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"Based on": A fundamental question

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  • Darrell Martin
    Greetings: If one wished to test a hypothesis that some invented Tolkien language I is based on some primary-world language P, how ought one go about it?
    Message 1 of 18 , Jan 3, 2004
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      Greetings:

      If one wished to test a hypothesis that some invented Tolkien language I is "based on" some primary-world language P, how ought one go about it?

      What features and criteria would be sufficient demonstration of an influence? What documentation would be expected?

      Darrell


      Darrell A. Martin darrellm@...
      a native Vermonter currently in exile in Illinois
      http://www.darrell-martin.net/genealogy


      [I would say that phonetic character, sc. inventory and permitted patterns, and especially the phonological developments that produced them, must rank as the chief influence on Tolkien's languages from primary-world languages. If you can demonstrate a persuasive similarity between the phonological development of language I from Common Eldarin and that of language P from Proto-Indo-European (assuming P is an IE language), I would count the influence demonstrated. Other influences exist as well, of course, as with grammatical mutation in Sindarin and Welsh, or the rich inflectional systems of Quenya and Finnish (and to a lesser extent Latin). For Tolkienian and/or primary-world languages where phonological information is spotty or non-existent (e.g., Khuzdul, Black Speech), one must instead rely on synchronic features, such as an inventory of phonemes and permitted sound patterns, apparent derivational mechanisms, etc. etc. CFH]
    • Lukas Novak
      ... Perhaps because of the difference of the stress pattern? In felga felya the felg fely syllable is stressed, whereas in ulgundo ulundo the ulg ul
      Message 2 of 18 , Jan 4, 2004
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        Andreas Johansson wrote:

        > (And yes, I'm aware of Q _ulundo_ < _ulgundô_, which raises
        > the question why we're not seeing **fela instead.)

        Perhaps because of the difference of the stress pattern?
        In "felga>felya" the "felg>fely" syllable is stressed, whereas
        in "ulgundo>ulundo" the "ulg>ul" syllable is not stressed?
        To me it makes sense - but who is me :-) ?

        Lukas
      • Andreas Johansson
        ... I d rather expect the words to syllabify as fel.ya and u.lun.do, respectively, but the idea that the difference is due to the difference in stress might be
        Message 3 of 18 , Jan 5, 2004
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          Quoting Lukas Novak <lukas.novak@...>:

          > Andreas Johansson wrote:
          >
          > > (And yes, I'm aware of Q _ulundo_ < _ulgundô_, which raises
          > > the question why we're not seeing **fela instead.)
          >
          > Perhaps because of the difference of the stress pattern?
          > In "felga>felya" the "felg>fely" syllable is stressed, whereas
          > in "ulgundo>ulundo" the "ulg>ul" syllable is not stressed?
          > To me it makes sense - but who is me :-) ?

          I'd rather expect the words to syllabify as fel.ya and u.lun.do, respectively,
          but the idea that the difference is due to the difference in stress might be
          correct nonetheless. I don't think I've ever heard any other decent internal
          explanation, while the obvious external one, that the good Professor changed
          the rules during the composition of Etym, has been advanced repeatedly.

          Another possible internal explanation that struck me right now is that it
          could simply be due to the different following vowel. No closely parallel case
          is known to me, but the phenomenon as such, the same consonant behaving
          variously depending on the following vowel, is examplified by the different
          fate of primitive *w before *a and *o, for instance. (I'm unfortunately unable
          to provide a proper citation for that, having again left my library back in
          Sweden. Carl?)

          [Comparison of derivatives of Etym. WÔ- (Q _o-_/_ó-_) and bases in WA-,
          such as WA3- (Q _vára_), WAN- (Q _vanya_), etc. exhibit this contrast.
          See also the statement in _Quendi and Eldar_ that initial _w-_ was "lost in
          Quenya before _ô_" (XI:367). (Please note that I make no promise of
          providing citations in the future!) CFH]

          Andreas
        • Ales Bican
          ... **So would it surprise me. I did not want to say that it should really be a gamma but the development in QPh I mentioned last time (i.e. _r _ ... **I
          Message 4 of 18 , Jan 5, 2004
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            Andreas Johansson wrote:

            >>>In Etym, under TARAG, we se *_targâ_ as the ancestral form of Q >_tarya_.
            >>>
            >> ... I cannot quite understand the change of _g_ to _y_. Perhaps the _y_ in
            >> _tarya_ is a misreading for _g_ and we will have the very first word with
            >> _rg_? And looking at development of _gh_ (written as gamma) in PE12:24
            >> where _rgh_ gave _rg_, it may even be that the _y_ is a misreading for a
            >> gamma.
            >
            > Well, as there's to the very best of my knowledge no (other) Q word with a
            > gamma in it, it would rather surpise me.

