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Quenya - the Ancient Tongue

From: Helge K. Fauskanger

Also spelt: Qenya, Qendya, Quendya
Also called: High-elven/High-elvish, the High Speech of the Noldor, the Ancient Speech, the speech of the Elves of Valinor, Elf-latin/Elven-latin, Valinorean, Avallonian, Eressëan, parmalambë (Book-tongue), tarquesta (high-speech), Nimriyê (in Adûnaic), Goldórin or Goldolambë (in Telerin), Cweneglin or Cwedhrin (in Gnomish).

Internal history

Quenya or High-elven is the most prominent language of the Amanya branch of the Elvish language family. In Aman there were two dialects of Quenya, Vanyarin and Noldorin. For historical reasons, only the latter was used in Middle-earth. The only other Eldarin language spoken in Aman, Telerin, could also be considered a dialect of Quenya, but it was usually held to be a separate language and is not discussed here (see separate article).
Compared to many other Elvish tongues, Quenya was archaic. It preserved the main features of the original Elvish language, invented by the Elves when they first awoke by the mere of Cuiviénen - a tongue with "many...beautiful words, and many cunning artifices of speech" (WJ:422). In fact, the Silmarillion Index refers to Quenya as "the ancient tongue, common to all Elves, in the form it took in Valinor" in Aman - as if Quenya was so similar to Primitive Elvish that it was merely as a later form of it, not a new language. Indeed Primitive Elvish and Quenya may have been mutually intelligible, but it must not be thought that they were almost identical. In Valinor, the ancient Elvish tongue underwent certain changes: "Its altering ...[came] in the making of new words (for things old and new) and in the softening and harmonizing of the sounds and patterns of the Quendian tongue to forms that seemed to the Noldor more beautiful" (WJ:20). The sounds b and d became v and l (or n) initially, final long vowels were shortened, unstressed medial vowels often disappeared, and many consonant clusters underwent metathesis or other changes, generally making them easier to pronounce. Quenya also adopted and adapted a few words from the language of the rulers of Aman - the Valar, the Angelic Powers guarding the world on behalf of its Creator. However, the Valar themselves encouraged the Elves to "make new words of their own style, or...translate the meaning of names into fair Eldarin forms" instead of retaining or adapting Valarin words (WJ:405). It is stated that the Noldor "were changeful in speech, for they had great love of words, and sought ever to find names more fit for all things that they knew or imagined" (Silm. ch. 5).
In Aman, Quenya was spoken not only by the Vanyar and the Noldor, but also by the Valar: "The Valar appear quickly to have adopted Quenya" after the arrival of the Elves, and their own tongue, Valarin, was not often heard by the Eldar: "Indeed it is said that often the Valar and Maiar might be heard speaking Quenya among themselves" (WJ:305). Pengolodh the sage of Gondolin notes: "In the histories the Valar are always presented as speaking Quenya in all circumstances. But this cannot proceed from translation by the Eldar, few of which knew Valarin. The translation must have been made by the Valar or Maiar themselves. Indeed those histories or legends that deal with times before the awakening of the Quendi, or with the uttermost past, or with things that the Eldar could not have known, must have been presented from the first in Quenya by the Valar or the Maiar when they instructed the Eldar." He mentions the Ainulindalë as an example: "It must...have been from the first presented to us not only in the words of Quenya, but also according to our modes of thought."
When Rúmil invented letters, Quenya became the first language to be recorded in writing (Silm. ch. 6, LotR Appendix F). But outside the Blessed Realm of Aman, Quenya would never have been known if it had not been for the rebellion of the Noldor in the First Age. Most of this clan left Aman and went into exile in Middle-earth, bringing the High-elven tongue with them. In Middle-earth the Noldor were greatly outnumbered by the native Sindar or Grey-elves, who spoke a clearly related, yet quite different language. The Sindarin tongue had long since dropped the case inflections that were still preserved in Quenya, and the general sound of the two languages differed much - Quenya was much more vocalic than Sindarin and had a very limited distribution of the voiced stops b, d, g, that were frequent in Sindarin. As it turned out, "the Noldor...learned swiftly the speech of Beleriand [i.e. Sindarin], whereas the Sindar were slow to master the tongue of Valinor [i.e. Quenya]". Twenty years after the coming of the Noldor to Middle-earth, "the tongue of the Grey-elves was most spoken even by the Noldor" (Silm. ch. 13). When King Thingol of Doriath finally learnt that the Noldor had killed many of his kinsfolk among the Teleri and stolen their ships when they left Valinor, he banned the use of Quenya throughout his realm. Consequently, "the Exiles took the Sindarin tongue in all their daily uses, and the High Speech of the West was spoken only by the lords of the Noldor among themselves. Yet that speech lived ever as a language of lore, wherever any of that people dwelt" (Silm. ch. 15).
Thus Quenya did survive, even in the dark First Age. In fact, the vocabulary was expanded: The Noldor adopted and adapted some words from other tongues, such as Casar "dwarf" from Dwarvish Khazad and certa "rune" from Sindarin certh (WJ:388, 396). Some words already in use developed new or modified meanings in Exilic Quenya, such as urco, a word that in Valinorean Quenya was used of "anything that caused fear to the Elves, any dubious shape or shadow, or prowling creature" that was remembered in ancient tales of the March from Cuiviénen. In Exilic Quenya, however, urco was recognized as a cognate of Sindarin orch and was used to translate it; hence the meaning of urco was now simply "Orc" (WJ:390; the Sindarin-influenced form orco was also used). When the Edain arrived in Beleriand, they learned not only Sindarin, but "to a certain extent Quenya also" (WJ:410). Though Quenya "was never a spoken language among Men" (Plotz Letter), High-elven names like Elendil became popular among the Edain. Túrin gave himself the Quenya name Turambar or "Master of Doom", and his sister Nienor cried some High-elven words before she killed herself (Silm. ch. 21). There are also numerous examples of Quenya being used or remembered by the Noldorin Exiles themselves: When Turgon built his hidden city, "he appointed its name to be Ondolindë in the speech of the Elves of Valinor", though the Sindarin-adapted form Gondolin became the usual name of the city. Even in Gondolin, Quenya "had become a language of books" for most people, "and as the other Noldor they used Sindarin in daily speech". Nonetheless, Tuor heard the Guard of Gondolin speak "in the High Speech of the Noldor, which he knew not". It is also stated that "Quenya was in daily use in Turgon's house, and was the childhood speech of Eärendil" (UT:44, 55). Aredhel left Gondolin and was captured by Eöl, to whom she bore a son, and "in her heart she gave him a name in the forbidden tongue of the Noldor, Lómion, that signifies Child of the Twilight" (Silm ch. 16). Eöl later called his son by the Sindarin name Maeglin, but Aredhel "taught Maeglin the Quenya tongue, though Eöl had forbidden it" (WJ:337).
However, Quenya as spoken by the Exiles early underwent some minor changes, probably before Thingol's edict against its use largely froze all processes of linguistic change. In a letter to Dick Plotz, Tolkien described the noun declension of an old form of Quenya, so-called "Book Quenya". Tolkien writes that "as far as was known to [mortal] men - to the Númenorean scholars, and such of these as survived in Gondor in [the Third Age] - these were the forms used in writing". But he further notes: "Quenya as a spoken language had changed to a certain extent among the Noldor before it ceased to be a birth tongue [i.e. early in their exile]... In this 'colloquial' form it continued to be spoken among Elves of Noldorin origin, but was preserved from further change since it was learned anew from writing by each generation." The implication seems to be that also this "collocquial" form of Quenya could be used in writing, and that this was the Quenya of the writings from which each generation learned the language anew. These would be writings written by the Noldor during their exile, after their language had diverged slightly from Amanian Quenya (in particular by the loss of the accusative case): "Exilic conditions...made necessary the writing down anew from mermory of many of the pre-Exilic works of lore and song" (PM:332). The Númenorean scholars may have picked up a more archaic form of Quenya because they were in contact with the Eldar of Eressëa and Valinor, not only the Noldorin Exiles in Middle-earth. Today, most writers do not use Book Quenya, but the Exilic Noldorin form of High-Elven, the language of Galadriel's Lament (LotR1/II ch. 8).
