In PE22:103 Tolkien mentions the Quenya verb lauta- "abound" and goes on saying that it is used impersonally, as in malta launen "gold abounded to me". Is this truly impersonal though, a subjectless verb, like úlo, or luin? Isn't the case simply that here "gold" is the grammatical subject, but the logical subject is "I"1?

  • 1. it would be more persuasively impersonal if malta would be in instrumental?
Submitted by Lokyt Mon, 01/20/2020 - 15:53

The English verb abound can AFAIK be used in two ways: "gold abounds in Alaska" (subject = the possessed) vs. "Alaska abounds in/with gold" (subject = the possessor). The interpretation depends on the context.
And I believe Tolkien's "used impersonally" refers to the fact that only the first option exists in Q., i.e. that only the possessed (and never the possessor, indeed often a person like in malta launen) can be the subject.
So yes, malta is IMHO a normal syntactic subject. After all, Tolkien's gloss "gold abounded to me" (literal, as there is no abound to in English) shows that clearly.

BTW what's the final -n in launen? Isn't it an object suffix? Or a possessive suffix?

Submitted by Lokyt Mon, 01/20/2020 - 16:03

Indirect object suffix? So one that puts the pronominal element into (quasi-)dative? That's interesting.

I thought -n in luin was a normal subject... But you're right, the glosses don't support that.