Chapter 7 - More Pronouns, Verbal Nouns, Adverbial Noun Cases

7.1 Emphatic and Other Pronouns

Earlier in this course, we discussed pronoun and pronominal suffixes (Chapter 3, Section §3.2). In this section we discuss emphatic pronouns as well as indefinite and “other person” pronouns.

7.1.1 Emphatic Pronouns Emphatic Pronoun Chart: In Chapter 3, Section §3.2.6, we had a chart of independent, subject and possessive pronouns and suffixes. In Chapter 5, Section §5.2.2 we saw their dual forms. Putting these together we have:

1st sg. “me, I, my”ni-n(yë)-(i)nya
2nd sg. fam. “you, your (familiar)”tye-t(yë)-(i)tya
2nd sg. pol. “you, your (polite)”lye-l(yë)-(e)lya
3rd sg. anim. “him/her, he/she, his/her”se-s(së)-(r)ya ¹
3rd sg. inan. “it, its”sa-s(sa)
1st pl. excl. “us, we, our (but not you)”me-lmë-(e)lma
1st pl. incl. “us, we, our (including you)”ve-lvë-(e)lva
2nd pl. “you, your (plural)”le-ldë-(e)lda
3rd pl. anim. “them, they, their”te-ntë ²-(i)nta
3rd pl. inan. “them, they (neuter)”tai-nta
1st du. excl. “us two (but not you)”met-mmë-(e)mma
1st du. incl. “both of us”vet-nquë-(i)nqua
2nd du. “you two”tyet/let-stë-(e)sta
3rd du. “them two”tu-ttë-(e)tta

In addition to the above, Quenya uses emphatic pronouns in certain situations. We do not have a complete set of emphatic pronouns, so those marked with a * are reconstructed:

1st sg. “I”-n(yë)inyëPE22/162
2nd sg. fam. “you (familiar)”-t(yë)*ityë
2nd sg. pol. “you (polite)”-l(yë)elyëLotR/378
3rd sg. anim. “he/she”-s(së)issë ¹PE22/162
3rd sg. inan. “it”-s(sa)*issa
1st pl. excl. “we (but not you)”-lmëelmëPE17/136
1st pl. incl. “we (including you)”-lvëelvëPE17/13
2nd pl. “you (plural)”-ldë*eldë
3rd pl. anim. “they”-ntëintë ²PE17/75
3rd pl. inan. “they (neuter)”-nta*inta
1st du. excl. “us two (but not you)”-mmë^emmë ³VT43/20
1st du. incl. “both of us”-nquëinquëVT49/51
2nd du. “you two”-stë*estë
3rd du. “they two”-ttë^ettëPE22/121

The chart above includes the subject pronoun suffixes because there is a clear relationship between these suffixes and the emphatic pronouns: the emphatic pronouns are simply the subject suffixes with an e or i augment. Most of the emphatic pronouns start with e, but a few start with i: 1st person sg. (inyë), 2nd person polite sg. and dual (*ityë, inquë) and 3rd person sg. and pl. (issë, *issa, intë, *inta). Speculative: Forms marked with a * are unattested and therefore speculative; dual pronouns emmë, ettë are also speculative, since they are based on earlier non-dual pronouns that coincidentally have similar forms. Emphatic Pronoun Usage: Emphatic pronouns can be used as both subjects and objects in a sentence: nai elyë hiruvas “may even you find it”, aptanen issë “I refused even him (or her)”. Since the emphatic pronoun is not suffixed to the verb, the verb must be plural (or dual) to agree with the pronoun: intë túler nöa “it was they who arrived yesterday”, emmë quétat i aranen “it is we two who are speaking to the king”. English doesn’t have the equivalent of an emphatic pronoun, so they are best translated with some alternate phrasing: inyë = “even I, it is I who ...”, etc.

Quenya also sometimes uses stressed independent pronouns for emphasis, as in melin sé mal ú hyé “I love him but not him (the other)” (see section Fourth Person Pronouns for an explanation of hye). These are analogous to how English can emphasize a pronoun simply by speaking it louder. These Quenya stressed pronouns have long vowels: vs. unstressed se. Presumably there is a hierarchy of emphasis, from least emphasized to most emphasized: se, sé, issë, “him, him, even him”. Emphatic vs. Possessive Pronouns: As noted in Chapter 3, Section §3.2.3, possessive pronoun suffixes have joining vowels when added to consonantal nouns, and the vowel may be i or e, depending on the pronoun suffix. We don’t know the reasons for when the two different joining vowels are used, but in the few examples where we have both, they coincide with the same vowel augment seen in emphatic pronouns:

Speculative: These three examples are all we have to work from, but based on these I assume that the joining vowel for possessive suffixes is always identical to the vowel augment for the corresponding emphatic pronoun (except for 3rd sg. -rya “his/her”, where the form after consonants is -ya). This assumption is reflected in the possessive pronoun suffix charts from Chapter 3 and Chapter 5 (duals), also given above. How do we know this? We don’t have a document where Tolkien described and listed a full set of emphatic pronouns (outside of early writings from the 1920s with forms that were clearly abandoned later), so the emphatic pronouns used in this course are based on individual examples from various different documents, with page references in the emphatic pronoun chart above. Other emphatic forms are reconstructed by analogy with subject suffixes.

