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Re: Finnish and Quenya future

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  • Petri Tikka
    ... No, because there is no future tense in Finnish (nor in any other known Finno-Ugrian language). The only tenses are the present and the past. _olen oleva_
    Message 1 of 9 , Jan 30, 2003
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      --- Mi lambengolmor@yahoogroups.com, Beregond. Anders Stenström
      <beregond@u...> wrote:

      > When you say "conjugated (person, time)", do you mean that
      > the auxiliary is in the future tense (so that _olen oleva_ more
      > literally means "I will be being")?

      No, because there is no future tense in Finnish (nor in any other
      known Finno-Ugrian language). The only tenses are the present
      and the past. _olen oleva_ more literally means 'I am being'.
      One can also say _olin oleva_ 'I was going to be', literally 'I
      was being'. The morpheme _i_ indicates the past tense.

      That is one thing that was not borrowed to Quenya. _i_ in
      Quenya actually indicates the present tense, e.g. in _carir_
      pl.'make' (WJ:391). This could lead to confusion. For example,
      _tulin_ means 'I come' in Quenya (V:395), while in Finnish it
      means 'I came'!

      Petri Tikka Helsinki, Finland
      kari.j.tikka@...
      http://www.geocities.com/petristikka/
    • Petri Tikka
      ... That would clash with the negative element _u- (uv-, um-, un-)_, _ú, ?ugu_ (VT42:32). Unless they are related? Tolkien glossed it as originally
      Message 2 of 9 , Jan 30, 2003
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        --- In lambengolmor@yahoogroups.com, "Pavel Iosad" <edricson@t...> wrote:

        > Which would lead us to suppose that *-ú- is a (theoretically) possible
        > predecessor of the Quenya future.

        That would clash with the negative element _u- (uv-, um-, un-)_,
        _ú, ?ugu_ (VT42:32). Unless they are related? Tolkien glossed
        it as 'originally expressing _privation_'. Privation is an 'act of
        depriving', which (often) happens in the head when one wants
        something. One takes away other things and concentrates on
        having the thing. To express the future, English uses _will_ as an
        auxiliary verb, which originally had more of a meaning 'to want'.
        Similar semantics might be in question, if Quenya _-uva_ derives
        from _-uv_. Adding the frequent verbal ending _-a_, you
        have _-uva_. _-uva_ would have had a stronger meaning
        originally, but it would have softened as a possible cognate
        of Sindarin _-thV_ fell out of use, similarly to English _shall_
        vs. _will_.

        Petri Tikka Helsinki, Finland
        kari.j.tikka@...
        http://www.geocities.com/petristikka/
      • pa2rick <pwynne@gvtel.com>
        ... Actually, in the Quenya verbal system _i_ indicates the _aorist_, not the present tense. Examples include: _i KARIR quettar ómainen_ those who FORM words
        Message 3 of 9 , Jan 30, 2003
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          Petri wrote, regarding the Finnish pa.t. morpheme _i_:

          > That is one thing that was not borrowed to Quenya. _i_ in
          > Quenya actually indicates the present tense, e.g. in _carir_
          > pl.'make' (WJ:391). This could lead to confusion. For example,
          > _tulin_ means 'I come' in Quenya (V:395), while in Finnish it
          > means 'I came'!

          Actually, in the Quenya verbal system _i_ indicates the _aorist_,
          not the present tense. Examples include:

          _i KARIR quettar ómainen_ 'those who FORM words with voices'

          _lá karita i HAMIL mára alasaila (ná)_ 'not to do (in this
          case) what YOU JUDGE good (would be) unwise' (VT42:33)

          _Eleni SILIR lúmesse omentiemman_ 'The stars SHINE on the hour
          of our meeting' (VI:324)

          As I noted in message #157:

          "The _Etymologies_ also gives many 1 sg. aorist forms translated
          with the present tense: _karin_ 'I make, build', _tyavin_ 'I taste',
          _lavin_ 'I lick', _lirin_ 'I chant', _nyarin_ 'I tell', _nutin_ 'I
          tie', _serin_ 'I rest', _hyarin_ 'I cleave', _tulin_ 'I come', etc.

