The Yahoo! Groups Product Blog
Show Message Summaries
Sort by Date
It occurred to me that the following index might be of use to others. It is
list of entries in Tolkien's "unfinished index" to _The Lord of the Rings_ given
I've also listed mentions of Tolkien's "notes for the Dutch translator" and the
"manuscript of _Nomenclature_" (i.e., of _Nomenclature of the Lord of the
The "unfinished index" is an interesting source of information; for example I
recall seeing the names _Sennas Iaur_, _Raith/Fui 'Ngorthrim_, or _Luvailin_
else. Christopher Tolkien has said that he derived the plan of his index to
Silmarillion_ from it (UT:12), but from its current presentation in _RC_ the
the "unfinished index" is not immediately obvious. Perhaps one day it may be
published in its entirety in _VT_?
[FWIW, I've never seen the unfinished index, and had in fact forgotten of its
until the publication of _RC_. CFH]
(general) xiii, xv, xxxiv, lxix, lxxxi
Black Gate 231
Black Pits 603
Brandy Hall 29
Bridge Inn 655
Bridge of Stonebows 20
Brown Lands 343
Buck Hill 115
Caras Galadon 311
Cerin Amroth 309
Cirith Gorgor 334-5
Cotton's farm 659
Dead Marshes 239
Deeping Wall 416
Desolation of Smaug 208
Dimrill Gate 276
Dimrill Stair 299
Dol Baran 433
Dome of Stars (of Osgiliath) 437, 694
Drúadan Forest 554
Durin's Tower 393
East End 384
East Road 75
East Wall 364
Emyn Arnen 512
Emyn Muil 334
Encircling Mountains 621
Endless Stair 393
Ephel Dúath 457
Ethir Anduin 350
Ever-eve 218, 333
Far Downs 20
Fen Hollen 550
fences of Mordor 238
Ford of Bruinen 171
fords of the Isen 412
Forsaken Inn 171
Fui 'Ngorthrim 526
Gap of Rohan 243
Gladden Fields 86
Grey Havens 28
Grey Wood 559, 641
Helm's Deep 413
Helm's Dike 415
Helm's Gate 414
Henneth Annûn 473
High City 638
High Court 515
High Hay 115
High Pass 207
Hill Road 94
Hither shores 218
Hold of Dunharrow 407
imlad 234, 482
Imlad Morgul 482
Imloth Melui 582
Imrath Gondraith 558
Inland Sea 522
land of the Beornings 351
Last Shore 625
Midgewater Marshes 167
Minas Anor 232
Minas Ithil 232
Misty Mountains 11
Mounds of Mundburg 571
Nan Curunír 389
Narrow Ice 216
Nen Hithoel 327-8
Night of Naught 216
Nimbrethil 214, 387
North Downs 232
north gate (in the Rammas) 559
North Moors 77
North Stair 346
Northern Fences 331
Northern lands 175
Old Gondor 593
Old Guesthouse 523
Old Moria 294
Old Road 168
Old World 10
Parth Galen 349
Paths of the Dead 526
Pinnath Gelin 525
Place of the Fountain 515
(Raith 'Ngorthrim 526)
Rammas Echor 512
rath 523, 551
Redhorn Gate 262
Sammath Naur 615
Sarn Ford 327
Second Gate 551
Sennas Iaur 523
Seven Gates 512
South Lane 659
Stair Falls 277
Stonewain Valley 558
Three-Farthing Stone 658
Tol Brandir 333-4
Torech Ungol 490
Tower Hall 543
Tower Hills 28
Tower of Ecthelion 514
Town Hole 155
Udûn 297, 609
Walls of Moria 277
White Tower 361-2
Window of the Eye 615
Wold of Rohan 343
Woody End 95
World's End 218
"notes for the Dutch translator":
(general) xiii, lvii
-bottom lx, 31
Bindbole/Bindbale Wood lvii
"manuscript of _Nomenclature_":
Sarn Ford 163
Sarn Gebir 327
Tarlang's Neck 535-6
Tol Brandir 333-4
Patrick Wynne commented:
> 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.
Of course, this applies to past tense in _-ne_, as Thorsten specified,
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]
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
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'.
[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]
> 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-meláne_ (V:61) for a form which is presumably present tense _#méla-_.
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
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. _káre_ 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 _ohtakáre_. 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 _ohtakáre_ 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
_ohtakáre_ '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 _káre_ and _karne_ as coexistent pa.t.
forms of _kar-_, each with a differing semantic nuance. E.g., _káre_
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), _vâne_ (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]
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 ?
[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]
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
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.