7.1.2 Colloquial Possessives

Most Neo-Quenya writers use -rya “his, her” for the 3rd. sg. possessive and -nta (or its alternative -lta) “their” for the 3rd pl. possessive, but according to Tolkien this was not how most speakers used Quenya at the end of the First Age:

The 3rd sg. remained aberrant and gave later trouble. The full O[old] Q[uenya] forms -sjā > sya became zya and in Q. -rya. This still survived in Q. as a “correct” form, and was used in writing, especially formal or poetic. But -rya now suggested plurality, as if ya had been added to -r plural. In colloquial Q. it thus became used for the plural replacing the “archaic” -ntya [sic., as opposed to the -nta suffix used in this course], and in the sg. the r was dropped. The continued existence of such forms as talya “his foot” assisted this (VT49/17).

In other words, the presence of r [originally derived from ancient s] in 3rd sg. -rya felt like a plural in modern Quenya speech of the First Age, and so took over the function of the 3rd pl. possessive -nta (or -lta). Thus “their hand” [one each] became márya (PE17/130). Meanwhile, the sg. suffix became -ya, generalized from the form used after consonants, becoming máya “his/her hand” as with talya “his/her foot” (PE17/130).

In his own writing, Tolkien almost always used the classical possessive suffixes -rya/-nta over the colloquial suffixes -ya/-rya. By the Third Age of Middle-earth, when Quenya was effectively a dead language and most people learned it from writing rather than from daily speech, I suspect the classical forms -rya/-nta came back into common use, which is why I recommend those for Neo-Quenya writing. One of the few examples where Tolkien used the colloquial forms in a written phrase is the so-called Ambidexters Sentence, which we will discuss in Section §7.5.

How do we know this? The explanation for colloquial possessives appears in a couple of places, such as VT49/17 and PE17/130. I would consider this entire section to be an “advanced topic”, but it is necessary for the understanding of the Ambidexters Sentence, which is why it is included here. Some Neo-Quenya writers use this colloquial syntax as well when trying to emulate everyday Quenya speech of the First Age.

7.1.3 Other Pronouns Indefinite Pronouns: Like English, Quenya has a couple of indefinite pronouns mo “someone” and ma “something” (PE22/154): cenin mo “I see someone”, merin ma “I want something”. The indefinite pronoun mo can be also used as an indefinite subject when there is no specific person, much like how English might use “one”: qui mo surë ulco, mo ui hiruva mára: “if one seeks evil, one will not find good”.

Though we have no examples, it seems likely that ma can also be used as a subject: ma túla “something is coming”. Note, however that ma is also the general question word in Quenya, as in ma meril? “what do you want?”. If a sentence is a question and has another subject (as in meri-l “want-you”), then ma is probably the question word rather than meaning “something”. Fourth Person Pronouns: English’s gendered pronouns “her” and “him” can be used to disambiguate persons in some phrases: “speak to her but not him”. Since Quenya uses se for both “him” and “her”, it cannot make such distinctions by gender. However, Quenya can use a different pronoun hye meaning “other person, other him/her”, so you can say á quetë sen mal ú hyen: “speak to him/her but not to [the other] him/her”.

In the same way that se indicates a third person in the discourse (in addition to first person ni “me” and second person lye “you”), the pronoun hye indicates a fourth person. This pronoun is not used without at least one other person being mentioned (directly or by implication): melin sé mal ú hyé “I love him but not [the other] him”; see the section Emphatic Pronoun Usage for a discussion of the emphatic nature of and hyé with long vowels.

It also seems that where two people were previously mentioned, hye refers to the second one: i elda quentë i aranen ar hye lastanë “the elf spoke to the king and he [the king] listened”. Also consider: hyaltanes hye ar hye nornë “he struck him [the other] and he [the other] ran” vs. hyaltanes hye ar nornes “he struck him [the other] and he [the first] ran”. For simplicity, these English translations use he/him, but the original Quenya phrases don’t specify gender.

There is likewise an inanimate equivalent hya “other thing”: á anta nin sa ar hya “give me it and the other thing”. This word is identical in form to the conjunction hya “or”, though, so care must be taken not to confuse them: merin macil hya ehtë “I want a sword or a spear”. How do we know this? The indefinite pronouns mo and ma are mentioned in a couple places, most succinctly in notes from 1969 (PE22/154). The fourth person pronoun is also mentioned a number of times, but Tolkien considered several variant forms, including exe (VT47/40) and he (NM/239; VT49/15) as well as hye (VT49/14-15). I prefer the last of these, since it seems Tolkien changed he > hye in notes written around 1969 (VT49/14-15). However, two of the phrases given above are based on the earlier version of the pronoun he: melin sé apa lanyë hé “I love him but not [the other] him” (VT49/15) and sustanë Manwëo súlë ten i indo Sindicollo ar he lastanë “the spirit of Manwë blew unto the heart of Thingol and he [Thingol] listened” (NM/239).

