Morn vs morna- and more
- Anders Stenström pointed out that Tolkien wrote in
> Letter 347, paragraph 7: "In S. initial _g_ was retained inSo, voiced stops or, at least, _g_ and _d_ were retained in
> composition, where a contact _n_ + _g_ occurred. So _born_
> 'hot, red' + _gil_ to _borñgil_; _morn_ 'black' + _dor_ to
> _morñdor_; the triconsonantal group then being reduced
> to _rg_, _rd_."
such position. Yet this statement by Tolkien seems to suggest
that the composition was actually based on synchronic Sindarin
_born_ and _morn_ not older _*borna_, _*morna_. This would
seemingly contradict the forms _Morben_ and _Mornvenniath_
which show soft mutation. That is, mutations that occur between
original vowels. Generally, it has to be remarked that mutations,
once established, do live on even though their original phonetic
motivation is lost. That is true for e.g. Welsh and seems to be true
for Sindarin. As Tolkien himself puts it in Letter 347: "The
lenitions or 'mutations' of S. were deliberately devised to resemble
those of Welsh in both phonetic origin and grammatical use".
Now, do we have to take Tolkien's explanation as a 'simplified'
version, written for an interested reader that would possibly care
little whether the n + voiced stop was actually < *_mornandor_ or
_morn-dor_? Or do we have to read Tolkien's "retained" as "re-
stopped"? ((In fact, the part of the Letter cited by Patrick Wynne:
> "But it can now only (though reasonably) be explained aftershows a similar problem. Why wasn't the _d_ lenited (== voiced
> invention as due to a blending of Q. _arnanóre_ / _arnanor_
> with S. _arn(a)dor_ > _ardor_" (L:428).
spirant) in S. _arn(a!)dor_ ? Or were original voiced stops
restopped? However, it has to be acknowledged that voiced
stops often don't show lenition, e.g. _argonath_ probably <
_*ara-gon-_ (or <_*arna-gon_ again with Q contamination)
versus _arphen_ 'a noble' (XI:376) probably < *_ar-pen(de)_.
There are more examples for missing spirantization of voiced
stops.)) If lenition had only taken place once the clusters
Xn + C had become a phonetic reality, why don't we see 'nasal
mutation' in _Morben_ and _Mornvenniath_, i.e. **_Morphen_
and **_Morm(m)menniath_? The question of relative chronology
takes center stage here. Almost everything in Sindarin (it looks
to me) points to the origin of mutations at a time when original
short (and long) vowels were still preserved. As exemplified in
Welsh or Irish, later phonetic realities don't interfere with once
established rules. E.g. in Welsh an adjective after a feminine
noun would always be lenited, no matter whether it was a late
loan and never really ended in either _*â_ or _*î_.
So, do we have to work off proto-forms with first element
_morn-, morna-_ or with both at different stages of the
language? Tolkien's note that _*Morikwende_ should have
given _*Moerbend_ clearly shows that short vowels were
operative and have to be taken into account. Examples can
easily be multiplied, cf. _Thingol_ < _*Sindâkollo_ with
intervocalic development of _*k_. His "... substitution of
S _morn-_ from _*mornâ_" (XI:362) may only refer to the
vowel quality, or maybe not.
If one wanted to insist on two derivational bases sc. _morn-_
and _morna-_ (or, indeed, just on the first) one might argue
that _Morben_ and _Mornvenniath_ are later 'leveled' forms
as suggested for verbs by Tolkien: (L:427) "... grammatically
before actual forms of verbs, the soft mutation was only normally
used in later S. ... and the soft mutation _m_ > _v_ > _v_ was
also often used... ". While _Morben_ may have taken over only
the vowel quality of _morn-_ a grammatical leveling seems to
lack motivation in (old) compounds especially when
_**Mormenniath_ would have been much more, or at least,
as recognizable as _Mornvenniath_. All in all, the assumption
of two derivational bases seems a little awkward. As lenition
clearly goes back to the 'full vowel preservation stage' of
(Proto/ Pre-) Sindarin, _morna-_ seems the most likely candidate
to assume as first element in compositions. I would therefore
not dismiss the possibility to read Tolkien's statement in Letter
347 as 're-stopped' or, indeed, shortened explanation, leaving
out anlauting nasalized stops.
What do fellow Lambengolmor make of the lenition in
P.S. On the question of possible oscillations between _morn-_
and _mornâ-_ hinges the interpretation of forms like _morchaint_,
on which I hope to comment in a future post.
