Re: Quenya pl. _-r_ (was "Historical explanation")
- It will be best to refer to JRRT himself for an answer... even though
there will be more than one. Unfortunately, I don't own PE 11, so I
have to quote after a secondary source, VT40, which used the early
lexicons to analyse Narqelion. Here's a comparision of case endings
(genitive-ablative) in Qenya and Goldogrin, singular and plural: "with
-ion cp. Q -ion, both being double plural -i + ô + n; with -a cp. Q
-o, [from] ô; with -thon cp. Q -ron, where -r- is from the
nom[inatives,] for -son; with -n cp Q -n" (VT40:9/10).
This is supposed to mean that both -i and -n were plural markers, and
that -r is a nominative (plural, obviously) coming from rhotacism and
compares to Goldogrin -th. So it isn't an innovation at all: "-th is
original and [the] same as Q -r".
Obviously, JRRT hesitated whether this is was the right way, and
"The existence in G. of an -r plural sign in verbs has given rise to
the conjecture (coupled with [the] Q. form gen.pl. -ron) that G -th
does not represent Q -r[,] but that -r is a true plural ending (i.e. r
liquid) and -tt == Q -t dual". (both VT40:22, from PE11:10)
This would mean three original plural markers -i, -n (from former -m,
as the entry 3O- in Etymologies suggests) and -r. We are told it is
also a plural marker in G verbs, but that seems to be secondary.
At that time, -r was not always a plural marker in Q verbs, as
examples in the Secret Vice poems show: "i lunte linganer... i súru
laustaner" (MC:216), the subjects (boat and wind) being singular.
The above quote seems to indicate that G -th was originally dual. It
may be that Noldorin -ath was interpreted as dual in origin, too, but
we know that this notion was dismissed, later. "ath: Though it cd. be
an S. form of Q. atta '2', it is not in fact related, nor a sign of
dual". (Letters: 427)
So, externally speaking, we have -r as a noun plural in Q (even in
Qenya) before it became a plural marker in Q verbs. There's also no
hint at an internal derivation devised later.
People seem to be surprised because this gives 3 original plural
markers in Quenya. The surprise may be provoked by the fact that most
modern European languages have only one (English has one and a half,
remember "geese" and "mice"). German has -e, -er, -(e)n, -s, depending
on the noun, and the occasional Umlaut, so why should Quenya have only
one or two?
- On 20.11.2003, at 07:40, Andreas Johansson wrote:
> <snip>Good point. Yet the question is, in my opinion, how frequent are this
> early Quenya was apparently happy to use verbs as nouns; "Quendi and
> Eldar" informs us that _Vala_ was originally a verb _vala-_ "has
> power", and offers the
> translation "they have power" for _valar_ (XI:403). Could this not
> represent a
> way in which a verbal ending might have sneaked into nominal
kind of derivations ? Of course, from a *synchronic* point of view
_vala_ and _valar_ are verbal forms (whatever their ultimate origin).
Note, however, that Tolkien says "...these words are from the point of
*Q* structure verbal in origin..." (emphasis mine). This doesn't, IMHO,
say anything about their *Eldarin* origin. And yes, in some cases a
'zero derivation' seems possible. _Ea_ is another such case and,
slightly different _eques_ cited by Patrick H. Wynne. Such direct
nominalizations do also, e.g. occur in English, cf. something like _a
caveat_. However, as far as I can see, such derivations are rare at
best in Quenya. Other agental construction show derivational morphology
and are attested much more amply (e.g. sundóma +r(o), -ô, -mo etc.).
The words _Vala_ and by all probability _Ea_ are translations of
Valarin words. I wouldn't be surprised if that played a role in their
peculiar derivation. _Eques_, on the other hand, was deliberately
re-interpreted with an analogical plural _equessi_ which exactly shows
*no* verbal morphology. So, at least in the case of _eques_ it is not
really correct to say that "Quenya uses verbs as nouns".It is
interesting in this context to ask why the plural of _Vala_ isn't
+_valante_. Possibly, in the case of _vala/Vala_ the same is true.
So, while your point on _valar/Valar_ is a very acute and enticing
observation, I still doubt that these, apparently few, forms could have
caused the creation of an entire plural paradigm. Moreover, if indeed,
the plural of the verbs would have been taken over by nouns, I wonder
why they didn't in the case of nouns in _-e_ as there must have been
lots of instances of past tense plurals in _-er_. ( _Tyeller_ [LR3:502]
might be interpreted in that way, but it is, as far as frequency is
concerned, an exception).
- Quoting Hans <gentlebeldin@...>:
> "The existence in G. of an -r plural sign in verbs has given rise toI'm not clear why you assume the verbal -r in G to be secondary? The passage
> the conjecture (coupled with [the] Q. form gen.pl. -ron) that G -th
> does not represent Q -r[,] but that -r is a true plural ending (i.e. r
> liquid) and -tt == Q -t dual". (both VT40:22, from PE11:10)
> This would mean three original plural markers -i, -n (from former -m,
> as the entry 3O- in Etymologies suggests) and -r. We are told it is
> also a plural marker in G verbs, but that seems to be secondary.
you quote does not appear to say either way.
> People seem to be surprised because this gives 3 original pluralWell, multiple pl formations are common enough in modern Europe, aren't they?
> markers in Quenya. The surprise may be provoked by the fact that most
> modern European languages have only one (English has one and a half,
> remember "geese" and "mice"). German has -e, -er, -(e)n, -s, depending
> on the noun, and the occasional Umlaut, so why should Quenya have only
> one or two?
Besides German, we've got the rest of Germanic family; Dutch has -en and -s,
Swedish has -ar, -er, -or, -n and -0 (zero), and so on. Italian has a couple,
as has Rumanian, if I remember correctly. And if you count 1.5 for English,
I figure you'd get something similar for French. I've heard Welsh has nineteen.
More on topic, there's of course no reason Quenya could not have had three or
more inherited nominal pl markers. It's just that that we know that in the
scenario as JRRT imagined it in later years, -r was a Quenya innovation, at
least as a pl marker on nominatives; we've for instance got _Banyai_ as an
early nom pl of _Vanya_ in PM:402.
I guess it's always possible that nominal pl -r is an innovation _only in
nominatives_ - there's to my knowledge no evidence to say whether the -r in
allative pl _-nnar_ and ablative pl _-llor_ is "original" or not. But since
these case forms are relatively infrequent, we'd rather expected the
nominative pl to spread to them rather than vice versa.
> People seem to be surprised because this gives 3 original plural markers inOf course, you have cited *three* English formations (-s, umlaut, and zero
> Quenya. The surprise may be provoked by the fact that most modern European
> languages have only one (English has one and a half, remember "geese" and
> "mice"). German has -e, -er, -(e)n, -s, depending on the noun, and the
> occasional Umlaut, so why should Quenya have only one or two?
ending). There is also the -en plural formation (ox-oxen, brother-brethren,
extended analogically to computers in VAX-VAXen), and the borrowed Latin -i or
-ii which is more often misused than used correctly. The -s formant has been
spreading through the vocabulary at the expense of the others for centuries,
but enough remnants exist for naive native speakers to have a feel for their
Why would you expect JRRT, a Germanic philologist, to stint on plurals in his
Rich Alderson | /"\ ASCII ribbon |
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