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Select Elvish Words 9.11: to Do, Make

9.11 to Do, Make

ᴹQ. alcárima adj. “not feasible, impossible”

A negation of cárima “feasible, possible”, first appearing as ᴹQ. alkárima “impossible to make” in the Quenya Verbal System (QVS) of the 1940s (PE22/111), then as Q. la-kárima “not feasible, impossible” in Late Notes on Verb Structure (LVS) from around 1969 (PE22/153). The 1969 variant appeared in a paragraph which started “As a prefix the reduced from la (short a) appears. This is used with verbal derivatives, nouns or adjectives …”, but Tolkien rejected this paragraph. The new version of the paragraph read “With nouns and adjs. (not regularly attached to verbal stems, such as -ima, -ite) the form was al before vowels and usually (in all later and free formations) before initial consonants that in Q. were permitted after l”. Thus it seems likely alcárima was restored, although it did not appear in the revised paragraph.

Neo-Quenya: For purposes of Neo-Quenya, I would use the 1940s form ᴺQ. alcárima with the 1969 meaning “not feasible, impossible”.

ᴹQ. cacarra- v. “to keep on doing, *continue”

A frequentative form of kar- “do, make” glossed “keep on doing”, appearing in the Quenya Verbal System of the 1940s using the frequentative patterns described in that document (PE22/100, 109).

Neo-Quenya: Tolkien used different patterns in his later writings: see the entry on the Quenya frequentative for details. However, I think the old patterns can coexist with the new ones, and I would retain this verb for purposes of Neo-Quenya. I think cacarra- can also mean “*to continue”.

Q. car- v. “to do, make, ⚠️[ᴹQ.] build”

Car- is the Quenya verb for “do, make”, derived from the root √KAR of the same meaning, and was very well established in Tolkien’s mind. ᴱQ. karin “I do, make” dates back all the way to the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s (QL/45), and appeared regularly in Tolkien’s writings thereafter. Tolkien frequently used car- in examples of conjugating basic verbs, so the inflections of car- are pretty representative of Tolkien’s evolving notations of the Quenya verb system.

The English verb “do” has many specialized functions, such as in the formation of questions like “do you want to go?”. Quenya car- does not share many of those functions. Quenya car- serves as a “generic action” verb, in some sense acting like verbal pronoun, which can be substituted for a more specific verb. For example, in phrases like A carnë ta yallë B (carnë) “A did that as / like B (did)” (PE17/74) or ecuva nin carë sa nöa “I may do that tomorrow” (VT49/20), the verb car- is a placeholder for the specific action done, in the same way that ta and sa is a pronominal placeholder for the action as a noun.

The English verb “do” often requires a generic object like “it”, but that is not the case for Quenya car-: consider English “don’t do it” [with object] vs. Quenya áva carë [without object] (WJ/371) or the Quenya phrase á carë ancárië “try harder” (PE17/94), more literally “*do [it] with more doing”. When car- has a specific direct object, it generally has the sense “make”, as in ma caruvalwë ohta “shall we make war” (PE22/161) or i carir quettar ómainen “those who form [make] words with voices” (WJ/391).

Conceptual Development: In The Etymologies of the 1930s Tolkien had ᴹQ. karin “I make, build” under the root ᴹ√KAR {“make, do” >>} “make, build, construct” (Ety/KAR), and in this period kar- was more often glossed “make” rather than “do”, such as in the Quenya Verbal System of the 1940s. It could be that in the 1930s and 40s this verb was more limited in sense than it was earlier and later.

Q. carië n. “doing, making”

A noun for “doing” (PE22/152) or “making” (PE22/99), which is simply the gerund (verbal noun) of the verb car- “to do, make”.

Q. cárima adj. “feasible, possible (to do), able to be done, [ᴹQ.] able to be made”

An adjective that is a combination of car- “do, make” with the suffix -ima “-able”, so literally “able to be done, *doable”, with alternate meanings like “feasible, possible” (PE22/137, 155). As a verbal formation, the á is long in cárima. In one place Tolkien had carima with a short a as an ordinary adjective replacing the passive participle carina “done” (VT43/15), but that seems to have been a transient idea. In another place Tolkien glossed ᴹQ. kárima as “{able to make (likely, apt to) >>} able to be made” (PE22/111). I believe both meanings of cárima are applicable, depending on context: hirië Valinor cárima (ná) “finding Valinor (is) doable” vs. macili cárimë anganen “swords [are] makable with iron”.