The First Age ended in the War of Wrath. At the beginning of the Second Age, some of the Noldor returned to Aman, "but some lingered many an age in Middle-earth" (Silm. ch. 24). Thus, native speakers of Quenya were still present in the Hither Lands. Indeed even their greatest enemy made a Quenya name for himself when he appeared to the Elves in a fair form to deceive them: Annatar, the Lord of Gifts (Of the Rings of Power in Silm). His real name was also Quenya, but one may well understand that he did not like it: Sauron, the Abhorred (see Silm. Index). Later, the Smiths of Eregion gave Quenya names to their greatest works: Narya, Nenya, and Vilya, the greatest of the Rings of Power save the One Ring itself.
However, the history of the Second Age is dominated by the saga of Númenor, the great isle given to the Edain by the Valar. Originally all the Edain were Elf-friends, and most of them knew Sindarin (though the daily speech of the Númenóreans was Adûnaic, a Mannish tongue). We are told that "the lore-masters among them learned also the High Eldarin tongue of the Blessed Realm, in which much story and song was preserved from the beginning of the world... So it came to pass that, beside their own names, all the lords of the Númenóreans had also Eldarin [Quenya and/or Sindarin] names; and the like with the cities and fair places that they founded in Númenor and on the shores of the Hither Lands" (Akallabêth). Examples of Quenya names in Númenor include Meneltarma, Armenelos, Rómenna and the name Númenor itself. Yet the fact remained that "Quenya was not a spoken tongue in Númenor. It was known only to the learned and to the families of high descent, to whom it was taught in their early youth. It was used in official documents intended for preservation, such as the Laws, and the Scroll and the Annals of the Kings..., and often in more recondite works of lore. It was also largely used in nomenclature: the official names of all places, regions, and geographical features in the land were of Quenya form (though they usually had also local names, generally of the same meaning, in either Sindarin or Adúnaic [Númenorean]. The personal names, and especially the official and public names, of all members of the royal house, and of the Line of Elros in general, were given in Quenya form" (UT:216). The Kings took Quenya names because High-Elven was "the noblest tongue in the world" (UT:218). However, times changed. The Númenoreans began to envy the immortality of the Elves, and the friendship with Aman gradually became cold. When the twentieth King of Númenor ascended the throne in the year 2899 of the Second Age, he broke with the ancient custom and took the sceptre with a title in Adûnaic instead of Quenya: Ar-Adûnakhôr, Lord of the West. In his reign "the Elven-tongues were no longer used, nor permitted to be taught, but were maintained in secret by the Faithful; and the ships from Eressëa came seldom and secretly to the west shores of Númenor thereafter" (UT:222). In 3102 Ar-Gimilzôr became the twenty-third King, and "he forbade utterly the use of the Eldarin tongues, and would not permit any of the Eldar to come to the land, and punished those that welcomed them" (UT:223). Indeed "the Elvish tongues were proscribed by the rebel Kings, and Adûnaic alone was permitted to be used, and many of the ancient books in Quenya or in Sindarin were destroyed" (PM:315). However, Gimilzôr's son Inziladûn proved to be of a very different character when he became King in 3177 (or 3175 according to one source - see UT:227). He repented the ways of the Kings before him and took a title in Quenya according to the ancient custom: Tar-Palantir, the Far-Sighted. Tar-Palantir "would fain have returned to the friendship of the Eldar and the Lords of the West", but it was too late (UT:223). His only child, a daughter, he named Míriel in Quenya. She should have been Ruling Queen after his death in 3255, but she was forced to marry Pharazôn, son of Tar-Palantir's brother Gimilkhâd. Pharazôn took her to wife against her will to usurp the sceptre of Númenor. Evidently he could not stand her Quenya name and changed it to Zimraphel in Adûnaic. Proud and arrogant, Ar-Pharazôn challenged Sauron in Middle-earth. The evil Maia cunningly pretended to surrender, whereupon Pharazôn "in the folly of his pride carried him back as a prisoner to Númenor. It was not long before he had bewitched the King and was master of his counsel; and soon he had turned the heart of all the Númenoreans, except the remnant of the Faithful, back towards the darkness" (LotR Appendix A). Sauron made the King believe that he would become immortal if he managed to wrest the rulership of Aman from the Valar, and eventually Pharazôn did attempt to invade the Blessed Realm. As Sauron well knew, the Númenoreans could never conquer the Powers, and as he had foreseen, Pharazôn's armada was utterly defeated. However, Sauron had not foreseen that the Valar would call upon the One Himself, and that He would use His power to change the entire shape of the world. The Blessed Realm was removed from the visible world into the realm of hidden things, and with it went all native speakers of Quenya save those of the Noldor who lingered in Middle-earth. Númenor itself disappeared in the sea, and we shall never know the number of the books written in Quenya that were lost in the ruin of the Isle of the Kings. The sunken isle was given new High-elven names: Mar-nu-Falmar, Land (lit. Home) under Waves, and Atalantë, the Downfallen.
The only survivors of the Downfall were Elendil, Isildur, Anárion and those who followed them on their ships. As their Quenya names give away, they were Elf-friends and had no part in the rebellion against the Valar. In Middle-earth they founded the Realms in Exile, Arnor and Gondor. Sauron soon attacked Gondor, but he was defeated in the Battle of Dagorlad, and after seven years of siege he had to leave the Barad-dûr and was slain by Gil-galad, Elendil, and Isildur; only the last of these survived. So ended the Second Age of the World, but the Realms in Exile survived into the Third Age, and among the scholars of Arnor and Gondor the knowledge of Quenya was preserved.
The Kings of Arnor and Gondor used Quenya names, as had the faithful Númenorean Kings of old. (861 years into the Third Age, however, Arnor was divided into the petty realms of Arthedain, Rhudaur, and Cardolan; the Kings of these realms used Sindarin names.) The Stewards of Gondor also used Quenya names until the time of Mardil, the first of the Ruling Stewards (so called because there was no King in Gondor in the period 2050-3019 of the Third Age, and the Stewards had to take on all responsibilities). However, Mardil's successors ceased to use High-elven names. The Stewards never took the title of King, and they may have thought it would be presumptious to use Quenya names after the manner of the Kings. But when Aragorn was crowned King in 3019, he called himself Elessar Telcontar in Quenya, following the ancient custom. Then the Fourth Age began, and the last of the Noldor set sail from the Havens and left Middle-earth for ever, returning to Aman. The last native speakers of Quenya were gone from our world, but as Gandalf pointed out to Aragorn, it was his task "to preserve what may be preserved" (LotR3/VI ch. 5) - including the knowledge of the Eldarin languages. We know that Aragorn gave a High-elven name to his son Eldarion, who succeeded him on the throne of Gondor when he died in the year 120 of the Fourth Age. Though little is known about this Age, there can be little doubt that as long as the realm of Gondor endured, Quenya was remembered.

