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The Shibboleth of Fëanor

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==The case of the Quenya change of þ > s==
 
==The case of the Quenya change of þ > s==
  
The basis of the essay is the 'anomolous' use of ''s''Tolkien reasons that since in [[Sindarin]]—the vernacular tongue of the Noldor after their exile ''þ'' was common—the change ''þ > s'' must have become widespread before the Noldor left [[Valinor]]. And on the basis of the presence of ''þ'' in [[Vanyarin]] and [[Telerin]], and its retention in written Exilic Quenya the Noldor must have been aware and capable of producing the sound. He therefore concludes that the ''þ > s'' shift was "conscious and deliberate" and after the birth of [[Míriel]] but before the birth of [[Fëanor]].
+
The basis of the essay is the 'anomolous' use of ''s'': Tolkien reasons that since in [[Sindarin]]—the vernacular tongue of the Noldor after their exile—''þ'' was common, the change ''þ > s'' must have become widespread before the Noldor left [[Valinor]]. And on the basis of the presence of ''þ'' in [[Vanyarin]] and [[Telerin]], and its retention in written Exilic Quenya the Noldor must have been aware and capable of producing the sound. He therefore concludes that the ''þ > s'' shift was "conscious and deliberate" and after the birth of [[Míriel]] but before the birth of [[Fëanor]].
  
Having pinpointed the origin of the change Tolkien goes on to discuss its adoption by the majority of Noldor and the historical context in which this occurred. Originally, he explains, the change was criticised by loremasters "who pointed out that the damage this merging would do in confusing stems and their derivatives that had been distinct in sound and sense had not yet been sufficiently considered". Chief among these 'reactionaries' was Fëanor, who in addition to scholarly reasons opposed ''þ > s'' because had become attached to the ''þ'' sound due to its presence in the [[mother-name]] of his mother Míriel, ''[[Þerindë]]'' ('Needlewoman'). Following the voluntary death of Míriel, and the animosity this produced between Fëanor and [[Finwë|Finwë's]] children by [[Ingwë]], this formerly scholarly debate became politicised. The use of ''þ'' by Fëanor and his followers became entrenched, and he saw the growing adoption of ''s'' by the Noldor, and especially now by Finwë and Ingwë themselves, as a deliberate insult to his mother and a plot by the [[Valar]] to weaken his influence amongst the Noldor. In this way Fëanor made ''þ > s'' a political [[wikipedia:shibboleth|shibboleth]]; he styled himself the 'Son of the ''Þerindë''' and would say to his children:
+
Having pinpointed the origin of the change Tolkien goes on to discuss its adoption by the majority of Noldor and the historical context in which this occurred. Originally, he explains, the change was criticised by loremasters "who pointed out that the damage this merging would do in confusing stems and their derivatives that had been distinct in sound and sense had not yet been sufficiently considered". Chief among these 'reactionaries' was Fëanor, who in addition to scholarly reasons opposed ''þ > s'' because had become attached to the ''þ'' sound due to its presence in the [[mother-name]] of his mother Míriel, ''[[Þerindë]]'' ('Needlewoman'). Following the voluntary death of Míriel, and the animosity this produced between Fëanor and [[Finwë|Finwë's]] children by [[Indis]], this formerly scholarly debate became politicised. The use of ''þ'' by Fëanor and his followers became entrenched, and he saw the growing adoption of ''s'' by the Noldor, and especially now by Finwë and Indis themselves, as a deliberate insult to his mother and a plot by the [[Valar]] to weaken his influence amongst the Noldor. In this way Fëanor made ''þ > s'' a political [[wikipedia:shibboleth|shibboleth]]; he styled himself the 'Son of the ''Þerindë''' and would say to his children:
 
{{blockquote|We speak as is right, and as King Finwë himself did before he was led astray. We are his heirs by right and the elder house. Let them ''sá-sí'', if they can speak no better.|Fëanor<ref>{{HM|PM}}, "[[The Shibboleth of Fëanor]]", p. 336.</ref>}}
 