7.1.4 Vocabulary: Life and Death

Here are some vocabulary words having to do with life and death:

7.1.5 Section Summary

Emphatic Pronouns: The emphatic pronouns appear below; * indicates reconstructed forms and ^ forms adapted from earlier writing:

Stressed independent pronouns (with longer vowels) like are also emphatic, but less so than fully emphatic pronouns.

Other Pronouns: Some additional pronouns:

Exercise 7.1

Translate the following to English:

  1. Issë qualuva macilmen.
  2. Merin i elyë hiruva rainë.
  3. Intë lorir lómessë.
  4. Mo coinë sina rottossë.
  5. I orcor nacanter sé mal ú hyé.
  6. I nauco cennë i nér ar hye sérë i cöassë.

Translate the following to Quenya:

  1. Even we (including you) are not immortal.
  2. I will give even you (plural) some bread.
  3. They discovered something yesterday.
  4. I want that someone save even me.
  5. The captain spoke to the warrior and he [the warrior] went to the city.
  6. The captain spoke to the warrior and he [the captain] went to the city.

Answers are in Answer Key 7.1 at the end of this chapter.

7.2 Infinitives and Gerunds

This section discusses noun-like uses of Quenya verbs, the two main varieties being the infinitive (norë “to run”) and the gerund (norië “running”).

7.2.1 Infinitives Simple Infinitives: The English infinitive is the verb preceded by the preposition “to”, as in “to see”, and it is typically used as an object of another verb to chain them together: “I want to see the king”. Quenya infinitives serve a similar function, but they appear as the uninflected aorist form of the verb, cenë, and likewise follow other verbs in chains: merin cenë i aran. One distinctive feature of the Quenya simple infinitive is that it never receives pronominal suffixes.

Infinitives can be followed by direct and indirect objects, like normal verbs: merin anta i macil lyen “I want [to] give the sword to you”. The first verb can also have an object, which effectively becomes the subject of the following verb: merin lye anta i macil nin “I want you [to] give the sword to me”. Any verb tense applies only to first verb and not the infinitive: mernen anta i macil lyen “I wanted [to] give the sword to you”. Finally, the more complex the phrase, the more likely it is to be turned into subordinate clause instead: mernen i antal i macil nin “I wanted that you give the sword to me”.

Speculative: Infinitives can be put together into longer chains. For example: merin pole anta i macil lyen “I want to be able to give the sword to you”; here pol- is a verb meaning “can, to be (physically) able to”.

In theory infinitives can also be used as the subject of a verb: anta mára (ná) “to give (is) good”. However, such constructions are frequently unclear and thus are rare. In such circumstance a gerund (see below) is more normal: antië mára (ná) “giving (is) good”. Alternately, you can use a particular infinitive (see next): antaitas mára (ná) “to give it (is) good”. Particular Infinitives: The particular infinitive is a longer form of the infinitive using the suffix -ita, such as carita “to do (in this particular instance)”. It can also receive object suffixes:

For example: caritas mára (ná) “to do it [or doing it] is good”. The particular infinitive can also receive a suffix indicating the subject, but it uses the possessive pronoun form rather than the normal subject form: caritalyas mára (ná) “your doing it is good”, where car-ita-lya-s = “do-(infinitive)-your-it”.

Unlike the simple infinitive, the particular infinitive is often used as the subject of a phrase, as in the example above. Furthermore, it always refers to a particular activity, not general activities. For general activities, the gerund must be used (see below). For example:

Both kinds of infinitives (simple and particular) are not true nouns, and cannot receive noun cases. Again, the gerund is required for such constructions.

7.2.2 Gerunds Gerund Formation: The gerund is a genuine verbal noun, formed from the verb stem by adding the suffix -ië, replacing the vowel -a if there is one. Two main exception are u-verbs which form gerunds using -yë, and monosyllabic verbs whose stems end in vowels which form gerunds using -vë:

The Quenya gerund is similar to the English suffix “-ing”, which is likewise used to form nouns from verbs, as indicated above. The Quenya gerund is a true noun and can take noun cases, as in mindon ceniéno “tower of seeing”: cenië “seeing” + genitive -(n)o “of”. This includes possessive suffixes, such as antiëlya “your giving” = antië “giving” + -lya “your”. However, the gerund cannot take object suffixes because it is not truly verbal. Thus **carielyas “your doing it” is wrong, and such a formation requires a particular infinitive construction like caritalyas above instead. Gerund Use: Gerunds can be used like any other noun, the main exception being that they cannot (for the most part) be made plural. For example:

As noted previously, a possessive pronoun can function like the subject of a gerund: carielya “your making”. The same can be done with a noun in the genitive: i eldo carië “the elf’s making”. A gerund can even have another noun follow as if it were an object, i eldo carië macil “the elf’s making [of] a sword”, as in: i eldo carië macil telyanë nöa “the elf’s making [of] a sword finished yesterday”. As with infinitives, more complex phrases tend to be simplified: i elda telyanë carië macil nöa “the elf finished making a sword yesterday”.