> 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, sîre_ (PE12:84) (macron in original)
_liri-_ 'to sing' pa.t. linde, lîre (PE12:54) (macron in original)
No alternative past tense is indicated for _karin_, pa.t. _káre_ (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, óne_ (V:379)
If it is a past tense, no alternative is indicated for _karin, karne_
* All occurrances of _ohtakáre_ are of course in actual texts, out of
which we can't infer if an alternative past tense exists unless the verb
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
I would like to draw attention to the announcement of an important
new work by Thorsten Renk on the "Q(u)enya Past Tense":
From the announcement:
"[This work] contains a list of all (well, probably most to be honest) attested
past tenses from the early Qenya Lexicon (QL) to forms published recently in
'Eldarin Hands, Fingers and Numerals' and illustrates how Tolkien's ideas
about the past tenses changed in time, but also how remarkably stable many
features of the system outlined in the QL remain over the years - there is
no evidence for a substantial revision of the system, although there are
many changes in detail."
The full announcement is at:
If you subscribe to VT and live in Canada or (from the US
perspective) overseas in a country whose name in English is Norway or
alphabetically later, then you've been asking yourself this question.
The printer I use shorted me by about 70 copies of the new issue
(#48), a fact not discovered until I got to Norway in the mailing
process, and they couldn't print me up the missing copies until
earlier this week. Happily, they've now all gone in the mail, so you
should have it in a week or so.
With the announcement of Måns Björkman's "Valmaric Eldamar" font:
I have made the following changes in the fonts used for _Tengwestië_
1) Addition of the "valmaricText" CSS tag to support text written in
the Valmaric alphabet.
2) Replacement of the use of Måns's earlier, unitary "Tirion Sarati"
with his newer "Sarati Eldamar" font family:
with a corresponding expanded set of CSS tags (e.g.,
"saratiLtrBarText", "saratiRtlBarText", "saratiVertBarText") to allow
for the different writing conventions and orientations. (Note however
that current browsers will most likely not fully support anything
other than the left-to-write without bar tag, "saratiLtrText").
For full details and examples, see:
I would also like to thank Måns for his continuing efforts in
producing such fonts, both rigorous and attractive, in support of
In recent messages the verb form _karin_ 'I make, build' from the
_Etymologies_ s.v. the verbal root KAR- 'make, do' (V:362), was
incidentally cited, classifying it as 1st person singular aorist.
The label of _karin_ as an aorist form is supported by the note c.
1969 cited at VT41:17, where Tolkien tells that verb forms with _-i_
are "the stem of the aorist tense". According to this, _kari-_ whould
be the aorist stem of the root KAR-. Complementarily, the form _kare_
(seemingly < *_kari_ with regular opening of final _-i_) acts as
infinitive in the sentence _alasaila ná la kare tai mo nave mára_ 'it
is unwise not to do what one judges good' at VT42:34, which is
explicitly told by Tolkien to be "in general 'aorist' terms", in a
text from the last years of his life (cf. VT42:33 for the dating).
However, it is possible that _karin_ at _Etym._ is not an aorist form,
but present. Verb forms in _-i-_ (_-e_ in the absence of suffixes)
belong to the present tense of "regular" basic verbs in earlier
conceptual stages: see "_Matar_ and _Tulir_" (MT), "The Qenya Verb
Forms" (QVF) and various examples at the verbs section of the "Early
Qenya Grammar" (EQG), PE14:23-34, 57-58. Actually, the aorist tense
occurs in a very distinct form (ended in _-ya_, -_mo_, _-le_...) at
QVF (cf. PE14:28, 34).
I think it probable that _karin_, and the many other verbs ending in
_-in_ from _The Etymologies_, were conceived in that context as
present forms, as in the earlier paradigms. Their glosses are not
helpful, as English present tense may be used for both the present and
aorist functions. However, present is to me a more natural tense to be
given as the first reference in a dictionary than the aorist.
In fact, MT apparently represents only present tenses, and both QVF
and EQG give the conjugation of the present tense first; furthermore,
at QVF, where both present and aorist are represented, aorist in fact
is given last, and when there is a relation between their forms aorist
is told to be "as present" (PE14:28, 34), and not the reverse(*). So,
if _Etym._ ever used aorist as the "reference" tense, that singularity
could be expected to be noted somewhere throughout the text.
Related to this, the difference between the well-known greeting _elen
síla lúmenn' omentielvo_ 'a star shines upon the hour of hour meeting'
and its draft forms _eleni silir..._ 'the stars shine...' and _elen
silë..._ 'a star shines' (VI:324-325), has been elsewhere considered a
change in the tense (aorist > present, cf. VT41:15, for instance), but
instead they could be a reflection of a change in the conception of
how the present tense was formed.