Designations of the Language

The word Quenya, in the Vanyarin dialect Quendya, is an adjective formed upon the same stem as Quendi "Elves"; the basic meaning is thus "Elvish, Quendian". But the word Quenya was also associated with the stem quet- "speak", and indeed the stems quet- and quen- may be related: Tolkien speculated that "the oldest form of this stem referring to vocal speech was *KWE, of which *KWENE and *KWETE were elaborations" (WJ:392). The Elvish loremasters held that Quendi meant "those who speak with voices", and according to Pengolodh, Quenya meant properly "language, speech" (WJ:393). However, this may simply reflect the fact that Quenya was the only known language when the adjective Quen(d)ya "Quendian" was first applied to Elvish speech (elliptically for Quenya lambë " Quendian tongue"). Later the word Quenya was used exclusively as a name of this language, not as a general adjective meaning "Elvish, Quendian". The Noldor, however, "did not forget its connection with the old word Quendi, and still regarded the name as implying 'Elvish', that is the chief Elvish tongue, the noblest, and the one most nearly preserving the ancient character of Elvish speech" (WJ:374).
Quenya is also called parmalambë "the book-tongue" and tarquesta "high-speech" (LR:172; cf. "the High Speech of the Noldor" in UT:44). As Quenya originated in Valinor, it could also be termed Valinorean (LotR3/V ch. 8) or "the speech of the Elves of Valinor" (Silm. ch. 15). After the end of the First Age, many Noldor dwelt on the isle of Tol Eressëa, near to the coast of Aman. Therefore, Quenya is also known as Eressëan, or Avallonian after the Eresseän city of Avallónë (LR:41, SD:241). To the Amanian Teleri, Quenya was Goldórin or Goldolambe, evidently meaning "Noldoic" and "Noldo-tongue", respectively (WJ:375). In Gnomish, Tolkien's first attempt to reconstruct the language that much later turned out to be Sindarin, the word for Quenya ("Qenya") was Cwedeglin or Cwedhrin, but these words are certainly not valid in mature Sindarin (Parma Eldalamberon No. 11 p. 28).The Elf Glorfindel referred to Quenya as "the Ancient Tongue" (LotR1/I ch. 3), and being the most prestigous language in the world, it is also called "the High Speech of the West", "the high Eldarin tongue" (Silm. ch. 15, Akallabêth) or "High Ancient Elven" (WR:160). By the Númenóreans, Quenya was called Nimriyê or "Nimrian tongue", as the Dúnedain called the Elves Nimîr, the Beautiful. (SD:414, cf. WJ:386). Later, Frodo referred to Quenya as "the ancient tongue of the Elves beyond the Sea" and "the language...of Elven-song". (LotR1/II ch. 8) In English, Tolkien also used designations like "High-elven" (occasionally in Letters : "High-elvish") and "Elf-Latin, Elven-Latin" (Letters p. 176). In Middle-earth, Quenya eventually became a language of ceremony and lore, so Tolkien deemed it comparable to Latin in Europe.

External history

Quenya, originally spelt "Qenya", goes back to at least 1915. It seems that it was this year 23-year-old Tolkien compiled the "Qenya Lexicon", one of the very first Elvish word-lists (see LT1:246). Countless revisions affecting both grammar and vocabularly separate the earliest "Qenya" from the more-or-less final form that is exemplified in The Lord of the Rings, but the general phonetic style was present from the beginning. Nearly mature Quenya gradually emerged in the thirties, but minor revisions were being done even while LotR was being written, such as changing the genitive ending from -nto -o. There are also a few changes in the revised second edition of LotR, like when Tolkien decided that the word vánierin Galadriel's Lament should rather be avánier.
Throughout his life, Tolkien continued to refine the High-Elven tongue, that according to his son Christopher was "language as he wanted it, the language of his heart" (from the TV program J.R.R. Tolkien - A Portrait by Landseer Productions). In one of his letters, Tolkien himself wrote: "The archaic language of lore is meant to be a kind of 'Elven-latin', and by transcribing it into a spelling closely resembling that of Latin...the similarity to Latin has been increased ocularly. Actually it might be said to be composed on a Latin basis with two other (main) ingredients that happen to give me 'phonoaestetic' pleasure: Finnish and Greek. It is however less consonantal than any of the three. This language is High-elven or in its own terms Quenya (Elvish)" (Letters :176). Quenya was the ultimate experiment in euphony and phonoaestetics, and according to the taste of many, it was a glorious success. The grammatical structure, involving a large number of cases and other inflections, is clearly inspired by Latin and Finnish.
The longest sample of Quenya in The Lord of the Rings is Galadriel's Lament, sc. the poem Namárië near the end of the chapter Farewell to Lórien (LotR1/II ch. 8, starting Ai! laurië lantar lassi súrinen...) Many of the examples referred to in the following discussion are drawn from this poem. Other important Quenya texts include the Markirya poem in MC:222-223 and Fíriel's Song in LR:72, though the grammar of the latter differs somewhat from LotR-style Quenya; it represents one of Tolkien's earlier "Qenya" variants. (Markirya is very late and fully reliable.)

The Structure of Quenya: a brief survey

Elementary Phonology

Quenya has five vowels, a, e, i, o, u, short and long; the long vowels are marked with an accent: á, é, í, ó, ú. The vowel a is extremely frequent. The quality of the vowels resembles the system in Spanish or Italian rather than English. To clarify the pronunciation for readers used to English orthography, Tolkien sometimes adds a diaeresis over some vowels (e.g. Manwë rather than Manweto indicate that the final e is not silent, or Eärendilto indicate that the vowels eand a are pronounced separately and not drawn together as in English ear - the dots are not necessary for the meaning and can safely be left out in e-mail). The diphthongs are ai, oi, ui, eu, iu. (A sixth diphthong ei seems to occur in one or two words, but its status is uncertain.) The consonants are for the most part the same as in English, with the sibilants as the main exception: Ch as in church does not occur, neither does j as in joy, and instead of sh, zh (the latter like s in pleasure), Quenya has a sound like the German ich-Laut, spelt hyby Tolkien (e.g. hyarmen "south"). The h of English huge, human is sometimes pronounced as a weak variant of the sound in question. Quenya also lacks th (unvoiced as in thing or voiced as in the); unvoiced th did occur at an earlier stage, but merged with s shortly before the rebellion of the Noldor (see PM:331-333). It should also be noted that the voiced plosives b, d, g only occur in the clusters mb, nd/ld/rdand ng (some varieties of Quenya also had lb instead of lv). There are no initial consonant clusters, except qu (= cw), ty, ny and nwif we count the semi-vowels y, was consonants. Normally there are no final clusters either; words end either in one of the single consonants t, s, n, l, ror in a vowel, more often the latter. Medially between vowels, a limited number of consonant clusters may occur; those described by Tolkien as "frequent" or "favoured" are in italics: cc, ht, hty, lc, ld, ll, lm, lp, lqu, lt, lv, lw, ly, mb, mm, mn, mp, my, nc, nd, ng, ngw, nn, nqu, nt, nty, nw, ny, ps, pt, qu(for cw ), rc, rd, rm, rn, rqu, rr, rt, rty, rs, rw, ry, sc, squ, ss, st, sty, sw, ts, tt, tw, ty, x (for ks ). A few other combinations may occur in compounds. Quenya phonology is quite restrictive, giving the language a clearly defined style and flavour.
Note that in Quenya spelling, the letter c is always pronounced k (so cirya "ship" = kirya). Tolkien was inconsistent about this; in many sources the letter k is used, but in LotR he decided to spell Quenya as similar to Latin as possible. In some cases, k in the sources has been regularized to c in the following discussion.

