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Kalevala & Qenya

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  • cgilson75
    Occasional discussion here of the nature of the influence of Finnish on Qenya eventually led me to my university library to reconsult their copy of the first
    Message 1 of 4 , Sep 12, 2003
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      Occasional discussion here of the nature of the influence of Finnish
      on Qenya eventually led me to my university library to reconsult
      their copy of the first edition of W. F. Kirby's translation of the
      Kalevala (_K., The Land of Heroes_, 1907). Kirby's own introduction
      to his translation (unfortunately replaced in 1951 with a much more
      cursory introduction by J. B. C. Grundy) contains information that
      must surely have been of great interest to Tolkien, especially an
      excerpt given there from the original Finnish version of Runo VIII
      (lines 1-16).

      I think it is worth quoting the beginning of this excerpt here, since
      it may well be the first Finnish text that Tolkien ever encountered.
      I give Kirby's rendering interlinearly, since it is from this that
      Tolkien would have had to infer most of what he could (at that time)
      about the language in the poem.

      Tuo oli kaunis Pohjan neiti,
      Lovely was the maid of Pohja,

      Maan kuulu, ve'en valio,
      Famed on land, on water peerless,

      Istui ilman wempelellä,
      On the arch of air high-seated,

      Taivon kaarella kajotti
      Brightly shining on the rainbow,

      Pukehissa puhtaissa;
      Clad in robes of dazzling lustre,

      Walkeissa vaattehissa;
      Clad in raiment white and shining.

      Kultakangasta kutovi,
      There she wove a golden fabric,

      Hopeista huolittavi
      Interwoven all with silver,

      Kultaisesta sukkulasta,
      And her shuttle was all golden,

      Pirralla hopeisella.
      And her comb was all of silver.

      Some previously suggested sources for Q. words (and grammatical
      devices) are prominent here, such as _ilma_ 'air', proposed as the
      inspiration for such names as Q _Ilmen_ 'region of the stars' and
      _Ilmarin_ (see e.g.
      http://www.sci.fi/%7ealboin/finn_que.htm#names ). If we trace the
      first component of these names back to its conceptual origins we find
      two associated roots in QL: ILI 'shine oily', with derivatives such
      as _ilin_ 'milk', _ilma_ 'oil' and _ilqa_ 'oily, smooth, glossy'; and
      ILU 'ether, the slender airs among the stars', with derivatives
      including _Iluuvatar_ (uu = u-macron) 'Heavenly Father', _ilwe_ 'sky,
      heavens, the blue air that is about the stars' and two words
      for 'rainbow', _iluqinga_ and _ilweranta_.

      The last item seems to corroborate that Tolkien had this Finnish
      passage in mind when devising these words, since its second component
      is _ranta_ 'arch, bridge', and the Finnish phrase _ilman
      wempelellä_ "on the arch of air" is a metaphoric equivalent of "on
      the rainbow" in the next line. The conception of the rainbow as a
      bridge in the sky capable of supporting the weight at least of
      mythical beings is of course not unique to this mythology. But
      describing the rainbow as an "arch of air" is vividly suggestive of
      the idea that air is a colored or shining substance. And this seems
      to be expressed in the Qenya notion of _ilwe_, especially in its
      connection with _ilin_ 'milk' and _ilma_ 'oil' as smooth, glossy
      liquids.

      Another prominent image in this Kalevala excerpt is that describing
      how the maid _kultakangasta kutovi_ "wove a golden fabric". It has
      been suggested that Finnish _kulta_ may have inspired the Q. words in
      _kul-_ for 'gold', 'orange', etc. (see e.g.
      http://www.sci.fi/%7ealboin/finn_que.htm#etymologies ). QL has an
      assortment of related words including the basic _kulu_ 'gold', and
      the adjective _kuluva_ 'of gold' with a variant form _kululta_, which
      is certainly evocative of the Finnish form.

      If we allow that the Germanic cognates of English _gold_, especially
      Gothic _gulth_, were also part of the original inspiration for the Q.
      root KULU, then I think the proposed Finnish influence likely to be
      valid. And the occurrence of the Finnish _kulta_ in the Kalevala
      excerpt in a compound with _kangas_ 'fabric' seems to corroborate
      this, since the latter is surely the inspiration for QL root KANGA-
      'weave', with such derivatives as _kangin_ 'I weave, spin' and
      _kangale_ 'a web'.

      Among the grammatical devices exemplified in the Kalevala excerpt,
      the genitive ending _-n_ occurs several times: _Pohjan_ "of Pohja";
      _maan_ "on land"; _ve'en_ "on sea"; _ilman_ "of air". A grammatical
      ending similar to this is implied by an etymological comparison made
      in the Gnomish Grammar between the Gnomish genitive-ablative case
      ending _-n_ and a Qenya ending _-n_ (Parma Eldalamberon 11, p. 10).
      An example is also given there of this Q. ending being used for the
      genitive of "reference" in _nostalen maara_ (aa = a-macron) 'good by
      nature'. QL _san_ 'then, at that time', derived from
      the "demonstrative" root SA-, may contain this suffix. Its sense of
      delimiting in time is rather close to that of the Finnish genitives
      delimiting in space, in _ maan kuulu, ve'en valio_ "famed on land, on
      water peerless".

