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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Quenya Lesson 12 — Review of Cases

< Lesson 11    
Lihan Taifun (teaching)
AelKennyr Rhiano
Rhûn Darkmoon
Rajani Milton

This is not easy material. Even Lihan looks up both vocabulary and the endings. (Though I hope some of the words that we use a lot are starting to look familiar.)


Vocabulary that appears in this week's examples:
swan        alqua
fish           lingwë
apple        orva
knife         sikil

eat            mat-
cut           rista-
give         anta-
possess   harya-
whack     pet-

Á ...          (command) do ...!
Áva ...      (command) don't ...!


What exactly is a “case”?
Cases” are the changes that happen to nouns (just as “tenses” are the changes that happen to verbs). The cases we have looked at so far are used to mark a noun's function in the sentence.
Nominative case” marks the noun as the subject of the sentence.
Accusative case” marks the noun as the direct object in the sentence.
Dative case” marks the noun as the indirect object in the sentence.

English hardly uses “cases” at all. All that is left are some pronouns – the difference between “I” and “me”, “he” and “him”, etc.

In English, you find the subject and objects of a sentence by the word order. If you change the word order, you probably change the meaning of the sentence.
The swan eats the fish.
The fish eats the swan.
Notice that the words are identical. The meaning changes because the word order is changed.

In Quenya you have:

Alqua matë lingwé.          The swan eats the fish.
Lingwë matë alquá.          The fish eats the swan.

The word order is no longer important. There is only one meaning that can come from the three words “alqua” (swan/subject), “matë”, and “lingwé” (fish/direct object).

Matë lingwé alqua.
Lingwé matë alqua.
Lingwé alqua matë.
Those sentences might sound a bit odd, or poetic, but they can only mean “The swan eats the fish.”
(This should make writing poetry easier, or at least finding rhymes easier.)

Having said that, we notice that nouns that end in a consonant (and all nouns in Third Age Middle-earth dialect) have identical accusative and nominative forms.

Estelin rista orvá.     Estelin cuts an apple.
Orva rista Estelin.    The apple cuts Estelin.
Sikil rista Estelin.     The knife cuts Estelin.
Estelin rista sikil.     Estelin cuts the knife.
Notice that “Estelin” and “sikil” both end in consonants, so their nominative and accusative cases look identical. Thus both sentences -- “Sikil rista Estelin.” and “Estelin rista sikil.” -- are somewhat ambiguous. It is not entirely clear – except from word order, which is not 100% reliable – who is cutting whom.
(Also remember that Quenya doesn't generally make the distinction between “an apple” and “the apple”.)

Sikil rista Apakenwé.     The knife cuts Apakenwë.
That sentence is unambiguous.
Yes, proper names take case endings, just like any other noun.

             Á anta sikil Olwen.               Give the knife to Olwë.
Á anta sikilí Belenosen.        Give the knives to Belanos.
Belenos harya sikilí.              Belanos has knives.
Belenos harya sikilenyar.     Belanos has my knives.
> Lesson 13