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Re: Finnish and Quenya future

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  • 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 1 of 2 , Jan 30, 2003

      >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      possibility is of course an unpublished/uninvented element (especially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.)


      Pavel Iosad pavel_iosad@...

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