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Meaning of _umne_

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  • David Kiltz
    On page 32 of VT 48 Patrick Wynne wrote [on Tolkien s: The old str. pa.t. is seen in OQ _umne_ future-past , _matumne_ I was going to eat .] If str. in
    Message 1 of 6 , Feb 5, 2006
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      On page 32 of VT 48 Patrick Wynne wrote [on Tolkien's: "The old str.
      pa.t. is seen in OQ _umne_ future-past , _matumne_ "I was going to
      eat".] "If "str." in this last sentence == "strong" it is extremely
      puzzling, since OQ _umne_ appears instead to be a *weak* past tense
      (< _*ub-_ + pa.t. suffix _-nê_); ..."

      I have a question. Is the translation really 'I was going to eat'?
      If that's the case, shouldn't _umne_ contain a suffix of the 1st sg.
      'I' ? If so, the form is, perhaps, to be interpreted as _*ub + ni_ (> ne),
      where _ne_ would be an OQ (?) form for later _-(V)n_, the marker for
      the 1st sg. The pa.t. formation would then resemble _úme_ (UGU-/UMU-
      Etym.) with _-ne_ instead of _-e-_ as a marker of the 1st sg. and
      subsequent shortening of _ú_ > _u_ before two consonants. For a
      different interpretation, see 2).

      If we analyze the form as containing _*ub + nê_ it would seem we have
      two problems:

      1) The form should typically be a 3rd sg.

      2) In the case of the regular 'strong' _-n-_ pa.t. morpheme, an
      infixed outcome _**umbe_ after the pattern of _tampe_ (TAP-, Etym)
      and _rende_ (RED-, Etym.) or _anwe_ (XI:366 _auta-_) would have
      seemed more likely.

      So, maybe we even have to analyze it as _**ub + n + ni_ > _*umbne_ >
      _umne_, thus accounting for both the infixed _n_ of the str. pa.t. as
      well as the suffix of the 1st sg.

      The latter interpretation might be favourable if T/D + n > nT/D was a
      phonetic process in Q., not a grammatical one, as seems to be the case.

      A form _*umben_ 'I pondered' would then be a later 'regularization'.

      David Kiltz

      [Yes, the translation of _matumne_ in the MS is clearly 'I was going to
      eat'. It doesn't necessarily follow from this that OQ _umne_ *must*
      contain a suffix of the 1st sg. 'I', however, since Tolkien does not
      translate _umne_ as a 1 sg. form, but instead describes it in more
      general terms as "future-past". It was this that led me to assume --
      I now think mistakenly -- that it analyzed as *_ub-_ + pa.t. _-nê_,
      and, concomitantly, that the gloss of _matumne_ as a 1 sg. form was
      a minor slip (cp. Tolkien's gloss of the ON infinitive _naróbe_ as 3 sg.
      'he tells a story', V:374).

      However, David's proposed interpretation of OQ _umne_ as strong
      pa.t. *_ûb-_ + 1 sg. *_ni_ seems quite plausible, and is certainly
      preferable to such "Homer nodded" arguments. The Q. form _karne_
      'I make, build' (== _karin_) given in the _Etymologies_ (V:362) shows
      suffixion of 1 sg. _-ne_ directly to a basic stem in the aorist, which
      suggests that the same could have happened in certain past tense
      forms as well. -- PHW]
    • David Kiltz
      ... Patrick, any particular reason why you wouldn t consider _**ub + n + ni_ _*umbne_ _umne_ a possibility as well ? It would *seem* to me, such a
      Message 2 of 6 , Feb 8, 2006
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        On 05.02.2006, at 23:58, Patrick Wynne wrote:

        > Interpretation of OQ _umne_ as strong
        > pa.t. *_ûb-_ + 1 sg. *_ni_ seems quite plausible

        Patrick, any particular reason why you wouldn't consider _**ub + n +
        ni_ > _*umbne_ >_umne_ a possibility as well ? It would *seem* to me,
        such a development is in the phonetic ball park. To be sure, I know of
        no example of 1st sg. _-ne_ suffixed to _-n-_ infix past tenses.
        (Actually I had overlooked _karne_ vs _karin_, which you thankfully
        noted). However, as Tolkien calls _-n-_ infix pa.t. 'strong' (cf. XI:
        366 about _anwe_ ), the above analysis seems possible as well, don't
        you think ?

