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Noldorin _gar_

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  • David Kiltz
    In #3 of Hiswelóke (http://move.to/hisweloke) Didier Willis published an analysis of a Noldorin sentence found on an early sketch of Thror s Map. The phrase
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 30, 2003
      In #3 of Hiswelóke (http://move.to/hisweloke) Didier Willis published
      an analysis of a Noldorin sentence found on an early sketch of Thror's

      The phrase runs:

      _Lheben teil brann i·annon ar neledh neledhi gar godrebh_.

      (For the analysis please check the URL, the articles are freely

      As an output of his analysis, Didier Willis gives: _Leben teil brann
      i·annon ar neledh neledhi [gar] godrebh_ "Cinq pieds de haut la porte,
      et trois entrent à travers ensemble". I agree with Didier Willis' analysis
      in all but two points. 1) His translation seems to take _neledhi_ as an
      inflected verb rather than an infinitive and 2) seems to dispense of
      _gar_. So, the crux of the matter seems to be _gar_ on which Didier
      says: "On le retrouve dans un autre texte de J.R.R.Tolkien, sans qu'il
      soit réellement possible d'en analyser la fonction" ('It [the word _gar_]
      can also be in one other text by J.R.R.Tolkien but it isn't really
      possible to analyse its function').

      I beg to differ here. Indeed, I think it is quite possible to analyse
      its function, although the from is much harder.

      _Neledhi_ can hardly be an inflected verb, we would expect _*neledhir_.
      A 3rd sg. present in _-i_ is nowhere attested. Moreover if one takes
      forms like _gerin_ [V:360] as (aorist?) present the problem of ON
      _trenare_ [V:374] remains as that should give _*trenar_. Sure, a sort
      of 'restitution' of the ''thematic vowel' 'i' could be posited but that
      seems very far fetched. The most obvious interpretation to me is that
      as an infinitive in _-i_ amply attested in the corpus. That leaves us
      with _gar_ as the only inflected verb.

      This is found in "Damrod ... ven Sirion gar meilien ... 'Damrod ...
      towards [the river] Sirion went smiling ...' [MC:217]. In this context,
      only _gar_ or _meilien_ can mean 'went'. Apart from the similarity with
      PIE _*smei-_ 'to laugh, smile' _meilien_ looks more like an adjective.
      So _gar_ would here, as on Thror's Map, mean something like 'to go'.
      What about the form then? Well, to make a long story short, in the MC
      sentence I would view _gar_ as either a historical present (with ending
      -r for 3rd sg. as, e.g. in Quenya _lútier_ (though not a present
      itself) [MC:216]) or an 'endingless' past tense _gar-0_ (cf. _dir_
      'saw' in the same poem?).

      On Thror's Map that would have been reinterpreted as _ga-r_ with _-r_
      indicating plurality this time (cf. the same development in Quenya).
      Such a word for 'to go' is not attested elsewhere but note that verbs
      for 'to go' tend to be highly suppletive (cf. ModernEnglish _go -
      went_, Spanish _andar - va - fue_ etc.).

      H. Fauskanger's _gar-_ 'be able' is entirely ad hoc and has, in my
      opinion, nothing to recommend itself.

      Literally, thus, I would translate _Leben teil brann i·annon ar neledh
      neledhi gar godrebh_ 'Five feet high the door and three entering go

      David Kiltz

      [If David is correct in interpreting _gar_ as 'go, went', there may be
      a conceptual connection with _gwara-_ (pa.t. _gwarathi_) 'wander,
      roam, travel (far)' cited in GL (PE11:43) -- though this verb was sub-
      sequently emended to _gwada-_. -- PHW]
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