- Some thoughts on the Quenya pronominal endings for "they", 3rd person
Commenting on the form _tiruvantes_ "they will guard it", Tolkien
indicates that _-nte_ is "inflexion of 3 plural where no subject
is previously mentioned" (UT:305, 317).
There are (at least) two possible interpretations of this, which may
be termed the Wide Interpretation and the Narrow Interpretation.
By the Wide Interpretation, _-nte_ is simply the regular ending for
"they", 3rd person plural. It is used "where no subject is previously
mentioned" _in the same sentence_. Since normal Quenya word order
seems to be SOV (examples can be found in the Prose Nam�rie in
RGEO:66-67), the subject will normally be mentioned "previously",
that is, before the verb. If a plural subject is thus "previously
mentioned", the verb will not receive the ending _-nte_, but
simply the plural marker _-r_ (as in _lassi lantar_, "leaves fall",
in the Prose Nam�rie). This would not preclude that the "they"
referred to could be identified earlier in the text/conversation,
just not in the same sentence.
[As I noted in my article "The Quenya Case System in the Later
Writings of J.R.R. Tolkien" in _Parma Eldalamberon_ 10 (p. 35),
the normal word order of a declarative sentence in the "prose
Nam�rie" is in fact SVO, e.g., _Elen-t�ri ortane m�-rya-t_ *'Elent�ri
uplifted her hands'. Also cp. the Early Qenya Grammar, which states:
"The natural order in Qenya is (1) subject, (2) verb, (3) object of
verb" (PE14:56). This does not, however, affect Ales's point in
the above paragraph. -- PHW]
By the Narrow Interpretation, the words "where no subject is
previously mentioned" are rather interpreted in the absolute sense.
The ending _-nte_ is used for "they" where this pronoun does
not refer back to some party previously mentioned in the text
(or conversation); it rather introduces a party that is to be
identified _following_ the verb to which _-nte_ is suffixed.
Thus Cirion's Oath: _Nai tiruvantes i h�rar mahalmassen m� N�men_
*"be it that _they_ [certain people so far unidentified] will keep
it, [namely:] the ones who sit on thrones in the West" (UT:305).
Material recently published may suggest that the Narrow
Interpretation should be favored: The ending _-nte_ is not the
general pronominal ending for "they", but rather a specialized
ending indicating a group that has yet to be identified. It is
now possible to argue that the general ending for "they" should
rather be *_-lte_.
VT48:10-11 indicates that the endings for "we", exclusive _-lme_
and inclusive _-lwe_, are to be analyzed as a plural marker _l_
+ the original pronominal stems ME, (�)WE. Tolkien refers to
"the plural _l_-infix that in Q. preceded the pronominal subject
At an earlier conceptual stage, the ending for exclusive "we"
was _-mme_, e.g. _firuvamme_ "we will die" in the Quenya Hail
Mary (VT43:34), but according to VT46:6, this ending was later
given a dual rather than a plural significance. Could Tolkien's
eventual dissatisfaction with this form as a plural (not dual)
ending be due to the emerging idea that plural pronominal endings
were to include the plural marker L?
[The idea that plural pronominal endings included the plural
marker L was not "emerging" at this time, but had in fact been
in existence virtually since the beginning: cp. _Tulielto!_ 'They
have come!' in "The Book of Lost Tales" (I:114). -- PHW]
What, then, about the ending for "they"? _Te_ appears as the object
"them" in the LR itself (translated in Letters:308), and according
to VT43:20, TE elsewhere appears as the "personal" Common Eldarin
stem for 3rd person plural. If we combine this with the plural infix
L, then the ending for "they" (at least with reference to persons)
may be reconstructed as *_-lte_, distinct from _-nte_. The latter
ending may then be interpreted according to the Narrow rather than
the Wide interpretation of Tolkien's comments in UT:317.
In F�riel's Song (V:72), the ending _-lto_ is used for "they" (as
in _antalto_ "they gave"). An ending *_-lte_ could (externally
speaking) be seen as a later incarnation of this, since (as far as
can be told) subject pronominal endings cannot end in _-o_ in
Tolkien's later forms of Quenya.
Any thoughts? Is there any further evidence for (or against)
*_-lte_ as an ending for "they", and the Narrow Interpretation
- On 11.03.2006, at 13:15, Ales Bican wrote:
> Is there any further evidence for (or against)_-nte_ could be analysed similarly to _*lte_, namely as containing a
> *_-lte_ as an ending for "they", and the Narrow Interpretation
> of _-nte_?
plural marker _n_ (as seen in case endings: loc. pl. _-sse-n_, gen.
pl. _o-n_) and _te_, pronoun of 3rd pl.
So, if the narrow interpretation was applicable, we'd have the
following scenario (if I understand correctly):
1) Valar (i hárar...) tiruvar vanda sina
2) Valar hárar mahalmassen mi Númen. *Tiruvalte vanda sina
3) Nai tiruvantes i hárar...
1 exhibits a regular declarative sentence in SVO order. If the
analysis of both *_tiruvalte_ and _tiruvante_ is correct, both 2+3
would show inverted word order for S and V (VSO). That is, e.g.
_tiruvan-_ 'guard will (pl.)' + _-te_ 'they' (S). In syntactic terms,
the _-te_ in *_tiruval-te_ could be described as an anaphoric
pronoun, it points back to the subject in the previous sentence.
(Similarly, _-te_ in _tiruvante_ can be called cataphoric, i.e.
pointing to information yet to come).
3, we know, is motivated by the lack of a preceding subject.
As for 2, the question really is, meseems, whether in an anaphoric
context, a special form of the verb is used, which incorporates the
anaphoric pronoun or, indeed, whether this form is used in
conjunction with an anaphoric pronoun.
One example of anaphora, which is, arguably, from an earlier period
than the passage in UT, can be found in V:72. _Ilu.... mannar Valion:
númessier. Toi aina, mána, meldielto. "The Father.... (gave it) into
the hands of the Lords. They are in the West. They are holy, blessed
and beloved". In this sentence, we have an anaphoric pronoun, vic.
_toi_ plus the ending _-lto_ (added to the copula). It's apparently
also possible for a noun phrase to lack the copula, cf. _toi írimar_
in line 6 of the poem. The adjective is, then, marked with _-r_,
which might have been the usual pluraliser for adjectives at that time.
In PE14:28 both _tulyar_ and _tulinta_ are given as 3rd pl. N of the
present tense but without any further reference to a possible
difference in function, as far as I know.
_-lto_ seems indeed to be used in a -largely- anaphoric context.
_Tulielto_ as cited by Patrick (I:114) seems to corroborate this, as
it contrasts with _i Eldar tulier_ on the same page. _Tulielto_ "they
have come" refers to the coming of the Elves and would seem to
presuppose a previous mentioning of that matter. Whatever, the
reality of a posited form *_-lte_, _-lto_ at least, seems to concord
with your analysis. That is, if there aren't any clear examples of
_-lto_ with the subject (other than anaphoric) preceding it.
If a distinction *_-lte_ vs. _-nte_ is to stand, it is curious that
it would be carried by just the pluralising element. Maybe, however,
the system had been revised by Tolkien at the time of UT:305, 317.