A limitation of this argument is that in _The Lost Road_, more or less
contemporary to the _Etymologies_ and written before any draft of _The
Lord of the Rings_, the form _tye-méla_ '[I] love thee' (not directly
glossed) occurs, seemingly a present like that of _elen síla..._ , and
like present _quéta_ in contrast to aorist _quete_ (VT41:15, 18). So,
it seems that the present formation of _The Lord of the Rings_ and
later texts was already conceived when the _Etymologies_ was being
composed. Nevertheless, this does not necessarily mean that _-i_ was
already conceived as the aorist stem characteristic, as it was in the
last years of Tolkien's life. The Q. verb _mel-_ 'love' is given at
_Etym._ just as the stem (and not *_melin_), leaving room to think
that it might not be the same kind of basic verb as _kar-_, and that
its present form could be different (thus enabling _tye-méla_ and
_tye-meláne_). And even if this was not implied, as Patrick Wynne and
Rich Alderson recently noted, there is no reason to think that a verb
need have one and only one form for a given tense.
(*) Against this, it could be argued that the conception of time is
different for Elves and Men, and that the first ones could find
completely natural to refer a verb by the tense which expresses an
habitual or time-indefinite action... if it is that the _Etymologies_
were conceived to be composed by some Elven sage, and that fact was
considered in this kind of details.
[Helios raises a important point of caution: given the shifting nature of
Tolkien's languages, even in fundamental categories, it is important
to distinguish between what Tolkien actually _states_ about any
particular class or formation at a particular stage in the conceptual
development of his languages, from what is _assumed_ to be the
case based on the evidence from other conceptual stages.
That being said, I don't agree that there would necessarily be
anything odd in citing the aorist form of a verb as opposed to the
present tense form, _per se_. The actual practice seems to be rather
to cite the _least marked_ formation first, followed by whatever forms
are necessary to illustrate the other formation classes. It happens that
for Latin as for most Western European languages this least marked
form of the verb is its present tense; but this neeed not be true of
languages generally. So in those stages of Tolkien's languages where the
aorist is the least marked form, it would be quite expected for the
aorist form to be the first cited. CFH]
Quoting Helios De Rosario Martinez <imrahil@...>:
> That being said, I don't agree that there would necessarily be
> anything odd in citing the aorist form of a verb as opposed to the
> present tense form, _per se_. The actual practice seems to be rather
> to cite the _least marked_ formation first, followed by whatever forms
> are necessary to illustrate the other formation classes. It happens that
> for Latin as for most Western European languages this least marked
> form of the verb is its present tense; but this neeed not be true of
> languages generally. So in those stages of Tolkien's languages where the
> aorist is the least marked form, it would be quite expected for the
> aorist form to be the first cited. CFH
The most common form for citation, as far as Western European languages are
concerned, is surely the infinitive, regardless of how marked it is compared to
I however quite agree with Carl's larger point - that a form being the citation
form is no ground for assuming it to be a present tense form. Indeed, the many
European languages that use the infinitive as the citation form is a powerful
[Every Latin dictionary I am familiar with cites verbs by 1st. sg. pres. act.
(and then by infinitive). Standard Greek dictionaries follow the same
as do those of Welsh (e.g. the _Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru_). English
universally cite the 1st sg. pres. So in fact many dictionaries of Western IE
languages do not cite the infinitive form of the verb first. It is true that
do, e.g. for most (all?) Romance languages, and for those Germanic languages
have a distinct infinitive inflectional form (though even here the practice
aimed at citing an actual speech form from which the least-marked tense stem
can readily and mechanically be extracted, which in these IE languages happens
to be the present tense). CFH]
On 12.02.2006, at 01:35, Carl Hostetter wrote:
> The actual practice seems to be rather
> to cite the _least marked_ formation first, followed by whatever forms
> are necessary to illustrate the other formation classes
One might add that a formation is used that (generally) conveys the
best idea of the basic nature of the verb, the most transparent.
That's not necessarily the present tense. A good example to underline
Carl's point are Semitic languages which cite the 3rd sg. perfect
because it's structurally the most transparent. Another example is
Korean which uses a present form but -lacking person markers- can
choose between various reverential levels. It uses the one whose
suffix least modifies the basic verbal stem. Lastly consider
Sanskrit, which cites roots.
For most (modern) european languages (germanic, romance, slavic,
baltic, finnish...) though, it's indeed the (or one) infinitive.
[Harm J. Schelhaas also wrote, to make the same point about Semitic
citation standards: "As an example of a non IE language with a different
convention, in Hebrew verbs are cited by 3rd (male) sg. perf. act." CFH]
It seems to me that in VT48 p. 18, there's an error in the editorial
note n. 15 :
"adj. _exa_ 'other' and noun _exe_ 'the other' (VT42:40 n. 65)"
The VT42 has only 38 pages and no editorial note n. 65.
I think we must read "(VT47:40 n. 65)" instead.
[You are absolutely right. Many thanks for correcting my error!
There are a couple of points which I find interesting to add to
Thorsten Renk's "The Q(u)enya Past Tense" at:
About the _-ie_ past tense:
Its presence in suffixed pa.t. forms of "The Lost Road" (e.g.
