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Re: Finnish and Quenya future

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  • 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 1 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/
    • 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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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