      A final curious feature to note in the Kalevala excerpt is the
      occurrence of two words beginning with _w_ (wempelellä, walkeissa)
      alongside three beginning with _v_ (ve'en, valio, vaattehissa). This
      distinction is not usually made in Finnish texts of the Kalevala (see
      e.g.
      http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/kvfin/08.htm ), and my understanding
      is that both _w_ and _v_ represent the same sound here. But I don't
      know if the difference in spelling was intended to reflect an
      etymological distinction, or whether the difference occurs in the
      edition of the Kalevala that Kirby used (which he does not
      identify)? Of course the difference could have contributed to
      Tolkien's conception of early Q. with words beginning in _w_ and in
      _v_, whether or not it reflects a distinction in the actual history
      of Finnish.

      Christopher Gilson
    • Pavel Iosad
      Hello, Christopher Gilson wrote an fascinating essay on Kalevala influence in Tolkien s early Qenya. Among other things, he noted the apparent relationship
      Message 2 of 4 , Sep 13, 2003
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        Hello,

        Christopher Gilson wrote an fascinating essay on Kalevala influence in
        Tolkien's early Qenya. Among other things, he noted the apparent
        relationship between F. kulta_ and the Qenya words associated with
        'gold'

        > If we allow that the Germanic cognates of English _gold_, especially
        > Gothic _gulth_, were also part of the original inspiration for the Q.
        > root KULU, then I think the proposed Finnish influence likely to be
        > valid.

        I agree. A further twist is added by the fact that the Finnish word is
        one of the numerous loans into Finnish from very early Germanic, such as
        _rengas_ < *_xrengaz_ 'ring' and _kuningas_ < *_kuningaz_ 'king', the
        latter not infrequently also occurring in the Kalevala. Tolkien would
        certainly have known this, and he might have encountered this particular
        word even before the _Kalevala_, as I imagine these Finnish loans would
        be mentioned in Germanic philology courses. By the way, we might hazard
        a very, very, very cautious guess that _rengas_, which is also a
        standard example of this Germanic-Finnic interaction, could be an
        influence (I am wary of the word 'source') for some Qenya words, which
        are to be found in PE12:80 s.v. RINI-. While _rin (nd-)_ 'year, circle',
        has a rather distant relationship to _rengas_ in form, it certainly has
        a similar meaning. The words _rinkalenda_ 'anniversary', _rinko (o)_
        'disc, circle, orb'_, and the erased _rinku (û)_ 'Orb of the Moon', also
        mentioned in PME in a different form, show a closer affinity. Still, the
        inspiration is not as likely as in the case of _kulta_, and _rengas_ is
        not met in the Kalevala. Still, while not very likely, the link is not
        impossible.

        > Among the grammatical devices exemplified in the Kalevala excerpt,
        > the genitive ending _-n_ occurs several times: _Pohjan_ "of Pohja";

        As the editors mention in PE12:xii, the word is also found in Qenya,
        PE12:74 s.v.PO- listing _pôya_, untranslated but presumably 'northern'
        or at least connected with North.

        [...]
        > But I don't know if the difference in spelling between _w_ and
        > _v_ was intended to reflect an
        > etymological distinction

        As far as I know, it is a purely orthographic convention. I'd imagine
        Early Modern Finnish would have a vacillation between 'w' and 'v' for
        [v]. Contemporary Swedish did, as far as remember.

        Thanks again, Christopher!

        Pavel
        --
        Pavel Iosad pavel_iosad@...

        Nid byd, byd heb wybodaeth
        --Welsh saying
      • Hans Georg Lundahl
        ... Actually, in books printed in Gothic (Blackletter) style, w was the norm in Swedish, like it still is in German and Polish. In books printed in Antiqua
        Message 3 of 4 , Sep 15, 2003
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          Pavel Iosad <edricson@...> wrote:

          > As far as I know, it is a purely orthographic convention. I'd imagine Early
          > Modern Finnish would have a vacillation between 'w' and 'v' for [v]. Contemporary
          > Swedish did, as far as remember."

          Actually, in books printed in Gothic (Blackletter) style, 'w' was the norm in Swedish,
          like it still is in German and Polish. In books printed in Antiqua (Round letter) style,
          as well as loan words from French, Latin, English, 'v' was the norm.

          Now, back to Qenya, the sooner the better.

          Hans Georg Lundahl

          Höstrusk och grå moln - köp en resa till solen på Yahoo! Resor

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • cgilson75
          Pavel Iosad wrote: A further twist is added by the fact that the Finnish word [_kulta_ gold ] is one of the numerous loans into Finnish from very early
          Message 4 of 4 , Sep 18, 2003
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            Pavel Iosad wrote:

            "A further twist is added by the fact that the Finnish word
            [_kulta_ 'gold'] is one of the numerous loans into Finnish from very
            early Germanic, such as _rengas_ < *_xrengaz_ 'ring' and _kuningas_ <
            *_kuningaz_ 'king', the latter not infrequently also occurring in the
            Kalevala. Tolkien would certainly have known this, and he might have
            encountered this particular word even before the _Kalevala_, as I
            imagine these Finnish loans would be mentioned in Germanic philology
            courses."

