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S. _agor_ 'made, did' and the Sindarin past tense

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  • Carl F. Hostetter
    An authorial note to the c. 1959-60 essay Quendi and Eldar describes what Tolkien calls a primitive past tense formation, marked as such by the augment
    Message 1 of 5 , Oct 16, 2003
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      An authorial note to the c. 1959-60 essay "Quendi and Eldar" describes
      what Tolkien calls "a primitive past tense" formation, "marked as such
      by the 'augment' or reduplicated base-vowel, and the long stem-vowel".*
      He further notes that "Past tenses of this form were usual in Sindarin
      'strong' or primary verbs: as *_akâra_ 'made, did' > S _agor_" (XI:415
      n.30; the circumflex is here used to denote a macron in the published
      text). This supplies a class of Sindarin past-tense formation not
      exhibited in either the Noldorin of _The Etymologies_ or the Sindarin
      of _The Lord of the Rings_ (see post no. 464 to this list for details
      on those formation classes:
      <http://http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lambengolmor/message/464>) -- nor
      anywhere else in the published corpus.

      * It is interesting to note in this connection that the augmented stem
      was a feature of the Indo-European verb system, also denoting past
      time, surviving into Greek, Armenian, and Indo-Iranian.

      In addition to the characteristics of this formation noted by Tolkien
      (reduplicated base-vowel and long stem-vowel), we may further note that
      in this specific example of *_akâra_ the past-tense formation ends with
      _-a_*, and contrast this with the strong Eldarin past-tense formation
      exhibited in _The Etymologies_ and _The Lord of the Rings_ (again, see
      my post referred to above for details) in which the base-vowel is
      lengthened but an *_-ê_ is suffixed. It is probably not a coincidence
      that the final vowel is the same as the base-vowel: indeed, it is a
      noteworthy feature of the bases given in "Quendi and Eldar" that they,
      like the roots of the Qenya Lexicon, often exhibit the pattern CVCV,
      where the two vowels are the same: thus *KWENE, *ELE, *DELE, *HEKE
      (XI:360-61), *TUJU, *TAJA, *TAWA (VT39:7), etc.; and it seems likely
      therefore that *_akâra_ reflects a base *KARA. This fact may explain
      why Tolkien characterizes the formation only in terms of reduplication
      cum lengthening, since the termination in _akâra_ is not a suffix but
      part of the base. This is in contrast to the bases of _Etymologies_, in
      which the usual structure is CVC (as for example in the base
      corresponding to the verb under discussion, KAR-); so that while a
      putative verb *_kar-_ can be called a basic verb in terms of the
      structure exhibited in _Etymologies_, the corresponding basic form in
      terms of the structure exhibited in "Quendi and Eldar" would appear to
      be *_kara_.

      * Contrast this fact with Helge Fauskanger's blanket assertion in his
      "Reconstructing the Sindarin Verb System"
      <http://www.uib.no/People/hnohf/sverb-rec.htm#revised> that in
      past-tense verbs of this formation, "Before pronominal endings, the
      connecting vowel _-e-_ is slipped in". Helge bases this assertion on
      the example of the untranslated form _agorech_ from the unpublished
      "Túrin Wrapper", but in doing so is simply making another set of
      unsupported assertions: 1) that _agorech_ is a specifically past-tense
      verb (as opposed to, say, perfect); and 2) that _agor_ of "Quendi and
      Eldar" and _agorech_ of the "Túrin Wrapper" were in fact both descended
      from *_akâra_, despite being found in unconnected sources written at
      different times; and 3) that the formations exhibited by _agor_ and
      _agorech_ had any persistence at all in Tolkien's concept of Sindarin
      beyond the moments and the sheets of paper on which they were written
      -- all of which may be true, but nonetheless cannot be proven and so
      cannot be asserted as fact.

      The Eldarin past-tense formation exhibited by *_akâra_ may also be
      compared with that of the Eldarin perfect tense, as deducible from
      various Quenya exemplars, such as _avánie-r_ pl. 'have passed away'
      (LR:368, R:66; note that this form entered with the 2nd ed., whereas
      the 1st ed. has _vánier_), _utúlie-n_ 'I am come' (LR:946),
      _utúvie-nye-s_ 'I have found it' (LR:950), and _iríkie_ 'has twisted'
      (VT39:9); which we can see are likewise characterized by "the 'augment'
      or reduplicated base-vowel, and the long stem-vowel", but, in contrast,
      with the further suffixion of _-ie_ rather than of _-a_/base-vowel as
      in S _agor_ < *_akâra_, or of _-e_ as in S _óne-n_ 'I gave' (LR:1036).
      Given the semantic relationship between the simple past and the past
      perfect tenses, it is not surprising to find formal similarities
      between them.


