Elvish Pronouns

 

Common Eldarin Pronominal Elements

and Their Development in the Elvish Languages

 

by Ryszard Derdzinski

 

As Helge Kre Fauskanger writes in his Primitive Elvish - where it all began (see here) our knowledge of the primitive pronominal system is far from complete. We know also very little about the pronouns in the three main Elvish languages of the J.R.R. Tolkien's legendarium. The main task of this essay is to reconstruct the primitive pronominal system and its derivatives in Quenya, Sindarin and Telerin, in their conceptual phase from the post-LotR period (see below). My goal is also to stimulate another Tolkienian linguists to discussion.

 

Elvish pronouns and pronominal suffixes occur in every stage of the external language development of later Quenya, Telerin and Sindarin (external development means here the process of the language creation and evolution in the mind of its creator - Professor Tolkien). I don't want to analyze here the pronominal elements and forms occurring in Qenyaqetsa (or Qenya Lexicon), early pronominal chart in the Marquette University collection (see Elfling Digest nr 34, 14 May 2000) and the pronouns occurring in the pre-LotR writings. These forms have been shown in the table below. I am going to take into account only the pronominal forms occurring in the post-LotR Tolkien's essays and writings. But I describe the pronominal system from the period before its great change by Tolkien of 1965 (in the Revised Edition of the LotR; cf. VT #43, p. 6). This system is compatible with the LotR First Edition, an essay Quendi and Eldar, the Christian prayers by J.R.R. Tolkien (VT #43) and the so called New Tengwar Inscription (VT #21). After 1965 the pronominal forms were restructured. This resulted in the shift of -lm- to -lv- as the marker of the 1 p. inclusive and the ending -mm- became dual (cf. VT #42, p. 34 and VT#43, p.6)  believing that after the publication of The Lord of the Rings they composed a more or less compact system.

 

Common Eldarin | Quenya | Sindarin | Telerin  

 

 

Common Eldarin

 

Thanks to the research of Mr David Salo we can enumerate the following Common Eldarin pronominal morphemes [all the Common Eldarin forms reconstructed by the Tolkienian scholars are expressively asterisked]:

 

Pronominal stems

 

stem

alternant

meaning

 

 NI-

*NWI-

1st singular

*ME-

1st plural exclusive

[we, but not you]

*WE-

*WE-

1st plural inclusive

[we, me and you]

 DE-

LE-

2nd singular & plural

 

Demonstrative stems

 

stem

meaning

 

*SE-

3rd personal 

[refers only to persons and animates] (VT 43:21)

*SA-

3rd impersonal 

[refers only to 'abstracts' or to things (such as inanimates) not by the Eldar regarded as persons] (VT 43:21)

*TE- 3rd personal

see above

*TA-

3rd impersonal

see above

 

The pronoun takes the place of the noun and performs its functions. Below I present my reconstruction of the Common Eldarin pronominal system.

 

I. Demonstrative pronouns

 

sin  'this' tan  'that' ent  'that yonder'

 

II. Personal pronouns

 

The comparative analysis of the attested Quenya, Telerin and Sindarin pronouns indicates that the primitive Common Eldarin pronominal system consisted of the forms built of the mentioned above morphemes. The singular Common Eldarin pronouns could be as follows:

 

Nominative

 

sg.

disjunctive I

disjunctive II

conjunctive

agglutinated I

agglutinated II

1st

inj

in

n nj

-nj

-ni

2nd

elj

el

l lj

-lj

-le

edj

ed

d dj

-dj

-de

 

The 3rd person singular had no gender distinction (unlike the pronouns of the pre-LotR period). The division is only between animate and inanimate. Both are based on the demonstrative stem SE-, SA-:

 

sg.

disjunctive I

disjunctive II

conjunctive

agglutinated I

agglutinated II 

3rd personal esj es s sj -sj -se
3rd impersonal

es s -sa

 

The plural Common Eldarin pronouns were built of the stems ME-, WE- and DE- (LE-) + plural marker -L-

 

pl.

disjunctive I

disjunctive II

conjunctive

agglutinated I

agglutinated II

1st exclusive

elm

em

m lm

-lm

-me

1st inclusive

elw

ew

w lw

-lw

-we

2nd

ell

el

l

-ll

-le

 

The 3rd person plural had no gender distinction (as the singular above) and was based on the demonstrative stem TE-, TA- and the plural element -M-:

 

pl.

disjunctive I

disjunctive II

conjunctive

agglutinated I

agglutinated II

3rd personal emt et t -mt -te
3rd impersonal et t -ta

 

