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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Quenya Lesson 3 -- Possessive Pronouns, and Adjectives

< Lesson 2    

Lihan Taifun  (teaching)
Siwan Sandalwood 
Shawn Daysleeper  

Questions from Lesson 1:

What about the tengwa úre (heat) , which is not shown on the chart?
That refers to a circle-shaped mark, which I did not include because I am not sure what sound it represents in Quenya. (In Sindarin, it is often used for “w”.)

What is a “weak r”?
The "strong" r is rolled. (Remember in the movies, Gandalf and Aragorn always said "Mordor" with funny "R"s ?) The “weak” r is like a normal English “r” sound.

Where can you hear Quenya spoken?
Those two are the same sound track, I think from the recording made in August 1952.  That is Professor Tolkien himself speaking.

For the one character that can represent a v or w, when would you use each?
Some dialects of Quenya use V, and some use W (like, Polish and Russian).
First Age Quenya used the W sound; by Third Age in Middle Earth this had shifted to V sound. I suspect the older W is still in use in Aman in the Fourth Age, but there is no way to prove this.


Possessive Pronoun (“my”, “your”, “his”)

Possessive pronouns aren't actually separate words in Quenya. They are endings tacked onto the word.
The possessive pronoun goes directly after the noun, and before any other endings.

Quenya has more categories of pronouns than English does. These are some of them, not the complete list.
Quenya does not have separate pronouns for males and females (“him” vs. “her”). This applies to all pronouns.
Quenya does make the distinction between formal/polite “you” and informal/familiar “you”. (Think Spanish tu vs usted; French tu vs. vous; German du vs sie.) In English, “you” is formal, and “thou” is familiar. Presumably in Quenya, like in human languages, it would be patronizing and insulting to use the familiar in the wrong setting. Don't use "thou" when speaking to the king.

If the noun ends in a consonant, you need to add a vowel between the noun and the ending (in order to get something pronounceable). Probably that vowel is -i- for “my” and -e- for all the others, though Tolkien did not leave explicit instructions, and there are only a few examples.

   after        after
  vowel    consonant
     -nya        -inya     my
     -lya         -elya      your (one person, formal/polite)
     -tya         -etya     your (one person, informal/familiar)
     -lda         -elda     your (a group)
     -rya         -erya     his/her/its (This is the “correct” form.)
     -lta          -elta      their

     parma (book) → parmalya (your book, sir)
     Anar (Sun) →     Anarinya (my Sun)
     aran (king) →     aranelda (your – a group's – king)

Combining the possessive pronoun with a plural (“my books”) is trickier. Remember the part about 'the possessive is added before any other ending'? That includes plural!

Add the possessive ending. (If an extra vowel is needed, it will always be -i-.) Then make the whole word plural by adding -r.

   after        after
  vowel    consonant
     -nyar        -inyar    my
     -lyar         -ilyar      your (one person, formal/polite)
     -tyar         -ityar     your (one person, informal/familiar)
     -ldar         -ildar     your (a group)
     -ryar         -iryar     his/her/its (This is the “correct” form.)
     -ltar          -iltar      their

     hildo (heir) → hildinyar (my heirs)  (Tolkien wrote it hildinyar, rather than hildonyar)

There are situations where you might have even more endings added to a word. Tolkien modeled Quenya after Finnish, where you can easily have half a sentence expressed in one word.


Tolkien kept making changes to his languages throughout his entire life. How do we decide which version to use? Fans don't always agree. Often people use the latest dated version, unless something was published in Lord of the Rings or Silmarillion, in which case the published version usually sticks.


Here are some fun “short forms” of possessive pronouns.

     -ya       his/her/its (colloquial)

There are also examples of -ya meaning “my”, in informal, affectionate forms of address.
     ammë, emmë (mother)  emya (mommy)
     atar (father) →                atya (daddy)
     hína (child) →                 hinya (my child)
     yondo (son) →                yonya (my son)
     aran (king)→                  aranya (my king)

And, as long as we are being friendly:
     tye (thou) →                    tyenya (my kinsman/kinswoman)
     meldo (friend, male) → meldonya (my friend)
     meldë (friend, female)   meldenya (my friend)

These forms are used only when speaking to the person. If you were telling someone else about “my father” or "my son", you would use the complete form: atarinya, yondonya



There are some common ending that signal that a word is an adjective, and perhaps give a hint about how it relates to other words. You don't usually have to make adjectives yourself; you look them up in the dictionary.

Adjectives usually end in -a, or sometimes -ë.
     -ya             a common adjective ending, though not all words ending in -ya are adjectives
     -ima          sometimes means “able to ~” or “apt to ~”
     -inqua       -full
     -itë            often means “having ~”, “having the quality of ~”
     -lóra         -less

     er (one)               erya (single, sole)
     formen (north) formenya (northern)
     fir- (die)             firima (mortal)
     cal- (shine)        calima (bright)
     alcar (glory)      alcarinqua (glorious)
     ma (hand)         maitë (-handed):  
                                      Angamaitë Ironhanded
                                      formaitë      right-handed
     na- (is)               naitë (true)
     óma (voice)       ómalóra (voiceless)

There are examples of adjectives placed before the noun, and of adjectives placed after the noun. “Before the noun” might be more common, but you can do whichever you prefer.

Correction, May 31:
Put the adjective before the noun.  If the adjective comes after the noun, it would be (or would look like) a sentence with an implied "is".
     calima Anar      the bright Sun
     Anar calima     The Sun is bright.


Now that we have done simple nouns and adjectives, you can make names. Next week, we will start simple verbs, and then you can do sentences.

After that, we will come back an pick up some of the trickier things that we skipped over: cases, the other plurals, and the rest of the pronouns.

> Lesson 4    

1 comment:

  1. English Pronouns is very important because its structure is used in every day conversation. The more you practice the subject, the closer you get to mastering the English language.

    Subject and Object Pronouns