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What’s with this “Wren” thing?
The oldest extant version of the fable
are presenting here appeared in 1913 in the first volume of a two-volume anthology
Saxon folktales (Plattdeutsche
Volksmärchen “Low German Folktales”)
collected by Wilhelm Wisser (1843–1935). Read
á: imperative particle, placed before an infinitive stem: á lemya “remain! stay!”
The particle may be extended as alyë “do you!” with a pronominal suffix referring
to the person who receives the order. Compare ávallë.
ai: 1) interjection “alas!”, 2) “if”. The latter word is not attested by itself
in Tolkien’s material, but some feel it can be isolated from the form aiquen “if anybody” (not all Tolkien–linguists are confident about this)
aiwë: “bird”, pl. aiwi “birds”
alta: “big”; also in pl. form altë
alyë: “do you”, imperative particle á, a with the pronominal ending –lyë “you”
amber: “left, departed”, pl. pa.t. of the verb av– “to depart”, here used
for “leave” in the transitive sense.
anwavë: “truly”. Because of the attested words and and avë, “long”
as adjective and adverb, Tolkien–linguists assume that the ending –vë can be
used to turn adjectives into adverbs (like the English ending –ly). Besides
anwavë “truly”, the following words are here derived according to this pattern:
núravë “deeply”, olcavë “badly, wickedly”, vercavë “wild” (Tolkien only provided
the adjectives anwa “true”, núra “deep”, olca “bad”, verca “wild”)
anyárë: pl. form of anyára “oldest”, which is yára “old” with the superlative
celvamardo: genitive of celvamar (stem celvamard–) “animal–home” (celva “animal” + mar “home”); no word for “barn” occurs in published Tolkien material.
cenuvalyë: “you shall see”: verb cen– “see” + the future–tense ending
–uva– + the pronominal suffix –lyë “you” (sg.)
cimë: “heed”, infinitive
cirincë: “kirinke,” a Númenorean bird. The kirinki are described by Tolkien
as being “no bigger than wrens, but all scarlet, with piping voices on the
edge of human hearing” (Unfinished Tales p. 169). No Quenya word for “wren”
is known, but this gloss does at least compare the kirinki to wrens in terms
elyen: “for you”, emphatic pronoun elyë “you” with the dative ending –n
entanna: “thither” or “to yonder [place]”, the allative corresponding
to the locative form entassë.
entassë: “there”, the demonstrative enta “yonder” with the locative ending
–ssë “in, at”, hence “in yonder [place]” (corresponding to the allative form
entanna above). No Quenya word translated “there” is attested, but in Sindarin
we have ennas, which is very likely the cognate of exactly entassë in Quenya.
entulë: “return”, infinitive stem. Pa.t. entullë “returned”, prefix en– “re–” + the pa.t. of the verb tul– “come” (q.v.). The verb entul– “return”
is not attested as such, but compare the attested Tolkien form entulessë, “return”
as a noun.
er: 1) cardinal “one”, 2) adverb “only”. The latter meaning comes from
early Tolkien material, the former from later writings, but since the meanings
are closely related I have treated both glosses as valid.
eressië: “alone”, pl. form of the adjective eressëa
eryassë:, the adjective erya “single” (from the same root as er and eressië listed above) with the locative ending –ssë attached. Lú eryassë “in a single
moment” or literally “moment single–in”, with the locative ending suffixed
to the entire phrase: Quenya regularly attaches case endings to the last declinable
word in a noun–phrase.
eteviller: “flew out”, prefix et–, ete– “forth, out” + the pl. past tense
of the verb vil– “fly” (see villes)
hanyan: “I understand”, the present tense of the verb hanya– with the
pronominal ending –n “I”
haryanë: “had, possessed”, pa.t. of the verb harya– “possess”
hausta: “nest”. No Tolkien word for “nest” occurs in published material;
my suggested neologism is the theoretical Quenya cognate of the Sindarin (or
“Noldorin”) word haust, meaning “bed”, derived by Tolkien from Primitive Elvish
khaustâ, literally “resting (place)”. The neologism here occurs in the following
forms: haustarya “his nest” (ending –rya “his”), ablative haustaryallo “from
his nest” (–llo “from”, ablative ending), haustaryanna “to his nest” (–nna “to”, ending for allative), with another pronominal suffix also haustalvanna “to our nest” (–lva “our”, inclusive; some will argue that this should be –lwa instead); also simple allative haustanna “to [the] nest”.
hendu: “eyes”, dual form of hen (stem hend–) “eye”.