The Noun

The Quenya noun is inflected for nine or ten cases. (There are also four numbers, but we will for the most part stick to the singular while listing the cases.) The learner should not be daunted by the large number of cases. Where English uses a preposition in front of a noun, Quenya often prefers to add an ending to the noun instead; there is very little more to it.
The nominative singular is the basic, uninflected form of the noun; it has no special ending. The typical function of a nominative noun is to be the subject of a verb, like lómë "night" or aurë "day" in the cries heard before and during the Nirnaeth Arnoediad: Auta i lómë!"The night is passing!" Aurë entuluva!"Day shall come again!" (Silmarillion chapter 20).
Quenya as spoken in Valinor had an accusative that was formed by lengthening the final vowel of the noun: cirya"ship" (nominative), ciryá"ship" (accusative). Nouns ending in a consonant presumably had no distinct accusative. In the plural, even nouns ending in a vowel had the ending i, e.g. ciryai"ships" (nominative ciryar). The function of the accusative was primarily to mark that the noun was the object of a verb; we have no examples but may construct one like haryan ciryá, "I have a ship" (haryan ciryai"I have [several] ships"). But in Middle-earth, the distinct accusative case disappeared from the speech of the Noldor (such things happen when you are busy fighting Orcs, Balrogs, and Dragons), and the nominative took over its former functions. So from now on it was OK to say haryan cirya, haryan ciryar. Modern writers seem never to use the distinct accusative.
The genitive has the ending -o, generally corresponding to the English ending 's, though a Quenya genitive is often better rendered by an of -construction in English. One example from Namárië is Vardo tellumar"Varda's domes" or "(the) domes of Varda". Notice that the ending -odisplaces final -a, hence Vardo, not Vardao- but most other vowels (it seems) are not displaced: In MR:329 we find Eruofor "the One's, Eru's". (If the noun ends in -o already, the ending becomes "invisible"; normally the context will indicate that the noun is a genitive and not a nominative. An attested example is Indis i Ciryamo "the mariner's wife"; cf. ciryamo "mariner".) Infrequently the genitive carries the meaning "from", cf. Oiolossëo "from Mount Everwhite, from Oiolossë" in Namárië - but this is usually expressed by means of the ablative case instead (see below). The plural genitive ending is -on, that may be observed in the title Silmarillion, "of the Silmarils", the complete phrase being Quenta Silmarillion, "(the) Story of (the) Silmarils". An example from Namárië is rámar aldaron, "wings of trees", a poetic circumlocation for leaves. The ending -onis added, not to the simplest form of the noun, but to the nominative plural. So though "tree" is alda, "of trees" is not **aldon, but aldaronbecause the nominative plural "trees" is aldar. Cf. also Silmaril, plural Silmarilli, genitive Silmarillion. (The doubling of the final l of Silmaril before an ending is an example of stem variation ; some stems change slightly when an ending is added, often reflecting an older form of the noun.)
Then there is the possessive, by some called the "associative" or "adjectival case"; Tolkien himself speaks of it as a "possessive-adjectival...genitive" in WJ:369. This case has the ending -va (-wa on nouns ending in a consonant). Its general function is like the English genitive, to express ownership: Mindon Eldaliéva "Tower of the Eldalië". The function of the possessive was long poorly understood. In Namárië it occurs in the phrase yuldar...miruvóreva, "draughts...of mead". This one example, that for more than twenty years was the only one we had, made many conclude that the function of this case was to show what something is composed of - indeed the case itself was called "compositive". Luckily, The War of the Jewels p. 368-369 finally gave us Tolkien's own explanation of the more normal functions of this case, and how it differs from the genitive. The possessive can, as already stated, denote possession or ownership. Tolkien gives the example róma Oroméva, "Oromë's horn", used of a horn that belonged/belongs to Oromë at the time that is being narrated (past or present). Genitive róma Oromëo would also translate as "Oromë's horn", but properly it would mean "a horn coming from Oromë", implying that the horn had left Oromë's possession at the time that is being narrated. However, the genitive intruded on the functions of the possessive in later ages. Cf. genitive Vardo tellumar, not possessive *tellumar Vardava, for "Varda's domes" in Namárië (if the genitive does not imply that the domes originated with Varda rather than that she owns them).
The dative has the ending -n. This ending generally translates as the preposition "for" or "to"; the dative pronoun nin "for me" (from ni "I") is found in Namárië : Sí man i yulma nin enquantuva? "Who now will refill the cup for me? " Often the dative corresponds to an indirect object in English: *I nís antanë i hínan anna, "the woman gave the child a gift" (gave a gift to the child).
The locative has the ending -ssë, that carries the meaning "on" or "in". In the Tengwar version of Namárië that is found in RGEO, the poem has the superscript Altariello Nainië Lóriendessë, "Galadriel's Lament in Lóriendë (Lórien)". In the plural, this ending has the form -ssen, seen in the word mahalmassen"on thrones" in UT:305 cf. 317 (mahalma"throne"). This ending also occurs on the relative pronoun ya in Namárië: yassen"wherein, in which" (Vardo tellumar...yassen tintilar i eleni, *"Varda's which the stars tremble"). Refering back to a singular word, "in which" would presumably be yassë. The use of case endings rather than prepositions to express "in, from, to, with" (cf. the next paragraphs) is a characteristic feature of Quenya grammar.
The ablative has the ending -llo, that carries the meaning "from" or "out of". An example from Namárië is sindanóriello, "out of a grey country" (sinda-nórie-llo: "grey-country-from"). There is also the word Rómello, *"from (the) East", contraction of *Rómenello (Rómen "[the] East"). Cf. also the word Ondolindello "from Ondolindë (Gondolin)" in J. R. R. Tolkien - Artist and Illustrator p. 193.