      --
      =============================================
      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."
    • David Kiltz
      ... I think it s possible to interpret _onen_ (LR:1036) as
      Message 2 of 5 , Oct 17, 2003
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        On Donnerstag, Oktober 16, 2003, at 10:49 Uhr, Carl F. Hostetter wrote:

        > An authorial note to the c. 1959-60 essay "Quendi and Eldar" describes
        > what Tolkien calls "a primitive past tense" formation, "marked as such
        > by the 'augment' or reduplicated base-vowel, and the long stem-vowel".
        > ... This supplies a class of Sindarin past-tense formation not
        > exhibited in either the Noldorin of _The Etymologies_ or the Sindarin of
        > _The Lord of the Rings_ ... -- nor anywhere else in the published corpus

        I think it's possible to interpret _onen_ (LR:1036) as < *_a-ân-en_
        suggesting that _-e_ was at least at home in the 1sg. Perhaps we even
        have to posit an *_a-âna-in_ originally. This would mean that we do not
        have total parallelism with Quenya _equen_ (XI:415n.29) but still could
        account for the long vowel by means of an attested past tense
        formation. Obviously, _-en_ for the 1st sg. would have been taken from
        other, more profuse past tense forms.

        [This is an interesting idea, particularly in light of the "printing
        history" of _ónen_/_onen_. The form as published in the first edition,
        first printing had an initial long vowel: _ónen_. Over subsequent
        reprintings, the acute accent fell away -- so far as Douglas Anderson
        knows, probably unintentionally. In any event, the form clearly did
        have a long vowel at one time, which _might_ be accounted for as
        indicating the presence of a primitive augment. I will note, however,
        that my statement stands: the past-tense formation described by
        Tolkien for S _agor_ < *_akâra_ is not attested elsewhere in the
        published corpus, since even by the interpretation you propose here,
        the final _-e_ of _óne-n_ does not fit the pattern Tolkien describes.
        Nor would *_a-âna-in_ solve the problem, since *_-a-in_ would
        yield S _-aen_. Nonetheless, the essential point remains: _ónen_, our
        sole example of a strong past-tense Sindarin verb in _The Lord of the
        Rings_, is not necessarily inconsistent with a primitive strong past-
        tense formation with augment/reduplication cum lengthening. CFH]

        > Given the semantic relationship between the simple past and the past
        > perfect tenses, it is not surprising to find formal similarities [i.e.
        > the augment] between them.

        Yes and no. One has to be careful not to carry the Indo-European
        parallel too far. In Indo-European past tense (augmented aorist and
        present (==imperfect)) are formally and historically entirely distinct
        from the perfect. The latter indicating an accomplished state (in the
        present!) or, even earlier, simply a 'state', whereas the 'past'
        reference is only very late and secondary.

        Still, to interpret the augment in Elvish as indicating 'past' is
        certainly a valid point.

        The question remains whether that augment in Elvish works quite as in
        I.E. In the latter, *_e-_ was a particle indicating 'past'. In Elvish
        it seems to be a 'left-branching' _sundóma_ extension, which may
        have originally denoted 'totality' aut sim. rather than 'past' in a
        strict sense.

        David Kiltz

        [Regarding the prefixed I.E. particle *_e-_ indicating 'past' -- there
        is a striking parallel to this in QL, which lists a prefix _e-_ under the
        root E, whose derivatives are primarily demonstrative (_ena_ 'that by
        you', _en-, ek-, et-_ 'that (by you)', etc.; PE12:34). The function of
        this Qenya prefix _e-_ is not specified, but in the H-entries of QL
        there are two examples of _e-_ used as an augment in past tense
        forms of verbs (derived from roots in which the root-vowel is not
        E but rather A and I respectively): _halta-_ ‘to leap’, irreg. pret.
        _halle, ehalle_ (PE12:39 s.v. HALA); and _kitya-_ ‘to tickle’, pa.t.
        _ekitsine_ (PE12:47 s.v. KITI-). A relationship between a deictic stem
        meaning 'that' and a sense of past time is also found in the _Etymo-
        logies_, which states that the base YA- 'there, over there' was also
        used of time in the sense 'ago'; hence the derivatives Q _yana_ 'that
        (the former)' and _yá_ 'formerly, ago'. -- PHW]
      • David Kiltz
        ... The question is whether the 1. sg. of S. _agor_ could have been _*agoren_. [I don t think that was the question, really; the question was whether S _ónen_
        Message 3 of 5 , Oct 28, 2003
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          On 17.10.2003, at 11:44, David Kiltz wrote:

          > [Carl Hostetter wrote:]
          >
          > the past-tense formation described by Tolkien for S _agor_ < *_akâra_
          > is not attested elsewhere in the published corpus, since even by the
          > interpretation you propose here, the final _-e_ of _óne-n_ does not
          > fit the pattern Tolkien describes. Nor would *_a-âna-in_ solve the
          > problem, since *_-a-in_ would yield S _-aen_.

          The question is whether the 1. sg. of S. _agor_ could have been _*agoren_.