_kárielto_ 'they made' vs. _káre_ '[he] made'), is comparable to the
development of the pa.t. explained at "The Qenya Verb Forms". There, pa.t.
of "regular verbs" is normally marked by _-ie_ plus the suffixes which
denote gender, number and voice; but impersonal singular active past
tense has _-e_ < _-ie_ (PE14:31, _i_ glide and breve over the _e_ in
the primitive form). Thus, _tul-_ 'to bring, come' is _tûle_ 'came'
(imp. sing.), but _tûlien_ or _tûliendo_ 'he came', etc. (PE14:28,
macron over the _u_ in all cases).
Additionally, though it is not a great finding at all, it may be worth
noting that the _-ie_ past tense did not really disappear, but became
a perfect tense (cp. _tûlien_ 'he came' cited above vs. _utúlien_ 'I
am come' in _Eärello Endorenna utúlien..._, LR:967).
On the other hand, in the last paragraph just before the
acknowledgements, Thorsten says:
"In the QL, all such verbs [with stem in _-r-_] form past tense by
vowel lengthening, best examplified by #_kar-_ 'to make, do' pa.t.
_káre_ (PE12:45). But already in the EQG, this has been changed to a
suffix _-ne_, cf. _kar-_ 'to make' pa.t. _karne_ pr.t. _kare_
(PE14:58). In the Qenya of 'The Lost Road', the past tense form
_ohtakáre_ (LR:47) appears, suggesting a change of mind back to vowel
I think, however, that the scenario of these facts may not be Tolkien
trying to settle whether pa.t. of _kar-_ should be _káre_ or _karne_,
but something closer to what Thorsten said previously, in the
introduction about cases from _Etym._:
"verbs are not limited to one past tense, we find an example in which
alternative past tenses exist without apparent differences in meaning,
cf. _onta-_ 'to beget, create', pa.t. _óne_, _ontane_ (LR:379)..."
In relation to this, it may be interesting to look at the
"English-Qenya Dictionary", where there is a handful of verbs
conjugated in present and pa.t. (there labelled "preterite"), and
"Do. '_kara_': _kare_, pret. _kârie_, but pret. is also frequently
[All Qenya forms are in Valmaric script and then transliterated, with
the exception of the base _kara_, which is untransliterated by
Tolkien; _kârie_ with macron over the _a_.]
There we see the pa.t. form _karne_ already found in EQG, PE14:58 (EQG
being closely related to that dictionary, cf. PE15:65-66), as an
alternative to _kârie_, which conforms the conjugation of "regular
verbs" like _tul-_ (pa.t. _túlie_) in EQG (PE14:57). This proves that
distinct pa.t. forms were possible, though the text of EQG only showed
_karne_. In addition, though the pa.t. _kârie_ of the English-Qenya
Dictionarly does not occur in 'The Lost Road' as such, it does occur
in the suffixed form _kárielto_, which is apparently in complement to
unsuffixed _káre_, _ohtakáre_, etc. (see above).
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
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.
I am slightly puzzled by the statement in VT48:32, note 19:
"In both of the Sindarin forms, _duinen_ and _dannen_, the original
C.E. suffix _-mê_ has presumably been replaced by S. _nen_ 'water'
(e.g. as in _Bruinen_ 'Loudwater', LR:200)."
I wonder whether the parenthetical comment about _Bruinen_ applies to
the second part of the sentence only (i.e. that _Bruinen_ 'Loudwater'
just occurs to end with _nen_ 'water') or rather to the whole sentence
(i.e. that _Bruinen_ would also possibly be a S. word where an
original _-mê_ in C.E. was replaced by _nen_ -- thus implying some
derivation such as _bruinen_ < _nen_ repl. _-me_ < _*bruime_ < *BRUY +
I haven't found any evidence for the latter case, but as the former is
quite obvious(*) and not really necessary to understand _duinen_ and
_dannen_ ... So I just asked myself what the editor exactly had in
mind when he wrote this note. Could he clarify how the note should
Actually, this question interests me as I have never found across my
readings any satisfying explanation for _bruinen_ (except, perhaps, to
deduce _*brui_ as a possible adjective 'loud', possibly including S.
_-ui_ as adjectival ending, from former -*(V)ya_ -- but this would
still be very hypothetical and inconclusive).
(*) If the first reading of the note was implied, we know other river
names ending with _-nen_, which would perhaps have made better examples
as the first element is less obscure (or is at least interpretable):
_Carnen_ 'redwater' and _Harnen_ *'south-water', both attested in the
[I cited the form _Bruinen_ 'Loudwater' in note 19 in VT48:32 merely
to provide an example of S. _nen_ 'water' used as the second element
in a compound; I did NOT intend to suggest that _nen_ in _Bruinen_
replaced earlier _-mê_. Evidently my wording of this note was less clear
than it might have been, and I regret any potential confusion this may
As Didier notes, the first element in _Bruinen_ might be an adjective
*_brui_ 'loud', ending in the common Sindarin adj. suffix _-ui_ (see
VT42:10 for the etymology of this suffix). It seems to me that S.
