Eyja (eyja) wrote in high_elven,
Eyja
eyja
high_elven

Questions

What is the proper sentence structure of Quenya? SOV, SVO?

I've always been confused on this point.

Also, where do adverbs and the like go? Sindarin has adjectives following the nouns, Quenya has adjectives preceding, but what about the other parts of speech?

Also, Quenya is generally an inflected language but there are listed some prepositions/postpositions. When do you think it's acceptable to use these if there is a case that covers it. I'm specifically thinking of mi 'in.' When might you use mi instead of -sse?
(Poetry would be a good example - it doesn't add or subtract syllables but if you're trying to write alliteration, that may be useful)
  • Post a new comment

    Error

    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic
  • 35 comments
Well, when you have the pronoun ending it would be V-S O, wouldn't it? I'm not sure about independent subjects.

Sindarin...I can't remember any sindarin sentences off the top of my head, actually. Is it VSO, like Welsh?
My book says for Quenya can have

Subject-Verb-Object:

but it also has Object-verb-subject
or object-subject-verb

it says
"a verb only occurs at the end of a sentence if it is a question.
Sentences beginning with verbs seem to be emotionally charged.
if there are one or more nouns before a verb, one of them is usually the subject. However, if the noun before the verb has a prepositional suffix the subject will be the noun following the verb."
Citation?
I would like to know where this came from. I am very worried it's from Ruth S. Noel's book, which is outdated and mostly useless. :(
unfortunately that is the only book I have. I was unaware that it was not accurate. If you have any other books that are better for reference could you let me know, I would like to have something to go by.
There are many online resources, but the only reliable, scholarly research done on Quenya that is in print appears mostly in publications by http://www.elvish.org

For online sources, check out the userinfo. :)

snowqueene

11 years ago

Yes, verb inflection is more certain. Phrasal and clause syntax are not so certain.
Sindarin should probably be VSO, like Welsh.

A verb with a pronoun ending and a direct object is treated as VO with subject agreement and null subject, not as VSO, i.e. [null S] V-[(SUBJ)PERSON.NUMBER] O-ACC.
So is there no distinction between a language like Spanish and one like Quenya, where the subject pronoun is distinguishable?
An independent subject pronoun would just be in the same subject slot as a noun.

There is, however, a slight difference in subject-agreement between Quenya and Spanish. In Quenya, the agreement markers are more like clitics than the Spanish affixes. That, too, is a continuum, and Quenya's would probably be a bit closer to the clitic side in its greater freedom than the Spanish ones, although it seems much less free than the Latin enclitic -que.
I'm not sure where you're deriving this information.

Im narvi hain echant: Clearly SOV, and likely on thus to faciliate pronunciation.
Celebrimbor o Eregion teithant i thiw hin. SVO
Ar e aníra ennas suilannad mhellyn în phain SVO
Elessar Telcontar [...] anglennatha i Varanduiniant erin dolothen Ethuil [...]SVO
Guren bêd enni. SVO

These are all taken from the "prose" of the corpus; they haven't been affected by poetic license. If anything, Sindarin would in theory be SVO, much like English. More detailed syntax would show marked differences, but over all, it makes far more sense to assume SVO, if assumptions must be made.
Oh, I forgot to add "or SVO" after Sindarin should probably be VSO, like Welsh. Sorry!
Prediction by typological tendencies across languages. Usually, the head-initial structures with adjectives following nouns, etc. indicate at least VO, i.e. SVO, VSO or VOS; SVO and VSO are more common by far. It would have been clearer just to say VO neutral order (i.e. without emphases) without addressing the position of the subject. But since Sindarin has some case structures, it would not be only prose that has word order flexible to some degree. Heh. Again, sorry about the inadvertent omission.

Re: How?

yll

11 years ago

Re: How?

epeuthutebetes

11 years ago

Re: How?

yll

11 years ago

Re: How?

epeuthutebetes

10 years ago

Re: How?

yll

11 years ago

Re: How?

epeuthutebetes

11 years ago

Re: How?

yll

11 years ago

Unfortunately, Elvish syntax is an extremely difficult to be sure about. Most of our attested samples are poetry, and poetry, most agree, can become very mixed up in this area. I do know that there are theories, such as HKF's at ardalambion (see userinfo) and in the new book by David Salo. Still, many of the resources we have are contradictory or too varied to pinpoint a definitively "right" or "wrong" syntax. The niceties of syntax are something I find very interesting, so I have read up, and I know HKF's course deals with it more in-depth than other sources. Just keep in mind that most of it is hypothetical and so we keep the order "free" most of the time.

Concerning adjectival/adverbial syntax, we're again uncertain. Your statements concerning the syntax seem a bit too definite to me. Adverbs are free, though they should probably occur at close proximity to the verb, as in english (save, perhaps, for adverbials of manner, which explain the manner in which an action is performed). Even though syntax is somewhat uncertain, we do know that both Q and S adjectives must agree in number with the nouns they qualify, and that adjectives following nouns in S are generally lenited.

