) - primitive CV- roots yielding several CVC- ones are not
        unknown in Eldarin).

        The Quenya future formant _-uv(a)-_ points to a primitive form in
        *_-ub-_ or *_-uw-_. A connection with UB- 'abound' (V:396) seems
        possible, but all too strained. _-uw-_ is difficult to etymologize. One
        possibility is of course an unpublished/uninvented element (especially
        if Petri's suggestion is true). It is also possible to suggest a
        derivation from long *-ú-. Such a development is to my knowledge
        unattested in Quenya, but it finds typological evidence. Cf. Old Church
        Slavic ú-stems:

        Nom. _kry_ *_krú_
        Acc. _krUvI_ *_kruwI_ < *_krúis_

        (the oblique cases stem was in most modern Slavic languages generalized
        to the nominative as well)]

        Which would lead us to suppose that *-ú- is a (theoretically) possible
        predecessor of the Quenya future. Thus we could stretch our imagination
        even further, and suggest that the -a of _-uva-_ is the same -a seen in
        the continuative tense (in fact, such a supposition is valid even if
        _-uv-_ is of another origin)

        Then we can conjure the following structure of the Quenya verbal stems.
        A Quenya verb possesses a number of different stems (cf. the several
        stems of a Slavic verb) - the basic stem (which can apparently be
        consonant-final or u-final as in _hlapula_, *_turuna_), the aorist *-i
        stem, the present *-a stem. Thus the past tense could be formed from the
        basic stem, and the present tense stem gives rise to the continuative
        (with lengthening of vowel where possible) and to the future (with
        insertion/suffixion of _-uv-_) - this makes sense as the lack of
        distinction between present and future is a phenomenon not unknown to
        Indo-European languages, Germanic included. The perfect could then be
        derived either from the basic stem or from the continuative (the latter
        would also make sense, as it'd include the perfect into the present
        tenses paradigm)

        This question stands in close relation to the classification of verbal
        stems in Quenya with regard to their morphological features, as the
        established division between 'basic' and 'derived' stems is clearly
        insufficient to present a full picture of Quenya morphology (it cannot
        account for many things, such as the presence/absence of nasal infixion
        in the perfect etc.)

        Thoughts?

        Pavel
        --
        Pavel Iosad pavel_iosad@...

        Is mall a mharcaicheas am fear a bheachdaicheas
        --Scottish proverb
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