          "It is clear from these numerous examples that the Q. aorist is more
          closely rendered by the English present, specifically the English
          present in its 'gnomic' sense, i.e., 'when denoting a permanent
          situation or periodically recurrent action, without particular
          emphasis or definite indication of the temporal aspect' (Mario
          Pei, _A Dictionary of Linguistics_, 1954). As Alex Grigny de Castro
          put it in Elfling post 16447, 'Unlike Greek, Q aorist is more akin
          to present tense than to past. Like Greek, it can express general
          truths etc.' "

          -- Patrick Wynne
        • Petri Tikka
          ... Yes, that was known to me. There s no aorist vs. present (continual) tense distinction in Finnish, only one present tense. I find it quite strange that the
          Message 4 of 9 , Jan 30, 2003
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            Partit (Patrick) tence:

            > Actually, in the Quenya verbal system _i_ indicates the _aorist_,
            > not the present tense.

            Yes, that was known to me. There's no aorist vs. present
            (continual) tense distinction in Finnish, only one present
            tense. I find it quite strange that the term _aorist_ is applied
            to a tense that points to the present in Quenya. Why can't
            the term _present tense_ be applied here? Is it to distinguish
            it from the present tense with vocalic lengthening + _-a_,
            e.g. in _síla_ 'shines' (XI:367) < SIL- (V:385)?

            Petri Tikka Helsinki, Finland
            kari.j.tikka@...
            http://www.geocities.com/petristikka/

            [Since Quenya, unlike Finnish and English, _does_ possess
            morphologically distinct present (continuative) and aorist
            tenses, it would be highly confusing to refer to the Q. aorist
            as a "present" tense, all the moreso since the Q. aorist
            does not refer specifically to the present, but is instead used
            to express general truths or habitually recurrent actions,
            without specifying whether said action takes place in the
            past or present (hence the term 'aorist' < Gk. _aoristos_
            'indefinite'). English does not possess a separate aorist
            tense, and so the present tense is used in situations where
            an aorist sense is required -- the so-called 'gnomic' present.

            The aorist phrase _i karir quettar ómainen_ 'those who form
            words with voices' (XI:391), describing the Elves, is a good
            example of how the aorist was typically used in Quenya. It
            does not mean that there are necessarily Elves speaking at
            this very present moment, it means that speaking with
            words is something that Elves habitually or periodically
            do _in general_. One could thus presumably correctly
            describe a group of Elves standing in utter silence as
            _i karir quettar ómainen_, since in general Elves do speak,
            even though these particular ones are currently silent.

            -- Patrick Wynne
          • Petri Tikka
            ... Thank you, I understand now. But what about _Eleni SILIR lúmesse omentiemman_ The stars SHINE on the hour of our meeting (VI:324)? Here the time is
            Message 5 of 9 , Jan 31, 2003
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              Partit (Patrick) tence:

              > Since Quenya, unlike Finnish and English, _does_ possess
              > morphologically distinct present (continuative) and aorist
              > tenses, it would be highly confusing to refer to the Q. aorist
              > as a "present" tense, all the moreso since the Q. aorist
              > does not refer specifically to the present, but is instead used
              > to express general truths or habitually recurrent actions,
              > without specifying whether said action takes place in the
              > past or present (hence the term 'aorist' < Gk. _aoristos_
              > 'indefinite'). [...]

              Thank you, I understand now. But what about _Eleni SILIR
              lúmesse omentiemman_ 'The stars SHINE on the hour
              of our meeting' (VI:324)? Here the time is locked by
              _lúmesse_ 'on the hour', so it can not express a recurrent
              action, let alone a general truth. The moment is thus
              defined as present.