*_brui_ is probably related to the second element of Q. _Ulumúri_,
name of the great horns of Ulmo (S:27, X:202), in which *_múri_ is
probably 'horns'. The root could be reconstructed as *MUR- (referring
to loud or low sounds), with CE *_murûya_ (stressed on the _û_) >
*_m'rûya_ > S. *_brui_ 'loud'. For S. _br-_ < *_mr-_, compare *_morókô_
'bear' > Q. _morko_, N. _brôg_ (V:374).
The Goldogrin verb _mul-, mum_ 'low, bellow' (PE11:58), along with
the related noun _mû_'ox' and its feminine forms _mûs_ 'cow' and _muir_
'heifer', may be the conceptual antecedents of the root *MUR- proposed
above. -- PHW]
I have a question concerning the form _hlonite_:
In VT48:29, Patrick Wynne cites the form _hlonite_ "phonetic" from
a Tolkien manuscript. He notes that this provides "the singular of
_hloníti_", a plural adjective cited in XI:394-5.
Would not the singular of _hloníti_ simply be *_hloníte_ with
a long vowel in the singular form as well? Obviously _hlonite_
and *_hloníte_ are close variants of the same word, as Pat
observes. But is there any reason to believe that the _i_
in the penultimate would be lengthened in the plural form
of the adjective?
In some attested examples, lengthening of vowels in inflected
forms is indeed observed in the corpus. For instance, the
Etymologies s.v. PHUY gives _huine_ as the word for "deep
shadow", but there we also learn that its possessive-adjectival
form is _huinéva_ rather than **_huineva_ (as in the name
However, the adjective _hlonite_ "phonetic" could be expected
to form its plural in _-i_, with exactly the same number of
syllables and the same distribution of long and short vowels.
Do we, then, have any reason to believe that the vowel in
the penultimate syllable would be lengthened in the plural?
It is perhaps worth noting that S. *_brui_ 'loud' (as in _Bruinen_ 'Loudwater')
bears a striking resemblance to the Esperanto verb _brui_ 'make a noise' (in
which _-i_ is the infinitive ending; the adj. form is _brua_ 'noisy, boisterous,
Tolkien, of course, was well acquainted with Esperanto, writing to _The British
Esperantist_ in 1932 that "I know [Esperanto], as a philologist would say, in
25 years ago I learned and have not forgotten its grammar and structure, and at
one time read a fair amount written in it"
The Esperanto verb was taken from Fr. _bruire_ 'to make a noise, roar', whence
also _bruit_ 'noise, din, clamour, sound', a word that has also been borrowed
by English. According to the OED, _bruit_ is thought to derive from L. _rugîre_
'to roar', and "the prefixed _b_ may be due to some onomatopoeic alteration".
An alternative theory is that the prefixed _b_ is due to the influence of LL.
_bragire_ 'to cry out'. Whatever the case may be, Esp. _brui_ and Fr. _bruire,
were perhaps influential in the creation of S. *_brui_.
The association of _bru-_ with 'noise' in Tolkien's mind seems also to occur in
the Gnomish Lexicon, in which we find Gn. _brum_ 'noise' and _brumla-_
'make a noise', cited as variant forms under the entries for _rum, rumla-_. The
addition of _b_ in the variant forms may be an onomatopoeic addition (as the
OED suggests with _bruit_), perhaps suggested by German _brummen_ 'mumble,
grumble, growl' (whence the rare English verb _brum_ 'to murmur, hum'). The
unprefixed forms _rum, rumla-_ are perhaps the conceptual antecedents of
Q. _rúma-_ 'shift, move, heave (of large and heavy things)' seen in the late
version of "The Last Ark" (MC:223).
-- Patrick H. Wynne
[Note too the play-words "brum" and "vroom" used onomapoetically of the rumbling
sound of engines. CFH]
I am very pleased to announce the publication of a new article in
_Tengwestië_, the online journal of the Elvish Linguistic Fellowship:
"Intensifying Prefixes in the _Etymologies_"
by Thorsten Renk
"Two different types of intenisfying prefixes can be found for
Noldorin forms in the Etymologies. One of them is the prefixed stem
vowel, the other is an intensive prefix _a-(n-)_. The article
discusses examples for both of these mechanisms and concludes with
examples of the use of intensifying prefixes in post-Noldorin sources."