            **So would it surprise me. I did not want to say that it should really be a
            gamma but the development in QPh I mentioned last time (i.e. _r<gamma>_
            > _rg_) struck my attention. Gamma is after all similar to _y_.

            > And _g_>_gh_>_y_ is hardly very odd. Greek's done it before front vowels,
            > f'rinstance, and Noldorin seems to much the same in _Diriel_<_Dirghel_
            > (mentioned under DER in Etym), where the second element is from GYEL.

            **I do not claim that it cannot be possible. I would only like to understand
            the development. If this happened in Greek before front vowels, it is
            understandable, since after spirantization _g_ could have been assimilated
            to _i_ or _e_, sc. fronted to become palatal fricative and then become (or
            remained fricative?) palatal appoximant _y_. However, I can hardly see
            motivation in the case of _targâ_ > Q _tarya_.

            > Unchanged _-rg-_ wouldn't agree with the statement in Appendix E that
            > Q only had _g_ in _-ng-_, but of course, the Professor may have changed
            > his mind between writing Etym and LotR.

            **Sure he could and very likely did, as suggests e.g. _ei_ in _inimeite_
            (Etym s.v. INI).

            >There's also Q _felya_ from PHELEG- - no primitive form listed, but almost
            >certainly *_phelgâ_; cf AT _felga_ and ON _phelga_. This would be a parallel
            >development.

            **Two instances make it more probable but still I am interested in what A&C
            will say about it.


            Ales Bican

            --
            What's in a name? That which we call a rose
            by any other name would smell as sweet. (Juliet, _Romeo and Juliet_)
          • Andreas Johansson
            ... Because I m a dudhead, I forgot to mention you get rG rj also in Swedish. I m not sufficiently into the phonological development of my native language to
            Message 5 of 18 , Jan 6, 2004
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              Quoting Ales Bican <ales.bican@...>:

              > Quoting Andreas Johansson:
              > > And _g_>_gh_>_y_ is hardly very odd. Greek's done it before front vowels,
              > > f'rinstance, and Noldorin seems to much the same in _Diriel_<_Dirghel_
              > > (mentioned under DER in Etym), where the second element is from GYEL.
              >
              > **I do not claim that it cannot be possible. I would only like to understand
              >
              > the development. If this happened in Greek before front vowels, it is
              > understandable, since after spirantization _g_ could have been assimilated
              > to _i_ or _e_, sc. fronted to become palatal fricative and then become (or
              > remained fricative?) palatal appoximant _y_. However, I can hardly see
              > motivation in the case of _targâ_ > Q _tarya_.

              Because I'm a dudhead, I forgot to mention you get rG > rj also in Swedish.
              I'm not sufficiently into the phonological development of my native language
              to tell exactly in what environments, but it seems to have failed to take
              place medially before a back vowel (e.g. _morgon_ ['mOr`gOn] "morning"),
              but it did happen finally (e.g. _varg_ [var`j] "wolf"*), so no front vowel is
              _required_ for it. You do get it before 'a' (e.g. _vargar_ ['var`jar`] "wolves"),
              but then this is a front [a], not back [A] like in Q, and all examples of -rga-
              I can think of have a morpheme boundary in them anyway.

              * This is of course not the cognate of "wolf" - that's _ulv_ [8lv]. But I
              suspect it's very much connected to Tolkienian "warg"!

              Andreas

              PS Phonetic transcriptions above follow the X-SAMPA system, which is described
              here: http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/sampa/x-sampa.htm . Note further that
              values are for my dialect - in particular, a retroflex trill is far from the
              only variant of Swedish /r/ heard! Indeed, in casual speech some of those
              would be retroflex approximants for me.
            • David Kiltz
              ... In addition to Andreas Johansson s examples from Swedish, I might add that in some German dialects the same happens. In the Rhineland area you have /ju:t/
              Message 6 of 18 , Jan 6, 2004
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                On 05.01.2004, at 23:27, Ales Bican wrote:

                > I can hardly see
                > motivation in the case of _targâ_ > Q _tarya_.