The allative has the ending -nna, meaning "to", "into" or "upon". Both the ablative and the allative are exemplified in the words spoken by Elendil when he came to Middle-earth after the Downfall of Númenor, repeated by Aragorn at his coronation (LotR3/VI ch. 5): Et Eärello Endorenna utúlien. "Out of [lit. out from] the Great Sea to Middle-earth I am come" (Endor(e)-nna "Middle-earth-to"). The allative may also carry the meaning "upon"; cf. i falmalinnar"upon the foaming waves" in Namárië (-linnar being the ending for partitive plural allative; see below).
The instrumental case has the ending -nenand marks the instrument with which something is done, or simply the reason why something happens. Examples from Namárië are laurië lantar lassi súrinen, "like gold fall [the] leaves in [or by] the wind ", i eleni [tintilar] airetári-lírinen, "the stars tremble in her song, holy and queenly ", literally *"the stars tremble by holyqueen-song ". An example of a more typical "instrumental" instrumental is provided by the sentence i carir quettar ómainen, "those who form words with voices " (WJ:391), ómainen being the plural instrumental of óma "voice".
Respective (?): This is what some have called a case that is listed in a letter Tolkien sent to Dick Plotz in the second half of the sixties (the so-called Plotz Letter is indeed our main source of information about the Quenya cases). The ending is -s (plural -is), but Tolkien did not identify this case by any name, nor have we ever seen it used in a text. Its function is therefore wholly unknown; it has indeed been called the Mystery Case. Some writers have used it simply as an alternative locative ending. They have had no nightly visits by Tolkien afterwards, so perhaps this is acceptable to him.
If case endings are added to a noun ending in a consonant, an e is often inserted between the noun and the ending to prevent a difficult cluster from arising: Elendil with the allative ending -nna "to" becomes Elendilenna "to Elendil" (PM:401), not **Elendilnna. However, if the noun is plural, an i is inserted between the noun and the ending: elenillor "from (the) stars" (elen "star") (MC:222).
The Quenya numbers: The numbers are singular, plural, partitive plural and dual. The singular and plural need no explanation. The function of the partitive plural (so called by Tolkien in WJ:388) as opposed to the normal plural is not fully understood, but it seems that it denotes some out of a larger group. Combined with the definite article i, it may simply denote "many": The element li in the phrase i falmalinnar"upon the foaming waves" in Namárië was translated "many" by Tolkien in his interlinear translation in RGEO:66-67. Since -li is the ending for partitive plural, it was long called "multiple plural"; indeed it was thought that it simply meant "many" of the thing in question, while the normal plural only meant "several". This may be correct in some cases, but it cannot be the whole story. The dual is used with reference to a natural pair, like two hands belonging to one person (cf. the word máryat "her hands" in Namárië, -t being a dual ending, literally "her pair of hands ").
The nominative plural is formed with one of two endings. The ending -r is used if the noun ends in any vowel except -ë; well-known examples are Vala pl. Valar, Elda pl. Eldar, Ainu pl. Ainur. If the noun ends in a consonant or in -ë, the plural ending is -i, and it displaces the final -ë: Atan pl. Atani, Quendë pl. Quendi. (But if the noun ends in -, it forms its plural in -r to avoid one i following another: tië "path", tier "paths" - not **tii.) In the other cases, the plural ending is either -r or -n; for instance, the allative ending -nna has a plural form -nnar, the locative ending -ssë becomes -ssen, and ablative -llo can form its plural both in -llon and -llor. In the dative, instrumental and "respective", the plural is indicated by the element i, inserted between the stem of the noun and the same case ending as in the singular. (See the full list of endings below.)
The partitive plural has the ending -li, presumably *-eli on a noun ending in a consonant, but a contraction or an assimilated form may also be used (for instance, the partitive plural of casar "dwarf" is casalli, for *casarli). The endings for other cases are simply added following the ending -li, e.g. ciryali "some ships" > allative ciryalinna(or ciryalinnar) "to some ships". Note, however, that the vowel of -li is lengthened before the endings -va and -nen for possessive and instrumental, respectively: -líva, -línen.
Like the nominative plural, the nominative dual is formed with one of two endings. Most nouns take the ending -t, as in the word máryat "her hands" (two hands, a pair of hands) in Namárië. "Two ships, a couple of ships" is likewise ciryat (cirya "ship"). But if the last consonant of the stem is t or d, the ending -u is preferred: Alda "tree", Aldu "the Two Trees". In the other cases, a t is somehow inserted into or added to the various endings; for instance, the endings -ssë, -nna and -llo for locative, allative and ablative, respectively, turn into -tsë, -nta and -lto (ciryatsë, ciryanta, ciryalto = "on/to/from a couple of ships"). The instrumental ending -nen becomes -nten, while the dative ending -n becomes -nt (ciryant "for a couple of ships" - this is, by the way, the sole known case of a consonant cluster being allowed at the end of a word in Quenya).
These, then, are the Quenya case endings:
Nominative: Sg. no ending, pl. -r or -i, part. pl. -li (Book Quenya -), dual -t or -u.
Accusative (in Book Quenya only): Sg. lengthening of the final vowel (if any), pl. -i, part. pl. , dual: probably lengthening of the final u to ú (no distinct accusative in the case of t-duals?)
Dative: Sg. -n, pl. -in, -lin, dual -nt (but possibly -en following a dual in -u)
Genitive: Sg. -o, pl. -on (added to the, -lion, dual -to.
Possessive: Sg. -va, pl. -iva, -líva, dual -twa.
Locative: Sg. -ssë, pl. -ssen, -lisse(n), dual -tsë.
Allative: Sg. -nna, pl. -nnar, -linna(r), dual -nta.
Ablative: Sg. -llo, pl. -llon or -llor, -lillo(n), dual -lto.
Instrumental: Sg. -nen, pl. -inen, -línen, dual -nten.
Respective: Sg. -s, pl. -is, -lis, dual -tes.
(See the Appendix for examples of Quenya nouns declined in all cases.)

