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Re: porennin/suffixed _nin_

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  • cgilson75
    ... By redundant I was referring to a distinctive form or formal feature that the language could theoretically do without because there is no context in
    Message 1 of 8 , Apr 13, 2004
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      --- In lambengolmor@yahoogroups.com, David Kiltz <dkiltz@g...> wrote:
      > On 04.04.2004, at 00:17, cgilson75 wrote:
      >
      > > Though we may not be certain of the status of the _-n_ in
      > > _ammen_, we can at least conclude that it is somehow redundant,
      > > since the translated meaning 'for us' is conveyed by the components
      > > _am-_ ('for', if indeed this is parallel to _anim_ 'for myself' as David
      > > suggests) and _-me-_ (1st person plural root 'we, us').
      >
      > I'm not sure. Redundancy can, I think, only be claimed if you assume
      > the root to be 'sufficient'. If not, only determining the status of
      > _-n_ would allow us to speak of redundancy. In _an-im_, we seem to have
      > _an_ construed with a nominative or casus rectus _im_. Whereas in
      > _enni_ (if < _an-ni_) we seem to have an oblique form combining with
      > _an-_.

      By "redundant" I was referring to a distinctive form or formal feature
      that the language could theoretically do without because there is no
      context in which that distinction alone serves to convey a difference
      in meaning. An example of what I am talking about is the distinction
      in English between _we_ and _us_. This does convey a difference in
      meaning when taken out of context, but in any syntactic construction
      where either form is used the difference is also conveyed by word
      order -- thus _the man saw us_ vs. _we saw the man_. In fact in
      modern English the case distinctions among pronominal forms are
      largely superfluous, though naturally very useful, as can be
      illustrated by an example of nearly identical contexts: _mother gave
      me socks_ vs. _mother gave my socks_ (to someone, away, etc.)

      There is also a degree of redundancy for certain preposition + pronoun
      combinations, like _to me_ and _for me_. Thus in _he bought the book
      for me_ vs. _he gave the book to me_ the difference in force between
      'for' and 'to' is already sufficiently conveyed by the difference in
      verbs, such that either can be expressed by the so-called "indirect
      object" construction: _he bought me the book_, _he gave me the book_.
      The alternative **_he bought the book to me_ is ungrammatical in
      English, while _he gave the book for me_ (meaning 'on my behalf')
      would normally have an additional context like 'to someone else'
      either expressed or implied, and this use of _for me_ cannot be
      conveyed by the indirect object in English.

      Given that Sindarin is a language that, within the mythology, human
      beings are capable of learning to speak (see Appendix F), it seems
      reasonable to hypothesize that similar cognitive strategies underlie the
      interplay of redundancy and ambiguity that seems evident in its syntax,
      though our insights must depend largely on a much better understanding
      of the inner workings of our own native languages. Indeed such an
      hypothesis is evident (sometimes explicitly but usually implicitly) in most
      discussions of Elvish. Ironically, the very analytical or pattern-seeking
      process, by which we can extrapolate information from a limited corpus
      of data, inherently favors theories that involve fewer redundancies and
      ambiguities over theories that involve more. Not that I see any way
      to avoid this pitfall other than to be aware of it when attempting to
      draw inferences about likelihood.

      While Sindarin retains a more extensive inflexional component than
      English, at a morpheme level the situation of its pronouns seems to be
      similar. In so far as we can tell, the forms _im_ in _anim_ and _im
      Narvi_, _nin_ in _tiro nin_, and _ni_ in _bêd enni_ are in
      complementary distribution. And in this sense the final consonant of
      _nin_ would be redundant, unless there is a contrasting construction
      *_tiro ni_ which means something different from 'guard me!' (Which of
      course there might be...)

      But all this really implies is that the differences among these forms
      are relicts of an earlier stage of the language where they may have
      had more extensive paradigmatic parallels or occurred in contexts
      where they contrasted minimally with each other. Such residual formal
      distinctions could very well retain a correlation with the basic
      syntactic roles they had at an earlier stage, though the fact that the
      system is essentially redundant (or largely so -- the evidence is
      admittedly sketchy) would render it easily susceptible to analogical
      shifts.

      Nothing David proposes is incompatible with these observations. But
      neither do the data seem incompatible with (or even unfavorable to)
      the possibility that _nin_ 'me' could combine with a preposition. The
      form _im_ can be used both with and without preposition, and perhaps
      _ni_ also if it occurs in the sentence (a "password") _Gir..
      edlothiand na ngalad melon i ni [?sevo] ni [?edran]_ (VIII:293).

