- In 'The Fellowship of the Ring', LR book II, chapter 2 'The Council of
Elrond' the Sindarin name of Tom Bombadil is given by Elrond: "Iarwain
Ben-adar we called him, oldest and fatherless".
Taking "oldest and fatherless" as the literal translation of _Iarwain
Ben-adar_, the first form has been analyzed e.g. by David Salo and Helge
Fauskanger as the adjective _iaur_ and a suffix _-wain_ denoting the
"It so happens that we may also have the superlative form of _iaur_ "old";
during the Council of Elrond, the Sindarin name of Tom Bombadil was given
as _Iarwain_, meaning "Eldest". The ending _-wain_ would seem to be the
superlative suffix. Why not _*Iorwain_, with the normal monophthongization
_au > o_? (David Salo answers, "Because you are looking at the direct
descendant of a form like *_Yarwanya_ (perhaps, I am not sure of the exact
form of the final element) in which the vowel was in a closed syllable."
('Sindarin, the Noble Tongue' by Helge Fauskanger:
The idea of a superlative expressed by an ending occurs partially in
earlier writings by Tolkien, but usually the resulting form is not really
a superlative but only an augmented form and acquires a superlative
meaning in combination with a genitive. For example, in the _Gnomish
Grammar_ (PE11) we find
_gwandra_ 'beautiful' _gwandrodron_ 'more beautiful' _gwandronta_
and the _Early Qenya Grammar_ (PE14) has
"The superlative is expressed by the comparative with prefixed article
(...) followed by the genitive plural adjectival or partitive in _-�nen_ -
the latter especially of collectives, as:
_i-ner i-t�ralda 'n-Noldolion_ 'the tallest man of the Gnomes' " (PE14:48)
A similar construction seems to be employed in the phrase _elenion
ancalima_ (LR book IV chapter 10), in Letters:278 _an-_ is glossed a
"superlative or intensive prefix".
While the _Etymologies_ show ample evidence of intensifying prefixes which
are apparently related to the Quenya _an-_ (see e.g. my article
no superlative suffix is described.
Thus, an adjectival ending which literally expresses a superlative without
a following genitive would seem unusual. Furthermore, the suggested suffix
_-wain_ has not been linked to any other intensifying suffix or prefix
seen elsewhere. In Lambengolmor message #642 Bertrand Bellet has suggested
that the relation _iaur > Iarwain_ seems similar to the development _naur_
> _Narwain_ "new-fire = January" and that hence _Iarwain_ might beliterally "old-new"
In the the _Reader's Companion_, RC:128 a quote from a (yet) unpublished
draft letter dating from 1968 is provided: "Iarwain = old-young,
presumably as far as anybody remembered, he had always looked much the
same, old but very vigorous."
This is a rather striking confirmation of Bertrand's analysis and explains
why _Iarwain_ is apparently so different from the structure of superlative
constructions glimpsed elsewhere.
- I'd like to draw attention to two points in addition to Patrick Wynne's
nice analysis of the form _kainen_ (VT48:12f).
* The entry _kai-_ 'lie down', pa.t. _kaine_, present t. _kaita_ is found
in the discussion of past tenses in the Early Qenya Grammar (PE14:58).
This appears to be the earliest ancestor of the form seen in VT48:12.
* The past tense formation with suffix _-ne_ and loss of a present tense
derivational suffix _-ta_ as exemplified by _poita_ pa.t. _poine_ (PE12:75)
seems to be extremely rare in the Qenya Lexicon. I wasn't able to find
another example, so maybe _keante_ (VT48:12) would represent the
more regular form, cf. Tolkien's comments to _oante_ in XI:366 where
this development is described as "regular".
* Thorsten Renk
[My thanks to Thorsten for catching the citation of pa.t. _kaine_ in
the EQG, which I had overlooked.
Thorsten is also correct in noting that examples of Q. verbs in _-ta_
that drop this ending in the pa.t. seem to be few and far between; I
believe that _poita_ 'cleanse', pa.t. _poine_ is the ONLY example of
this type found in the Qenya Lexicon.
However, it is clear that in the 1920s at least Tolkien did not imagine
this type of pa.t. as being rare, for in the EQG he writes (PE14:56,
bottom of page):
"*_-(n)ta_ has no definite significance though it is sometimes
inceptive and is VERY FREQUENTLY (especially where medial root
consonant is _j, w, s_) found as a mere present formative, as
_kapta_ 'leap', pret. _kampie_." [emphasis added]
(NB: for _j, w_ here the published text has _i, u_ with subscript arches.)
-- Patrick H. Wynne]
- Patrick Wynne commented:
> Thorsten is also correct in noting that examples of Q. verbs inOf course, this applies to past tense in _-ne_, as Thorsten specified,
> _-ta_ that drop this ending in the pa.t. seem to be few and far
> between; I believe that _poita_ 'cleanse', pa.t. _poine_ is the ONLY
> example of this type found in the Qenya Lexicon.
since there are many examples of verbs in _-ta_ which drop it in the
formation of past tense in _-e_ (the first case being _anta-_, pret.
_âne_ [with macron] s.v. ANA, QL:31, but also many others).
Nevertheless, _poita_ pa.t. _poine_ is not the only example in QL of
dropped _-ta_ for _-ne_ past tenses. At least "_teta_ (pa.t. _téne_.)
'attract'" s.v. TEHE (p. 90) is another clear case. And there may be
other cases obscured by phonology:
* The "irreg. pret." of _halta 'to leap' s.v. HALA (p. 39) is given
as _halle_ or _ehalle_, in which the long _ll_ could be assimilated
_ln_ (i.e. *_(e)halne_).
* The pa.t. form _nesse_ of _nesta_ 'feed' s.v. NESE- (p.66) could be
likewise assimilated *_nesne_, in contrast to the alternative _nêse_.
[Many thanks for the correction -- clearly I ought to have had a
second cup of coffee before writing my comment to Thorsten's
post! -- PHW]
- In VT43 the noun _thahtie/sahtie_ 'pressure or force (to do something
against one's will or conscience)' is said on pg. 22 to come from etymon
_thakta-_, which looks like a verb. And I am surprised by CE *_kta_ >
Q. _-htie_. Usually _-kta_ > _-hta_.
On the next page, 23, the verb _th/sahta_ 'induce' is said to come from
the stem _saka-_ 'draw, pull'. Usually initial CE sV- gives Q sV-.
Is there any misunderstanding or misprinting ?
[It seems probable that by writing "_thakta- > Q. thahtie/sahtie"
(a reproduction of the actual manuscript note appears on VT44:23),
Tolkien meant to indicate that _thakta-_ (< root _thag-_'oppress,
crush, press' was the primitive verb from which the later Quenya
gerund/infinitive _th/sahtie_ was formed by addition of the ending
_-ie_, rather than indicating a _direct_ phonological development
of _thakta-_ > _th/sahtie_.
As for _saka- 'draw, pull', yielding both Q. _thahta_ and _sahta_
'induce' rather than simply _sahta_, this could explained if _saka-_
is interpreted as a Quenya verb from earlier *_thaka-_, rather than
assuming that _saka-_ is a CE root. Note that Tolkien did not mark
_saka-_ with either an asterisk or a root sign. The suffix _-ta_ added
to _th/sahta_ 'induce' does not appear to be causative per se (since
_saka-_ 'draw, pull' is already transitive), but rather extends or
modifies the sense from 'draw, pull' > 'induce'. -- PHW]