The Article

Quenya has a definite article i = "the", e.g. i eleni "the stars" in Namárië. There is no indefinite article like English "a, an"; the absence of the article i usually indicates that the noun is indefinite: Elen "star" must be translated "a star" when English grammar requires an article, as in the famous greeting Elen síla lúmenn' omentielvo "a star shines at the hour of our meeting" (LotR1/I ch. 3). But sometimes Tolkien's translations introduce a "the" where there is no i in the original, cf. the first line of Namárië : Ai! laurië lantar lassi... "Ah! like gold fall the leaves..." rather than just "(some) leaves".

The Verb

There are several classes of verbs in Quenya. One class has stems that is only a naked root with no ending, like quet- "say", mat- "eat", sil- "shine": the pattern is (consonant-)vowel-consonant. This class may be called basic verbal stems (cf. WJ:370). The other kind of verbs, that may then be called the "derived" verbs, have stems with an ending, often -yaor -ta. Examples from the Etymologies (LR:347-400) include metya- "put an end to" from the primitive stem MET, or tulta- "summon" from TUL (which stem also yields the basic verb tul- "come").
The infinitive is often a problem. An ending -is mentioned in UT:317, stated to be infinitival or gerundial: enyalië "to recall". (When this means "[in order] to recall", the dative ending -n is added: enyalien.) This ending can probably be used on all the basic verbal stems: *quetië "to say", *matië"to eat", *tulië "to come". Perhaps it can be used on some of the verbal stems ending in vowels; in Old Sindarin (the "ON" of the Etymologies) we find ortiëas the infinitive of orta- "rise, raise" (LR:379), and Old Sindarin is quite close to Common Eldarin, the common ancestor of Quenya and Sindarin. So we may assume that the Quenya verbs in -ta, and possibly most verbal stems ending in a vowel, have infinitives formed by dropping the final vowel and adding -: anta- "give", infinitive *antië, harna- "wound", infinitive *harniëetc. (no attested examples). But what about the many verbs in -ya, like metya"put and end to"? Forms like *metyiëare hardly possible, for the combination yidoes not occur in the language. Perhaps the whole ending yawould disappear, the infinitive of metyabeing *metië, or perhaps the stem metyaitself can be used as infinitive. We don't know.
The present tense is formed with the ending -a. On the numerous verbal stems that end in aalready, such as the -yaand -ta verbs, it is of course "invisible": lantais the stem of the verb "fall", but also the present tense "falls, is falling". When -ais added to the stem of a basic, "strong" verb, the stem vowel seems to be lengthened: sil- "shine" > síla"shines, is shining", mel- "love" > méla"loves, is loving" (not simply **sila,**mela).
The basic verbs also have a distinct form called aorist by Christopher Gilson and Patrick Wynne, though its function cannot be exactly the same as the aorist of Classical Greek. Our best example of the aorist is the sentence i carir quettar ómainen "those who form words with voices" (WJ:391). This is a description of the Elves, so the aorist verb carir "form" denotes a "timeless truth" beyond specific tenses. The aorist has the ending -ë, that changes to -i if any ending is added. RS:324 indicates that the aorist of sil- "shine" is silë, or silirwith the plural ending -r(added when the subject is plural; see below). In the Etymologies in LR:347-400, many basic verbs are given in the 1. person aorist (with the ending -n"I"), e.g. lavin"I lick", tirin"I watch" (see LAB, TIR), some also in the 3. person aorist (e.g. tinë"it glints" under TIN).
The past tense of the regular derived verb seems to be formed with the suffix -, e.g. orta- "rise, raise", pa.t. ortanë (cf. a line from Namárië: Varda...máryat ortanë *"Varda.... raised her hands", translated "Varda...has uplifted her hands" by Tolkien). The "strong", basic verbs often form their past tense with nasal infixion + the ending -ë, e.g. quet- "say" > quentë"said", top- "cover" > tompë"covered". (The infix has the form mbefore pand notherwise.) But in the case of basic stems ending in -r or -m, the ending - is suffixed instead, as in the case of the derived verbs: tir- "watch", pa.t. tirnë"watched", tam- "tap", pa.t. tamnë "tapped". Likely, basic verbal stems ending in N behave in the same way: cen- "see", pa.t. perhaps *cennë "saw" (not attested). When a stem ends in -l, the suffix -seems to be assimilated to -, so the past tense of wil- "fly" is willë. (Compare ullë"poured", a past tense apparently formed directly from the stem UL[WJ:400 - but ULUin LR:396]. But "poured" in the transitive sense is ulyanë, formed from the derived verb ulya-.) There are also a few verbs that form their past tense by lengthening the stem vowel and adding -ë; for instance, the past tense of lav- "lick" is lávë. (For a while, Tolkien may have been toying with the idea of making this the universal system; in LR:46, 72 we find túlë as the past tense of tul- "come" and cárë as the past tense of car- "make", instead of the expected forms *tullë, carnë - the latter is actually given in LR:362, under KAR.)
The perfect tense of basic verbs is formed by dropping the final vowel of the stem (if there is any), adding the suffix -, lengthening the stem vowel and prefixing the augment to the stem. The augment is identical to the stem vowel, so verbal stems like hat- "break", tec- "write", wil- "fly", top- "cover", tul- "come" have the augments a, e, i, o, u, respectively. Hence, the perfects of these verbs are presumably *ahátië"has broken", *etécië"has written", *iwílië "has flown", *otópië"has covered", utúlië"has come" (only the last of which is attested: utúlie'n aurë "the day has come", Silm. ch. 20; Endorenna utúlien "to Middle-earth I am come", LotR3/VI ch. 5). Non-basic, derived verbs like harna- "wound" or horta- "urge" cannot lengthen the vowel because it is followed by a consonant cluster: perfects aharnië, ohortië?
We have no good example of the perfect of ya-verbs like harya- "possess"; a form like ?aharyiëis probably not possible, for yidoes not seem to occur in the language. My guess is that the ending -yadisappears with no trace, and the remaining part of the verbal stem can be treated as "basic": perfect ahárië. This is also the guess of Christopher Gilson and Patrick Wynne in a succinct Quenya grammar of theirs (if indeed they are guessing).
In the corpus, there are some examples of perfects that lack the augment, e.g. fírië"hath breathed forth" in MR:250 (for *ifírië, not attested).
The future tense is formed by dropping the final vowel of the stem (if any) and adding the suffix -uva; examples from Namárië include enquantuva"shall refill" and hiruva"shall find". The stem of the former (ignoring the prefix en- "re-") is quat- "fill" (WJ:392), indicating that the verbs that show nasal infixion in the past tense do so also in the future.
The imperative takes the ending -a, just like the present tense, so laita = present tense "blesses, praises" or imperative "praise!" (In this case, the stem ends in -a already, so both endings are "invisible".) Basic verbal stems are distinct in form from the imperatives, since the latter do not lengthen their stem vowels in the imperative: SIL- "shine" > present tense síla "shines", imperative *sila! "shine!" An independent particle a or á is often used with imperatives: A laita, laita te! "Bless them, bless them!" (the praise Frodo and Sam received on the Fields of Cormallen, translated in Letters:308); á vala Manwë "may Manwë order it" (WJ:404, lit. *"o rule Manwë!"). The imperative does not normally show number (whether the command is directed to one or several persons). However, imperatives may take the optional pronominal endings -t and -l, denoting sg. and pl,. respectively.
We don't know if Quenya has a distinct subjuntive or optative form. There is a "wishing formula" that involves nai "be it that" + a verb in the future tense, cf. nai hiruvalyë Valimar in the final lines of Namárië. In LotR the translation "maybe thou shalt find Valimar" is given, but Tolkien's notes in RGEO indicates that this is really a wish : "May thou find Valimar!" Cf. also UT:317: Nai tiruvantes = "be it that they will keep it, may they keep it".
Finite verbs agree in number with plural subjects by adding the ending -r, as in the first line of Namárië: laurië lantar lassi, "like gold fall the leaves", with the verb agreeing with its plural subject lassi"leaves". Singular "like gold falls a leaf" would be *laurëa lanta lassëwith no plural -r on the verb. (Note how the adjective translated "like gold", literally "golden", also shifts from a plural to a singular form - see below.)

The Adjective

Many Quenya adjectives end in the vowel a:
laiqua "green"
alassëa "happy" (from alassë "happyness")
númenya "western" (from númen "west")
vanya "fair"
morna "black"
melda "dear, beloved" (originally *melnâ; the endings -na and -da may sometimes have the same origin, n being dissimilated to d following l)
There are also a number of adjectives ending in ë, like carnë "red", varnë "swart" or inimeitë "female". It may be noted that in mature Quenya, there seem to be no adjectives in -oor -u. Relatively few adjectives end in a consonant - typically n, as in firin, qualin"dead" (by natural cause and by accident, respectively).
Adjectives agree in number with the noun they describe. Adjectives in -a have plural forms in -ë, adjectives in -ëor in a consonant have plural forms in -i, and adjectives in -ëa have plural forms in -:
vanya vendë"a beautiful maiden" > vanyë vendi "beautiful maidens"
carnë parma"a red book" > carni parmar"red books"
laurëa lassë"a golden leaf" > laurië lassi "golden leaves"
firin casar"a dead dwarf" > firini casari"dead dwarves"
Hence in the first line of Namárië we find laurië lantar lassi, "like gold (lit. golden) fall the leaves", while "golden falls a leaf" would be laurëa lanta lassë(both the verb and the adjective agreeing with lassë, lassi"leaf, leaves" in number).
The present writer once thought that the name of the journal Vinyar Tengwarcontained an error; if the intended meaning was "New Letters", it would have to be Vinyë Tengwar(vinya"new", tengwa "letter"). But as Carl F. Hostetter subsequently explained, the intended meaning is "News Letters", so vinyais inflected like a noun. This writer was still skeptical about the whole construction and thought it should have been Tengwar Vinyaron"Letters of News" or something similar, but material that has since been published shows that "loose compounds" of this kind really are possible. (Last line of querulous defence: Tengwa "letter" is only attested with the meaning "character", not "letter" = "mail, post"!) It may be noted that in some earlier variants of Quenya (or "Qenya"), adjectives actually did have plural forms in -r; cf. LR:47, where raikar is used as the plural form of raika "bent". Tolkien revised the grammar later.
An intensive or superlative form of the noun is derived by prefixing an-: Calima "bright", Ancalima "most bright" (Letters:279). We don't know how to construct the comparative ("brighter, more bright"), though an element yonta- "more" occurs in a very early wordlist compiled by Tolkien (see Parma Eldalamberon No. 11 p. 37).