hilyuva: “shall follow”, future tense of hilya– “follow”
hínanyar: “my children”, the noun hína “child” + the pronominal suffix
–nya + the plural marker –r.
híni: “children”, the plural nominative of hína. In Tolkien material it
is attested in such compounds as Eruhíni “Children of God”. The expected plural
form of hína would be hínar, and I cannot rule out that the form híni only
occurs at the end of compounds, but I still used this attested form here.
lasta: “listen”, infinitive stem; alyë lasta “do (you) listen!”, imperative
lemya: “remain” (infinitive stem used as imperative, indicated by the
imperative particle á in front of it)
lendes: “he went”: lendë pa.t. of lelya– “to go”, here with the pronominal
ending –s “he”.
lú: “time, occasion”, here used for “moment”; pl. lúli “moments”, locative
lúmë: “a time” (or “an hour”)
lussë: locative form of lú (see above). The long vowel is shortened before
a consonant cluster (compare nellë which is né + –llë).
malanë: “harmed, hurt”, pa.t. of the verb mala– “hurt”
mana: “what [is]”
mancë: “few”, pl. form of the adjective manca
manna: “whither”, the interrogative element ma– with the allative ending
–nna attached. (Manna as such is not attested in published Tolkien material,
but follows the pattern of attested question–words like manen “how?”, which
is ma– with the instrumental case ending.)
mardenna: “to home”, mar (stem mard–) “home” + the allative ending –nna,
a connecting vowel intruding
martanë: “happened, chanced”, pa.t. of the verb marta–
matien: “for eating” or “to eat”: mat– “to eat” + the gerundial ending
–ië + the dative ending –n
merë: “wish”, infinitive stem; also mernentë “they wished”, with mernë as the pa.t. of the verb mer– “wish” + the pronominal ending –ntë “they”
ná: 1) “is”, 2) “yes”
naityando: “loudmouth” or literally “abuser”, an agent formation (derived
by me) from the verb naitya– “to abuse, to shame”.
naityas: “he abuses, shames”: the above–mentioned verb with the pronominal
ending –s “he”.
nanvilles: “he flew back”, prefix nan– “back” + villë pa.t. of the verb
vil– “fly” + the pronominal ending –s “he”.
nat: “a thing, [some]thing”
nellë: “you were”, with né as the pa.t. of the verb “to be” + the ending
–llë “you” (pl.) The form né “was” has not yet appeared in published material,
but is known to occur in Tolkien’s unpublished writings.
nes: “he was”; see nellë (here with the pronominal ending –s “he” instead).
Some would use nés with a long vowel.
nessantain: “for their young”, nessa “young” + –nta “their” + the plural
dative ending –in. The ending –nta is not directly attested in published material,
but is deduced from –ntë as the corresponding ending for “we” (as in quententë,
olcavë: “wickedly” or “badly” (adverb derived from the adj. olca, also
ulca, “wicked, evil”)
orta: “raises”, present tense (or aorist) of the verb orta– “to rise,
pontilya: “your back”: pontë (stem ponti–) “back” + the pronominal ending
–lya “your”. Also in locative form pontissë “on [the] back”
quentë: “said”, pa.t. of quet– “say, speak”. Also with the pronominal
suffix –ntë “they”: quententë “they said”.
querië: “a turn(ing)”, basically the gerund of a verb quer– “to turn”,
a verbal stem not attested by itself but plausibly isolated from the Tolkien
form nuquerna “reversed” or literally apparently “under–turned” (nu–quer–na “under–turn–ed”).
quet–: “say, speak” in the following forms: aorist quetë “says”, with
ending –s “he” also quetis “he says” (since the aorist has the stem queti–),
gerund quetië “saying”, and pa.t. forms quentë, quententë (see separate entry).
rá: “lion”; stem ráv– as in the genitive rávo “lion’s”
racuvan: “I will break”, rac– verb “to break” + future–tense ending –uva– + the pronominal ending –n “I”
rávo: “lion’s”; see rá
rucë: “fear”, infinitive stem; ávallë rucë negative imperative “don’t
you fear” (don’t you be afraid).
ruhta–: “to terrify”, in these forms: past tense ruhtanë, active participle
ruhtala “terrifying”, passive participle ruhtaina “terrified”, also in plural
saitanen: “I taught”, the unattested verb saita– “to teach” + the pa.t.