Finally, where a gerund has only an “object” but no “subject”, the object tends to be in the possessive: carië macilwa “a sword’s making, making of a sword”, as in i carië macilwa yuhta anga “the making of a sword uses iron” (the definite article i is used here because we are describing an abstract, general process). Non-gerund English Formations: The Quenya gerund cenië is generally translated with the English gerund “seeing”. However, the “-ing” suffix serves multiple purposes in English, and not all of them map to the Quenya gerund. For example, the phrase “I am seeing the king” is the present continuative verb formation in English, which translates to the Quenya present tense: cénan i aran. Furthermore, the “-ing” suffix is used for the present participle in English which can be used as an adjective: “the seeing man”. This English formation equates to the Quenya active participle i cenila atan, which will be discussed in Chapter 9, Section §9.1.2.

7.2.3 How do we know this?

The most detailed discussion of infinitives and gerunds appears in the Quenya Verbal System (QVS) from 1948 (PE22/99, 118-120). Most of the ideas given above on the usage of the simple infinitive and the gerund are from that document:

Infinitive and Gerund. The infinitive was the same as the basic form and could be similarly inflected: kare “(to) make” ... This form was only used following and as the direct object of another verb ... The gerund was formed with the suffix added to the aorist tense-stem: so karie “making”, nemie “seeming”, matie “eating”, tulie “coming”, etc. (PE22/99).
The ordinary verb without subject pronouns acts as infinitive in Quenya: when one verb is the object of another only ... Where the second [infinitive] verb also has a subject that subject can be regarded as the object also of the first verb (PE22/118).

Unfortunately, this document is from a brief period where Tolkien used subject prefixes rather than suffixes, making the examples from that document very different from the inflected verb forms used in this course (and hence those examples are omitted here). Nevertheless, this document gives a good description of the difference between infinitive and gerund usage:

In all cases where the second verb is the subject of the first (by the first meaning the finite verb irrespective of the actual word order) the infinitive cannot be used. The Gerund is then used ... The Gerund is also usually employed when the second verb though not the subject of the first is not the direct object; e.g. when it requires substantival declension. The infinitive cannot be declined. The gerund cannot take pronominal affixes (PE22/119).

In the system described in QVS, infinitives cannot be declined into noun cases, and genitives cannot receive the pronominal subject and object affixes used with verbs, though possessive suffixes are allowed. Furthermore, in QVS an infinitive can only be a verbal object and not a verbal subject. Despite this statement, there is at least one example in Tolkien’s later writing where an infinitive is used as a subject: carë mára quí tyarë naxa “doing [to do] good may cause evil” (PE22/154); here carë mára “to do good” is the subject of the verb tyarë “cause”. Such constructions can be confusing, and I assume their usage is rare and that the gerund is more usual: carië mára quí tyarë naxa.

As for the particular infinitive, that construction is mentioned in Late Notes on Verb Structure (LVS) written in 1969:

... the general (aorist) “infinitive” formed by added -i (not as such capable of any further suffixion; with pronominal affixes it was the stem of the aorist tense); the particular infin. with -ita differing in use from the preceding mainly in being able to receive pronominal object affixes (PE22/154).

Here the general (simple) infinitive was formed with the same ancient -i suffix used for the aorist, which in uninflected forms became in modern Quenya: carë “to do”. Like in QVS, the simple infinitive could not have any suffixes. However, there was an alternative particular infinitive using the suffix -ita that could receive further suffixes, of which Tolkien gave several examples on the same page: carita, caritas, caritalyas “to do, to do it, your doing it”. The example with carita makes it clear that this infinitive can only be used with particular actions rather than general ones: lá carita i hamil mára alasaila ná “not to do (in this case) what you judge good (would be) unwise”.

We don’t know how the particular infinitive is formed for non-basic verbs. Following the patterns for active and passive participles (see Chapter 9, Section §9.1.2), I would assume the -ita suffix is (mostly) added to a-stem and u-stem verbs; see the discussion of alternate verb classes in Chapter 8, Section §8.1 for possible exceptions. Since we don’t know this for certain, I’ve marked formations like antaitas “to give it” as speculative.

As for gerund formations, in QVS basic verbs used -ië (PE22/99), u-stem verbs -yë (PE22/117), and a-stem verbs -rë (PE22/116). There are, however, no signs of the -rë suffix in later documents, and instead there are a couple examples of a-stem verbs using the suffix -ië: hentië “reading” (PE17/77), rehtië “saving” (PE17/38). It’s difficult to say for certain, since -ië is also a common suffix used for abstract noun formation, and some apparent “gerunds” could simply be abstract nouns instead.

