_En ilta túlie n-ner_: Analysis of a Qenya sentence
- In the manuscript version of J.R.R. Tolkien's _Early Qenya Grammar_ (EQG), composed
around 1923 and published in _Parma Eldalamberon_ 14, there is a long Qenya sentence
illustrating the distinction between the indeclinable relative pronoun _ya_ and the
conjunction _ne_ 'that' (pg. 54):
'Thereupon in came the man by whom we were told that his money had all been stolen
_en ilta túlie n-ner ya me-qetsime ka húyo ne hwa-telpe ie-rautanêma ompa va húyo_
An alternative version of the latter part of the sentence is also given, described as "more
_ya qensie* melmur ne iksa telpe rautanêma_.
[*NB: -- The published text erroneously gives this form as _qesie_; an examination of my
photocopy of the manuscript page shows that the correct form is _qensie_.]
Many of the grammatical principles set forth in the EQG are exemplified or further
elaborated in this sentence, and I present an analysis of it here in the hopes that it will add
to our understanding of Leeds-era Qenya.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
EN 'thereupon' -- The EQG pg. 55 cites "a general demonstrative deictic particle or stem
_en-_", which appears on the chart of deictic nouns or pronouns on that same page as a
general word meaning variously 'thither', 'there', 'thence', or 'then'. The temporal sense
'then' is intended in the sentence, since Eng. _thereupon_ means 'immediately or shortly
ILTA TÚLIE 'in came' -- The adverb _ilta_ 'in' modifies _túlie_ 'came' and must be a
derivative of the QL root ILTIL 'thrust in', whence _ilt_ 'a dig or stab' and _iltin_ 'I thrust
home' (the Gnomish cognate in GL is _ilta-_ 'to stick in, prod, prick'). The form _túlie_,
past tense of _tul-_ 'come', appears in the verb paradigms on pg. 57; for formation of the
pa.t. by suffixion of _-ie_ and lengthening of the stem-vowel, see pg. 56.
N-NER 'the man' -- EQG pg. 42 notes that the Qenya article is _i-_ before consonants but
_n-_ before vowels, the latter form "also frequently used _after_ a preceding vowel"; thus
_túlie n-ner_ 'came the man'.
YA ... KA HÚYO 'by whom' -- In the EQG Tolkien notes that _ya_ is "to be understood in
any relation, or, very frequently, is defined by demonstrative or pronominal or adverbial
words inside the relative clause." In the sentence, _ya_ is clearly 'who' rather than 'which',
based on its antecedent _ner_ 'man', and it is further defined in the sense 'by whom' by
addition of the phrase _ka húyo_ *'by him' at the end of the clause. The instrumental
preposition _ka_ 'by' is apparently derived from the QL root KAHA 'cause' (marked with a
query), whence the causative verbal prefix _ka-_, as in _kamanta-_ 'to make eat, give to
eat' < _mat-_ 'eat'. Although glossed as 'him' in the English translation, _húyo_ is in fact
the emphatic _nominative_ form of the 3 masc. singular pronoun (pg. 53) -- on pg. 43 the
EQG notes that "prepositions are used with the _nominative_ form". Also cp. _va húyo_
'from him' at the end of the sentence.
ME-QETSIME 'we were told' -- This phrase was emended several times, making its
interpretation a bit more complex. According to editorial note 89 on pg. 54, the sequence
of emendation was "_nyeliel_ >> _qense_ >> _qensiêma_ >> _qetsime_". However, the
initial form _nyeliel_ given here is in error; the manuscript shows two separate forms,
_nyel_ and _iel_, struck out individually; i.e., Tolkien first wrote _me-nyel_ >> _me-iel_
>> _me-_. The emendation of _qense_ >> _qensiêma_ >> _qetsime_ is actually aseparate series of changes.
The change of _me-nyel_ >> _me-iel_ parallels the emendation of _nye-rautanêma_ 'had
been stolen' >> _ie-rautanêma_ later in the sentence, and both of these emendations
were almost certainly made at the same time. _ie_ and _iel_ are the singular and plural
past-tense forms of the verb 'to be', given on pg. 57, which also describes the use of 'to
be' before participles to form compound tenses, such as _e tulien_ 'is having come, has
come' (perfect). _nye_ and _nyel_ must also be sing. and pl. past-tenses, 'was' and 'were',
respectively -- evidently formed from _nâ_ 'it is' (given in QL under the root NÂ 'be, exist')
with the pa.t. suffix _-ie_ and pl. _-l_.
It seems likely then that the latter part of the sentence as first written was _ya me-nyel
[qense >>] qensiêma ka húyo ne hwa-telpe nye-rautanêma ompa va húyo_, 'by whom we
were told that his money had all been stolen'. The emendation of _qense_ >> _qensiêma_
was made in the act of writing, and _qense_ is probably an unfinished form. The participle
_qensiêma_ was formed from the verb _qet-_ 'speak, talk' (QL, pg. 77), which in this
sentence also has the meaning 'tell', and the pa.t. form _qensie_ 'told' appears in the
"more Qenyatic" alternative ending: _ya qensie melmur_ *'who told us'. _qet-_, pa.t.
_qensie_ is thus precisely parallel to _mat-_, pa.t. _mansie_ (pg. 57), both being formed by
nasal infixion of the stem with suffixed of _-ie_: *_qe-n-tie, *ma-n-tie_ > *_qentsie,
*mantsie_ > _qensie, mansie_.
