Vinyar Tengwar Number 42: A Review

by Ryszard I. Derdziński

Vinyar Tengwar #42. July 2001, 40 pp. The journal of the Elvish Linguistic Fellowship, a Special Interest Group of the Mythopoeic Society. Editor Carl F. Hostetter. Revied also by Helge K. Fauskanger on Elfling.

July 2001 has brought us the newest issue of the long awaited Vinyar Tengwar number 42. A year ago Carl F. Hostetter presented a lot of interesting Elvish material connected with the essays Quendi and Eldar (from c. 1959-60) and Shibboleth of Fëanor (from c. 1968). Now we have even more information concerning Quenya, Telerin and Sindarin as they were in J.R.R. Tolkien's thought in the last years of his life. Authors of Elvish grammars and glossaries will have much to do to actualize their websites and publications. As usually all the texts are prepared with great care and clearness in the style of the History of Middle-earth edited by Christopher Tolkien.


Vinyar Tengwar #42 contents are: Editor's Musings by Carl F. Hostetter (p. 2), Letters to VT (pp. 3-4), The Rivers and Beacon-hills of Gondor by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Carl F. Hostetter, commentary by Christopher Tolkien (pp. 5-31) with Appendix: The Eldarin numerals by J.R.R. Tolkien (pp. 24-26), Negation in Quenya by Bill Welden (pp. 32-34), Transitions in Translations, a column by Arden R. Smith (pp. 35-38) and Resources (p. 39).


Letters to VT contain a text by Frederik Ström from Sweden. He analyzes the Sindarin place-name Eriador as a counterpart of the Noldorin name Ariador 'The Land Outside' from The Etymologies, and he compares it with the name 'Lone-lands' from The Hobbit. Carl F. Hostetter replies quoting a very interesting note by J.R.R. Tolkien, the only known etymology of Eriador in the Professor's writings from c. 1949-1953 where Eriador = 'wilderness' from CE *erjá 'isolated, lonely' (p. 4). Frederik Ström compares also Hobbit cast, Rohan castu and Westron castar and his conclusion is that they all come from one stem.


The Rivers and Beacon-hills of Gondor by J.R.R. Tolkien is historical and etymological essay, titled by its author Nomenclature. Christopher Tolkien dates it to c. 1967-69 together with other, similar writings including Of Dwarves and Men, The Shibboleth of Fëanor and The History of Galadriel and Celeborn. Ch. Tolkien who gave some excerpts from this essay in Unfinished Tales, prepared a fuller presentation of this text for The Peoples of Middle-earth, but unfortunately it was omitted from that volume. The text edited by Carl F. Hostetter contains a fragment of an unpublished letter of J.R.R. Tolkien to Mr Paul Bibire with an etymology of Glanduin and alph. A part entitled The names of the Rivers gives us a lot of new Sindarin words and explains the following river-names: Adorn, Gwathló, Erui, Serni, Sirith, Celos Gilrain, Ciril, Ringló, Morthond and Levnui. The Names of the Beacon hills contains etymology of the names: Amon Dîn, Eilenach, Eilenaer, Erelas, Calenhad and Halifirien.

Non-linguists will find many exciting things here. These who love Middle-earth, its history and culture, can read about the Dúnedain and Elvish women's tressures (p. 11), Amroth and Nimrodel (pp. 12-13), making boats by the Elves (p. 16) and pre-Númenórean religions (p. 22). The linguists know finally what was J.R.R. Tolkien's etymology of such names as Eriador ('Wilderness' p. 4), Emyn Arnen ('Hills of Arnen', Arnen being of pre-Númenórean origin p. 17), Imloth Melui ('sweet flower-valley' p. 18) and Belfalas ('Bay of Bêl' p. 15).


Appendix: The Eldarin Numerals is a very interesting text about the numerals in Quenya, Telerin and Sindarin. Among many new things we find here the CE forms of the numbers: 10 *kwaja, *kwaja-m, 11 *minik(w) and 12 *junuk(w). Last discussion on ELFLING concerning the Sindarin adjectival ending -ui finds here the answer: Tolkien derives this ending from CE *ó-ja and *ú-ja. This suffix was generalized as the ending in another adjectives and numbers too. Finally we can count from 1 to 10 (or even to 12) in Quenya, Telerin and Sindarin (for Sindarin numbers see here; you can see that we have quite new word for ten: Q *quain, T *pain, S pae), but unfortunately we still don't know how to say 'twenty two' or 'one hundred ninty seven' in the Eldarin languages.


Negation in Quenya by Bill Welden is a very interesting review of J.R.R. Tolkien's conceptions of negation from the times of the "Gnomish Lexicon" to the last writings in 1970s. We can see how Tolkien's thoughts changed during the decades. We find here many new words and constructions: for example ke (or kwí, kwíta) translated as 'a particle indicating uncertainty', mo 'one', ma 'indefinite personal pronoun: somebody, one', etc. For fuller review of the negative forms and interesting forms in Quenya see Helge K. Fauskanger's message on ELFLING. Bill Welden writes: So the question of whether a word or grammatical construct is "proper Quenya" turns out to become, paradoxically, more uncertain the more we learn about how Tolkien worked (p. 34). 


In Transitions and Translations Arden R. Smith writes about the Icelandic, German and Norwegian editions of the books by J.R.R. Tolkien.


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In my opinion the last issue of Vinyar Tengwar should be found in every Tolkienian collection. It is really worth buying! 

And next issue of Vinyar Trengwar in the year 2002, as Bill Welden informs, will contain a very interesting J.R.R. Tolkien's texts Átaremma and Aia María (or Pater Noster and Ave Maria) in Quenya.


© by Ryszard I. Derdzinski



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