      > Alternatively, both _im_ and _ni_ may mean 'I' (nominative), the first
      > being an emphatic form. (For _im_ cf. [LR1:402 and III:354]). _Nin_ on
      > the other hand seems to be the 1st sg. accusative pronoun in Sindarin.
      > [...]
      > _men_ is most likely: 1) Casus rectus (nominative) or 2) Casus obliquus
      > (accusative), i.e. has no beneficiary connotation. In that, _nin_ seems
      > to contrast Quenya where _nin_ is clearly 'for me' [R:67].
      > [...]

      In contrast with _ammen_ ('for us' VI:413, 'of us' VII:175) part of
      the context of the form _anim_ ('for myself' Appendix A I (v)) is its
      co-reference with the subject ('I' in _ú-chebin_ 'I have kept
      no'). In the other two occurrences of the pronoun _im_ it accompanies
      the name of the subject (_im Narvi hain echant_; _le linnon im
      Lúthien_ III:354). In English the subject can be emphasized this way
      using the nominative, as in "I, Christopher, made them", or the
      reflexive pronoun can be used (in essence meaning 'by oneself'), as
      "John himself bought the book" or "I myself, Christopher, sing this
      song".

      So there are two possibilities, either (1) _im_ is nominative, used
      emphatically with a named subject and combining with a preposition to
      indicate the object is the same as the subject, or (2) _im_ is
      specifically reflexive, combinable with a preposition to indicate
      reflexive object and usable with the subject for emphasis. Whichever
      theory one picks there is little to suggest that _-men_ 'us' in
      _ammen_ is the same case as _im_. In its sentences the subjects are
      _naur_ 'fire' and _annon_ 'gate', unconnected with 'us'. So _ammen_
      is neither reflexive nor nominative, judging by the contexts and the
      translations. This leaves "objective'"cases.

      Between the pronouns in _tiro nin_ 'look towards me, guard me' and
      _guren bêd enni_ 'my heart tells me', it is difficult to say which
      is semantically closer to _-men_ in _edraith ammen_ 'saving of us' and
      _edro hi ammen_ 'open now for us'. We also have _ammen_ 'us' as
      indirect object of _anno_ 'give!' and _díheno_ 'forgive!' and even
      in the sense 'against us' in _gerir úgerth ammen_ '(who) trespass
      against us', all in the Sindarin Lord's Prayer (VT44:21).
      Considering the semantic range of _ammen_ and especially how close
      _anno ammen_ comes to _bêd enni_ (both would use 'to' in English if
      the indirect object were expanded to a prepositional phrase), it seems
      quite reasonable to suggest that we could say *_anno enni_ 'give me!'
      and *_bedir ammen_ '(our hearts) tell us'.

      Alternatively, we may consider that _enni_ and _ammen_, though
      etymologically connected by the historical derivation of _en-_ < _an-_
      by affection, actually have different syntax, with the historically
      later _ammen_ using a distinct case of the pronoun. If so, I would be
      inclined to tie together two ideas suggested by David as
      possibilities:

      > By contrast, an abstracted _men_, while apparently exhibiting an ending
      > _-n_, combines with _an-_ and thus parallels _im_ (and probably _-ni_).
      > [...]
      > Alternatively, it may stand for the accusative. In both cases, when
      > combined with _an-_, there is no redundancy as _an-_ adds the
      > beneficiary notion which _men_ alone, probably doesn't convey. [...]

      > I don't think *_anni_ means 'for me' but 'to me'. The meaning of _nIn_
      > is crucial here. I think it may be interpreted as accusative sg. or
      > (towards) me. Note, however, that Tolkien glosses "...tiro nin..."
      > [loc. cit.] as '_tiro_ == 'look towards (watch over), _nin_ == 'me'.

      If we assume that _nin_ 'me' is syntactically detached from its
      (perhaps etymological) dative, allative, or benefactive sense in the
      context of _tiro_ 'look towards, watch over, guard' and is simply the
      "accusative" form of the pronoun used as the direct object of a verb;
      and if we assume that the dative, benefactive, or even adversative
      sense of _ammen_ is conveyed by the semantic range of the preposition
      _an-/am-_ and the attached pronoun is simply marked as the object,
      using this same "accusative" case-form -- then we could by implication
      say *_anno annin_ 'give me!'