The article can be reached from the _Tengwestië_ homepage at:
or directly at:
A PDF version of the article is available at:
(I'd like to thank Helios Rosario de Martinez for his generous
assistance in tagging Thorsten's article for XHTML and the
On Mar 6, 2006, at 6:48 PM, Carl F. Hostetter wrote:
> (I'd like to thank Helios Rosario de Martinez for his generous
> assistance in tagging Thorsten's article for XHTML and the
> _Tengwestië_ CSS.)
That should be Helios De Rosario Martinez, of course. (Sorry, Helios!)
Marquette University Press have announced the publication of _The
Lord of the Rings 1954–2004: Scholarship in Honor of Richard E.
Blackwelder_, sc., the proceedings of a conference held at Marquette
in Oct. 2004, organized by Matt Blessing of the Marquette Libraries'
Department of Special Collections and University Archives, which
house the manuscripts of _The Hobbit_ and _The Lord of Rings_. The
announcement, and ordering information, is given at:
(I also highly recommend the exhibit catalog, "The Invented Worlds of
J.R.R. Tolkien: Drawings and Original Manuscripts from the Marquette
University Collection", also available on the same page.)
Of particular interest to list-members are four papers:
"The AB Language Lives" by Arne Zettersten
The AB language was identified by J.R.R. Tolkien in a famous essay
published in Essays and Studies, 14, in 1929. Tolkien was able to show
that the scribes of MS Corpus Christi College Cambridge of the Ancrene
Riwle, also called the Ancrene Wisse (=A) and MS Bodley 34 of the
Katherine Group (=B) used a language and spelling nearly "as
indistinguishable as that of two modern printed books." Tolkien had
hereby proposed the existence of a 'new' Middle English literary standard.
In 1962 Tolkien continued his AB language research by completing his
edition of the Ancrene Wisse for the Early English Text Society, Oxford. The
aim of this Oxford project was to edit all the 17 MSS, starting with the Latin
and French editions in 1944. The project was completed in the year 2000
by Zettersten's edition of MS Vernon, Bodleian Library, Oxford. In this paper,
Zettersten gives an account of his acquaintance and collaboration with Tolkien
and the continued interest in the AB language towards the end of the past
century and at the beginning of the new millennium. The AB language lives
and, as Tolkien predicted, it has already created an important 'literature' of
Arne Zettersten has been a professor of English language and
literature at the University of Copenhagen since 1975. From 1959 to 1973 he
collaborated with J.R.R. Tolkien on the editing of the manuscripts of the
Riwle, subsequently preparing three important editions of the manuscript. The
author of many books and articles, he has been a visiting professor at Zurich
University, Siege, Vienna, and UCLA. In 1991 he was a Fulbright Scholar at the
University of California at Berkeley. He is currently working on
a book based on his collaboration and friendship with J.R.R. Tolkien.
"History in Words: Tolkien's Ruling Passion" by Thomas A. Shippey
Two remarkable features of Tolkien's style are, first, his
extraordinarily large vocabulary, and second, his constant invention of names
for people, objects, and places. Motivating both of these were the many
discoveries of Tolkien's professional predecessors, the philologists of the 19th
century, and their demonstration that words and names could carry far more
"information," in a technical sense, than their users realized. Shippey will
consider and exemplify Tolkien's lifelong fascination with the history of words
and the history in words, making use of Richard E. Blackwelder's invaluable
"Tolkienian Gothic" by Arden R. Smith
Tolkien's introduction to the Gothic language coincided with his
introduction to the principles of historical philology, and both interests would
continue to have an impact on his writings for the rest of his life. Smith
investigates the instances in which these two related interests merged,
Tolkien's varied applications, modifications, and reconstructions of Gothic
These range from individual names and brief captions, to longer inscriptions and
poetry, frequently incorporating words not attested in the historical Gothic
"Elvish As She Is Spoke" by Carl F. Hostetter
The invented languages of J.R.R. Tolkien have garnered the
appreciation and attention of linguists and enthusiasts since the publication of
The Lord of the Rings in 1954-1955. Although Tolkien described his languages
as "a private enterprise undertaken to give pleasure to myself by giving
to my personal linguistic 'aesthetic' or taste", the exemplars Tolkien provided
his novel naturally invited others to explore and discuss them. The recent
of an immensely popular film adaptation of Tolkien's novel has further fueled
interest in Tolkien's languages, both as linguistic and artistic systems worthy
study, and more dramatically in seeking to "complete" and "standardize" them
for use as spoken tongues. Hostetter examines the suitability of Tolkien's
languages to such efforts, contrasting Tolkien's own artistic methods and
with the utilitarian means and goals of those who would "speak Elvish".
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 Namárie 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 Namárie). 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
Namárie" is in fact SVO, e.g., _Elen-târi ortane mâ-rya-t_ *'Elentári
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 hárar mahalmassen mí Númen_
*"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, (Ñ)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 Fíriel'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)
> *_-lte_ as an ending for "they", and the Narrow Interpretation
> of _-nte_?