The alternate gerund suffix -vë used after vowels (and roots ending in W and Y) is mentioned in notes from 1967, along with another mention of the simple infinitive and a hint at the particular infinitive suffix -ita via its Sindarin equivalent:

Simplest aorist infinitive -i, kare “(to) do”, mostly used after negative verb, uin kare “I don’t”. General infinitive [gerund] -ie, karie (S. -ita, cared). After vowel stems or stems with medial ı̯, , -ve: koive (koivie), kuive; sīve “knowing, knowledge”; náve “being” (PE17/68).

7.2.4 Vocabulary: Hunting

Here are some vocabulary words having to do with hunting:

7.2.5 Section Summary

Exercise 7.2

Translate the following to English:

  1. I ronyo merë roita lopoldi.
  2. Polil hlicë tuvë farna i tauressë.
  3. Nurtaitas rehtanë i hína.
  4. Á telya faraitalyas enar.
  5. Farië lamni anta matta lienyan.
  6. Mennelmë i taurenna rembien.

Translate the following to Quenya:

  1. The feathers of birds are good for arrow making.
  2. The bull’s horn is not long.
  3. I can ride a horse every day.
  4. A bird’s wing has some feathers.
  5. I found her bow under the tree.
  6. My finding it shows that she is in danger.

Answers are in Answer Key 7.2 at the end of this chapter.

7.3 Adverbial Noun Cases

This section rounds out our discussion of Quenya noun cases by describing the so-called adverbial noun cases that once functioned like adverbs. This includes the directional noun cases (-nna, -lla, -ssë) and the instrumental noun cases (-nen). All of these cases have been introduced previously in this course.

7.3.1 Allative Case

The allative noun case is used for motion or facing toward a destination. It can also be used for movement in time towards some (usually) future point. The allative is formed using the suffix -nna, which combines with dual and plural suffixes as follows:

AllativesSg.Du.Part. Pl.Pl.
vocalic: ciryaciryannaciryantaciryalinna(r)ciryannar
e-noun: lasselassennalassentalasselinna(r)lassennar
consonantal: ataratarenna*atarunna*atallinna(r)atarinnar

7.3.2 Ablative Case

The ablative noun case is used for motion or facing away from a point of origin. It can also be used for movement in time away from some (usually) past point. The ablative is formed using the suffix -llo, which combines with dual and plural suffixes as follows:

AblativesSg.Du.Part. Pl.Pl.
vocalic: ciryaciryallociryaltociryalillo(n)ciryallon
e-noun: lasselassellolasseltolasselillo(n)lassellon
consonantal: ataratarello*atarullo*atallillo(n)atarillon

For ablative plurals Tolkien used both -llor (MC/222; VT44/9) and -llon (VT6/14), so either is acceptable. I personally prefer -llon, and that is the form used in the chart above and elsewhere in this course.

7.3.3 Locative Case

The locative noun case is used for location at a particular point in space or time. The locative is formed using the suffix -ssë, which combines with dual and plural suffixes as follows:

LocativesSg.Du.Part. Pl.Pl.
vocalic: ciryaciryasseciryatseciryalisse(n)ciryassen
e-noun: lasselassesselassetselasselisse(n)lassessen
consonantal: atarataresse*atarusse*atallisse(n)atarissen

7.3.4 Assimilated Cases

In situations where a consonantal noun ends in the same consonant used by a directional case suffix, the suffix usually assimilates to the noun rather than using a joining vowel:

Of these, the locative is most likely to still use a joining vowel, since nouns ending in s typically have stems ending in r, as in cas (car-) “head”. The four cardinal directions númen, hyarmen, rómen, formen “west, south, east, north” are another special case. These drop their final n before appending the directional case suffixes:

Other assimilated forms may be possible, but Tolkien was less consistent with those, so they will not be covered in this course.

7.3.5 Instrumental Case

The instrumental noun case is used to describe the means by which an action occurs. It is generally translated using the English prepositions “with” or “by”, but only in the sense “by means of”; the sense “together with” uses the preposition ó and the sense “by = beside” uses the preposition ara. The instrumental is formed using the suffix -nen, which combines with dual and plural suffixes as follows:

InstrumentalsSg.Du.Part. Pl.Pl.
vocalic: ciryaciryanenciryantenciryalínenciryainen
e-noun: lasselassenenlassentenlasselínenlassínen
consonantal: atar*atarmen*atarúnen*atallinen*atarínen

Speculative: For consonantal nouns, the singular instrumental suffix -nen (from ancient -men) often assimilates to the final consonant. This can happen in several possible ways:

This last formation, with -anen, may have gradually replaced the assimilated forms in modern Quenya: neranen, etc.