            This does seem like something Tolkien would have learned about while
            at Oxford; so the sequence of events is worth bearing in mind. His
            original course of study was in the Classics, and what he was
            learning as a pupil of Joseph Wright in 1912 were "the elements of
            Greek philology" (Biography, chap. 5). After taking his Honour
            Moderations exam in 1913, he was advised to switch his studies to the
            English school, where he took up Old Norse as his special subject
            (Bio. chap. 6). So the instruction Tolkien received in Germanic
            philology would have been primarily between 1913 and 1915.

            Tolkien had read Kirby's translation of the Kalevala probably during
            his last year at King Edward's. He may still have been hoping to
            find a Finnish edition of the poem when he discovered that the
            library at Exeter College had a copy of C. N. E. Eliot's _Finnish
            Grammar_, soon after arriving at Oxford in 1911 (see
            http://www.elvish.org/resources.html#TolkienInfluence_anchor ). He
            clearly studied this grammar in great detail, and presumably worked
            through the longer excerpts from the Kalevala that are included at
            the end of the book (Runo XXXVI, lines 319-346; XVI, 151-384; and XL,
            113-244).

            Incidentally, the first of these excerpts is the account of
            Kullervo's death, and includes the words _terävä_ 'sharp' and
            _lapsi_ 'child', the proposed inspiration for Q _tereva_ 'piercing,
            acute, shrill, sharp' (QL) and _lapse_ ' babe' (Etym.). The third
            excerpt is about the invention of the harp, and includes
            the word _kantelo_ (a variant of _kantele_ 'harp'), clearly
            contributing to QL _kantl 'a large harp' (<< _kantil_ 'a small harp')
            and _kantele_ 'harping, (repetition)'; though I think the partial
            homophony with Latin _cantare_ 'to sing, chant' and its cognates may
            have contributed to Tolkien's adaptation of this Finnish word.

            [Pavel:] "By the way, we might hazard a very, very, very cautious
            guess that _rengas_, which is also a standard example of this
            Germanic-Finnic interaction, could be an influence (I am wary of the
            word 'source') for some Qenya words, which are to be found in PE12:80
            s.v. RINI-. While _rin (nd-)_ 'year, circle', has a rather distant
            relationship to _rengas_ in form, it certainly has a similar meaning.
            The words _rinkalenda_ 'anniversary', _rinko (o)_ 'disc, circle,
            orb'_, and the erased _rinku (û)_ 'Orb of the Moon', also
            mentioned in PME in a different form, show a closer affinity."

            The other side of this Germanic-Finnish connection is also worth
            considering. The Old English cognate is _hring_ 'ring, circle,
            cycle, orb' and the Old Norse _hringr_ 'ring, circle', words Tolkien
            would have encountered when first learning and reading in these
            languages while still at King Edward's. A cognate is not attested in
            Gothic, a lack that would have attracted Tolkien's attention, during
            the period when he was filling in the gaps in the Gothic lexicon through
            comparative extrapolation, using what he had learned from reading
            Wright's _Primer of the Gothic Language_ around 1908 or 1909. From
            the OE & ON cognates Primitive Germanic *_xringaz_ could be inferred,
            and Gothic *_hriggs_.

            But I also agree with Pavel that in this case we should be cautious.
            If the ultimate motive behind an external influence on Qenya is the
            appeal of a particular association of sound and sense embodied in the
            form that inspires it, then we may not need to look further than
            modern English _ring_ for Tolkien's source, since this is just as
            close in sound to the Qenya forms _rin_, _rinko_, etc., as OE
            _hring_, ON _hringr_ or Finnish _rengas_.

            Of course this group does display other influences. Thus the second
            component of _rinkalenda_ is _kalenda_ 'of the day; daily', which
            occurs under the root KALA 'shine golden' alongside _kalende_ 'a
            special day, festival'. The last seems clearly inspired by Latin
            _kalendae_, the term for the first day of the month, though the KALA
            words may also have been influenced by Latin _calere_ 'be warm or
            hot, glow', and its relatives. The second element of _rinku_ is
            _kuu_ (uu == u-macron) 'Crescent Moon', presumably inspired by Finnish
            _kuu_ 'moon'. This is another word Tolkien could have learned from
            Kirby's translation of the Kalevala, since _Kuutar_ 'the Daughter of
            the Moon' is translated there in a list of proper names at the end of
            the poem.

            This rather nicely illustrates just a few of the multiple layers of
            inspiration that were integrated in Qenya already when it was
            documented in QL. It is fascinating to peel back some of those
            layers and possibly glimpse what affected Tolkien during the years
            before this, when we know he was already continually inventing based
            on the many languages he encountered.

            Christopher Gilson
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