In Lambengolmor post # 674, Javier Lorenzo analyzes _ie-rautanêma_ 'had been stolen' as
"a singular past tense form of the verb 'to be' (_ie_, p. 57) and the past passive participle
of the verb _rauta-_ (pa.t. *_rautane_ + ending _-ma_ for passive participle, p. 56; the
vowel lengthening obeys apparently the same mechanism seen in the case of the indefinite
article suffixed to trisyllabic nouns: _tantare_ 'dance', _tantaré·ma_ 'a dance' p. 42)". _me-
nyel [>> me-iel] qensiêma_ 'we were told' is clearly the same sort of compound verb
formed with pl. 'was' and a past passive participle (pa.t. _qensie_ + passive _-ma_); the
participle _qensiêma_ does not show number agreement with the pl. subject _me-_ 'we',
though whether by design or oversight is impossible to say.
The final form of this phrase, _me-qetsime_, eliminates the verb 'to be' altogether, and
uses a different participial form, _qetsime_, evidently the pl. of singular *_qetsima_, which
appears to be a _present_ passive participle: present tense stem _qetsi-_ (cp. the present
stem _matsi-_ of _mat-_ 'eat' in the forms on pg. 57: _matsil, matsir, matsikto_, etc.) +
passive participle ending _-ma_. Thus _me-qetsime_ is apparently lit. *'we (were) being
told'; with pa.t. 'were' implicit from the preceding verb _túlie_ 'came'. This seems to be a
Qenya imperfect formation, indicating ongoing or uncompleted action in the past.
NE 'that' -- This conjuction is probably derived from the "general demonstrative deictic
particle or stem _en-_" cited on pg. 55. QL (under "E with various additions") also gives
demonstrative _en-_ 'that (by you)', _ena_ 'that by you', noun _en_ 'that by you', and _ene!_
'look (at what you have)!' It is from a form similar to this last, _ene_, that _ne_ probably
derives, with loss or suppression of the initial vowel.
HWA-TELPE 'his money' -- For _hwa-_ 'his' (also _fa-_), the unemphatic 3 sg. masc.
possessive prefix, see pg. 54. QL gives _telpe_ 'silver', as well as _telpilin_ 'silver
piece' (the suffix _-ilin_ is perhaps diminutive; cp. _pint, pimp-_ 'tail', _pimpilin (d)_
'hanging tail, tassel, etc.' in QL s.v. PIPI- 'hang, trail').
IE-RAUTANÊMA OMPA 'had all been stolen' -- _ie-rautanêma_ [<< _nye-rautanêma_] has
been discussed above. QL gives the verb _rauta-_ (pa.t. _râve_) 'chase, hunt, pursue;
extirpate, exterminate', with cognates including _ravin_ 'fierce, savage (of beasts)',
_rauste_ 'hunting, preying', and _rau_ 'lion' -- so apparently _rauta-_ means specifically
*'to rob by violence'. QL gives two other verbs glossed as 'steal', but both imply theft via
stealth rather than violence: _naqa-_ 'steal' < NAQA- 'steal, take; get by stealth,
unlawfully', and _pili-_ 'steal' < PILI(1) 'rob', with cognate _pilukka_ 'secret, stealthy'.
QL s.v. OMO- 'every, all' gives an adj. _ompa_ 'each'; since in the sentence this refers to
the collective noun _telpe_ 'money', it is glossed as 'all' (QL also lists _ompi_ 'all, every',
"plur. adj. with pl. [noun]", i.e., _ompi_ is evidently the plural form of _ompa_). In the
sentence, _ompa_ probably acts as an adverb modifying _ie-rautanêma_, hence its
placement after the verb rather than with _hwa-telpe_ 'his money' -- see the EQG pg. 47,
which notes that an uninflected adjective may be used as an adverb.
VA HÚYO 'from him' -- The preposition _va_ 'from' is probably derived from the QL root
AVA 'go away, depart, leave', whence _au_ 'away from'. The root VAHA was derived from
AVA and had derivatives such as _vâ_ 'went' (pret.) and _vâ_(2) 'gone forth, away'. The
emphatic nominative pronoun _húyo_ 'he' is used after the prep. _va_, as also in _ka húyo_
The syntax of the "more Qenyatic" alternative ending to the sentence is more concise and
YA QENSIE MELMUR *'who told us' -- For _qensie_ as the pa.t. of _qet-_ 'say, speak, tell',
see the third paragraph in the discussion of ME-QETSIME above. _melmur_ is an emphatic
dative, 1 pl. exclusive (pg. 53) -- thus _ya qensie melmur_ is *'who said to us' or *'who
NE IKSA TELPE RAUTANÊMA *that his own money had been stolen' -- Tolkien first wrote
_hwa telpe_, then subsequently struck out _hwa_ and wrote _iksa_ below it. _iksa_ is cited
in the EQG as a reflexive 3rd person adjective, so that _iksa telpe_ probably means *'his
own money', referring back to _n-ner_ 'the man'. Presumably the non-reflexive _hwa
telpe_ 'his money' allows for a degree of ambiguity and could refer to the theft of some
other man's money.
Although the final form of the Qenyatic ending omits the verb 'to be' before the participle
_rautanêma_ (parallel to _me-qetsime_), Tolkien did begin to write _ny_ (clearly the start
of _nye_) immediately following _iksa telpe_ but struck this out before it was completed
(an emendation not noted in the published text).
-- Patrick H. Wynne