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Is _enge_ "irregular"?

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  • Patrick H. Wynne
    ... I disagree with Thomas s and Sébastien s characterization of _enge_ as an irregular past tense. We know from the portion of Appendix D to Quendi and
    Message 1 of 3 , Sep 1, 2004
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      In Elfling message #30283 Thomas Ferencz wrote:

      > For all appearances _ea-_ seems to be a normal verb,
      > it also has a (albeit irregular) past tense _enge_.

      Sébastien Bertho agreed in Elfling message #30284:

      > It is likely that this verb may be irregular (at
      > least its pa.t. is), as are verbs for "to be, exist"
      > or "to have" in many real languages.

      I disagree with Thomas's and Sébastien's characterization
      of _enge_ as an "irregular" past tense. We know from
      the portion of Appendix D to "Quendi and Eldar" published
      in VT 39 that _ea_ 'exists' originally contained an
      intervocalic _ñ_, i.e. the original form was probably
      *_eña_, with intervocalic _ñ_ vanishing in later Quenya
      (VT39:6-7). In this same passage Tolkien also notes that
      the "former presence of intervocalic _ñ_" accounts for
      Q. _tea_ 'indicates', with pa.t. _tenge_ 'indicated'.

      _enge_ is not cited in "Quendi and Eldar" but appears
      instead in Tolkien's uncompleted Quenya translation of
      the "Gloria Patri" (see VT 43:38). Still, it appears that
      _ea_ (pa.t. _enge_) is perfectly parallel to _tea_ (pa.t.
      _tenge_), suggesting that these past tenses are, in fact,
      the _regular_ past tenses of a class of verbs derived
      from bases originally ending in _ñ_ (*EÑ and *TEÑ
      respectively).

      In our commentary on _enge_ in VT 43, Carl Hostetter and
      I proposed that "the past-tense form _enge_ arose from
      earlier *_eññe_, a past-tense stem derived from *_eña_ by
      the common past-tense derivational technique of infixion
      of the homorganic nasal" (VT:43:38). It now strikes me
      as also possible that _enge_ was formed from suffixion of
      _-ne_ instead of by nasal infixion. In the _Etymologies_
      there is one clear example of a past tense formed by
      suffixion of _-ne_ to a stem ending in a nasal: Q. _tamin_
      'I tap', pa.t. _tamne_ (V:390). So maybe the past tense of
      _ea_ was similarly formed, with *_eñ-ne_ > _enge_ (perhaps
      via an intermediate form *_eññe_), though I cannot think of
      a corroborating example of original *_ñ-n_ becoming
      _ng_ in Quenya.

      -- Patrick H. Wynne
    • Atwe
      ... re statements by me and by Sébastien Bertho in Elfling messages #30283 and #30284, respectively, that _enge_, ... I stand corrected in my opinion, the
      Message 2 of 3 , Sep 1, 2004
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        --- "Patrick H. Wynne" <pwynne@...> wrote,
        re statements by me and by S�bastien Bertho in Elfling
        messages #30283 and #30284, respectively, that _enge_,
        pa.t. of _ea_ 'exists', is "irregular":

        > I disagree with Thomas's and S�bastien's
        > characterization of _enge_ as an "irregular"
        > past tense.

        I stand corrected in my opinion, the past tense of
        _ea-_ is regular to its kind. To support our
        characterisation a little bit, although the pa.t. of
        this verb is regular, it may be that the verb itself
        is irregular in the sense that its paradigm is not
        whole, for instance it might lack a perfect form (on a
        sidenote: what would be the perfect of _tea-_?)

        Greetings,

        =====
        Thomas Ferencz

        -- love is the shadow that ripens the wine --

        [I am puzzled by your final statement -- on what
        evidence do you assume that the paradigm of _ea_
        'exists' might not be whole or lack a perfect form?
        There are very few Quenya verbs indeed for which
        all tenses -- aorist, present, past, perfect, future --
        are attested, and yet it is generally supposed (correctly,
        I think) by Tolkienian linguists that this is simply
        due to our fragmentary evidence, not to rampant
        irregularity in the Quenya verbal system.