{{blockquote|We speak as is right, and as King Finwë himself did before he was led astray. We are his heirs by right and the elder house. Let them ''sá-sí'', if they can speak no better.|Fëanor<ref>{{HM|PM}}, "[[The Shibboleth of Fëanor]]", p. 336.</ref>}}
Finally, [[Finarfin]] and his house are discussed as exceptions to this division. They used ''Þ'', not because of Fëanor's arguments, but because of their fondness for and kinship with the Vanyar and Teleri, whose dialects' retained it. Eventually however Finarfin's daughter [[Galadriel]], out of her intense dislike of Fëanor and its near-universal amongst the Noldor of [[Beleriand]], came to favour ''s'' (e.g. in her [[Namárië|lament]]).
+
Finally, [[Finarfin]] and his house are discussed as exceptions to this division. They used ''Þ'', not because of Fëanor's arguments, but because of their fondness for and kinship with the Vanyar and Teleri, whose dialects retained it. Eventually however Finarfin's daughter [[Galadriel]], out of her intense dislike of Fëanor and its near-universal amongst the Noldor of [[Beleriand]], came to favour ''s'' (e.g. in her [[Namárië|lament]]).
  
 
==About the text==
 
==About the text==
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''The Shibboleth of Fëanor'' was drawn from a single unfinished typescript, with handwritten notes interspersed, composed sometime after [[1968]]. According to [[Christopher Tolkien]] it is typical of his father's latest work on the [[legendarium]] in that the production of new material resulted largely from discursive attempts to explain anomalies and unanswered questions in his earlier work, usually philological in nature, which often lead to treatments of widely varying subjects.<ref>{{HM|PM}}, Introduction to "Part Two: Late Writings".</ref>
 
''The Shibboleth of Fëanor'' was drawn from a single unfinished typescript, with handwritten notes interspersed, composed sometime after [[1968]]. According to [[Christopher Tolkien]] it is typical of his father's latest work on the [[legendarium]] in that the production of new material resulted largely from discursive attempts to explain anomalies and unanswered questions in his earlier work, usually philological in nature, which often lead to treatments of widely varying subjects.<ref>{{HM|PM}}, Introduction to "Part Two: Late Writings".</ref>
  
Some notes (with advanced linguistic content) from the manuscript papers were excluded from the version presented in ''The Peoples of Middle-earth''. These were published as "From ''The Shibboleth of Fëanor''" in [[Vinyar Tengwar 41|''Vinyar Tengwar'', Number 41]], edited and commented by [[Carl F. Hostetter]].<ref>{{VT|41b}}, p. 7.</ref>
+
Some notes (with advanced linguistic content) from the manuscript papers were excluded from the version presented in ''The Peoples of Middle-earth''. These were later published as "From ''The Shibboleth of Fëanor''" in [[Vinyar Tengwar 41|''Vinyar Tengwar'', Number 41]], edited and commented by [[Carl F. Hostetter]].<ref>{{VT|41b}}, p. 7.</ref>
  
 
==See also==
 
==See also==
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[[Category:Manuscripts by J.R.R. Tolkien|Shibboleth of Fëanor]]
 
[[Category:Manuscripts by J.R.R. Tolkien|Shibboleth of Fëanor]]
 
[[Category:The Peoples of Middle-earth chapters|Shibboleth of Fëanor]]
 
[[Category:The Peoples of Middle-earth chapters|Shibboleth of Fëanor]]
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[[fr:tolkien/resumes/home12/the_shibboleth_of_feanor]]
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[[fi:The Shibboleth of Fëanor]]

