Tire i Vaxe *Paraxe: Reflecting on Reflexives

Tire i Vaxe *Paraxe: Reflecting on Reflexives



Disclaimer: the following is pure speculation and does not reflect any attested "rule" laid down by Tolkien.


The sources PE17:75 and VT49:48 list the "reflexive verbal inflection" suffix -xe (and its plural and dual forms). Tolkien however, does not provide any examples of the suffix "in the wild".

(I wonder whether Tolkien was influenced by the Slavic reflexive element as seen in Polish się, Czech se, Russian -sja.)

Later on, in the Ambidexter Sentence (VT49:21) he uses the reflexive pronoun immo to express "turn oneself" (querne immo), and provides a full paradigm for the reflexive pronoun. The current consensus among NeoQuenya users seems to be to go for the latter whenever the situation calls for a reflexive. The might be however, a use for the "orphaned" --xe suffix, and that is to express a medial voice.

Medial voice is characteristic of verbs in sentence where the is no explicit agent, the action just " happens" to the subject to the sentence: the snow melts (as if by itself and not melts by heat), the paint dries, the flood ebbs, love dwindles etc.) The are verbs that carry this medial voice by themselves, like tiku- "thaw, melt", píka- ''lessen, dwindle". But we lack attested verbs for many medial meanings, and this is where the suffix --xe could find is home. It could be the medial counterpart of the causative --ta seen in attested verbs like envinyata- "heal" and ninquita- "whiten": so where envinyata- means "heal someone" (transitive), *envinyaxa- would mean "heal, get better, convalesce". *Parkata- would mean "dry" (transitive), and *parkaxe- or *paraxe- (if derived from the root PÁRAK) would mean "dry" (intransitive).


Submitted by Lokyt Sun, 01/27/2019 - 18:10

As I've said elsewhere already, the ks-suffixes are clearly personal inflexions, not derivative elements. Simply, -kse encompasses both a subjective and an objective suffix in a situation where the subject and the object are the same entity.

And I can see no other way of using it/them.

Submitted by Robert Reynolds Mon, 01/28/2019 - 23:55

Medial/mediopassive voice is useful, and this is an interesting idea of how to get it. A semi-attested approach is the a- verbal prefix, as in Markirya: lumbor ahosta “the clouds gather (themselves)” and menel akúna “the heavens bending”. There are also a few examples in QVS. Tolkien seems to call this simply “passive”, but it seems to encompass medial voice, too.

Submitted by Atwe Tue, 01/29/2019 - 08:06

In reply to by Robert Reynolds

Yes, I recall our discussion around mediopassive on G+.

My uncertainty about the a-forms is that this seems to be a fossil of Tolkien's experiment of having pronominal prefixes as opposed to suffixes (if I interpret things correctly) and as such is difficult to explain in the usual system.

But, they are strongly attested, so they have a place, just not sure what that is. Helge's analysis that their place is in phrases involving perception, based on Markirya, restricts their usage, but perhaps the "safest" solution?


I readily admit that my suggestion that -xe could be used as a mediopassive marker is contentious given the gloss Tolkien provided. Perhaps one day actual examples emerge...

Submitted by Robert Reynolds Tue, 01/29/2019 - 18:02

In reply to by Atwe

The a- prefix did seem originally related to an indefinite pronoun, like later mo, and it's not clear to me if that evolved or not. It is indeed difficult to tell anything without clearer examples. In the meantime, a variety of alternative ideas seems like a good thing: different perspectives can help us as a community to gain insight into the Professor’s creation as well as fan usage.