_-nte_ could be analysed similarly to _*lte_, namely as containing a
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.
Diego Segui has very kindly provided his index of _Vinyar Tengwar_
for publication on the ELF website, in both English
(<http://www.elvish.org/VT/VT-index-en.pdf>) and (the original) Spanish
(<http://www.elvish.org/VT/VT-index-sp.pdf>) versions. Diego writes:
"This index lists in alphabetical order all words, roots, affixes,
etc. belonging to languages invented by J.R.R. Tolkien which appear
attested, discussed or mentioned in the journal Vinyar Tengwar (VT).
Its purpose is to provide the researcher with quick access to a
reference, or to allow focusing on a particular form by checking it
against other locations where information can be found."
According to Ake Bertenstam's 'Chronological Bibliography of the
Writings of J.R.R. Tolkien':
an earlier version of the poem 'Princess Mee', included in 'The
Adventures of Tom Bombadil' (1962), had been published as 'The
Princess Ni' in 'Leeds University Verse 1914-1924'.
I do not have access to the 1924 version, but the later text as
published in ATB relies on a pun upon the names 'Mee' and 'Shee'
and the personal pronouns 'me' and 'she': the protagonist,
Princess Mee, sees her own reflection on the water, and calls it
Now, this pun is absent if the name is the obscure 'Ni' instead
of 'Mee', and the whole structure of the piece may be affected,
if it matches the latter text's. But it is striking that 'Ni' so
much resembles the various forms of the 1st sg. personal pronoun
in Tolkien's invented languages, examples of which can be found
everywhere, from _nin·insta mai_ 'I am well aware' in the GL
(PE11:52) to _nin_ 'for me' in the Namárië, and so on.
Especially, the Early Qenya Grammar, dating from the same period
as the poem, includes _ni-_, _nîmo_ (nom.), _ni_ / _nit_ (acc.),
_nin_ / _nímon_ (gen.), etc. (PE14:52-3, 85-6).
Is it possible that Tolkien was making a private pun in his
poem? Note that 'Leeds University Verse' included two other
works by Tolkien, namely 'An Evening in Tavrobel' and 'The
Lonely Isle'; both have obvious relations with his mythos, so
perhaps this conjecture is not too far-fetched.
Maybe the full text of the earlier version would shed light on
this. Any thoughts?
[I can shed no further light on this, other than to note that
Hammond and Anderson's _Bibliography_ also mentions that
"Leeds University Verse 1914-24" (B5, pp. 283-4) contains
'The Princess Ni' ("a precursor of 'Princess Mee' ") and states
that "None of these poems has been reprinted".
Perhaps one of our collection-oriented list members has a
copy of "Leeds University Verse" and can shed some light on
the issues Diego raises? -- PHW]
Diego Seguí wrote about "Princess Mee" and "The Princess Ni":
> I do not have access to the 1924 version, but the later text as
> published in ATB relies on a pun upon the names 'Mee' and 'Shee'
> and the personal pronouns 'me' and 'she': the protagonist,
> Princess Mee, sees her own reflection on the water, and calls it
> 'Princess Shee'.
> Now, this pun is absent if the name is the obscure 'Ni' instead
> of 'Mee', and the whole structure of the piece may be affected,
> if it matches the latter text's.
It does not match closely. The old version is much shorter, six
four-line stanzas. What is similar is the described finery: "gossamer
shot with gold", and slippers of "fishes' mail" occur in both poems.
Like the later version, the earlier one also has an intricate
rhyme-scheme (each group of three stanzas goes: aabc cbdd effe).
> But it is striking that 'Ni' so
> much resembles the various forms of the 1st sg. personal pronoun
> in Tolkien's invented languages, examples of which can be found
> everywhere, from _nin·insta mai_ 'I am well aware' in the GL
> (PE11:52) to _nin_ 'for me' in the Namárië, and so on.
> Especially, the Early Qenya Grammar, dating from the same period
> as the poem, includes _ni-_, _nîmo_ (nom.), _ni_ / _nit_ (acc.),
> _nin_ / _nímon_ (gen.), etc. (PE14:52-3, 85-6).
The title above the poem is printed "THE PRINCESS NI", and
in the contents table it is the same, but with small capitals
following the initals. In the text, however, the name of the
princess (occurring twice, both times as a rhyme on "she") is
not _Ni_ but _Ní_.
> Is it possible that Tolkien was making a private pun in his
> poem? Note that 'Leeds University Verse' included two other
> works by Tolkien, namely 'An Evening in Tavrobel' and 'The
> Lonely Isle'; both have obvious relations with his mythos, so
> perhaps this conjecture is not too far-fetched.
In the older poem there is no mirror-motif, and the potential
pun would thus not have much point.