              Petri Tikka Helsinki, Finland
              kari.j.tikka@...
              http://www.geocities.com/petristikka/

              ***************************************

              [I disagree that the time in this phrase is locked by
              _lúmesse_, "so it can not express a recurrent action,
              let alone a general truth." There is nothing inherent in
              _lúmesse_ 'on the hour' that would restrict its point
              of reference to a single, non-recurrent moment in
              present time. In English, for example, one can say
              "My grandfather clock chimes _on the hour_", which
              expresses both a recurrent action and a general
              truth: the clock in question rings every hour, 24
              hours a day, seven days a week. Note that "chimes"
              in this sentence would be a gnomic present
              (= aorist).

              In the phrase _Eleni silir lúmesse omentiemman_
              'The stars shine on the hour of our meeting', the
              aorist _silir_ comes first in the sentence, and its
              context affects the interpretation of the next word
              _lúmesse_, not vice versa. Since the aorist indicates
              a general truth rather than a specific present event, the
              sense of the greeting in this case must be something
              like *'The stars shine whenever we meet'. No matter
              that the words are uttered by Frodo on his _first_
              meeting with Gildor -- this is, after all, meant to be a
              traditional greeting, not an expression coined by
              Frodo for that specific occasion.

              This contrasts with the Elvish greeting as it finally
              appears in _The Lord of the Rings_: _Elen síla
              lúmenn' omentielvo_ 'a star shines on the hour
              of our meeting' (LR:79). As you noted in message
              #307, this contains the present continuative _síla_,
              so that in the final text the Elvish greeting now (in
              contrast to the earlier aorist versions) refers only
              to the present, specific encounter: *'a star is
              shining (now) upon the hour of (this) our meeting'.

              -- Patrick Wynne]
            • David Kiltz
              ... Aorist in Greek means undefined, not fixed . Hence it fits the Quenya tense quite well (compare Patrick s description). Indeed, the name aorist fits
              Message 6 of 9 , Jan 31, 2003
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                On Donnerstag, Januar 30, 2003, at 09:09 Uhr, Petri Tikka wrote:

                > I find it quite strange that the term _aorist_ is applied
                > to a tense that points to the present in Quenya

                Aorist in Greek means "undefined, not fixed". Hence it fits the Quenya
                "tense" quite well (compare Patrick's description). Indeed, the name
                "aorist" fits the Quenya tense better than the Greek since the latter
                was mostly used as a past tense. The past value, however, did not
                originally reside in the aorist form as such but in the augment e-.
                Note that the Quenya "perfect" tense employs a similar strategy. For a
                very close typological parallel you might want to look at Turkish.
                Turkish has an "aorist" as well which is used for general or gnomic
                statements. It's a present tense as well.

                David Kiltz
              • Lukas Novak
                ... This is one interpretation. Is not there another possible one, namely that the aorist is used in a sense not excluding temporal determination, but merely
                Message 7 of 9 , Feb 2, 2003
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                  Patrick Wynne responded to Petri Tikka:

                  > In the phrase _Eleni silir lúmesse omentiemman_
                  > 'The stars shine on the hour of our meeting', the
                  > aorist _silir_ comes first in the sentence, and its
                  > context affects the interpretation of the next word
                  > _lúmesse_, not vice versa. Since the aorist indicates
                  > a general truth rather than a specific present event, the
                  > sense of the greeting in this case must be something
                  > like *'The stars shine whenever we meet'. No matter
                  > that the words are uttered by Frodo on his _first_
                  > meeting with Gildor -- this is, after all, meant to be a
                  > traditional greeting, not an expression coined by
                  > Frodo for that specific occasion.

                  This is one interpretation. Is not there another possible one, namely
                  that the aorist is used in a sense not excluding temporal determination,
                  but merely abstracting from it, not expressing it, leaving the job to
                  the "luumesse" - that would be just another example of the principle
                  that unnecessary grammatical determination is left out (like the "last
                  declinable word" rule or absence of verbal personal endings if the
                  subject is expressed)?