The Participles

The present (or active) participle describes the condition you are in when you do something: If you go, you are going ; if you think, you are thinking. In English, present participles are derived from the corresponding verbal stems by adding the ending -ing. The corresponding Quenya ending is -la. There are many examples of it in the Markirya poem (MC:221-222 cf. 223). For instance, the participle falastala"foaming" is derived from a verbal stem falasta- "to foam". If the stem-vowel is not followed by a consonant cluster (or another vowel), it is lengthened: the participle of hlapu- "fly" (in the wind, of spray etc.) is hlápula. Basic verbal stems like sil-may be turned into "continuative stems" (with long vowel and final a: síla-) before the participal ending is added, so "shining" may be sílala(attested in the Markirya poem with a "frequentative" stem sisílala, with reduplication of the first syllable). But the connecting vowel may also be i, with no lengthening of the stem vowel; cf. itila "twinkling, glinting" in PM:363 (stem it-, though a verbal stem ita- is also given).
The past (or passive) participle describes the condition you enter if you are exposed to the action of the corresponding verb (if someone sees you, you are seen ; if someone kills you, you will thereafter be killed), or, in the case of some verbs, the condition you are in after having completed the action described by the verb (if you go, you will thereafter be gone). In Quenya, most past participles are derived from the corresponding verb with the ending -naor -ina. The past participle of car- "make" is carna "made"; the stem rac- means "break", while rácinais "broken" (if there is not a consonant cluster following the stem vowel, this vowel seems to be lengthened when the participal ending is added, like a> á in this case). If the stem ends in l, the ending -na is dissimilated to -da: mel- "love", melda "beloved" (Tolkien's gloss of the latter, "beloved, dear" rather than "loved", indicates that the distinction between adjectives and participles sometimes becomes blurred).
The past participle probably agrees in number with the noun it describes (by final -abecoming -ë in the plural, just as with normal adjectives), but the present participle does not change -lato -as one might expect; it seems to be indeclinable (MC:222: rámar sisílala"wings shining", not **rámar sisílalë). Perhaps this is to avoid confusion with the verbal noun ending - "-ing" (as in Ainulindalë "the Music of the Ainur", literally *"Ainu-singing").


The pronouns have always been a problem. There are many uncertain points, and the subject is further muddied by the fact that Tolkien seems to have revised the pronominal system repeatedly. The system sketched here is pieced together from many sources and involves both extrapolations, reconstructions and some undeniably arbitrary choices. Not for a second do I think it is 100 % correct according to Tolkien's final intentions.
One thing, at least, is perfectly clear: Quenya pronouns usually appear as endings directly suffixed to a verb or noun, not so often as independent words, as in English. Examples from Namárië are the words máryat and hiruvalyë. Máryat means "her hands", "her" being expressed by the pronominal ending -rya (here followed by the dual ending -t to denote a natural pair of hands). Hiruvalyë is "thou shalt find", "thou" being expressed by the pronominal ending -lyë added to the verb hiruva "shall (shalt) find". Cf. also the ending -n "I" in Elendil's words Endorenna utúlien, "to Middle-earth I am come" (utúlië-n "have-come I").
This is an attempt, and nothing more, to compile a table of the pronominal endings used on verbs:
1. person sg: -nor -nyë"I"
2. person sg and pl, courteous: -lyë"thou, *you" (or use -lyë= "thou" and -lfor pl. "you")
2. person sg and pl, familiar: *-ccë "you" (based on a Sindarin ending -ch, very hypothetical!)
3. person sg. masc.: -ro"he"
3. person sg. fem.: -"she" (hardly *-ryë, as has traditionally been thought)
3. person sg. neuter: -s"it" (can also be used as a short ending for both "he" and "she")
1. person pl. -mmë:"we" (exclusive), -lmë"we" (inclusive)
1. person dual *-lvë:"we" (inclusive, "thou and I" - some think it should be *-lwë)
3. person plural -ntë"they"
Note that there is a distinction between exclusive and inclusive "we", despending on whether the person addressed is included in "we" or not. Also note that -lme is the inclusive, not the exclusive "we" - exclusive "we" is -mmë! The ending *-lvë (or *-lwë?) is the inclusive dual "we", sc. "we" meaning "thou and I", not the general (plural) inclusive "we". This part of the Quenya pronominal system has long been misinterpreted (in Jim Allan's An Introduction to Elvish, Nancy Martsch' Basic Quenya etc. etc.)
Example: lendë"went", *lendenor *lendenyë"I went", *lendelyë"you [polite] went", *lendeccë "you [familiar] went", *lendéro"he went", *lendérë"she went", *lendes"it [or he/she] went", *lendemmë"we [exclusive] went", *lendelmë"we [inclusive] went", *lendelvë(*lendelwë?) "we [= thou and I] went", *lendentë"they went". (Note that the endings -roand -cause the previous vowel to become long.) The object can also be expressed as a pronominal ending added directly to the verb, following the ending denoting the subject. Cf. Aragorn's exclamation when he found the sapling of the White Tree: Utúvienyes!, "I have found it!" (utúvie-nye-s "have found-I-it"; LotR3/VI ch. 5), or a word from Cirion's Oath: tiruvantes "they will keep it" (tiruva-nte-s "will keep-they-it, UT:317).
As indicated by the word máryat "her hands" discussed above, even possessive pronouns like "her, his, my" are expressed by endings in Quenya, added directly to the noun (in this case "hand"). The possessive endings used on nouns for the most part correspond to the pronominal endings used on verbs, but have the ending -a:
1. person sg: -nya"my"
2. person sg and pl, courteous: -lya"thy, *your"
2. person sg and pl, familiar: *-cca "your" (based on a Sindarin ending, very hypothetical!)
3. person sg: -rya"his, her" (and possibly "its")
1. person pl: *-mma:"our" (exclusive), *-lma"our" (inclusive)
1. person dual: *-lva:"our" (inclusive, "thou and I" - some think it should be *-lwa)
3. person pl.: *-nta"their"
Example: parma"book", *parmanya"my book", *parmalya "your (polite) book", *parmacca"your (familiar) book", *parmarya"his/her/?its book", *parmamma"our (exclusive - not your!) book", *parmalma"our (including your) book", *parmalva (or *parmalwa?) "our (thine and my) book", *parmanta"their book" (the last of which must not be confused with the dual allative "to a couple of books"). In the case of nouns ending in a consonant, an emay be inserted between the noun and the possessive ending, e.g. macil"sword", *macilerya"his sword". In the plural, the plural ending -imay serve to separate noun and ending, e.g. *macili"swords", *maciliryar"his swords" - but as we see, an additional plural ending rappears after the suffix; cf. the next paragraph. There are some indications that the ending -nya"my" always prefers ias its connecting vowel, even in the singular, as in Anarinya "my Sun" in LR:72 (Anar "Sun"). Hence *macilinya "my sword".
The forms with possessive endings are inflected like normal nouns. Example: Nominative *parmanya"my book" (pl. *parmanyar "my books"), genitive *parmanyo"of my book" (pl. *parmanyaron), possessive *parmanyava"my book's, of my book" (pl. *parmanyaiva), dative *parmanyan"for my book" (pl. *parmanyain), locative *parmanyassë"in my book" (pl. *parmanyassen), allative *parmanyanna"to my book" (pl. *parmanyannar), ablative *parmanyallo"from my book" (pl. *parmanyallon, *parmanyallor), instrumental *parmanyanen"by my book" (pl. *parmanyainen) - and respective *parmanyas pl. *parmanyais, whatever that means. Attested examples are tielyanna "upon your path" in UT:22 cf. 51 (tie-lya-nna "path-your-upon") and omentielvo "of our meeting" in the famous greeting Elen síla lúmenn' omentielvo "a star shines upon the hour of our meeting" (omentie-lva-o "meeting-our-of", the genitive ending -o displacing the final -a of the pronominal ending; cf. Vardo for *Vardao).
However, Quenya does possess independent pronouns in addition to the numerous endings discussed above. Some of them are emphatic. The final lines of Namárië provide us with a good example of this. In the sentence nai hiruvalyë Valimar "maybe thou shalt find Valimar", "thou" is expressed with the ending -lyë attached to the verb hiruva "shall find", as explained above. But in the following sentence, nai elyë hiruva "maybe even thou shalt find [it]", the corresponding independent pronoun elyë is used for emphasis: hence the translation "even thou". Another attested independent pronoun is inyë "(even) I". It is assumed that most of the independent pronouns are formed by prefixing e- to the corresponding pronominal ending, like *emmë "(even) we", but these forms are not attested in our small corpus. The emphatic words for "he, she, it" are uncertain.
Other independent pronouns, apparently not emphatic, include ni "I" (dative nin "for me" in Namárië), tye "thee, you (as object)", ta "it", te "them" (and *"they"?), me "we" (dual me[t] "we two" in Namárië). "He, she" may be so, se (cf. LR:385).

