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Reflexive and emphatic pronouns in Qenya and Gnomish

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  • Hans
    ... Yesterday, I received VT 47 and enjoyed Patrick Wynne s analysis of Tolkien s manuscripts. In the editorial note 58, he cites Tolkien s note Solution of
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 5, 2005
      Long ago (in message #451, 04 Jun 2003), I wrote:

      > Now the difference _anim_/_enni_ and the translations "for
      > myself"/"(to) me" suggest an obvious (though VERY
      > speculative) solution: _im_ doesn't literally mean "I", but
      > "self". Remember that the two occurences of _im_ as a
      > standalone word are to emphasize a name: _im Narvi_
      > (LR:298) and _im TinĂºviel_ (III:254).

      Yesterday, I received VT 47 and enjoyed Patrick Wynne's analysis of
      Tolkien's manuscripts. In the editorial note 58, he cites Tolkien's
      note "Solution of _anim_", saying "_im_ does not mean 'me', but ='self(same)' and is general reflexive; _anim_ 'to self'" (VT47:37).
      This is a nice confirmation of my theory, even though Patrick goes
      on to explain that it is clearly a later reinterpretation of something
      that earlier was "_im_, emphatic separate nominative of 1st person
      sg. I, I myself". There's no doubt it is, and it was typically Tolkien to
      reinterpret things he had written and even published earlier.
      However, it's also not rare that he returned to still earlier concepts
      in such cases, and I hope to give some evidence that emphatic and
      reflexive pronouns may have been close in early notions of Qenya
      and Gnomish.

      The starting point of my interpretation quoted above had been the
      observation that "I", "self" and "same" are closely related, as the
      analysis of words like "ego" or "identity" shows. Could that have been
      the origin for the coinage of _im_? Let's examine QL, first (something
      I couldn't do back in 2003). I didn't find a single pronoun, there,
      but we have

      IMI (1) same, alike. (PE12:42)
      _inqa_ same.

      The latter form is similar to one we find in Table A of "Early Qenya
      Pronouns" (EQP, PE15:44) in the left column. Christopher Gilson argues
      that though the abbreviation "refl." under the form _inqe_ may be
      considered as a marker for those forms, it's more likely they are
      "labels for the rows of forms that begin in the second column with
      _ninqe_" (PE15:45). However, I don't find it conclusive that the
      nominative pronouns can't have reflexive forms. What if the forms in
      the first column are both, emphatic AND reflexive? In English (and
      also in German) we use the reflexive "self" to emphasize a pronoun,
      too. Let's look for evidence in early Elvish, by comparison of three
      forms from that first column with forms in GL (my addition "emphatic?"
      means that _im_, _on_, _um_ are mentioned in the same context in
      PE11:53, and _on_ "he" is explicitly called emphatic in PE11:62):

      EQP _inqe_
      GL _im_ (emphatic?) I (PE11:53), _inco_ the same. the identical (PE11:50)

      EQP _unqe_
      GL _um_ (1) (emphatic?) we (PE11:74), _unc_ (1) reflexive. ourselves (PE11:74, 75)

      EQP _uste_
      GL _oth_ ye. also inform[al] (PE11:63), _ost_ (3) pronoun, reflexive. yourselves (PE11:63)

      We see obvious phonetic relationships, and in all cases, the forms from
      the EQP are closer to the reflexive forms from the GL. Though _inco_
      is not glossed as a pronoun, it is connected to reflexive pronouns by
      semantics: "self" had the now obsolete meaning "same, identical" in
      English, and the German cognate has that meaning even now, at least in
      compounds (dasselbe, derselbe, dieselbe). Russian uses the cognates
      "sebye" (dative) and "sebya" (accusative) of "self" as reflexive
      pronouns. For emphasis of the nominative pronouns, Russian adds a
      cognate of "same": "ya sam", "ty sam", "on sam", "my sami", "vy sami",
      "oni sami". Whether the similarities to GL (especially _on_ "he") are
      incidental, I leave to the reader, but Tolkien taught himself a little
      Russian between 1916 and 1918 (according to Carpenter's biography,
      p. 106).

      I'd like to add that in my opinion the Quenya reflexive pronouns
      mentioned in VT47:37 with base _im_ go back to the QL root IMI (1)
      quoted above (that's obvious, but Patrick didn't mention it in his

      -- Hans

      [Hans is undoubtedly correct that the very late stem _im-_ 'same'
      cited in VT47:37 n. 58 can be identified with the root IMI (1) 'same,
      alike' in the Qenya Lexicon, and I certainly ought to have pointed this
      out in my notes. PHW]
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