      This is comparable to the situation in English where the same forms
      (me, us, him, etc.) are used for both direct object of a verb and
      object of a preposition. There is even an exceptional idiom (like
      _enni_ would have to be under this theory), which uses a different
      case of the pronoun. This is the possessive construction with the
      preposition _of_, as in _I read that book of his_, which contrasts
      with a usage like _I was speaking of him_. This is I think the only
      relict in English of the older situation where different prepositions
      may govern distinct cases -- a situation familiar in more highly
      inflected languages, such as Latin (e.g. _ad infinitum_ vs. _de
      facto_) or Quenya (e.g. _mí oromardi_ vs. _et Earello_).


      -- Christopher Gilson
    • cgilson75
      The following (edited?) paragraph was included in a post from me ... beings are capable of learning to speak (see Appendix F), it seems reasonable to
      Message 2 of 8 , Apr 16, 2004
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        The following (edited?) paragraph was included in a post from me
        (#656):

        >Given that Sindarin is a language that, in the mythology, human
        beings are capable of learning to speak (see Appendix F), it seems
        reasonable to hypothesize that similar cognitive strategies underlie
        the interplay of redundancy and ambiguity that seems evident in its
        syntax, though our insights must depend largely on a much better
        understanding of the inner workings of our own native languages.

        The paragraph I actually intended to be posted began as follows:

        > Given that Sindarin is a language human beings are capable of
        learning to speak (see Appendix F), it seems reasonable to hypothesize
        that [...]

        The difference is subtle, but I think important to the point I was
        trying to make. So I would like to offer some clarifation and
        further thoughts on the matter.

        Tolkien invented a language which he (eventually) called Sindarin.
        Certain things are (demonstrably) true about the language either from
        assertions made by Tolkien, or logical inferences from those
        assertions. There are also (of course) a virtually limitless number
        of things that are untrue about Sindarin and a (large?) grey area of
        those that might be true, some perhaps in mutually exclusive sets and
        some either more or less likely than each other.

        Tolkien used Sindarin as a part of the background detail in his
        fictional stories. In a sense these constitute a sort of extended
        "thought experiment" involving a premise: If the invented language
        were actually spoken by people, what would that be like? As a
        consequence of this the demonstrable facts about Sindarin fall into
        two categories. (1) Some are 'circumstantially' true about the
        language as used in the fictional world of the story, e.g. there is a
        person whose name is _Legolas_ which means 'green-leaves' in Sindarin.
        (2) Others are facts about Sindarin per se, e.g. that _laeg_ is a
        word for 'green', and _lass_ for 'leaf' (Letter #211).

        Of course these categories are intimately connected, since all of the
        non-circumstantial facts about Sindarin per se are by implication true
        of it as the fictional "language" spoken by people in Tolkien's
        stories. But this is only *by implication*, and certainly nothing
        prevented Tolkien from devising *circumstantial* facts about Sindarin
        as a langage that were not supposed to be realized in the fictional
        world. For instance the fact that the beginning of the Lord's Prayer
        has been translated into Sindarin as _Ae adar nín i vi Menel_ is
        not necessarily true within Tolkien's mythology. And Tolkien's own
        recorded pronunciations of Sindarin words and names are facts about
        the invented language but not facts inside the fiction.

        For these and other various reasons I prefer to discuss Sindarin
        primarily as an invented language, and only allude to its use as
        background in the stories where the circumstances of that usage are
        relevant to the argument. Consequently my original assertion (or
        rather really a hypothetical stipulation) "that Sindarin is a language
        human beings are capable of learning to speak" was intended to be
        about Sindarin per se.

        This did not seem *to me* to be in any way controversial -- Tolkien is
        a human being and he invented Sindarin, and he gave a great deal of
        care toward the verisimilitude of the language by closely modeling the
        components of the phonology, morpohology, syntax and much of the
        semantics on actual languages of human beings. In other words
        Sindarin contains an abundance of features in each of its linguistic
        components that human beings are capable of (and in many cases have
        already) learned.

        All of this has been long known and thoroughly discussed. The only
        possible way in which Sindarin could be beyond the mental or physical
        capabilities of human beings to learn would be if Tolkien imagined
        some difference between human beings and his imaginary elves that was
        essential to the ability to learn to speak the language. Appendix F
        shows that he imagined no such thing -- hence my reference to it.

