- In an etymological note on the Quenya name _Itaril(lë)_ (S _Idril_) in
the late (c. 1968-69, see XII:331) essay _The Shibboleth of Fëanor_, we
find the following (XII:363):
"_it_ in _itila_ 'twinkling, gleaming', and _íta_ 'a flash', _ita-_
verb 'to sparkle'."
The form _itila_ 'twinkling, gleaming' is somewhat enigmatic. The
apparent ending _-la_ is frequently found in late Quenya in present
participles, and the gloss Tolkien provides would be consistent with an
interpretation of _itila_ as a present participle. We can compare
_itila_ with the present participles found in the similarly late (c.
1963-73) Quenya version of the poem _Oilima Markirya_ (MC:221-22; for
the date see MC:221), which can be sorted into the following formal
classification, in accordance with Tolkien's own etymological notes
accompanying the poem (MC:222-23):
I. Formed on derived verb stems:
a) _a_-stem verbs:
_ilkala_ (in _ilkalasse_ *'gleaming-in', line 17, and _ilkalannar_
*'gleaming-upon', line 36, cf. MC:215), stem _ilka-_ 'gleam (white)'
(this assumes _ilka-_ arises from a base like *LIK- 'gleam'; other
analyses are possible, such as _il-ka_)
_píkala_ (in _píkalasse_ *'waning-in', line 18, cf. MC:215), stem
_píka-_ 'lessen, dwindle'
_lantala_ (in _lantalasse_ *'falling-in', line 19, cf. MC:215), stem
*_lanta-_ 'fall' (assuming this is derived ultimately from the Etym.
base DAT-, DANT-).
_rúmala_ (line 22), stem _rúma-_ 'shift, move, heave (of large and
_hákala_ (line 27), stem *_háka-_ 'yawn' (cf. MC:215; it is also quite
possible that the stem is basic *_hak-_, but I'm placing it here for
b) _u_-stem verbs:
_hlápula_ (line 11), stem _hlapu-_ 'fly or stream in the wind'
c) _sa_-stem verbs:
_ruxal[a] (line 25), stem *_ruksa-_ 'to crumble' (cf. MC:215; cf. also
the apparently related past participle _rúkina_ 'confused, shattered,
disordered', line 34)
c) _ta_-stem verbs:
_falastala_ (line 10), stem _falasta-_ 'to foam'
_amortala_ (line 26), stem *_amorta-_ 'to heave' (cf. MC:215)
d) _ru_-stem verbs:
_nurrula_ (line 21), stem _nurru-_ 'murmur, grumble'
II. Formed on frequentative stems:
_sisílala_ (line 12), frequentative stem _sisíla-_, itself formed on
the basic stem _sil-_ 'shine (white)'
_fifírula_ (line 13), frequentative stem _fifíru-_, itself formed on
the basic stem _fir-_ 'die, fade'
_talta-taltala_ (line 30), frequentative stem *_talta-talta_, itself
formed on the derived stem _talta-_ 'slip, slide down, collapse'
Note that all of these present participles are formed on what is
(apparently or arguably) the present-tense stem of the verb, with
_a_-stem verbs (and, if we include the stems underlying the
frequentative stems and perhaps _hákala_, also basic verbs) having the
lengthened root vowel (where permitted by the constraints of Quenya
phonology, i.e, when not followed by two or more consonants) and _a_
stem-vowel characteristic of the present-tense stem of such verbs.
In contrast, if it is indeed a participle, _itila_ 'twinkling,
glinting', with short root vowel and stem-vowel in _-i-_, looks for all
the world like it is formed on an _aorist_ stem, despite the fact that
verb-stem Tolkien cites with it, _ita-_, is an _a_-stem verb.
My question for the group is: are there any Primary-world languages
having an aorist vs. present tense verb-stem distinction that form
participles on the aorist stem, either in addition to or instead of the
=========================================================================================Carl F. Hostetter Aelfwine@... http://www.elvish.org
ho bios brachys, he de techne makre.
Ars longa, vita brevis.
The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne.
"I wish life was not so short," he thought. "Languages take such
a time, and so do all the things one wants to know about."
- On Mittwoch, August 27, 2003, at 04:57 Uhr, Carl F. Hostetter wrote:
> My question for the group is: are there any Primary-world languagesWhile I'm not aware of any language having a 'tense' stem dichotomy,
> having an aorist vs. present tense verb-stem distinction that form
> participles on the aorist stem, either in addition to or instead of the
> present-tense stem?
forming participles from aorist stems *instead* of from present stems,
Old Greek and the oldest Indic (Vedic) both form active participles from
the present and aorist stem. Indeed, even from the 'future stem':
(I will only give the active forms, as they suffice to make the case)
Greek: 1) Neuter present participle active: _paidêu-on, -ontos_
2) Neuter aorist participle active: _paidêu-sa-n, -ntos_
3) Neuter future pariciple active: _paidêu-s-on, -ontos_
Vedic: 1) _gacch-ant-_ (_gacch-/gam- 'to go')
Note that both the Greek and Indic aorist forms do not (neccessarily)
indicate 'past'. The difference between aorist and present is rather
The oldest form of the (present) active participle in Indo-European was
*_-ont/-nt_. It is of nominal origin. The same seems to be true for
Proto-Quenya *_-lâ_, which, in its uncharatcterized or 'sex indicative'
forms shows up in Q. _tecil_ 'pen' < *_tek-la_ or _hekile, hekilo_
'she/he outcast' < *_heklê, *heklô_ (XI:365).