        David Kiltz

        [I don't find the **_ub + n + ni_ theory plausible because this is not
        how nasal infixion was applied in Quenya. In forming a strong pa.t.
        of a basic verb, the nasal infix was inserted before the final consonant
        of the stem -- thus AWA > _anwe_, archaic str. pa.t. of _auta-_ 'go away,
        leave' (XI:366); TOP- 'cover, roof' > pa.t. _tompe_ (V:394); TALÁT- 'to
        slope, lean, tip' > _atalante_ 'down-fell' (V:390, 56). In derived verbs,
        the nasal infix was inserted before the derivative suffix (usually _-ta,
        -ya_), if this suffix was retained in the pa.t. -- thus _auta-_ > pa.t.
        _oante_ (< _áwa-n-tê_) (XI:366), and _farya-_ 'suffice' > pa.t. _farinye_
        (beside weak _farne_) (VT46:9 s.v. PHAR-).

        What we do NOT ever see is a pa.t. formed by insertion of a nasal infix
        between a verb stem and a pronominal ending, as you propose in
        **_ub + n + ni_. Indeed, this form would not even qualify as strong,
        since the _n_ is SUFFIXED to the basic verb *_ub-_, which means such
        a verb would be classified as weak. -- PHW]
      • Thorsten Renk
        ... I do not agree with the interpretation of _karne_ given by Patrick here. But first, the evidence which I know that counts for this interpretation is the
        Message 3 of 6 , Feb 8, 2006
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          > The Q. form _karne_
          > 'I make, build' (== _karin_) given in the _Etymologies_ (V:362) shows
          > suffixion of 1 sg. _-ne_ directly to a basic stem in the aorist, which
          > suggests that the same could have happened in certain past tense
          > forms as well. -- PHW]

          I do not agree with the interpretation of _karne_ given by Patrick here.
          But first, the evidence which I know that counts for this interpretation
          is the fact that an ending _-ne_ for 1st person sg. is attested in
          _tye-mel�ne_ (V:61) for a form which is presumably present tense _#m�la-_.
          Furthermore, the actual entry KAR (V:362), listing first _karin_, then
          _karne_ and than the translation 'I make, build' suggests that these are
          alternative forms sharing the translation.

          However, the Etymologies are not a very organized document, and it does
          not require a great leap of faith to assume that Tolkien wrote first the
          verb, then (because his mind was occupied with it) the past tense and then
          added the translation.

          A past tense formation _kar-_ 'make' [pa.t.] _karne_ pr.t. _kare_ is seen
          in PE14:58. Past tenses of this type, i.e. for stem verbs with final
          consonant _-r_ are unusually frequently attested in the Etymologies, in
          particular some are in a context in which the form is identified as past
          tense, cf. _tirin_ pa.t. tirne (V:394) or _mere_ pa.t. _merne_ (V:373). In
          fact, final _-r_ is the best attested case for stem verb past tenses in
          the Etymologies and no other past tense formation is seen for this verb
          class.

          My suspicion as to why this is so is based on the observation that in the
          QL all stem verbs ending with _-r-_ (and possibly a repetition of the root
          vowel), some 24 examples all together, form their past tense by vowel
          lengthening (in particular, _karin_ 'I make, do' pa.t. _k�re_ is attested
          in PE12:45) No stem verb with final root consonant _-r_ is seen taking a
          suffix _-ne_ (although the suffix is active for other verbs).

          The past tense _karne_ in the EQG thus suggests a conceptual change to
          allow the suffix _-ne_ to become productive with these verbs, but in V:47
          the old variant reappears in _ohtak�re_. It is therefore my suspicion that
          the relative large number of past tense suffixes _-ne_ for _-r_-verbs seen
          in the Etymologies reflect Tolkien trying to come to a decision about the
          past tense - which at that time should apparently be by suffix _-ne_ for
          this type of stem verb.