Dative (+ other cases)

 

Dative and other pronominal forms are formed of pronominal conjunctive form + case ending:

 

sg.

conjunctive

1st

n-na

2nd

l-na

d-na

3rd personal s-na
3rd impersonal s-na

 

pl.

conjunctive

1st exclusive

m-na

1st inclusive

w-na

2nd

l-na

3rd personal t-na
3rd impersonal t-na

 

 

III. Possessive pronouns 

They are called also the genitive pronouns:

 

One possessor:

 

type I

type II

suffixed type II*

1st

nin(a)j

inj and nj

-nj

2nd

den(a)j len(a)j

edj elj and dj lj

-dj  -lj

3rd sen(a)j esj and sj -sj

 

More possessors:

 

type I

type II

suffixed type II*

1st exclusive

men(a)j

elm and lm

-lm

1st inclusive

wen(a)j

elw and lw

-lw

2nd

den(a)j len(a)j

edd  ell and dd ll

-dd  -ll

3rd ten(a)j emt and mt -mt

 

* Suffixed type II didn't occur in Telerin. It might have been post-CE innovation which occurred separately in Sindarin and Quenya. If so, there was no such 'suffixed type' in Common Eldarin

 

IV. Interrogative pronouns

 

The comparative analysis of the J.R.R. Tolkien's corpus indicates that the interrogative pronouns were based on the neuter personal pronoun stem MA- (cf. VT 43:23) used as interrogative particle 'who, what?'. It is possible aslo that the Elves added the primitive case suffixes in the Common Eldarin period:

 

ma man

-

'who?' 'what?'
mada -da 'to whom?' 'to where?'
mase -se 'in whom?' 'in where?' (also 'when', 'where')
malo -lo 'from whom?' 'from where?'
manen -nen 'how?' 
mava -va 'whose?'

  

V. Relative pronouns

 

This relates two clauses by representing or substituting in the second clause a person or thing mentioned in the first clause. In Common Eldarin this role is played by the stem I- 'that' with its derivatives: i and ja (which adopts the primitive case suffixes) 

 

ja

-

'which'
jada -da 'to which'
jase -se 'in which'
jalo -lo 'from which'
janen -nen 'by which' 'with which' 
java -va 'of which'

 

 

Quenya

 

Quenya, the speech of the Elves of Eldamar and of the Noldor Exiles in Middle-earth, is a logical and elaborate language. The loremasters like Rmil and Fanor devised its restrictive phonology, giving the language a clearly defined style and flavour (see Helge K. Fauskanger's Quenya - the Ancient Tongue). These were the Noldor lingusits who devised also the original pronominal system of Quenya.

 

I. Demonstrative pronouns

 

The demostrative Quenya pronouns are derived directly from their Common Eldarin ancestors:

 

CE sin > sina  'this' (UT 305)
CE tan > tana  'that' (MR 385, LR 389)
CE ent > enta  'that yonder' (LR 356)

 

II. Personal pronouns

 

The evidence of the Quenya personal pronouns shows an elaborate system of the plural forms not found in the other Elvish languages (i.e. forms like *-lw and *-lm). I call these forms 'medial' (and 'medio-dual') because they unite the first and second person. The Common Eldarin pronouns called by me Disjunctive I had probably disappeared in Quenya. The Quenya pronouns are probably as follows:

 

Nominative

 

sg.

disjunctive I

conjunctive

agglutinated I

agglutinated I

1st

inj > Q iny

n > Q ni

-nj > Q -ny

-ni > Q -n

2nd

elj > Q ely

l > Q le

-lj > Q -ly

-le > Q -l

3rd pers. esj > Q *ery s > Q *se -sj > Q *-ry -se > Q -s
3rd impers. s > Q sa -sa > Q -s

 

pl.

disjunctive I

conjunctive

agglutinated I

agglutinated I

1st excl.

elm > Q elm

m > Q me

-lm > Q -lm

-me > Q ?

1st incl.

elw > Q *elw

w > Q *we

-lw > Q -lw

-we > Q ?