- --- In email@example.com, David Kiltz
> Anders Stenström pointed out that Tolkien wrote inIt appears that in Tolkien's later conception of Sindarin, _all
> > Letter 347, paragraph 7: "In S. initial _g_ was retained in
> > composition, where a contact _n_ + _g_ occurred. So _born_
> > 'hot, red' + _gil_ to _borñgil_; _morn_ 'black' + _dor_ to
> > _morñdor_; the triconsonantal group then being reduced
> > to _rg_, _rd_."
> So, voiced stops or, at least, _g_ and _d_ were retained in
> such position.
three_ initial voiced stops -- B as well as D and G -- were
retained in composition when the contact N + Voiced Stop
occurred. An example of B may be found in Tolkien's late
notes analyzing all fragments of foreign languages found in
_The Lord of the Rings_. Christopher Tolkien writes, citing
from these notes:
"The passage concerning the Dome [of Varda] arises from the
statement that _Elbereth_ has _el-_ 'star' prefixed (with the
note 'But since _b_ is not mutated the name is probably to be
referred to *_elen-barathi_ > _elmbereth_')." (X:387)
-- Patrick H. Wynne
- On 28.07.2005, at 14:48, Patrick H. Wynne wrote:
> It appears that in Tolkien's later conception of Sindarin, _allVery well. Yet discrepancies relative to _morn-_/ morna-_ remain. As
> three_ initial voiced stops -- B as well as D and G -- were
> retained in composition when the contact N + Voiced Stop
far as I can see, the only exceptions to 'soft mutation' after _mor-_
(whatever its ultimate origin) are found in words not with original
anlauting voiced stop, but nasalized (voiced) stop. That is, if we
accept that S _gil_ is from a root NGIL- rather than GIL-. The only
apparent case of 'nasal mutation' after the element _mor-_ before a
voiceless stop can be found in _morchaint_. However, that form, I
think, can just as well be reconstructed as < _*mor-cantî_. A first
element _mor-_ (without final vowel) is also found in Q, e.g.
Maybe Tolkien later revised his idea of what form a first element
_mor-_ originally had, and he really shifted to _morn-_. That,
however, would leave us with very many forms with 'wrong mutation'.
- David Kiltz wrote:
> A first element _mor-_ (without final vowel) is alsoIn any case, _Moria_ seems to require a Sindarin _mor-_.
> found in Q, e.g. _mormacil_.
> Maybe Tolkien later revised his idea of what form a first
> element _mor-_ originally had, and he really shifted to
[Also _Morannon_, and no doubt other forms. CFH]
[I feel that I should interject here that we have to be careful not to treat even just all strictly Sindarin forms bearing on this matter as necessarily subject to the same phonological or morphological rules; far less so should we imagine Noldorin of the _Etymologies_ (or any other era) to be uniform with all Sindarin forms. There is, of course, the obvious fact that Tolkien coined these words at different times in his life, and thus at different points in his ever-shifting aesthetic and artistic conception of his languages, so there's no reason to think that his preferences in this matter were unchanged over even the later decades of his life. But the "internal" situation was also most likely variable as well, in at least two dimensions:
First, in the matter of compounding, it should be noted that compounds in "real" languages exhibit different phonological behaviors at the contact depending on the period of development in which they were formed. That is, compounds formed at a later period in the historical development of a language can and do behave differently than those formed at an earlier period; and there's no reason to think that Tolkien's languages -- which, after all, Tolkien was concerned to give the appearance of actual historical development -- differ from "real" languages in this regard.
Second, in the matter of consonant mutation (incl. lenition) or the lack thereof, it must again be reiterated that while these have phonologically-conditioned origins, once a pattern has been established as associated with a particular grammatical function (and the absence of mutation is as much a pattern for these purposes as is the presence), it could and did spread to other, grammatically-related forms in which historically the mutation would not otherwise have occurred. That is, we shouldn't necessarily be surprised to find mutation where the phonological situation doesn't support it, or its absence where we would expect it on phonological grounds.
Two examples spring to mind:
1) Tolkien notes of Gnomish _sithagong_ 'dragonfly' that it is a "new [compound] hence _-g-_" (PE11:68): that is, being a late composition, its second element _gong_ did not undergo lenition (to zero) as it would have in an historically old compound of (the ancestral forms of) the same elements.
2) Tolkien wrote in explaining N. _Eglador_ that "In old compounds the genetival element preceded (as in Quenya)" -- that is, obviously, in contrast with the situation in newer compounds (VT42:4).
It is clear that Tolkien himself did not imagine (or desire) that there be one and only one invariant rule for compound formation and consequent mutation throughout the history of his languages. We should be careful not to gloss over this feature of his languages in our studies. CFH]