Two Theories

Two Rings
Gabe Bloomfield — July 2003
Analytical ArticleAnalytical Articles: These articles provide a detailed overview of the theme they cover. However, they require some prior knowledge of the main works of J.R.R. Tolkien.

The introduction of two theories that I have come up with, one relating to the language of Sindarin and the other to Quenya, respectively.


It is quite unfortunate that those who wish to study J.R.R. Tolkien’s two primary invented languages, Quenya and Sindarin, have to go to great lengths in order to fill in certain gaps in vocabulary or grammar. It is also quite unfortunate that many papers of linguistic nature written by Professor Tolkien are indeed in existence, but those individuals who possess them feel no need to publish them in a reasonable amount of time, or in an order in which it would be relevant to the studies of most students of Tolkien’s languages. As such, it is necessary for those who wish to advance the study of Tolkien’s languages (such as myself) to attempt (and in my case, rather poorly) to reconstruct and add to our existing knowledge of said languages in an attempt to make it easier to both learn and use the tongues that were created by one of the greatest literary geniuses of all time.

It is for the above reason that I present for you two theories that I’ve been thinking about a lot. It is my hope that with this short essay I will contribute to the steadily growing field of Tolkien linguistics (which has had a rather large burst of interest after Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films contained some Sindarin dialogue and a few snippets of Quenya), which has provided me with insight into Tolkien’s fantastic fictional world, Arda. This essay was first posted on July 21, 2003 on the Lord of the Rings Fanatic’s plaza in the Language’s forum. It was updated slightly the day afterward (July 22, 2003) after some feedback from language scholars who are my wiser than I am. I would therefore like to thank Lothenon, Master Herdir, and Taramiluiel for their insight and guidance.

Theory One – The Sindarin verb “to go”

The first concerns the Sindarin verb “to go”. There are currently two theories as to what this word could be. The first is bad-. I find this very unlikely for two reasons. One, we don’t actually know what the word is. It’s isolated from the passive participle govannen “met”, which means the verb could be bad-, ban-, badh-, mad-, man-, or madh-. In the ‘Etymologies’, root BAT, the verb trevad- is listed as “to traverse”, which points to govad- as the root for the passive participle govannen, but it’s still unclear. Secondly, “to meet” isn’t the same at all as “go together”, which is what govad- would mean if bad- does indeed mean “to go”. The other existing theory I find to be plausible enough to be useful. The idea is the verb glenna-, isolated from anglenna- “to approach”, found in the King’s Letter. It appears to be an- “to, for”, and then glenna-, a verb that comes from the root LED, the same as Quenya lelya-, linna- “to go”.

My theory is ledhia- isolated from the verb edledhia-, and I find this more plausible than both of the other theories for several reasons. I find it just as plausible as glenna- because 1) it is also isolated from a compound that makes sense: ed- “out of” and ledhia- ”#to go”, and 2) as a derivative of LED, it makes just as much sense and corresponds much better with Quenya lelya- (it is possible that the Common Eldarin derivative of these two words would be #led-jâ, would would yield Quenya lelya- and Sindarin ledhia-). I find it more plausible than bad- because we know what the actual verb form is and “go out of” is a lot closer to “exile” than “go together” is to “meet”. I find bad- more likely to mean “come”, as “come together” makes more sense as “meet”.

Another possible version of this could be ledh-, as the ‘Etymologies’, entry LED, has both egledhio and egledhi for “to [go into] exile”. Helge Fauskanger, the author of the Ardalambion website, has expressed that this is indeed a possible version of the verb “to go”, but I prefer ledhia- because it’s more closely related to Quenya lelya- (via #led-jâ; see above).

Theory Two – A long Quenya third person pronoun

My second theory involves a pronoun for the high-Elven tongue Quenya. I have already introduced this in my Quenya Course in the Ardaian University, but I shall discuss it with more detail here. So far, we have no attested example of a third person singular nominative pronoun. Many people currently use -s as said pronoun (attested as an object in LR:VI/5 utúvienyes and as a subject in WJ eques), and normally (looking at first and second person pronouns) there is a longer nominative form of the object pronoun. Unfortunately, we can’t just add -yë or , because -sy- is illegal in Quenya, and intervocalic s are rare. Some people use -rë, which would appear by adding onto the -s, or -ro, which is attested in the Qenya Fíriel’s Song, but I don’t think either one is plausible.

I believe, for a lengthened form of a third person singular plural, that -ryë can be used for a number of reasons. One, the genitive possessive for a third person singular is -ryo (attested in Namárië ómaryo “of her voice”), and possessives in -a (as the nominitive form of -ryo must be) correspond with personal pronouns in . Thus, -ryë. Secondly, -ryë is what one would most likely get when adding -yë to -s, and the -yë common in the longer nominative forms (-n > -nyë, -l > -lyë). It seems as though Ryszard Derdziński agrees with me on this matter, according to his pronoun reconstructions for Common Eldarin, Quenya, and Sindarin. His theory behind it provides an evolutionary basis for the theory, where mine is a more logical theory. Combined, I think that the theory has quite a strong foundation. To sum it all up, here are my theories:

  1. Sindarin verb “to go”:
    • Less likely versions: bad-, glenna-.
    • More likely versions: ledhia-, ledh-.
  2. Quenya pronoun “he, she, it”:
    • Nominative Pronoun: -s, longer -ryë.
    • Independant pronoun: eryë, possible sa.
    • Possessive pronoun: -rya, gen. -ryo, dat. –ryan, etc.

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langues/english/i-lam_arth/two-theories.txt · Dernière modification: 14/06/2011 05:34 par Elendil
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