7.3.6 How do we know this?

As with other noun cases, most of what we know about adverbial noun case formation comes from the Plotz Letter (VT6/14). As discussed for other noun cases, the Plotz Letter only has examples of vocalic and e-nouns. Consonantal examples must be deduced from attested forms elsewhere in Tolkien’s later writings. With the directional noun cases, there are enough examples to deduce a clear pattern for consonantal nouns. The joining vowel e is well attested for singular nouns (PM/401; RGEO/58; VT49/24), as is the joining vowel i for plurals (MC/222; VT27/7).

The consonantal noun forms of the instrumental case are more difficult. There is only one example of a consonantal noun in the instrumental in Tolkien’s later writing: ambartanen “by doom” (S/223), from a variant form ambar (ambart-) of the more usual umbar (umbart-) “fate, doom” (LotR/1122). This instrumental form seems to indicate a joining vowel of a, but other explanations are possible: it could be a restoration of some ancient lost vowel, or a duplication of the base vowel a.

For more examples of the instrumental for consonantal nouns, our best source is the Declension of Nouns (DN) from the early 1930s (PE21/1-41). That document mostly used assimilated forms in nouns whose stems end in a single consonants as discussed above. Most of the assimilated examples above are pulled directly from DN: nermen (PE21/20), talmen (PE21/21), carmen (PE21/22), nenwen (PE21/23), though some of these forms were marked archaic. In cases where the noun stem ended in complex clusters inhibiting assimilation, DN used a as a joining vowel, which supports the notion that the later form ambartanen is also an example of a joining vowel a. This also includes some non-archaic variants of assimilated forms: neranen, etc.

However, the instrumental forms from DN are early enough in Tolkien’s writing that they can’t be fully trusted, which is why this course marks those forms as speculative. I’ve seen a number of different Neo-Quenya systems for the instrumental, and there is less consensus on the proper forms than there is with other Quenya noun cases.

7.3.7 Vocabulary: Locations

Here are some vocabulary words having to do with locations, collecting some preposition we’ve seen elsewhere in the course:

7.3.8 Section Summary

Vocalic Nouns: Adverbial cases for vocalic nouns are inflected as follows:

VocalicSg.Du.Part. Pl.Pl.

E-Nouns: Adverbial cases for e-nouns are inflected as follows:

E-nounSg.Du.Part. Pl.Pl.

Consonantal Nouns: Adverbial cases for consonantal nouns are inflected as follows:

ConsonantalSg.Du.Part. Pl.Pl.

Speculative: The singular instrumental case often assimilates to the final consonant of a noun:

This last formation, with -anen, may have gradually replaced the assimilated forms in modern Quenya: neranen, etc.

Exercise 7.3

Translate the following to English:

  1. Mennelmë endenna i taurëo.
  2. I osto harë imbi ambor.
  3. I orcor ménar minna i rotto.
  4. Cenuvan i hesto lómessë.
  5. I atani túler et i mindonillon.
  6. I atani nacanter orcor macilínen.

Translate the following to Quenya:

  1. The elf went with the dwarves to the tower.
  2. The women are coming from there.
  3. The man [male] wrote the story with a pen.
  4. The king has walked from the base to the top of the tower.
  5. The house sits in the centre of a city.
  6. The height of the mountain watches above the valley.

Answers are in Answer Key 7.3 at the end of this chapter.

7.4 Culture Notes: Elvish Directions

The Elves have different cultural associations with direction words than English speakers. This section discusses some of those differences.

7.4.1 Before and After

The basic words for “before” and “after” in Quenya are epë and , but the two have different meanings when used spatially and temporarily. The word epë means “before” of space but “after” of time. Hence epë cöa “before [in front of] the house” but ep’ ambarónë “after dawn”. Likewise, means “behind, at the back of” when used spatially but “before” temporally: nó cöa “behind the house” but nó ambarónë “before dawn”. As Tolkien described it:

The Eldar regarded all that was past as behind them, their faces being towards the future. With reference to time therefore words with a basic sense “behind, at the back” = “before”; and those originally meaning “in front, ahead” = “after” (NM/163).

Furthermore, the Elvish expectation was that the future would bring sorrow rather than joy:

In Elvish sentiment the future was not one of hope or desire, but a decay and retrogression from former bliss and power. Though inevitably it lay ahead, as of one on a journey, “looking forward” did not imply anticipation of delight. “I look forward to seeing you again” did not mean or imply “I wish to see you again, and since that is arranged and/or very likely, I am pleased.” It meant simply “I expect to see you again with the certainty of foresight (in some circumstances), or regard that as very probable” — it might be with fear or dislike, “foreboding” (NM/163).

In practice the Elves had a larger variety of spatial and temporal prepositions, but the epë/nó dichotomy succinctly expresses the Elvish sentiments toward time.

7.4.2 Left and Right

The Elves were naturally ambidextrous, and therefore did not have the same negative associations with the left-hand direction as in human languages. An English word like “sinister” meaning both “evil” and “left” would make no sense to the Elves.

