Quenya and Sindarin Linguistic Puzzlings

Discussion in 'The Languages of Middle-earth' started by Isteth, May 11, 2017.

  1. Isteth

    Isteth Loremistress in Exile

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    So, I've been (re)writing a Hobbit/LotR/Silmarillion fanfiction series (and numerous spinoffs) for some time, now. I finally splurged and bought Thorsten Renk's Quenya and Sindarin courses, and I picked up A Gateway to Sindarin as a birthday present to myself. The more I learn about Tolkien's languages, the more I love them, and the more I admire the man who devised them. As a linguist myself, I deeply appreciate Tolkien's dedication and the depth of thought that he put into his life's work.

    That being said, these languages are far from complete, and while most of the place-names, people-names, etc. can be translated with some work, there are certain words that I am trying to shift from Sindarin to Quenya (for story purposes and as a linguistic exercise) but with which I am having some difficulty. It is more important to translate based upon meaning rather than phonemic similarity, but when the words do not have exact equivalents in the other language, it can be difficult to find workarounds.

    For instance:

    Thangorodrim.

    Maustauronne???

    In Sindarin, 'Thangorodrim' translates roughly to "Mountains of oppression" or "mountains of compulsion". 'Thang' translates to "compulsion, duress, need, oppression", according to the Sindarin-English & English-Sindarin Dictionary: 2nd Edition by J-M Carpenter on Amazon Kindle. 'Orodrim' means "mountain range".

    In Quenya, we are given 'Oron' for "mountain" and 'Mausta' for "compulsion" (not sure if it has the same implication). Taking the collective -ne ending, we could tentatively call "mountain range" as 'oronne'. (Please forgive the lack of diacritics here. My computer lacks a numerical keypad at the current moment.)

    How would we combine these two words? Does a + o > au in Quenya, or is that my Spanish background showing?

    Would 'Thangorodrim' translate to 'Maustauronne' in Quenya?

    Thoughts? Anybody?
     
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  2. dirk_math

    dirk_math New Member

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    No a+o in Quenya is just o as you can see in e.g. the genitive case aldo of alda 'tree'.
     

  3. Isteth

    Isteth Loremistress in Exile

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    So, it would just be "Maustoronne", then? The 'a+o' does not change to the diphthong 'au' in Quenya? I haven't gotten to the morphology section of Thorsten Renk's Quenya course, yet.

    Also, I don't think that your example entirely applies, in this case. The nominative and genitive cases are two separate endings. In the instance of 'aldo' and 'alda', it is not a matter of appending 'o' to the end of 'alda' for 'aldao', and then dropping the 'a', but rather that you simply drop the final vowel to get the "stem" from which you decline all other cases of the word. Quenya is like Latin in this way.

    In the case of tree, 'ald-' would be the declinable stem of the word. '-a' would be the nominative (sentence subject) ending, and '-o' would be the genitive (possessive noun, etc.) ending. This replacing of letters changes the function of the word entirely.

    (It is difficult to cite examples in English, as our rigid sentence structure does not lend itself well to the declining of words. Latin, Romanian, or Russian would be easier.)

    I hope that this makes sense?
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2017
  4. dirk_math

    dirk_math New Member

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    Sorry, you are completely wrong. Please don't try to teach me Quenya, I already use it since 2003 even on international congresses.
     

  5. Isteth

    Isteth Loremistress in Exile

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    Okay, excuse me. It was not my intention to give offense, and your reply here sounds hostile, to me. I am only trying to come up with a solution to this linguistic puzzle, and was trying to give you an idea of where my thought process is going. I am a beginner with Quenya, and I am just trying to get a solid second opinion.

    I'm trying to say "Be constructive instead of destructive". Please. Let's just keep it positive, here, okay?

    Edit 5/29/2017 23:37: When I finally was able to access my books, I skipped ahead in my Quenya lessons to the phonology to make sure that I was understanding what it was that you were saying, dirk_math. You are right: ao > o instead of forming a diphthong. I appreciate your assessment, and I regret that we got off to such a poor start. Thank you.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2017
  6. dirk_math

    dirk_math New Member

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    Ok, then please don't assume Quenya is like Latin or Russian but more like Finnish or Estonian. It has only one declension. So alda is not made up of a stem ald- and a nominative ending -a. The nominative singular is in Quenya always endingless (denoted by -Ø in most grammars). The genitive singular always gets the ending -o and it contracts with some stems that end in a vowel.

    An important consequence of having only one declension is that words in -o are almost always genitives (the only exceptions are the few words with a stem in -o like rocco 'horse'). So it's a lot easier to see which case a word is in especially compared to Latin or Greek (I don't know enough Russian to provide examples in that language).
    An example from Latin: lupis is dative/ablative plural but urbis is genitive singular even though both words have -is as ending.
    In (modern) Greek we see the same: φύλακας is nominative singular, and θάλασσας is genitive singular, again both have the same ending -ας.

    There is some comparison possible with the 3rd declension of Latin as Quenya contains a lot of words where the stem isn't completely visible in the nominative (and sometimes in the possessive case or the partitive plural too).
    As an example the word talam- 'floor'. The letter m is not valid at the end of a Quenya word (only vowels or the consonants n, t, r, s, l are permitted). So the nominative cannot equal the stem here, in fact the nominative evolved from primitive elvish to become talan.
    In the genitive there is no problem, so it equals talamo.
    Another example falass- 'shore', again the nominative cannot be the stem and here it is falas, but the genitive is regular: falasso.
     

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