        As for the perfect tense of _tea_ 'indicates', is there
        any reason to suppose it might not have been
        *_etengie_, after pa.t. _tenge_? In "Quendi and
        Eldar" Tolkien notes that _av�nie_, perfect tense
        of _auta-_ 'go away, leave', had "intrusion of _n_
        from the past [_v�ne_] (the forms of past and perfect
        became progressively more closely associated in
        Quenya)" (XI:366). -- Patrick H. Wynne]
      • lambendil
        ... Of course, from these statements it appears that the pa.t. _enge_ of _ea_ is regular, as is pa.t. _tenge_ for _tea_, _for this class of verb_. But two
        Message 3 of 3 , Sep 2, 2004
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          In Lambengolmor message #729 Patrick H. Wynne wrote:

          > [...] _ea_ 'exists' originally contained an intervocalic _ñ_
          > [...] with intervocalic _ñ_ vanishing in later Quenya (VT39:6-7).
          > In this same passage Tolkien also notes that the "former
          > presence of intervocalic _ñ_" accounts for Q. _tea_ 'indicates',
          > with pa.t. _tenge_ 'indicated'. [...] it appears that
          > _ea_ (pa.t. _enge_) is perfectly parallel to _tea_ (pa.t.
          > _tenge_), suggesting that these past tenses are, in fact,
          > the _regular_ past tenses of a class of verbs derived
          > from bases originally ending in _ñ_ (*EÑ and *TEÑ
          > respectively).

          Of course, from these statements it appears that the pa.t. _enge_ of
          _ea_ is regular, as is pa.t. _tenge_ for _tea_, _for this class of
          verb_. But two occurences is a small number to draw conclusion and
          build a class of verb (but we have to work on small paradigms because
          of the relative smallness of the whole Elvish corpus)

          [Given the small size of the Elvish corpus, it is dangerous to assume
          some form is "irregular" simply because it does not occur frequently
          in the fragmentary corpus available to us. And since the corpus is
          small and fragmentary, it is all the more compelling and suggestive
          of regularity when two verbs such as _ea_ (pa.t. _enge_) and _tea_
          (pa.t. _tenge_) have perfectly parallel conjugations that can be
          accounted for by known rules of regular phonological development.
          The verb class of _ea_ and _tea_ was probably small to begin with,
          bases ending in _Ñ_ being infrequent (at least in the _Etymologies_)
          But "small" is not synonymous with "irregular". -- PHW]

          It is very likely that the Eldar, being well aware of the structure
          and history of their language as a whole might have considered these
          forms as regular, on a diachronic point of view.

          But it could not be the same for the Atanion Lambengolmor of the
          later ages, having not the same understanding of the evolution of
          Eldarin tongues. For them, these forms could have appeared as
          irregular, on a synchronic point of view, when compared to the
          majority of regular pa.t. formation _-ne_.

          [The paragraph above consists entirely of unsupported assertions.
          What is your evidence for the amount of Eldarin historical phonology
          known or unknown to Mortal students of Quenya within Tolkien's
          sub-created world? It seems equally likely that sufficient information
          was known by Mortals about the historical development of Quenya
          for _ea_ (_enge_) and _tea_ (_tenge_) to seem as regular to them as
          it does to us. And if _we in the modern world_, with only fragmentary
          evidence to go on, are able to discern that these forms are regular,
          isn't it likely that Tolkien would imagine that Mortals _within his
          sub-creation_ would be capable of doing so as well? -- PHW]

          So, if _enge_ can be considered as regular on a diachronic point of
          view, it appears as irregular synchronically speaking.

          [No, for the reasons given above. -- PHW]

          Sébastien
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