        Possibly there was some confusion between the human *capability* to
        learn Sindarin and the existence of sufficient evidence about the
        details of Sindarin to provide an *opportunity* for present-day humans
        to learn to speak Sindarin. Two very different matters, about the
        latter of which I haven't seen any convincing linguistic argument one
        way or the other, and so offered no opinion.


        -- Christopher Gilson


        [Chris and I clearly have differing opinions about how such a claim as
        "Sindarin is a language that human beings are capable of learning to
        speak" is likely to be interpreted without further clarification. In a time
        and medium where the false notion that Quenya and Sindarin are
        languages that people can learn to speak, like French or Spanish, is
        rampant, I feel it is important to avoid anything that might be used by
        others to give credence to the notion. Moreover, if we can take a
        statement by Tolkien about the capability of (certain) humans in the
        mythology to speak Sindarin as implying that it was his intention that
        we non-mythological humans could do so as well (if, as you further
        note, given the opportunity) -- as indeed I think we can, although it
        is to be noted that Tolkien also tells us that there are characteristic
        mistakes that Men make, and that the Sindarin as spoken by Men did
        differ in some respects from that spoken by the Elves* -- without the
        need even to acknowledge the existence of the underlying assumption,
        then I don't see how conveying the fact that the reference to Appendix
        F is to specifically to Tolkien stating that Sindarin was known and spoken
        by (certain) Men within the mythology detracts in any way from an
        argument based on the cognitive and linguistic faculties and capacties of
        humans in general: even left unspecified, the underlying assumption that
        the Men of Middle-earth were in all respects pertaining to the cognitive
        and linguistic faculties and capacties equivalent to us remains. CFH]

        [*Nor are we necessarily to assume that Tolkien saw linguistic capacities
        as the same across a race, at least not within the mythology. In one text
        (XI:26) we are given a good indication to the contrary: "the Noldor learned
        the Sindarin tongue far more readily than the Sindar could learn the
        ancient speech".]
      • jonathan_avidan
        ... It is also of importance to indicate that Tolkien did have an opinion on the human ability to learn the Elvish tongues -within- his invented world. A good
        Message 3 of 8 , Apr 17, 2004
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          --- In lambengolmor@yahoogroups.com, "cgilson75" <cgilson75@h...> wrote:

          > Given that Sindarin is a language that, in the mythology, human
          > beings are capable of learning to speak (see Appendix F), it seems
          > reasonable to hypothesize that similar cognitive strategies underlie
          > the interplay of redundancy and ambiguity that seems evident in its
          > syntax, though our insights must depend largely on a much better
          > understanding of the inner workings of our own native languages.

          It is also of importance to indicate that Tolkien did have an
          opinion on the human ability to learn the Elvish tongues -within-
          his invented world. A good example from _The Lord of the Rings_ would
          be the Gondorians: we are told throughout the story and in the
          appendices that they spoke Sindarin (<< Noldorin). The famous example
          is the name _Rochand_ which in their speech became _Rohan_.

          Now, if we hypothize that they could only speak Elvish as a second
          language, we learn that their pronunciation (and supposedly also
          parts of grammar) were affected by their own speech (in the
          aforementioned example - the lack of /x/ in their speech lead to the
          shift of S. /ch/ > /h/).

          However, if we hypothize that Sindarin was a living language amongst
          Men in Gondor, we inevitably learn that the rules of nature applied
          once more and in time, Sindarin began to change ceaselessly among
          Men and in time would become a different dialect and later a
          different language.

          Therefore, we must conclude that only the Sindar (and the Noldor of
          Middle Earth) could speak what is to be, internally, considered
          as "true" Sindarin for they would only change the language according
          to their taste and love for sounds and it would forever remain their
          own, while Men would change it to be theirs.

          Jonathan Avidan

          [It is indeed clear that the Men of Gondor spoke a dialect of Sindarin,
          with distinct phonological and lexical developments. See, for example,
          Tolkien's essay on _The Rivers and Beacon-hills of Gondor_ (_VT_ 42).
          However, I don't think this is really the sort of "ability to learn
          languages" that Chris has in mind, which instead goes to more
          fundamental typological and cross-language features, such as the
          presence and role of formally redundant markers that are nonetheless
          quite happily tolerated in many human languages. CFH]
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