          [I don't think that was the question, really; the question was whether
          S _ónen_ fits the pattern exhibited by S _agor_ < *_akâra_, which strictly
          speaking it does not, at least not demonstrably so. But since you raise
          the question, I'd say: yes, sure, it's _possible_ that the 1 sg. of S _agor_
          (sc., at the point at which Tolkie wrote that form and figure in _Quendi
          and Eldar_ -- at any other time, all bets are off) could have been
          *_agoren_. But I would say it could also have been *_agoran_. CFH]

          As for _*-ain_ > _aen_, i.e. in closed, post-tonic syllable, I'm not so
          sure. Do you have an example handy? Of course, _*ai_ > _*ae_ in
          stressed syllables.

          [Good point; in that specific environment, no, I can't bring any example
          to mind (though its prominent presence in other environments is surely
          suggestive). On the other hand, can you provide any support for supposing
          that it would yield _-en_ in that environment? CFH]

          > Patrick Wynne wrote:
          >
          > [Regarding the prefixed I.E. particle *_e-_ indicating 'past' -- there
          > is a striking parallel to this in QL, which lists a prefix _e-_ under
          > the root E, whose derivatives are primarily demonstrative ...]

          Very interesting. I thought about it along the lines of _*aquâ_ being
          an 'intensified' form of _*quâ_ [XI:415] (or even _Isil_ from SIL- 'the
          Sheen', _Anar_ from NAR- 'the Burning, Hot, Fire'). The apparent early
          conception of the QL makes it indeed more like Indo-European.

          David Kiltz


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Carl F. Hostetter
          ... Or even *_agoron_, of course (depending on whether the stem-vowel *_-a_ was or was not lengthened before the 1 sg. ending). --
          Message 4 of 5 , Oct 28, 2003
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            On Oct 28, 2003, at 7:02 AM, Carl Hostetter wrote:

            > it's _possible_ that the 1 sg. of S _agor_ (sc., at the point at which
            > Tolkie[n] wrote that form and figure in _Quendi and Eldar_ -- at any
            > other time, all bets are off) could have been *_agoren_. But I would
            > say it could also have been *_agoran_.

            Or even *_agoron_, of course (depending on whether the stem-vowel *_-a_
            was or was not lengthened before the 1 sg. ending).


            --
            =============================================
            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."
          • David Kiltz
            ... Well, a little misunderstanding then. That was really the question for me. As, apart from the ending _-en_ which isn t clear, S. _ón-_ may just as well be
            Message 5 of 5 , Oct 28, 2003
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              On 28.10.2003, at 13:02, David Kiltz wrote:

              > The question is whether the 1. sg. of S. _agor_ could have been
              > _*agoren_.
              >
              > [I don't think that was the question, really; the question was whether
              > S _ónen_ fits the pattern exhibited by S _agor_ < *_akâra_, which
              > strictly speaking it does not, at least not demonstrably so.

              Well, a little misunderstanding then. That was really the question for
              me. As, apart from the ending _-en_ which isn't clear, S. _ón-_ may
              just as well be < _*a-ân-_ as _*ân-_. So, at the moment, this is a 'non
              licet', i.e. __ónen_ might well exhibit the _agor_ pattern, and may
              not. For now, the case remains inconclusive and it would, in my
              opinion, be wrong to assert either the uniqueness of _agor_ or its
              not-uniqueness.

              So, strictly speaking, I would personally simply rephrase your
              "...formation not exhibited..." into "...not securely attested..." as
              no one analysis can be ruled out.

              > As for _*-ain_ > _aen_, i.e. in closed, post-tonic syllable, I'm not so
              > sure. Do you have an example handy? Of course, _*ai_ > _*ae_ in
              > stressed syllables.
              >
              > [Good point; in that specific environment, no, I can't bring any
              > example to mind (though its prominent presence in other
              > environments is surely suggestive). On the other hand, can you
              > provide any support for supposing that it would yield _-en_ in that
              > environment? CFH]

              I cannot. A very speculative case might be S. _Glinnel_, pl. _Glinnil_.
              Tolkien writes: " The old clan name _*Lindâi_ survived in the compound
              _Glinnel_ ..." [XI:378]. One might analyse this as _*Lindâi + la/o_ as
              _*Lindâ_+_El_ > _*Glenn_+_el_ or _*Lindâ+la/o_ cannot account for the
              'i' of the root. At least one problem here is that Tolkien speaks
              clearly of a 'compound' which points to an analysis of _-el_ < _El_
              'Elf' for the second element.

              Maybe a form like _Abonnen_ 'After-born' (==Q: _Apanóna_) [XI:386] could
              be interpreted as < _*Ap(a)onna-inâ_ as we have Noldorin _ed-onna_
              'beget' but that could, of course, be _*ap(a)onn-inâ_ as well and
              remains inconclusive too. Generally, a monophthongisation doesn't seem
              unlikely for phonotactic reasons given that Sindarin looses all final
              vowels (even _-*yâ_). But no, I cannot but speculate.

              David Kiltz
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