Q. carina adj. “done, [ᴹQ.] made, [ᴱQ.] finished”

This is the passive participle of the verb Q. car- “to do, make” and thus means “done, made”. In later writings, it appeared as an element in Q. lacarina “undone” (PE22/156) and in some versions of Quenya prayers from the 1950s in the phrase: na carina mendelya “thy will be done” (VT43/8-9).

Conceptual Development: In the Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s, ᴱQ. karina was glossed “finished” under the early root ᴱ√KARA “do, make” (QL/45), but in this period it seems to be an ordinary adjective rather than a passive participle of the verb. ᴹQ. karina was a passive participle in the Quenya Verbal System of the 1940s, where it was glossed “made” (PE22/111).

Neo-Quenya: The meanings “done” vs. “made” depend on context. It could mean “made” in phrases like nauco-carina macil “a dwarf-made sword”, but in ordinary use it mostly likely has the sense “done, finished, *complete” as in samin i carina macil “I have the done/finished sword”.

Q. -carya suf. “-doing”

An archaic pseudo-participle now used only as an adjective formation suffix -carya “-doing”, as in saucarya “evil-doing”.

Q. finya- v. “to do/make a thing (with fine work)”

A verb in Notes on Names (NN) from 1957 glossed “to do a thing / make a thing (with fine work)”, derived from the root √PHIN “clever, fine, delicate” (PE17/181).

Q. lacarina adj. “undone, *unfinished, incomplete”

A negation of carina “done” in Late Notes on Verb Structure (LVS) from around 1969, glossed “undone” (PE22/156). For purposes of Neo-Quenya, I would use this mainly in the sense “*unfinished, incomplete” rather than for an undoing of a work.

Conceptual Development: The Qenya Lexicon of the 1910s had ᴱQ. ilkarna “unfinished”, a combination of the early negative prefix ᴱQ. il- with ᴱQ. karina “finished” (QL/41).

S. car- v. “to do, make”

Car- is the Sindarin verb for “do, make”, derived from the root √KAR of the same meaning. Tolkien often used it for examples of verb inflections in his writings.

Conceptual Development: The earliest iteration of this verb was G. {car- >>} cartha- “make, finish” in the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s with past tense côri (GL/25), reappearing as cartha- “to finish” in the Gnomish Lexicon Slips modifying that document with past tense cair- or cawr- (PE13/111). A set of rough verb forms caron, {cur}, côr, {carn}, crantha, cor and cranthi appear in the margin of a page of the Early Noldorin Grammar, which the editors suggested might be related to the (unglossed and rejected) sentence ᴱN. on gós i·bhelon ar cranthi gwaist ’worin o nomad othra, perhaps meaning “*he made everyone aware of your sinking” (PE13/128 and note #76).

In the Early Noldorin Dictionary, also from the 1920s, Tolkien had ᴱN. cara- “to make, do, perform, act (trans. and absolute)” with a new past form agor (PE13/161). Hints of the verb N. car- can be found in The Etymologies of the 1930s in words like N. ceredir “doer, maker” and N. osgar “cut round, amputate” (Ety/DER, OS). The verb appeared regularly in conjugation charts and sentences Tolkien’s later writings of the 1950s and 60s (VT50/22; PE17/132).

ᴱN. -garn suf. “*-made”

A suffixal form ᴱN. -carn or -garn of the passive participle agarn for the verb ᴱN. cara- “to make, do” in the Early Noldorin Dictionary of the 1920s, hence meaning something like “-*made”.

Neo-Sindarin: I think this suffix can be salvaged as a reduction of the later passive participle carnen of S. car- “do, make”, which can be used to form adjectives such as adangarn “man-made”. It does conflict with S. carn “deed”, but I prefer S. carth for this noun form.

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