Furthermore, their association of left vs. right and the four cardinal directions are different from European thought. The Elves mark their directions by facing west towards Valinor or Aman. The west was númen which is the direction of descent or sunset, while the east rómen was the direction of rising because of the sunrise. Since other directions were described facing west, the north was to the right and the south to the left. Thus formen “north” was the “right hand direction” based on forya “right”, and hyarmen “south” was the “left hand direction” based on hyarya “left”.

The names of the letters most widely known and used were [tengwar] 17 n, 33 hy, 25 r, 10 f: númen, hyarmen, rómen, formen = west, south, east, north ... These letters commonly indicated the points W, S, E, N even in languages that used quite different terms. They were, in the West-lands, named in this order, beginning with and facing west; hyarmen and formen indeed meant left-hand region and right-hand region (LotR/1123).

The West was so strongly associated with the Sunset that the word Andúnë described both the process of sunset as well as “the West” as a location. Hence the name of Aragorn’s sword Andúril “Flame of the West”. The same is true for dawn and the east such as with Ambaróna another name of Fangorn forest, which is translated as “Eastern (Land)” but is more literally an adjectival form of ambarónë “dawn” (PE17/82, 91).

7.4.3 Vocabulary: Conjunctions

Here are some vocabulary words having to do with conjunctions. They mostly collect words introduced earlier in the course:

7.5 Guided Reading: Ambidexters Sentence

The so-called Ambidexters Sentence describes the natural ambidexterity of the Elves and some of their sentiments towards the cardinal directions. It appeared in notes written by Tolkien in 1969 (VT49/3-27). The text had several iterations, only the last of which is discussed here. First we introduce some vocabulary:

For analysis, we break the text up into five phrases:

Eldar ataformaiti;
epetai i hyarma ú ten ulca símaryassen.
Úsië, an cé mo quernë cendelë númenna, ve senya,
i hyarma tentanë Melcorello,
ar cé mo formenna tentanes Amanna.

Broken down literally this is:

elda-r ataformait-i
elf-(pl.) [are] ambidextrous-(pl.)
epetai i hyar-ma ú te-n ulca síma-rya-sse-n
consequently the left-hand [is] not them-to evil imagination-their-in-(pl.)
úsië, an cé mo quer-në cendelë núme-nna, ve senya
contrarily, for if one turn-(pa.t.) face west-to, as usual
i hyar-ma tenta-në Melcor-ello
the left-hand point-(pa.t.) Melkor-from
ar cé mo forme-nna tenta-ne-s Aman-na
and if one north-to point-(pa.t.)-it Aman-to

The detailed analysis of these phrases is more complex than some of our earlier guided readings, because some of the features of the text conflict with the Neo-Quenya grammar recommended by this course. As such we need to spend some time discussing alternate phrasing.

First Phrase: Eldar ataformaiti. This phrase is pretty straightforward. It is simply the plural of form of elda “elf” in a “to be” expression with ataformaitë “ambidextrous”, which is itself plural to agree with the noun. The verb “to be” is omitted as usual. Hence it means “Elves [are] ambidextrous”. Given that the rest of the text is in the past tense, “Elves [were] ambidextrous” is probably a better translation.

Second Phrase: Epetai i hyarma ú ten ulca símaryassen. The second phrase begins with the conjunction epetai “consequently”, followed by i hyarma “the left hand”, a combination of hyar(ya) “left” and “hand”. There is no expressed verb, since this is another “to be” expression, but it has adverbial ú negating it, so that i hyarma ú ulca means “the left hand [is] not evil”. The other elements are 3rd pl. dative pronoun ten “to them” and locative possessive plural noun símaryassen “in their imaginations”. Hence the phrase means “consequently the left hand [is/was] not to them evil in their imaginations”.

There are two unusual aspects of this second phrase. First, it uses the colloquial plural possessive form -rya for “their”, agreeing with ten “to them”; see section 7.1.2 Colloquial Possessives for further discussion. In classical Quenya writing, -rya instead means “his/her”. Second, the phrase uses the negative adverb ú “not” rather than the negative verb ui- “to not be” and is thus contrary to the recommended practices of this course as discussed in Chapter 5, Section §5.5.1. Following the rules of this course, the phrase would be Epetai i hyarma ui ten ulca símantassen.

Third Phrase: Úsië, an cé mo quernë cendelë númenna, ve senya. The third phrase is introduced by úsië, an cé “on the contrary, for if ...”. This is followed by the main clause, mo quernë cendelë númenna “one turned [the] face to [the] west”, where númen + -nna is an assimilated allative, as discussed in Section 7.3.4 Assimilated Cases. The Quenya word númen “west” lacks the word i because it is unique location and as such does not require the definite article in Quenya. It is less clear why cendelë “face” has no definite article, but perhaps it is because it is an implied possessive: “one turns [one’s] face to [the] west”.

The phrase ends with ve senya “as usual”, so its entire translation is: “on the contrary, for if one turned [one’s] face to [the] west, as usual”. As noted above, the word is used to mean “if” only in this section of the course; elsewhere I recommend qui “if” instead. See Chapter 11, Section §11.2.1 for further discussion.