Revision as of 16:12, 31 January 2014

"...It is a long tale..." — Aragorn
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The Peoples of Middle-earth
  1. The Prologue
  2. The Appendix on Languages
  3. The Family Trees
  4. The Calendars
  5. The History of the Akallabêth
  6. The Tale of Years of the Second Age
  7. The Heirs of Elendil
  8. The Tale of Years of the Third Age
  9. The Making of Appendix A
  10. Of Dwarves and Men
  11. The Shibboleth of Fëanor
  12. The Problem of Ros
  13. Last Writings
  14. Dangweth Pengoloð
  15. Of Lembas
  16. The New Shadow
  17. Tal-Elmar

The Shibboleth of Fëanor is the eleventh chapter of The Peoples of Middle-earth. It primarily concerns the titular essay by J.R.R. Tolkien, which discusses the shift from þ (as in English 'thing') to s in the spoken 'Exilic' dialect of Quenya, and how this phonological change was intimately connected to historical and political circumstances. Also included however are lengthy 'excursuses' from this essay regarding Elven 'mother-names', the parentage of Gil-galad, the westward migration of the Edain, and the names of various prominent Noldo. Additionally the main body of the essay also contains an interesting tangent on Galadriel.

Contents

The case of the Quenya change of þ > s

The basis of the essay is the 'anomolous' use of s: Tolkien reasons that since in Sindarin—the vernacular tongue of the Noldor after their exile—þ was common, the change þ > s must have become widespread before the Noldor left Valinor. And on the basis of the presence of þ in Vanyarin and Telerin, and its retention in written Exilic Quenya the Noldor must have been aware and capable of producing the sound. He therefore concludes that the þ > s shift was "conscious and deliberate" and after the birth of Míriel but before the birth of Fëanor.

Having pinpointed the origin of the change Tolkien goes on to discuss its adoption by the majority of Noldor and the historical context in which this occurred. Originally, he explains, the change was criticised by loremasters "who pointed out that the damage this merging would do in confusing stems and their derivatives that had been distinct in sound and sense had not yet been sufficiently considered". Chief among these 'reactionaries' was Fëanor, who in addition to scholarly reasons opposed þ > s because had become attached to the þ sound due to its presence in the mother-name of his mother Míriel, Þerindë ('Needlewoman'). Following the voluntary death of Míriel, and the animosity this produced between Fëanor and Finwë's children by Indis, this formerly scholarly debate became politicised. The use of þ by Fëanor and his followers became entrenched, and he saw the growing adoption of s by the Noldor, and especially now by Finwë and Indis themselves, as a deliberate insult to his mother and a plot by the Valar to weaken his influence amongst the Noldor. In this way Fëanor made þ > s a political shibboleth; he styled himself the 'Son of the Þerindë' and would say to his children:

We speak as is right, and as King Finwë himself did before he was led astray. We are his heirs by right and the elder house. Let them sá-sí, if they can speak no better.
—Fëanor[1]

Finally, Finarfin and his house are discussed as exceptions to this division. They used Þ, not because of Fëanor's arguments, but because of their fondness for and kinship with the Vanyar and Teleri, whose dialects retained it. Eventually however Finarfin's daughter Galadriel, out of her intense dislike of Fëanor and its near-universal amongst the Noldor of Beleriand, came to favour s (e.g. in her lament).

About the text

The Shibboleth of Fëanor was drawn from a single unfinished typescript, with handwritten notes interspersed, composed sometime after 1968. According to Christopher Tolkien it is typical of his father's latest work on the legendarium in that the production of new material resulted largely from discursive attempts to explain anomalies and unanswered questions in his earlier work, usually philological in nature, which often lead to treatments of widely varying subjects.[2]

Some notes (with advanced linguistic content) from the manuscript papers were excluded from the version presented in The Peoples of Middle-earth. These were later published as "From The Shibboleth of Fëanor" in Vinyar Tengwar, Number 41, edited and commented by Carl F. Hostetter.[3]

See also

References

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "The Shibboleth of Fëanor", p. 336.
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, Introduction to "Part Two: Late Writings".
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, "From The Shibboleth of Fëanor" (edited by Carl F. Hostetter), in Vinyar Tengwar, Number 41, July 2000, p. 7.