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Select Elvish Words 10.47: to Go (Quenya)

10.47 to Go

Q. lelya- v. “to travel, go, proceed (in any direction)”

A verb appearing in the Quendi and Eldar essay (Q&E) from 1959-60, glossed “go, proceed (in any direction), travel” and with a strong past form lende, derived from primitive ✶ledja- based on the root √LED (WJ/363).

Conceptual Development: This verb went through quite a number of revisions, the most stable element being its past form lende “went”. The first iteration of this verb appeared in The Etymologies as ᴹQ. lesta- “to leave” [presumably *led+ta] under a draft entry for the root ᴹ√ELED “go, depart, leave” (Ety/ELED), but that entry was deleted and the meaning of the extended root was revised to ᴹ√ELED “star-folk”. Elsewhere in The Etymologies Tolkien had lenna- “go” [presumably *led+na] with past form lende “went, departed” under the root ᴹ√LED “go, fare, travel” (Ety/LED; EtyAC/LED). In The Etymologies as published in The Lost Road Christopher Tolkien gave linna “go” (LR/368), but in their Addenda and Corrigenda to the Etymologies Carl Hostetter and Patrick Wynne stated the actual form was lenna (VT45/27).

The past form lende appeared regularly in Tolkien’s writings of the 1930s, 40s and 50s, typically glossed “went” (LR/47, 56, 72; SD/310), but sometimes “came” (LR/56; SD/56; PE17/65; VT27/7). These two translations were not contradictory if we assume the verb meant “proceed (in any direction)” and so could mean “go” or “come” depending on circumstance and the relative position of the speaker. Tolkien did not given another version of its stem form until lelya- [led+ya] appeared in the Q&E essay of 1959-60, as noted above (WJ/363). Another related verb form lenda- “go free” [le-n-d+a] appeared in Late Notes on Verb Structure (LVS) from 1969 beneath a never-before-seen root √TIG and verb tinga- “go (for a long while)”, both verbs derived via nasal-infixion from their root, but an “X X” was written in the margins next to √TIG, which seems to indicate this was a transient idea (PE22/157 and note #70).

Neo-Quenya: For purposes of Neo-Quenya, I would assume the stem form is lelya- “travel, go, proceed (in any direction)”. I would further assume lelya- implies a longer journey (“travel”) than the most generic verb for “go”, which is Q. men-; see that entry for discussion.

Q. lenda n. “journey, *travel, trip”

A word for “journey” appearing in Words, Phrases and Passages from the Lord of the Rings from the late 1950s or early 1960s, derived from √LEN or √LED and related to the derivation of S. lembas “waybread” (PE17/60).

Neo-Quenya: The Neo-Quenya Wiki suggested this word may mean also be used for “*travel, trip”.

Conceptual Development: The Declension of Nouns of the early 1930s had ᴹQ. lesto “journey” (PE21/12).

Q. men- v. “to go, proceed, move (in some direction); to come [when moving to a destination], arrive [+ locative]”

The basic Quenya word for “go”, appearing with this meaning in notes from the late 1950s where it was inspired by omentië “meeting” (PE17/13). It appeared regularly in Tolkien’s writing thereafter. In Definitive Linguistic Notes (DLN) from 1959 Tolkien specified that its root √MEN meant “go, move, proceed in any direction (irrespective of speaker’s position, or assumed point of thought)” (PE17/165), and in notes associated with the Osanwe-kenta essay from this same period Tolkien said the root meant “move, proceed (in a direction intended by a person)” (VT41/6). As such, a more accurate translation would be “move (in a direction)”, somewhat more general than English “go”, which often (but not always) has the implication “move (away)”.

Indeed, Tolkien sometimes translated this verb as “come” (PE22/162) or “arrive” (VT49/24). In Late Notes on Verb Structure (LVS) from 1969, when discussing the phrases vá ménanyë “I am not coming” and vá meninyë ó le “I won’t come with you”, Tolkien said:

E[nglish] says “come” in such cases where there is a question of accompanying others. Q. uses “go” [men-] of movement to or towards any point other than the “here” of the speaker, actual or reported within a narrative (PE22/162).

In notes from around 1968 Tolkien had {√ten >>} √men in various expressions for “arrive”, saying “chiefly in past {tenne >>} menne ‘arrived, reached’, which is usually used with locative not allative: {tennen >>} mennen sís ‘I arrive[d] here’ (VT49/23-24)”. I would interpret this to mean men- + locative (“go at”) could have the sense “arrive”, but (a) this notion could be remnants of the rejected root √TEN and (b) the examples in this note used “arrive” regardless of whether or not the locative was present.

In any case, it seems Q. men- could be translated by a variety of English verbs (“move, go, come, arrive”) depending on the relative positions of the speaker, the mover, and the destination.

Conceptual Development: In The Etymologies of the 1930s the root ᴹ√MEN was unglossed but does not seem to be verbal in sense, since in that document there was no verb form and ᴹQ. men was translated “place, spot” (Ety/MEN). In the Quenya Verbal System (QVS) from 1948, the root did have a verbal sense, and Tolkien originally used the verb ᴹQ. men- in the sense “mean, intend, wish”, but then transferred the senses “mean, intend” to ᴹQ. tel- and the sense “wish” to ᴹQ. mer- (PE22/99 note #1, 118 note #106 and #107). In QVS Tolkien first gave the root ᴹ√MEN the translation “aim at, intend, purpose”, indicating that with the allative it meant “make for, proceed towards”, but in red ink he revised the root’s gloss to “go, proceed” (PE22/103 and note #24).

Throughout the 1950s and 60s, Tolkien vacillated on the meaning of the root √MEN switching between “place”, “intend” and “go”, but starting in 1959 he mostly used the verb men- in the sense “go, move (in a direction)”, as described above.

In earlier writings, Tolkien used a variety of different Qenya words for “go”. In the Gnomish Lexicon of the 1910s, he had ᴱQ. inta- as the cognate of G. intha² “go (indefinite), fare, proceed” (GL/51). In Early Qenya Word-lists of the 1920s he had ᴱQ. ere “goes” and ᴱQ. tie- “go”, but both were rejected without replacement (PE16/133)

Neo-Quenya: For purposes of Neo-Quenya, I would use men- only in the sense “move (in a direction)”, mostly translatable “go” or “come” depending on context. In combination with the locative I would translate men- as “arrive” as in mennen Tirionessë “I arrived at Tirion, (lit.) I went at Tirion”, but I would use anya- as the more usual verb for “reach, arrive at”. I have seen some Neo-Quenya writers use men- for the more general sense “move (not necessarily in some direction)”, as in ᴺQ. menemma “motion picture”. However, I think it is better to have a separate verb for this, so I use [ᴱQ.] lev- “move (intr.)” for this purposes: ᴺQ. levemma “motion picture”.

ᴹQ. mena- v. “to be making for, be on way to”

An a-verb in the Quenya Verbal System (QVS) from 1948 glossed “be making for, on way to” based on the root ᴹ√MEN “go, proceed”, with a more continuative sense = “be in the process of going” (PE22/103). The later verb mína- is similar in form, but has the meaning “derive to go” (VT39/11).

Q. mentië n. “passage, journey, direction of travel”

A noun meaning “passage, journey, direction of travel”, most notably as an element in omentië “meeting of pathways” (PE17/13). Tolkien considered several etymologies for this noun, one a combination of men- “go” and tië “path”, another as the gerund of a verb menta-.

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