Q. sív’ emmë apsenet tien i úcarir emmen “as we forgive those who trespass against us”

Q. sív’ emmë apsenet tien i úcarir emmen, “as we forgive those who trespass against us”

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The eighth line of Átaremma, Tolkien’s Quenya translation of the Lord’s Prayer. The first word sív’ is an elided form of sívë¹ “as”. It is followed by the emphatic second person plural subject pronoun emmë¹ “us” and apsenet “forgive [them]”, the aorist form of the verb apsen- “forgive” with a plural direct object suffix -t. The fourth word tien “those” is a dative (indirect object) form of tie, apparently a variant of the third person plural pronoun te.

The second half of this phrase is the subordinate clause i úcarir emmen “who trespass against us”, composed of “who”, úcarir “trespass” (aorist plural of úcar- “to do wrong, to sin”) and emmen “against us” (dative of emmë¹). The last of these is unusual in that it has an emphatic pronoun used as an object rather than the subject.

Decomposition: Broken into its constituent elements, this phrase would be:

sív(e) emmë apsene-t tie-n i úcari-r emme-n = “*as we forgive-them those-for who trespass-(plural) us-against”

Taken together, the first half of the phrase has a subject (emmë), verb (apsene), a direct object suffix (-t) and an indirect object (tien). The sense of the phrase is probably something like “*as we forgive them [the trespasses] for those [the trespassers] who trespass against us”.

Conceptual Development: Earlier versions of the prayer (I-IV) used a different verb avatyar- for “forgive”, as well as different prepositions for “so”: ier (I-IIa) and yan (III-IV). They also lacked any Quenya equivalent of “those who” (tien i in versions V-VI). The literal meaning of this phrase in versions I-IV of the prayer seems to be “*as we forgive our trespassers”.

Tolkien considered a variety of ways to express “trespassers”. In version I-III, he used a (?verbal) element meaning “trespass” with the agental suffix -ndo: lucando (I), lucindo (IIa-IIb) and rocindo (III), all meaning “trespasser” and all in the plural. In version IV, he used rohtalië “trespass-people”, a compound of the noun rohta “trespass” and lië “people”.

These he combined with either the independent pronoun menya “our” (I-IIb, IV) or the possessive suffix -mma² “our” (I deletion, III). Finally, he used an ablative element meaning “from”, either the preposition va (I-IIb) or the ablative suffix -llo (I deletion, III-IV). There was a similar construction for the verb avatyar- in line 6.

In version V of the prayer, Tolkien corrected úcarer to úcarir. This second form is more consistent with the rules Tolkien followed elsewhere in forming the aorist tense of a (basic) verb: it ends in an -e if unsuffixed but has an -i- between it and any suffix (-r in this case). However, Tolkien still used the form úcarer in version IV of the prayer, for reasons unknown.

    I   IIa IIb III IV V VI
ier yan sív’
{avatyarirat >>} avatyarir ta avatyarilta apsenet
  tien i
{lucandollommar >>} va menya lucandor va menya lucindor rocindillomman menya rohtaliello úcarer emmen

For better consistency with Tolkien’s other writings, I have used the more typical aorist form úcarir for the entry of this phrase. As Helge Fauskanger points out (LP-AM), there is a similar issue with apsenet, which might be expected to be **apsenit, though in this case the variation may be due to the fact that an object-inflection is appended directly to the verb instead of to a subject suffix.

References ✧ VT43/8-12



sívë¹ “*as” elided ✧ VT43/20 (sív’)
emmë¹ “we (emphatic exclusive), *we (dual emphatic exclusive)” ✧ VT43/20; VT43/21 (emmen)
#apsen- “to remit, release, forgive” aorist with-pl-object ✧ VT43/20 (apsenet)
te “them” dative ✧ VT43/21 (tien)
“who, what, which, that” ✧ VT43/21
#úcar- “*to trespass, do wrong, sin” aorist plural ✧ VT43/21 (úcarir); VT43/21 (úcarer)
emmë¹ “we (emphatic exclusive), *we (dual emphatic exclusive)” dative ✧ VT43/20; VT43/21 (emmen)
#avatyar- “*to forgive, (lit.) do away with” aorist 1st-pl-exclusive ✧ VT43/20 (avatyaremme); VT43/20 (avatyarirat); VT43/20 (avatyarir); VT43/20 (avatyaritar); VT43/20 (avatyarilta)
#lucindo “*debtor, one who trespasses” 1st-pl-exclusive-poss ablative plural ✧ VT43/20 (lucandollommar); VT43/20 (lucandollor); VT43/20 (lucandor); VT43/20 (lucindor); VT43/20 (lucindillomman)
ier “*as” ✧ VT43/20
tai¹ “them (inanimate)” ✧ VT43/20 (ta)
va “(away) from” ✧ VT43/20
#rocindo “*debtor, one who trespasses” 1st-pl-exclusive-poss ablative plural ✧ VT43/20 (rocindillomman); VT43/20 (rucindillomman)
ya “which, where, that (relative pronoun)” dative ✧ VT43/20 (yan)
menya “*our (possessive pronoun)” ✧ VT43/20
#rohtalië “*those who trespass, (lit.) trespass-people” ablative ✧ VT43/21 (ruhtaliello); VT43/21 (rohtaliello)

Element In