An ending probably of the same ultimate origin can be seen in Early
Noldorin, e.g. present pariciple _madol_ 'eating', _madannel_ 'having
eaten' etc. (PEXIII:131) which can also be attached to various stems.
Later adjectival forms show up in _The Etymologies_ (passim) etc..
A system similar to the Noldorin one seen in PE XIII can be found in
Baltic which has, e.g. in the active three participles (leaving out the
_-damas_ participle found only in Lithuanian and Latvian). The present
and preterite participle active are derived from the tense stem.
The future participle (<*_-siant_) too is only found in Lithuanian and
Last note: The distinction active/passive may not always be indicated
by the suffix. E.g. in Hittite _-ant_ attached to a transitive verb has
passive meaning (_kunant-_ 'killed', cf. _kwenzi_ 'kills' but _asant-_
'being', cf. _eszi_ 'is'). In Old Greek and Old Indic too, _to/ta_
participles have active meaning when attached to intransitive verbal
Similar things might be found in Elvish.
Carl F. Hostetter asked:
> My question for the group is: are there any Primary-world languagesA somewhat similar situation obtains in Russian. Even though Russian
> having an aorist vs. present tense verb-stem distinction that form
> participles on the aorist stem, either in addition to or
> instead of the present-tense stem?
does not possess the necessary distinction, still a correlation between
the tense of the finite forms and participles derived from a particular
stem is observable.
Generally, the Russian verb system revolves around two basic stems,
traditionally termed the 'infinitive stem', i. e. the infinitive minus
the suffix -t', and the present tense stem, i. e. the present tense
minus the personal endings. The first stem is the basis of, inter alia,
the past tense and the past participles, while the second one yields the
present-future tense and the present participles:
delat', 'to do'
Infinitive stem dela-, present tense stem delaj-
delaj-u DO-1SG 'I do'
delaj-usch-ij DO-PrAP-NOM:SG (one who is doing)
delaj-em-yj DO-PrPP-NOM:SG (something that is being done)
dela-l DO-PAST (I did)
dela-vsh-ij DO-PaAP (one who did)
I believe that participles can also be formed from different stems in
Bulgarian, and there is a correlation between the aspectual properties
of the finite forms and participles (which is even closer to the Quenya
situation), but perhaps Ivan will enlighten us on this better than I
Pavel Iosad pavel_iosad@...
Nid byd, byd heb wybodaeth
[Thanks, Pavel, that is interesting! I feel I should offer a gentle
nudge though to make sure we don't drift too far afield. What I'm
trying to get at is some indication of how likely it is that a language
that has a clear present participle vs. past participle distinction,
the former formed (so far as we can judge from the available
evidence) at least nearly exclusively on the present-tense stem,
but also separate aorist, present, and past tenses, would in fact
also be able to form participles on the aorist stem, either as a third,
independent class of participles, or as a variant form of the
present participle. CFH]
- Wrote CHF in Pavel Iosad's post:
"What I'm trying to get at is some indication of how likely it is that
a language that has a clear present participle vs. past participle
distinction, the former formed (so far as we can judge from the
available evidence) at least nearly exclusively on the present-tense
stem, but also separate aorist, present, and past tenses, would in
fact also be able to form participles on the aorist stem, either as a
third, independent class of participles, or as a variant form of the
present participle. CFH"
Likelihood? I severely doubt that JRRT thought in terms of "how likely
is it that a language with postpositions has a PSO basic word order?"
which if he did not means such considerations would hardly limit his
choice of grammatical structures. As Pavel Iosad indicated, however,
one can in Slavonic languages form present participles of imperfective
and perfective verbs alike. Where the distinction would be like Q
aorist and present tense.
Hans Georg Lundahl
[Of course there was no question of likelihood in _Tolkien's_ mind:
the language either had this feature or it didn't. But that's looking
at the matter from the wrong end: what _we_ have to hand is not
Tolkien's mind, but the evidence of his writings. And in these
writings we have a handful of present participles and a _single_
(potential) example of an aorist participle. Since we know that
Tolkien's Eldarin languages generally follow Indo-European and
Finno-Ugric grammatical patterns -- those being, not coincidentally,
the languages Tolkien was most knowledgable about -- it is natural
to look to those languages (in particular) for possible examples and
even clarification of phonological, morphological, and syntactic
phenomena or patterns that we see, or think we may see, in
Tolkien's languages. And in areas of uncertainty like the present
case, corroboration of putative phenomena or patterns in Primary-
world languages _does_ speak to the _likelihood_ of the correctness
of an analysis and that the phenomenon or pattern under
investigation pertains in Tolkien's languages.
As for my "nudge", it was not meant as a comment on
Pavel's post, but as clarification based on comments on the
matter I have received in messages not posted to the list. CFH]