                In addition to Andreas Johansson's examples from Swedish, I might add
                that in some German dialects the same happens. In the Rhineland area
                you have /ju:t/ for SG (=Standard German) _gut_ etc. (the 'j' being
                pronounced very similar to English 'y' but with some palatal friction).
                In fact, moving towards the Ruhrgebiet you will hear /gürjen/ for the
                PN 'Jürgen', that is /j/ and /g/ are exchanged. Phonetically, what
                happens is that 'light', that is palatalized /g/ becomes a fricative
                which naturally yields /j/. Now (for your point) velar or
                non-palatalized /g/ should become /G/ (I mean the velar voiced back
                spirant). However the opposition /G/ : /j/ is leveled in favour of /j/.
                The reason for that would seem to be that a /G/ would normally be
                pronounced further down the throat than /g/ hence in the process of
                spirantization the point of articulation is moved either way (to the
                front or the rear of the gum). Possibly because the process of
                spirantization started with palatalized /g'/, i.e. g before front
                vowels and was then analogously extended to all instances of /g/. Or
                else, because the pronunciation of /g/ has already been somewhat
                fronted before, so that the output is /j/ without significant movement
                of the point of articulation, if any at all. In fact, there *is* a very
                slight difference between /j/ in _jeck_ 'crazy' and _jut_ 'good', the
                latter being pronounced somewhat more to the back, between the palatum
                and the velum.

                I think that a scenario along these lines looks rather likely. At any
                rate, the development exhibited by Quenya is well documented in real
                world languages, as /j/ = /y/ is attested even in the history of
                English (although the output of /g/ +- pal. are different).

                -David Kiltz
              • Lukas Novak
                ... I rather agree - I did not mean to imply where exactly the syllable boundary lies. ... Yes, but it seems that Q phonology avoids _w_ and _y_ glides
                Message 7 of 18 , Jan 6, 2004
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                  Andreas Johansson wrote:

                  > I'd rather expect the words to syllabify as fel.ya and u.lun.do,
                  > respectively,

                  I rather agree - I did not mean to imply where exactly the syllable
                  boundary lies.

                  > Another possible internal explanation that struck me right now is that it
                  > could simply be due to the different following vowel.

                  > [Comparison of derivatives of Etym. WÔ- (Q _o-_/_ó-_) and bases in WA-,
                  > such as WA3- (Q _vára_), WAN- (Q _vanya_), etc. exhibit this contrast.
                  > See also the statement in _Quendi and Eldar_ that initial _w-_ was "lost in
                  > Quenya before _ô_" (XI:367). (Please note that I make no promise of
                  > providing citations in the future!) CFH]

                  Yes, but it seems that Q phonology avoids _w_ and _y_ glides
                  consistently before the phonologically related vowels: the rounded
                  vowels in case of _w_, and the highest vowel (_i_) in case of _y_.
                  I would not on this ground expect that the following _u_ is the reason
                  why _g_ disappears rather than changes into _y_ (we have "yulda",
                  so _yu_ is allowed).

                  Lukas
                • Lukas Novak
                  ... I can think of 2 possible motivations: analogy, or getting the pronunciation nearer to the preceding dental/alveolar _r_ (_l_). Together with the attempt
                  Message 8 of 18 , Jan 6, 2004
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                    Ales Bican wrote:

                    > I can hardly see motivation in the case of _targâ_ > Q _tarya_.

                    I can think of 2 possible motivations: analogy, or getting
                    the pronunciation nearer to the preceding dental/alveolar
                    _r_ (_l_). Together with the attempt to retain the long syllable
                    (which excludes just dropping the sound), because of
                    its being stressed.

                    Lukas
                  • Andreas Johansson
                    ... I never said it was a _good_ explanation, but if it has any validity, surely the consonant dropped at the gh stage, and gh is nearer to u than to
                    Message 9 of 18 , Jan 7, 2004
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                      Quoting Lukas Novak <lukas.novak@...>:

                      > I would not on this ground expect that the following _u_ is the reason
                      > why _g_ disappears rather than changes into _y_ (we have "yulda",
                      > so _yu_ is allowed).

                      I never said it was a _good_ explanation, but if it has any validity, surely
                      the consonant dropped at the 'gh' stage, and 'gh' is nearer to 'u' than to 'a'.

                      One might also argue that what we need explained isn't why 'gh' dropped in
                      _ulundo_, which is the normal fate of 'gh' in Q, but why it failed to drop in
                      _tarya_ and _felya_. In this light your suggestion re: maintaining length of a
                      stressed syllable seems the more relevant explanation.

                      Andreas
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