Q. aistana elyë imíca nísi “blessed art thou amongst women”

Q. aistana elyë imíca nísi, “blessed art thou amongst women”

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The third line of Aia María, Tolkien’s translation of the Ave Maria prayer. This is a declarative statement. The first word aistana “blessed” is the predicate. The second word elyë “thou” is the subject, the emphatic form of the pronoun lye “you (polite)”. The last two words are the prepositional phrase imíca nísi “among women”, the latter being the plural of nís “woman”. As in the second line, there is no Quenya equivalent of the English word “are (art)” in the final version of the prayer.

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

aistana elyë imíca nís-i = “*blessed [art] thou among woman-(plural)”

Conceptual Development: The first two versions of the prayer used manna for “blessed” instead of aistana. Tolkien considered several different prepositional elements for English “among”: mil (I deleted), mi (I-II), mitta (III deleted), mika (III) before settling on imíca (IV).

In version I-II, he used another word for “women”: nínaron, apparently genitive plural of an otherwise unattested word nína. In version I, he considered and deleted many variants before settling on nínaron. I’ve omitted them from this discussion because they appear nowhere else, and including them would obscure the development of the phrase. For further details, see VT43/27, 31.

    I    II  III IV
  elye manna aistana
{manna na >>} na manna nalye elye
{mil >>} mi {mitta >>} mika imíca
[various >>] nínaron nísi

References ✧ VT43/26-28

Variations

Elements

aistana “*blessed” ✧ VT43/28 (aistan’); VT43/30
elyë “thou (emphatic polite)” ✧ VT43/30
imíca “among” ✧ VT43/30 (mika); VT43/30
nís “woman” plural ✧ VT43/31 (nínaron); VT43/31 (nísi)
mi “in, within” ✧ VT43/30 (mil); VT43/30
ná- “to be” aorist ✧ VT43/30 (na); VT43/30 (nalye)
manna “*blessed” ✧ VT43/30
mitta “between; inwards, (?into)” ✧ VT43/30

Element In