Fourth Phrase: I hyarma tentanë Melcorello. This phrase is also straightforward. The subject is i hyarma “the left hand”, the verb is tentanë the past tense of tenta- “to point”, and the phrase ends with Melcorello “from Melkor”. Thus: “the left hand pointed [away] from Melkor”

Fifth Phrase: ar cé mo formenna tentanes Amanna. The final phrase alludes back to the previous sentence. It begins with ar cé mo [...] formenna “and if one ... to [the] north” but omits the verb quernë “turns”. Alternately it could be another “to be” expression: “and if one [is] to [the] north”. The phrase ends with the result of turning north: tentanes Amanna “it [the left hand] pointed to Aman”.

The full translation is:

Elves [were] ambidextrous;
consequently the left hand [was] not to them evil in their imaginations.
On the contrary, for if one turned [one’s] face to [the] west, as usual,
the left hand pointed [away] from Melkor
and if one [turned] to [the] north, it pointed to Aman.

Tolkien’s actual translation is pretty close to this:

The Elves were ambidexters;
consequently the left hand was not to them evil in their imaginations.
On the contrary, for if one turned the face westwards as was usual,
the left hand pointed away from Melkor [in the North],
and if northwards, it pointed towards Aman [the Blessed Land].

The bracket items in Tolkien’s translation do not have equivalents in the Quenya version.

7.6 Chapter Summary

7.6.1 Chapter Vocabulary

Life and Death:





7.6.2 Grammar Summary Emphatic Pronoun Summary: The emphatic pronouns appear below; * indicates reconstructed forms and ^ forms adapted from earlier writing:

Stressed independent pronouns (with longer vowels) like are also emphatic, but less so than fully emphatic pronouns. Other Pronoun Summary: Infinitive and Gerund Summary: Adverbial Noun Case Summary:

VocalicSg.Du.Part. Pl.Pl.

E-nounSg.Du.Part. Pl.Pl.

ConsonantalSg.Du.Part. Pl.Pl.

Speculative: The singular instrumental case often assimilates to the final consonant of a noun:

This last formation, with -anen, may have gradually replaced the assimilated forms in modern Quenya: neranen, etc.

Answer Key 7.1

  1. Even he/she will die from [by means of] a sword.
  2. I want that even you will find peace.
  3. Even they sleep at night.
  4. Someone lived in this cave.
  5. The orcs slew him/her but not him/her [the other].
  6. The dwarf saw the man [male] and he [the man] rested in the house.
  1. Elvë uir alfírimë.
  2. Antuvan eldë massali.
  3. Túventë ma nöa.
  4. Merin i mo rehta inyë.
  5. I hesto quentë i ohtaren ar hye mennë i ostonna.
  6. I hesto quentë i ohtaren ar mennes i ostonna.

Tengwar answers:

  1. Elvë uir alfírimë
  2. Antuvan eldë massali
  3. Túventë ma nöa
  4. Merin i mo rehta inyë
  5. I hesto quentë i ohtaren ar hye mennë i ostonna
  6. I hesto quentë i ohtaren ar mennes i ostonna

Answer Key 7.2

  1. The hunting dog wants to chase rabbits.
  2. You can sneak to discover prey in the forest.
  3. To hide [or hiding] him/her saved the child.
  4. Finish your hunting it tomorrow. ¹
  5. Hunting animals gives food to my people. ¹
  6. We [but not you] went to the forest for trapping.
  1. I quessi aiwion (nár) márë pilin carien.
  2. I mundo rassë ui anda.
  3. Polin norta rocco ilya aurë.
  4. Aiwëo ráma samë quesseli.
  5. Hirnen quingarya nu i alda.
  6. Hiritanyas tana i nás raxessë.

Tengwar answers:

  1. I quessi aiwion nár márë pilin carien
  2. Mundo rassë ui anda
  3. Polin norta rocco ilya aurë
  4. Aiwëo ráma samë quesseli
  5. Hirnen quingarya nu i alda
  6. Hiritanyas tana i nás raxessë

Answer Key 7.3

  1. We [but not you] went to the centre of the forest.
  2. The city sits among hills.
  3. The orcs are going into the cave.
  4. I will see the captain at night.
  5. The men came out of the towers.
  6. The men slew orcs with [by means of] swords.
  1. I elda mennë ó i naucor i mindonna.
  2. I nissi túlar tanomello.
  3. I nér tencë i quenta tecilmen.
  4. I aran apátië sundollo inganna i mindono.
  5. I cöa harë endessë osto.
  6. Tárië i oronto tirë or i nando.

Tengwar answers:

  1. I elda mennë ó i naucor i mindonna
  2. I nissi túlar tanomello
  3. I nér tencë i quenta tecilmen
  4. I aran apátië þundollo inganna i mindono
  5. I cöa harë endessë osto
  6. Tárië i oronto tirë or i nando