2nd

ell > Q ell

l > Q le

-ll > Q -ll

-le > Q -l

3rd pers. emt > Q *ent t > Q te -mt > Q -nt -te > Q -t
3rd impers. t > Q ta -ta > Q -t

 

Dative (+ other cases)

 

Inflected pronominal forms are direct descendants of the Common Eldarin forms:

 

sg. conjunctive
1st n-na > Q nin
2nd l-na > Q *len
3rd pers. s-na > Q *sen

3rd impers.

s-na > Q *san

 

pl.

conjunctive

1st excl. m-na > Q men
1st incl. w-na > Q *wen
2nd l-na > Q *len
3rd pers. t-na > Q *ten
3rd impers. t-na > Q *tan

 

III. Possessive pronouns 

 

One possessor:

 

< type II

< suffixed type I

1st

inj > Q inya

-nj > Q -nya

2nd resp.

elj > Q *elya 

-lj > Q -lya

3rd esj > Q *erya -sj > Q -rya

 

More possessors:

 

< type II

< suffixed type I

1st excl.

elm > Q *elma

-mm > Q -lma

1st incl.

elw > Q *elwa

-mm > Q -lwa

2nd

ell > Q ella 

-ll > Q -lla

3rd emt > Q *enta -mt > Q -nta

 

IV. Interrogative pronouns

 

man > Q man

'who?' 'what?'
mada > Q *manna 'to whom?' 'to what?'
mase > Q *mass 'in whom?' 'in what?' 
malo > Q *mallo 'from whom?' 'from what?'
manen > Q manen 'how?' 
mava > Q *mava 'whose?'

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

V. Relative pronouns

 

In Quenya  

 

ja > Q ya

'who' 'what' 'which'
jada > Q *yanna 'to whom' 'to which'
jase > Q yass 'in whom' 'in which'
jalo > Q *yallo 'from whom' 'from which'
janen > Q *yanen 'how'
java > Q *yava 'whose'

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sindarin

 

Sindarin was a language of Beleriand in the First Age and of Eriador in later times. For my theory concerning its grammar see here (see also Helge K. Fauskanger's Sindarin - the Noble Tongue).

 

I. Demonstrative pronouns

 

The demostrative Sindarin pronouns are derived directly from their Common Eldarin ancestors:

 

CE sin > S *sen, pl. sin  'this'
CE tan > S *tan, pl. *tain 'that'
CE ent > S *ent, pl. *int  'that yonder'; Loc. ennas

 

II. Personal pronouns

 

The Sindarin pronouns are probably as follows:

 

Nominative

 

emphatic I

suffixed

1st

inwi > S im

-ni > S -n

2nd fam.

ek > S *eg

-ke > S *-g

2nd resp.

ed > S *edh

-de > S *-dh

 

Sindarin 3rd person sg forms come from the CE demonstrative stem S-:

 

3rd es > AS *es > S e -se > AS -s > S -

 

The plural forms are as follows:

 

emphatic

suffixed

1st

emm > S *em

-mme > S -m

2nd fam.

ekk > S *ech

-kke > S *-ch

2nd resp.

ell > S *el

-lle > S -l

 

Sindarin 3rd person pl form come from the CE demonstrative stem S-, but the ending -r may come from the plural marker -r :

 

3rd sanai > S hain  -r > S -r

 

Dative

 

Dative pronominal forms are direct descendants of the Common Eldarin forms:

 

singular

suffixed [an- + suffix]

non-emphatic

1st

-nin > S enni(n), anim

nin > S nin

2nd fam.

-ken > S *angen 

-ken > S *cen

2nd resp.

-den > S *anden

den > S *den

3rd

-sen > S *anhen sen > S *hen

 

plural

 

suffixed  [an- + suffix]

non-emphatic

1st

-men > S ammen

men > S men

2nd fam.

-ken > S *anchen 

ken > S *cen

2nd resp.

-len > S *allen

len > S *len

3rd -ten > S *athen ten > S *den

 

III. Possessive pronouns 

 

One possessor:

 

< type I

< suffixed type I

1st

ninj > S nn

-nj > S -n

2nd fam.

kenj > S *cn

-kj > S *-g

2nd resp.

denj > S *dn

-dj > S -dh

3rd tenj > S tn *-

 

Two possessors:

 

Several possessors:

 

< type I

< suffixed type I

1st

menj > S *mn

-mm > S -m

2nd fam.

kkenj > S *chn

-kk > S *-ch

2nd resp.

lenj > S *ln

-ll > S -l

3rd tenj > S *tn -*-

 

IV. Interrogative pronouns

 

man > S man

'who?' 'what?'

 

 

V. Relative pronouns

 

ja > S i

'who?' 'what?'
jada > S *iad (WJ 366) 'to whom?' 'to where?'
jase > S *ias 'in whom?' 'in where?'
jalo > S *ial 'from whom?' 'from where?'
janen > S *ian 'how?'

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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