As for pre- and postpositions, it's really all about specificity. Thing like _mi_ "in" are used when _-ssë_ "in, on, at" might be too ambiguous to stand alone clearly. However, it is clear from attested samples that _-ssë_ is the most common way of expressing "in" in Quenya.
Noel's book is the only one I have. Who is HKF and what has he/she written? Also, what is the new book by David Salo titled?

While I've read all the source materials, the noel books, and some of the Book of lost Tales I and II, I'm otherwise fairly at beginner level as far as incorporating S and Q as useable languages goes.

Thanks for any help.
Since Quenya is a highly inflective language, somewhere on the continuum between strictly agglutinative and strictly fusional with even some direct object agreement on the verb, probably any unambiguous word order is acceptable, especially if the distinct Valinorean accusative is used. If not, you could look at the word orders in the Namarie poem to determine which ones are more common and in what structures.

If you want to find out what the basic word oder is without fronting or other kinds of word-order emphasis, I'd say look at the other features. Since adjectives precede and postpositions are possible but less common than prepositions, Quenya seems to be in a position similar to that of Chinese, where it's topic-comment and generally SVO-ish with structural characteristics left over from the time when SOV order was more prevalent. Using Chinese as an example, I would guess that adverbs should precede their heads most of the time.

Regarding mi 'in', another problem that we may encounter is what case this adposition governs, i.e. in what case the adposition's object is declined. Perhaps it's used with -sse in a redundant structure to emphasize something, or maybe it's a further clarification of the locative. If this word is found enough times in the corpus, we should have an idea of when it's used and in what environments.

But another thing that's always confused me a little is the absence of several forms of poetic meter that would be typify the language (or its speakers), e.g. Modern English uses stress-based iambic pentameter the most, while Greek likes to use syllabic length-based dactylic hexameter for epic and didactic poetry, and Old English bases its meters on time and alliterative verse without counting syllables, with four main beats in one line and accompanying rules of alliteration. What does Quenya do? I would check with the Kalevala, since it has similar agglutination with probably too many short syllables for length-based meters, but I don't know any Finnish.

I hope this helps.
Regarding mi 'in', another problem that we may encounter is what case this adposition governs, i.e. in what case the adposition's object is declined. Perhaps it's used with -sse in a redundant structure to emphasize something, [...] If this word is found enough times in the corpus, we should have an idea of when it's used and in what environments.

Dubious. We have the attested example "mi oromardi lissë [...]" in Namárië. The word _mi_ is an alternative to the locative. You mentioned clarification, and this is the theory. The locative has several meanings, so _mi_ is a more specific alternative.
my theory:*
Ah. Hm, the only other language I've seen with prepositions that govern only the nominative is German. Not even English has only prepositions that govern the nominative and not any other cases. In Greek, there are several prepositions that govern the genitive, the dative and the accusative (all but the nominative and vocative) with slightly different shades of meaning according to the case the substantive takes. Well, if this is the only attestation, then I guess we can't assume the grammaticality of any other use.

yll

11 years ago

It seems to me similar to Russian and Latin in that there's a surfeit of cases and conjugations to convey meaning. In these languages there aren't strict word orders, so in Quenya I have also given up bothering. (Also, forgotten all vocab.)
It is true that these languages have no strict word orders. Indeed, in Greek and Latin I like playing with it. Still, it isn't that there is absolutely no difference when you change word order, only that both possibilities are acceptable. In such languages with "free word order", most order changes from the basic order (SOV in Latin) are for emphasis of one thing or another. Often, they are so common that there appears to be no basic word order. However, there are always some more neutral placements that look plainer than others.
Yeah, that's what I meant.

Your comment was fantastic! Where did you learn all this stuff? Do you have a linguistics degree? I keep meaning to learn more linguistics and practise my Quenya ever, but I never have time :(
Thanks, but no, I don't have a degree yet: I'm still a freshman at UC Berkeley intending to major in linguistics, although I've taken one linguistics course at Cal last summer, just before my junior year. (I know the years don't add up, because I skipped senior year) I'll take more linguistics courses starting next semester, but until Saturday my life is studying for my Math 1B (Calculus) final, which I didn't really have to take, but I'm a bit crazy like that.

The rest is mainly conlanging, for which I read a few linguistics papers (or parts of them) here and there so I can make my language more realistic, and Wikipedia, which I often use as a starting point for things just so that I have an idea before plunging into more technical linguistics material for specific problems or areas I might be working on in my conlang.

feanelwa

11 years ago

A general knowledge of linguistics isn't to be equated with knowledge of Quenya as a language. The application of the knowledge would be more fantastic, to my mind, and I see very little of that here. It is worrisome, to me.