It is perhaps more likely that _Ní_ had originally no
intended interpretation, and that Tolkien's recognition that
it could be taken as a 1st singular gave rise to an elaboration
of the poem, eventually resulting in the substitution of _Mee_
[The fact that the name of the princess in the poem is _Ní_
(with acute accent) makes me wonder -- perhaps Tolkien
_was_ making a private Elvish pun, but not the one Diego
proposed. The Gnomish Lexicon s.v. _nîr_ (2) 'woman' com-
pares the Qenya cognate _nî_, and perhaps Tolkien used
this as a convenient monosyllabic name of appropriate
meaning (if only to him!). Q _nî_ does not appear in QL as
a separate entry, though in the form _-ni_ it is well attested
there as a feminine ending: _ettani_ 'female cousin', _haruni_
'grandmother', _heruni_ 'lady', _hestani_ 'sister', _kuruni_
'witch', _veruni_ 'wife', etc. -- PHW]
In _The Hobbit_ (p. 236 and footnote) we find mentioning of an Orc
chieftain by the name of _Bolg_ son of _Azog_. He is an Orc of the
Misty Mountains, about which Tolkien says that they "had long used
the Westron as their native language" (LR:1131).
As for the name _Bolg_, that could be, in theory, of orkish "proper"
origin (Black Speech) or taken from some Mannish tongue. Given the
geographical position of Bolg's chiefdom, his name might be of
(North-)Germanic origin. That is, Tolkien would use such a word to
represent a Westron word.
If so, Old Icelandic _bolginn_ 'swollen' could be a good starting point.
The shortened form would roughly parallel Orkish _tark_ 'man of
Gondor' < Q. _tarkil_ (ibid.). The meaning may have appealed to
Tolkien, possibly with the by-sense of 'swollen-headed' (cf. French
_gonflé_, German _aufgeblasen_) for the Great Goblin. [The Great
Goblin is described as "a tremendous goblin with a huge head", _The
Hobbit_, p. 60 -- PHW.] Better still, perhaps, we know that Bolg gets
exceedingly angry at Thorin's company and, in his rage, attacks the
Dwarves at the Lonely Mountain. Here fits well the meaning of the
corresponding verb in OE, OS, OHG _belgan_ 'to be angry, rage'.
So maybe Bolg's name is a sort of pun, with Tolkien having something
like 'swollen with rage' in mind.
It is said that _orthanc_ has two major meanings (in two different
tounges): in "elvish" (Sindarin) "stony heart, [?tormented] Hills"
(VIII:35), "Stone Fangs" (VIII:35) and lastly "forked-Height" (RC:
234); in Rohirric it is "cunning craft, invention" (VIII:35).
The underlying etymology of the compound _or-thanc_ with translation
"forked-Height" may be as follows:
_or_: derived from base ORO- (V:379) giving N. _or_ prep. above;
prefix _or-_ as in _orchall, orchel_ "superior, eminent"
_thanc_: derived from Stem STAK- (V:388) giving N. _thanc_ and Q.
_sanka_ meaning "cleft, split" here in adjectival form _thanc_ "forked".
But in light of the different translations (mentioned above)
thought of Tolkien by the time of writing _The Lord of the Rings_, we
can easily observe many other hints how Tolkien first constructed
One could argue that Tolkien sometimes translated his own creations
inexactly and non-literally, but in this instance I think that Tolkien toyed
with various etymological explanations for his word – interesting enough
to pull out a little analysis of _orthanc_ for each translation:
_or_: possibly the Sindarin cognate of Q. _óre_ (XII:337) meaning "heart"
_thanc_: certainly not derived from STAK-, but from base TAK-
(V:389) giving N. _tanc_ "firm", which we could take (with enough
imagination) as "stony". _tanc_ would undergo a liquid mutation when
combined with _or_.
_or_: may be derived from base ORO-(V:389) but unattested with the
meaning of hill, although we can find _orod_ (under base ÒROT-
(V:389)) "mountain", which could well be connected to *_or_ "hill".
_thanc_: with the meaning of "torment" is nowhere else mentioned or
reconstructable from bases. It's very possible that "tormented" is a
misreading due to illegibility (as hinted by Chistopher Tolkien).
_or_: can only mean "stone" in the context of the translation, but can
hardly be derived from ORO-. I can not shed any further light on
_thanc_: derived from abse STAK-, could fit in this context of the
meaning _thanc_ "split, cleft".
As we can see, Tolkien experimented with the many possibilities of
translating _orthanc_. Whether we could add the new word meanings (e. g.
*_or_ "heart") to our Sindarin vocabulary is questionable.
Erratum for PE15 (p. 42):
"The implication is that the forms _sit_ and _sinte_ in Table D, ..."
The forms _sit_ and _sinte_ are actually found in Table A.
Just address an email to email@example.com
Jump to a particular message