Participium Relativum in Eldarin

Participium Relativum in Eldarin

Participium relativum is a construct found in many languages where the participle, instead of being in a relative clause, is thrown to the beginning of the sentence as part of a prepositional phrase. Consider The man, who was sitting on the terrace, admired the silver Moon vs Sitting on the terrace the man admired the silver Moon.

This kind of construct is found in both the Quenya and the Noldo-Sindarin lines of Eldarin languages.

In Quenya the examples we have are from the Middle Quenya period. In the Quenya Verbal System essay we are first given an example of an imperfect participle used as participium relativum:

ampanaina i·már a·tatallanes "While it was being built people marvelled at the house"1 (Parma Eldalamberon 22 p. 109)

Within the same essay we also see examples of perfect participles used in the same way:

már karnelya e·tulle "having built a house he came" and  már akárielya e utúlie (untranslated, but presumably "having built a house he has come") (ibid.)

In the other line of languages we have our attested example in Early Noldorin:

manthil sóg odog  "having eaten he drinks a lot", and

manthil sóg odog en maint os eneg bhair    “*having eaten he drinks a lot then he ate around six houses”

(Parma Eldalamberon 13 p. 128)


Although the attested examples are relatively (or, in the case of EN, quite) early, there is no reason not to assume that this kind of stucture was also found in the more mature versions of Quenya and Sindarin.


  • 1. I think "a tatallanes" marks a medial voice: "they admired it"


Submitted by Paul Strack Sun, 05/19/2019 - 18:10

In reply to by Paul Strack

The S. perfect participle would probably be módiel from CE [mādiel] > [maudiel] > [mōdiel]. C.f. the perfect participle tíriel “having gazed” from LotR (vs. active participle tiriel with short i).

Again, all based on a tiny number of examples. 

Submitted by Lokyt Tue, 05/21/2019 - 17:59

In reply to by Paul Strack

Ah, thanks, Paul. Yes, I forgot about the chant to Elbereth completely. It actually provides two S. examples of relative participles as well: Elbereth penna míriel "Elbereth descends (while) sparkling-like-a-jewel" and palan-díriel, le linnathon "I will sing to you (after) having-looked-afar".

However, there are indeed very few examples to follow. And I would be actually very careful with tíriel - Tolkien gives this derivative of tíria- as past/perfective, while míriel < míria- (virtually the same structure) as present. And he never dismissed the N. present participle suffix -ol as well (cf. úgarol, fergenol & the explicit mention in PE 17/144).

And what is the example that *avannel should be based on?

Submitted by Paul Strack Wed, 05/22/2019 - 00:30

In reply to by Lokyt

avannel is based on a large pile of guesswork. I’m more or less in agreement with Elaran’s system for Sindarin past tense formation, as discussed today on Discord.

As compared to the Noldorin past tense mennin, the differences are:

1) Vocalic augment followed by soft mutation, thus av-

2) The vowel before the pronominal suffix is e instead of i, so no I-affection

Submitted by Paul Strack Thu, 05/23/2019 - 01:15

In reply to by Lokyt

It’s more guesswork. Since *tíriel* was a long vowel, the assumption is that this is a general rule for the primitive form of the perfect participle (or as Tolkien called it, the perfective participle). If this was true primitively, it likely would go through the same ablaut as the past tense: ā > au > ó

I didn’t come up with this. It’s from Fiona’s book. I think her reasoning is sound, though.

Submitted by Paul Strack Thu, 05/23/2019 - 05:23

In reply to by Lokyt

I’m working off the same set of examples as Elaran and Fiona for Sindarin past tenses. Right now I am mostly following Elaran’s lead. Sindarin basic verbs ending in voice stops (from primitive voiceless stops) seems to form past tenses using nasal infixion in Sindarin, as opposed to vowel lengthening before other consonants. They may or may not have an augment.

There is one example phent of a liquid-mutated past tense of ped- “talk” with no augment. And another example adhanc the past tense of dag- “slay” with an augment. Right now I lean towards using the augment because seems like something that might generalize, but a couple new published examples could change my mind.

Submitted by Lokyt Thu, 05/23/2019 - 10:41

In reply to by Paul Strack

Now I understand, thanks :)

Well, pent (& mutated -phent) is cca 1951, before augment was introduced to S. pa.t. as a general feature in 1959; since then, the augment is obligatory for strong TAT and TALAT verbs. However, we have pa.t. adhanc vs. participle dangen in 1962-1963 (PE 17/131,133), while no augmented participle is attested at all. So I see no reason to expect there to be any.