Appendix: Examples of Quenya Nouns fully inflected

The following is for the most part the examples listed by Tolkien in the so-called Plotz Letter, sent to Dick Plotz in the mid-sixties; reproduced by Nancy Martsch in Basic Quenya Appendix A:

1. CIRYA "ship" (an R-plural)
Singular: nominative cirya"a ship", (accusative ciryá in archaic Book Quenya only,) dative ciryan "for a ship", genitive ciryo "a ship's, of/from a ship", possessive ciryava "of a ship", locative ciryassë "on/in a ship", allative ciryanna "to a ship", ablative ciryallo "from a ship", instrumental ciryanen "with/by a ship", respective ciryas (meaning unknown).
Plural: nominative ciryar "ships", (accusative ciryai in Book Quenya, later ciryar,) dative ciryain, genitive ciryaron, possessive *ciryaiva (not in Plotz), locative ciryassen, allative ciryannar, ablative ciryallon (or *ciryallor, not in Plotz), instrumental ciryainen, respective ciryais.
Partitive plural: nominative ciryali*"some ships" (in archaic "Book Quenya" ciryalíboth in the nominative and the accusative), dative ciryalin, genitive ciryalion, possessive ciryalíva, locative ciryalissë or ciryalissen, allative ciryalinnaor ciryalinnar, ablative ciryalilloor ciryalillon, instrumental ciryalínen, respective ciryalis.
Dual: Nominative ciryat"two ships, a couple of ships" (no distinct accusative even in archaic Quenya?), dative ciryant, genitive ciryato, possessive ciryatwa, locative ciryatsë, allative ciryanta, ablative ciryalto, instrumental ciryanten, respective ciryates. In the case of a u-dual, however, duality is already sufficiently expressed by the suffix -u, so the normal case endings with no tare (presumably) used: Nominative aldu "two trees", (accusative *aldú,) genitive *alduo, possessive *alduva, dative *alduen, allative *aldunna, ablative *aldullo, locative *aldussë, instrumental *aldunen, respective *aldus.
2. LASSË "leaf" (an I-plural)
Singular: Nominative. lassë "leaf", (acc. lassé,) dative lassen "for a leaf", genitive lassëo "a leaf's", possessive lasséva "of a leaf", locative lassessë "in/on a leaf", allative lassenna "to a leaf", ablative lassello "from a leaf", instrumental lassenen "with a leaf", respective lasses (meaning unknown).
Plural: Nom. lassi "leaves", (acc. lassí,) dat. lassin, gen. lassion, poss. *lassiva (not in Plotz), loc. lassessen, all. lassennar, abl. lassellon or lassellor, inst. lassenen, resp. lassis.
Partitive plural: Nom. lasseli (in "Book Quenya" lasselí both in nom. and acc.), gen. lasselion, poss. lasselíva, dat. lasselin, loc. lasselisse/lasselissen, all. lasselinna/lasselinnar, abl. lasselillo/lasselillon, instr. lasselínen, resp. lasselis.
Dual: Nom/acc lasset "a couple of leaves", dat. lassent, gen. lasseto, poss. lassetwa, loc. lassetsë, all. lassenta, abl. lasselto, inst. lassenten, resp. lassetes.
The Plotz letter gives no example involving a noun ending in a consonant, but it must go something like this:
3. NAT "thing"
Singular: Nominative nat "thing", dative *naten "for a thing", genitive *nato "a thing's", possessive *natwa "of a thing", locative *natessë "in/on a thing", allative *natenna "to a thing", ablative *natello "from a thing", instrumental *natenen "by/with a thing", respective *nates (meaning unknown).
Plural: Nom. *nati "things", (acc. *natí,) dat. *natin, gen. *nation, poss. *nativa, loc. *natissen, all. *natinnar, abl. *natillon or *natillor, inst. *natinen, resp. *natis.
Partitive plural: Nom. *nateli (in "Book Quenya" *natelí both in nom. and acc.), dat. *natelin, gen. *natelion, poss. *natelíva, loc. *natelisse/natelissen, all. *natelinna/natelinnar, abl. *natelillo/natelillon, instr. *natelínen, resp. *natelis.
Dual: Nom/acc *natu "a couple of things" (the ending -u being preferred since the stem ends in a t): dat. *natuen, gen. *natuo, poss. *natuva, loc. *natussë, all. *natunna, abl. *natullo, instr. *natunen, resp. natus. But a consonant stem not ending in -t or -d, like elen "star", would presumably go like this: Nom/acc. *elenet "a couple of stars", dat. *elenent, gen. *eleneto (*elento?), poss. *elenetwa, loc. *elenetsë, all. *elenenta (perhaps contracted to *elenta), abl. *elenelto, inst. *elenenten (perhaps contracted to *elenten), resp. *elenetes (*elentes?).

Quenya Corpus Wordlist

These articles have been reproduced, with permission from Helge K. Fauskanger, from his Ardalambion web page.
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