          Thus, if I look at the whole history of the past tense of _kar-_ and
          related verbs up to this point, to my mind it makes more sense to
          interpret _karne_ as a past tense - it agrees well with a previous past
          tense of the verb, and it agrees well with past tenses of similar verbs
          seen in the Etymologies, whereas an interpretation of _-ne_ as 1st person
          sg. would to my knowledge be unique within the Etymologies.

          (As a final remark -- the reappearance of _ohtak�re_ in the "Notion
          Club Papers" (IX:246) indicates that Tolkien was not able to settle the
          question of the past tense of verbs with stems ending in _-r_ -- if he
          ever desired to).

          * Thorsten Renk

          [You might very well be right that _karne_ was intended as the pa.t. of
          _karin_ 'I make, build' rather than an alternative 1 sg. aorist -- as CJRT
          notes, this entry "was very roughly rewritten", which raises the degree
          of possibility that the revised entry might be imprecisely expressed.

          I would only note, with regard to the final paragraph in your post, that
          there is no reason to think that a verb need have one and only one pa.t.
          form -- and so no reason to assume that Tolkien had or was unable to
          "settle" on one or the other. Verbs in real languages can and do have both
          strong and weak past-tense forms happily coexisting: consider English
          "shine", str. pa.t. "shone", wk. pa.t. "shined". The same is true of Quenya
          and the other Elvish languages, in all their conceptual stages. So while
          you have shown that Tolkien strongly favored the weak pa.t. in _-ne_ for
          Qenya basic verbs with stems ending in R in the Etymologies, this does
          not mean that he envisioned this as a rule without exceptions. The form
          _ohtak�re_ 'war-made' that you cited from V:47 -- a form contemporary
          with the Etymologies -- points in this very direction, suggesting that
          Tolkien perhaps envisioned both _k�re_ and _karne_ as coexistent pa.t.
          forms of _kar-_, each with a differing semantic nuance. E.g., _k�re_
          might have been archaic or poetic, which would fit the context of the
          example in which it is used in V:47 -- just as there was no single pa.t.
          of _auta-_ 'go away, leave', but rather three, each with slightly different
          meanings and uses: _anwe_ (archaic), _v�ne_ (associated with ideas of
          death, loss, departure, and vanishment), and _oante_ (purely physical,
          'went away (to another place)'); XI:366. Such variety and unpredictability,
          of course, were a deliberate artistic effect in Tolkien's languages, adding
          to their verisimilitude. -- PHW]
        • Rich Alderson
          In response to a message from Thorsten Renk on Wed, 08 Feb 2006 09:41:28 -0500, Patrick Wynne wrote ... I would like to amplify on that
          Message 4 of 6 , Feb 8, 2006
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            In response to a message from "Thorsten Renk" <trenk@...> on
            Wed, 08 Feb 2006 09:41:28 -0500, Patrick Wynne wrote

            > I would only note, with regard to the final paragraph in your post, that
            > there is no reason to think that a verb need have one and only one pa.t.
            > form -- and so no reason to assume that Tolkien had or was unable to
            > "settle" on one or the other. Verbs in real languages can and do have both
            > strong and weak past-tense forms happily coexisting: consider English
            > "shine", str. pa.t. "shone", wk. pa.t. "shined". The same is true of Quenya
            > and the other Elvish languages, in all their conceptual stages.

            I would like to amplify on that for a moment, in agreement with Patrick's
            conclusion.

            There are two English homophonous verbs _shine_, an intransitive/stative with
            strong past _shone_ and a transitive/causative with weak past _shined_, which
            are distinct historically but which have fallen together in the present (which
            acts as the citation form), leading to the appearance of a single verb with
            both weak and strong past tense formations differentiated semantically in the
            synchronic description of Modern English.

            There is room in the essentially synchronic description of Quenya provided in
            the lexica for the same kind of merger, the more so as we have no exhaustive
            diachronic description to affirm or to gainsay the possibility.

            Rich Alderson
          • Thorsten Renk
            ... It was not my intention to imply that _karin_ must necessarily have only one past tense. However, it strikes me as significant that * In the QL, verbs
            Message 5 of 6 , Feb 9, 2006
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              > I would only note, with regard to the final paragraph in your post, that
              > there is no reason to think that a verb need have one and only one pa.t.
              > form -- and so no reason to assume that Tolkien had or was unable to
              > "settle" on one or the other.

