Friday, December 07, 2007

Banging The Geek Gavel

Ok, time to put an end to this debate on Elvish. Before I begin, I'll admit that I'm looking this up too. However, all my sources are from my hard disk, meaning I've already downloaded them, and I know most of the concepts I'm going to mention, just not the specifics. Aka I win.

Here's the argument: Koops thinks "Tolo dan nan galad" is correct, while Juicy contends that "Tolo dan na ngalad" is correct.

The key here is that "calad" (light) is undergoing mutation to either "galad" or "ngalad". I have no doubt that mutation does occur, but the question is what kind of mutation it is and if "na" should become "nan". ("nan" on its own means grassland, so the "nan" in Dr_K's claim must be a form of "na").

Ambiguity is added by the following example: "Aniral toled na gar nin?". The phrase "na gar" is analogous to our debate (a preposition causing mutation in a noun starting with "c"). As you can see, "car" becomes "gar", not "ngar", but "na" does not acquire an "-n".

To answer this we must looked to the phenomenon of "mixed mutation". When a preposition (such as "na" is followed by an article (in this case "i", meaning the [light]) "-n" or "-in" can be added to the preposition in place of the article. Hence "nan". In the above example, "Aniral toled na gar nin?", there is no such article to cause this transformation because it is 'my house', not 'the house'.

This all points towards Koops being correct. The kicker is mutation. In nasal mutation, "g-" becomes "ng-", but that only occurs with plurals, which "galad" isn't. In truth, this is soft mutation (also called lenition) making "c-" go to "g-" because "galad" is the direct object of the sentence. This means the "n" in Juicy's "ngalad cannot be accounted for by mutation."

Not all is lost for Juicy though. I can't find reference of it, but from what I know about Sindarin, there's probably some exception about "nan g-" being written "na ng-" by certain people. One such person probably wrote the example that Juicy found, causing this confusion. Basically, neither of you are right. I give you both As for effort, especially Koops for his follow-up research.

Thanks to Thorsten Renk for the grammar.


The Juicy One said...

*see my comment on the other entry that started all this*

dr_koopon said...

Well that explains what lenition is. My source mention how "galad" was a lenition of "calad," meaning "light," but I had no idea what they were talking about.

But way to close that one out pretty definitively. My source, for the record, was two different quotes directly from the movie, found via, which cites David Salo in its intro.

justifiably_vertical said... Who knew...

Gavrich said...

Question from the peanut gallery: Why won't you learn a useful language?


justifiably_vertical said...

Because they're hard.

And I enjoy Elvish, looking up that grammar was the most fun I've had this week. Deal with it.