Few, little, less

Few, little, less


I would like to explore ways to express "a small amount" in Quenya.


  • a little of: to be used with uncountable nouns, this appears to be the most straightforward - probably níka/nitya/titta with a genitive will do the trick: titta neno
  • ​​few: this is trickier. We have nótime attested with the sense of "a countable number of, a few, some", and it would work well in certain contexts, less so in others. E.g. for a sentence like " only a few people we in the room" I am not sure nótime would cover it well. EQ has manka (https://eldamo.org/content/words/word-2603149029.html ), coming from MANGA "lacking", so perhaps in a late Quenya a word related to PEN would work. 
  • less (than): we could of course simply amplify: amtitta etc; another thought is to take a cue from amba coming from the amplifying root AMA - perhaps the opposite of it could be the deprivation root NEK which provides words like nehta-, nek-, -enka. Perhaps enka as a separate adverb could mean "less" and be the pair of ambe. 
Submitted by Paul Strack Tue, 11/27/2018 - 05:50

I don’t think NEK is suitable for “less”. The root means “separate”, not “reduce”.

I think you are on the right path with roots for “small”, but I would throw PIK into the mix, especially given píca- “to lessen, dwindle, wane”. Maybe pinca/pince “less” adjective and adverb, though at one point pince was given the meaning “little”. Or perhaps pice as an updated form of EQ. mike. I think I like pice the best of these.

I don’t know how to do “few”, but I don’t think PEN is suitable: it has more to do with “absence” than “small in quantity”. I can’t think of anything better than nótima at the moment. 

Submitted by Atwe Tue, 11/27/2018 - 07:54

It's the common "lacking" meaning of the roots MANGA and PEN and the attested manka "few" that prompted me to derive the same from the later root.

Submitted by S P Tue, 11/27/2018 - 18:34

"Few" :
*úrimba besides reanimated Qe. manca ?

"Little, slightly" :
I wouldn't have a problem simply using -vë on an adjective from KIT / NIK / PIN / PEY / TIT, especially when trying to be intelligible. Any decent etymology book will show that in Uralic languages there are several synonymous adverb derivations from the local stems corresponding to Fi. piene- and vähä-. That being said, the antonymous oldë, olë and ambë (adv. "more") are obviously important models.
[EDIT: Qe. oldë would probably have to contain the locative *-zē (cp. meneldë) in mature Q morphology, be it that one is also reminded of the (-L-, -N-, -R-) -dë nouns (Exilic Quenya accusative or essive [oialë..] looking like the nominative).]

"Less" :
IMO, the logical result from imitating the comparison of adverbs in PE17 would be *ampícië, in light of the verb píca- "lessen". *Ampícië appears currently also at Eldamo.

Submitted by Atwe Wed, 11/28/2018 - 11:19

In reply to by S P

The potential problem with manka - besides of it being a homonym with manka- "trade" which may not be a big issue - is that its root means "lacking" which meaning in later Quenya was apparently transferred to PEN, so it's a question of one's approach whether one "allows" the two roots to coexist or prefers to derive a word with the same meaning from the later root.

Submitted by S P Wed, 11/28/2018 - 13:02

In reply to by Atwe

In light of the similar (later) roots ING and GENG, *mang(w)a seems like a logical update. Or adj. *mangëa < noun *manga (songa-type update) / adj. *mangima < noun mangë (parallel vailima < vailë).

Then there's also {{ aþanótë }}. I don't see what the problem with it would be. Did Tolkien really reject the whole page it was on, with a big X ? Savage.

Early Noldorin [where lh- < L-!] lhigen “small, few, little” (PE13) would correspond to theoretical Quenya forms *líca/lincë, *litya in light of the roots NIK and PIK.

Submitted by Atwe Wed, 11/28/2018 - 13:50

Just wanted to add that ufárea is also a useful word when one wants to say that there is too little/too few of something.