marker –në + the pronominal ending –n “I”. The verb saita– is a neologism based
on Tolkien’s root Primitive Elvish root SAY “know”, which combined with the
sometimes causative verbal ending –ta could express “make (others) know” and
séyar: “seem”, pl. present tense of the verb séya– “to seem”. This verb
is the unattested Quenya cognate, derived by me, of the Sindarin (or “Noldorin”)
verb thia– “see, seem.” Since all of Tolkien’s “Elvish” languages are meant
to be related, it is possible to derive plausible new vocabulary items by deducing
the cognate forms of words that are attested in another form of “Elvish”.
sin: “this”, according to one interpretation of Tolkien’s sentence Sin
Quentë Quendingoldo Elendilenna, which must mean either “this Quendingoldo
said to Elendil” or “thus Quendingoldo spoke to Elendil”. Since we have sië
as the word for “thus” attested elsewhere, I here opt for the sin = “this”
interpretation. (Sina is attested as another word for “this” and could be a
longer form, but sina is possibly used adjectivally only.)
sinomë: “in this place, here”; allative sinomenna “to this place”
tana: “that”, demonstrative
taurë “forest” in pl. form tauri “forests” and pl. locative tauressen “in [the] forests”
telco: “leg” in these forms: telconyanen “with my leg”, telco + –nya pronominal
ending “my” + –nen instrumental ending; also telcoryat “his (two) legs”, telco + –rya pronominal ending “his” + the dual ending –t
tul–: verb “come” in the following forms: gerund tulië “coming”, also
in dative tulien “for coming”; aorist tulis “he comes” (with the ending –s for “he”), pa.t. tullë “came”. In early Tolkien material the pa.t. is actually
given as túlë, but here I choose to let this verb go like the later example
vil– “fly”, pa.t. villë also here occurring (hence also entullë as the pa.t.
of entul– “return”).
uin: “I don’t”, first person aorist of a negative verb “not be, not do”
(notice –n as pronominal ending “I”)
umë: “is/does not”, negative verb; past tense úmë “does/was not”
úvas: “he will not”, úva as the future–tense form of a negative verb “not
do, not be” + the pronominal ending –s “it”
vavanta: “walks on”, derived (by me) from Tolkien’s verb vanta– “to walk.”
Reduplicating the initial syllable of a verbal stem is one way of expressing
repeated or drawn–out action in Quenya.
ve: “as, like”
verca: “wild”; derived adverb vercavë “wildly”
verya: “to dare”; veryalyë “you dare”, the present (or aorist) tense of
the same verb with the pronominal ending –lyë “you”.
villes: “he flew”: villë as the pa.t. of vil– “to fly” with the pronominal
ending –s “he”. With prefixes: eteviller “flew forth” (plural verb), nanvilles “he flew back”.
vincassë: locative form of vinca “corner”. The word actually appears as
winka in the source, but in “Third Age Quenya” (the form of Quenya we try to
imitate here), initial w had become v. (Also, according to the spelling conventions
used in the Lord of the Rings, the letter c is preferred to k. It turns out
that Tolkien tended to use k in his own notes, but LotR spelling conventions
are here introduced throughout. For the same reason final –e is spelt –ë; the
dots are there simply to remind English readers that final –e is not silent.)
of the words come from the relatively late stages of Tolkien’s development
of Quenya. The following words are taken from early material, because we do
not have late words for the relevant concepts; the early words seem to work
well enough in the context of later Quenya even though Tolkien’s conception
of the language was in some ways different when they were coined: ambë (here
in the pl. form amber), casta (here in the form castalya), cim– (here in the
form cimë), er (with the meaning “only”), lil, mala– (here in the pa.t. malanë),
manca (here in pl. form mancë), marta– (here in the pa.t.: martanë), naitya– (here in the form naityas and also as the basis for naityando), netë, pontë (here in the forms pontilya and pontissë), san, vinca (for winka), and yéta– (here in the form yétanes). Yet if later words for the same concepts are eventually
they are normally to be preferred. Some of the early forms are slightly problematic.
For instance, san is the sole attested word for “then” in published material,
and I have used it here. But in later Quenya, san ought to be the dative pronoun
“for it” (sa “it” + dative ending –n), maybe suggesting that Tolkien would
later coin a new word for “then”. Since most of Tolkien’s linguistic writings
remain unpublished, much is still uncertain. He did in any case change
his languages very often, so there is no definite grammar to be extracted
The ending –ntë “they”
is based on one interpretation of Tolkien’s notes
as published in Unfinished Tales p. 317, but it is not the only possible interpretation.
As noted above (entry nessentain), this –ntë is here used as the basis for
–nta as the ending for “their”, still not attested in published material.