                  [Certainly this is a _possible_ alternative interpretation, though I
                  wouldn't say it's a _probable_ one, because -- again --it assumes
                  that _lúmesse_ 'on the hour' somehow inherently points to a single
                  incident in present time. -- Patrick.]

                  > This contrasts with the Elvish greeting as it finally
                  > appears in _The Lord of the Rings_: _Elen síla
                  > lúmenn' omentielvo_ 'a star shines on the hour
                  > of our meeting' (LR:79). As you noted in message
                  > #307, this contains the present continuative _síla_,
                  > so that in the final text the Elvish greeting now (in
                  > contrast to the earlier aorist versions) refers only
                  > to the present, specific encounter: *'a star is
                  > shining (now) upon the hour of (this) our meeting'.

                  Or perhaps Tolkien decided that it sounds better to express the
                  singularity of reference by means of the verbal tense as well? :-)

                  As to the matter of future tense, I have always been under the
                  impression that the "-uva" formation is originally rather optative
                  than purely future. I think that several things point to that: the use
                  of "future" in the "nai" formula, the difference of the future tense
                  from all the other tenses and the difference between Sindarin and
                  Quenya future, which jointly suggest that the future tenses are quite
                  young formations (and thus presumably derived from some other
                  formations), the possibility of Tolkien's taking his inspiration from
                  English (will="wish"), Greek (Greek furture seems to be an
                  elaboration of aorist optative) and perhaps also Latin (Latin future of
                  consonantal and -i stems is similar to present subjunctive, and future
                  perfect differs from perfect subjunctive only in 1st sg. form)...
                  For support Cirion's Oath may be cited as well - "Vanda sina termaruva..."
                  sounds rather "optative" to me (and such usage of the -uva form would
                  be archaism, which fits very well the occasion).

                  However, I don't see how this -uv- can be associated with the
                  "privative" stem "uu" - I cannot see how the optative meaning can
                  be gained by attaching a negative or privative particle to the end of
                  the verb. I could imagine that the "privative" meaning arose from the
                  "optative", but this seems not to be the case, both because -uva seems
                  to be a late formation and because the meaning of the "uu" stem in the
                  Etymologies is probably intended as the original, primitive one.

                  I would agree with Pavel in dividing the "uva" into "uv-" and "-a",
                  but I suggest that the "-a" is maybe rather the "-a" of imperative
                  (or perhaps the both a's can be traced to common meaning - certain
                  feel of intensity or anxiety, that marks the action described by the
                  verb as immediately concerning the situation?). A further step would
                  be to suppose a primitive verb "ub-" or "uba(a)-", in imperative
                  "uba(a)-" could perhaps give the desired meaning in connexion with
                  verbal stems? (Well, I don't in fact believe that - I rather suspect
                  that the elves simply liked the sound and made the ending up... ;-))

                  Lukas
                • atarinke <martin.blom@chello.se>
                  ... While I agree that on the hour may not necessarily point to a single incident in time, the hour we are talking about is specified by an attribute ( the
                  Message 8 of 9 , Feb 5, 2003
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                    Lukas Novak wrote:

                    > This is one interpretation. Is not there another possible one, namely
                    > that the aorist is used in a sense not excluding temporal determination,
                    > but merely abstracting from it, not expressing it, leaving the job to
                    > the "luumesse" [snip]

                    to which Patrick Wynne responded:

                    > Certainly this is a _possible_ alternative interpretation, though I
                    > wouldn't say it's a _probable_ one, because -- again --it assumes
                    > that _lúmesse_ 'on the hour' somehow inherently points to a single
                    > incident in present time.

                    While I agree that 'on the hour' may not necessarily point to a single
                    incident in time, the hour we are talking about is specified by an
                    attribute ('the hour of our meeting') which seems quite exact to me.
                    And even disregarding that, Novak's point still holds, that the aorist
                    is maybe used not to exclude temporal determination, but merely to not
                    give any, something not unheard of in real languages (Chinese for
                    instance almost never has to).

                    ta-dam
                    Martin Blom
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