              It was not my intention to imply that _karin_ must necessarily have only
              one past tense. However, it strikes me as significant that

              * In the QL, verbs frequently are listed with more than one past tense.
              For example, the subgroup of verbs derived from roots with R-hacek
              shows often nasal infixion as alternative to vowel lengthening, cf.:

              _siri-_ 'to flow' pa.t. _sinde, s�re_ (PE12:84) (macron in original)
              _liri-_ 'to sing' pa.t. linde, l�re (PE12:54) (macron in original)

              No alternative past tense is indicated for _karin_, pa.t. _k�re_ (PE12:45)

              * The list of past tenses in the Early Qenya Grammar shows verbs with
              up to three alternative past tenses, cf.

              _tantila-_ 'hop' pa.t. _tantilane, tantille, tantilante_ (PE14:58)

              No alternative past tense is given for

              _kar-_ 'to make' pa.t. _karne_ pr.t. _kare_ (PE14:58)

              * The Etymologies show (rarely) alternative past tenses for verbs, cf.

              _onta-_ to 'beget, create, pa.t. _ontane, �ne_ (V:379)

              If it is a past tense, no alternative is indicated for _karin, karne_

              * All occurrances of _ohtak�re_ are of course in actual texts, out of
              which we can't infer if an alternative past tense exists unless the verb
              occurs twice.

              It is certainly difficult to prove the absence of e.g. an alternative past
              tense form for _karin_ in the QL, it is entirely possible that it exists,
              but if so, the fact remains that in spite of the fact that we have evidence
              that Tolkien indicated alternative past tenses for some verbs in the QL,
              in the EQG and (with less certainty) in the Etymologies, he didn't actually
              do so once for _karin_. So I think while the available evidence is far
              from being conclusive, based on the facts available to me there is
              some merit to the idea that Tolkien did not consider both variants
              valid at the same time.

              * Thorsten Renk
            • David Kiltz
              ... That s certainly a strong point. Just to clarify, there are two assumptions that led me to this reconstruction: 1) The infixed past tense forms derive from
              Message 6 of 6 , Feb 21, 2006
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                On 08.02.2006, at 11:23, Patrick Wynne wrote (off-list):

                > What we do NOT ever see is a pa.t. formed by insertion of a nasal
                > infix between a verb stem and a pronominal ending, as you propose
                > in **_ub + n + ni_.

                That's certainly a strong point. Just to clarify, there are two
                assumptions that led me to this reconstruction:

                1) The infixed past tense forms derive from original suffixed forms
                by regular sound change, as in Q. _lemba_ < _*lebnâ_ (Etym s.v.LEB-).

                2) that the apparent past tense marker *_-ê_ was originally a marker
                of the 3. sg.

                Ad 1) It's true that Tolkien's own wording suggests that there was an
                original distinction between nasal infixion and suffixation of _-ne_
                with subsequent metathesis.

                [One such passage making this distinction occurs in the Early Qenya
                Grammar (ms.), where Tolkien writes that the past stem was formed
                by addition of the suffixes _-ye_, _-ie_, or _-ne_, but that the most
                common of these, _-ie_, "is normally accompanied by stem strengthening
                consisting of (1) a-infixion, (2) n-infixion, (3) vowel lengthening"
                (PE14:56). -- PHW]

                I could, and probably should have written **_umb-ni_. Which brings
                us to:

                Ad 2) That, I'll admit is a very weak point, as Tolkien's writings
                suggest otherwise. It was an entirely ad hoc assumption, in order to
                explain one particular form. It seemed to me (somewhat) admissable
                because Tolkien's languages (unlike 'real-world' ones) are subject to
                re-formation/ interpretation without further notice. Also, re-
                formation of case endings (especially in past tense) based on the 3.
                sg. are frequent in the world's languages.

                Yet *_ê_ or (or, at some stage *_ie_, cf. Helios' post) is indeed
                indicative of past tense in particular and so throughout the corpus.

                David Kiltz
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