The Present (or Aorist?) Tense
The Past Tense
The Future Tense
Finite Verbs with Endings Attached
The Present (Active) Participle
The Perfect (or, Past Active) Participle
The Past (Passive) Participle
Appendix A: The Past Tense System Revised?
Appendix B: A Distinction between Aorist and Continuative Tense?
Appendix C: Sindarin Phonology Revised?
Appendix D: "3rd Person" or "Personless" Forms: a Question of Terminology
Several years ago, I had the privilege of acquainting myself with David Salo's interpretation of the Sindarin verb system. Though David's own writings on the subject still have not been presented to the public, he graciously let me present his conclusions in my own Sindarin article on Ardalambion (his results happily replacing some rather inferior attempts of my own at deciphering the inner workings of the Sindarin verb). Later I wrote out a full list of virtually all known Sindarin verbs, a "Suggested Conjugation" demonstrating how these verbs might - perhaps - be conjugated in all the principal forms. Praised by some, this work has also received a fair amount of criticism, since no distinction is made between relatively certain (or even attested) forms and more hypothetical formations. I should emphasize that the Suggested Conjugation was in no way intended as a prestigious "scholarly" work setting out irrefutable conclusions about the Sindarin verb system. It is, as I hoped the title would sufficiently well indicate, a mere suggestion and a help for people who want to write in Sindarin, so that they can treat the verbs in a way which is at least consistent - and which is certainly compatible with the attested examples we do have. I do think it is about the best reconstruction anyone can do, based on what is currently available. While we would all like to be able to conjugate Sindarin verbs with confidence and certainty, such confidence would require the publication of much more material, and while we must cling to the hope that such material will one day appear, its publication seems to be rather less than imminent. For the moment, and in all likelihood for years to come, we must try to do with what we have.
The grammatical rules underlying the forms presented in the Suggested Conjugation are set out in my Sindarin article, but though I cite many examples from the primary sources, the whole presentation may have a slightly "dogmatic" air, presenting a set of rules without fully documenting how they have been deduced from Tolkien's own examples. Writing this section of the article I was, in effect, describing David Salo's finished reconstruction of the entire system rather than documenting the reasoning behind the reconstruction as such. I make no apologies, for the subject is somewhat complicated, and in an article that aims to provide prospective writers with some guidelines rather than setting out a strictly academic or scholarly analysis, I believe a straightforward presentation is preferable. However, I have long wanted to supplement this unified presentation with an article that does refer back to the primary sources and sets out much of the underlying reasoning. Such an article would also be the right place to make a clear distinction between relatively certain conclusions about the Sindarin verb, and more tentative theories which rely on a specific interpretation of very few attested examples (like the Perfect Participle).
The sources: As students of the Sindarin are well aware, the Celtic-theme language of Tolkien's mythos underwent many revisions, both as regards its internal history and its structure and phonology. In the 1917 Lexicon finally published in Parma Eldalamberon #11, the Celtic-theme language manifested as Gnomish, the language of the "Gnomes" (Noldor). While the Lexicon lists quite a few verbs and in many cases also cites past-tense forms, the verb system we glimpse seems rather different from that of Sindarin, and no forms from the Gnomish Lexicon are considered in our present study.
Parma #13 published a number of "Early Noldorin Fragments", including some writings on the Noldorin verb. "Noldorin" represents an intermediate stage between the earliest form of "Gnomish" and Tolkien's later Sindarin, and the language described in Parma #13 has clearly taken major strides towards LotR-style Sindarin. However, the sketches of the verb system appearing in Parma #13 seem quite tentative, recording the creative process itself, not confidently describing a system Tolkien had already invented and decided upon. Nonetheless, there seem to be certain vague similarities between these "Noldorin" verbs and the system used in Tolkien's later Sindarin, and a few references are made to the Parma #13 material below. However, this "Noldorin" system as a whole is so different from that of Sindarin that we can in no way rely on it to fill gaps in our knowledge of Sindarin as it manifests in LotR and later writings.
Seemingly, the picture changes completely when we reach the next major conceptual stage: the "Noldorin" of the Etymologies (LR:347-400). By the standards of the field of Tolkien-linguistics, this work provides very many Noldorin verbs, and also quite a few conjugated forms. Except for certain trivial phonological details, the Noldorin verbs of the Etymologies seem quite compatible with the samples of Sindarin that we have. In other words, it seems that virtually all of this late Noldorin material and the verbs attested in Sindarin proper can be ordered into a coherent system, as if from Etym onwards, Tolkien maintained the basic system. Undeniably, it is the Noldorin material from the Etymologies rather than the scarce examples of Sindarin proper that is the main source for this study. This late form of Noldorin does seem so similar to Sindarin that some would risk relying on it regarding features of the Sindarin verb system that are presently unattested in the LotR texts and later samples (such as the infinitives in -o or -i).
Finally we have "Sindarin proper": samples of Sindarin which Tolkien published under the name of Sindarin in LotR, as well as all post-LotR samples of the main Celtic-theme language. As he was writing the LotR appendices, Tolkien finally decided that this language was not after all the tongue which the Noldor brought from Valinor to Middle-earth, but the vernacular of the native Elves of western Middle-earth (the Sindar or Grey-elves). All the major texts of our Sindarin corpus are listed near the beginning of my regular Sindarin article. Many of them are referred to by name below: The King's Letter (maybe actually very late Noldorin, but whether or not this text predates the Noldorin/Sindarin revision of the internal history of the language is mainly an academic question), Lúthien's Song, A Elbereth Gilthoniel and Gilraen's linnod. For references, see my main Sindarin article.
Of course, all samples of "Sindarin proper" may not necessarily belong to the same conceptual phase. Certainly Tolkien did not suddenly stop developing his languages once he had published LotR, though he tried to keep them compatible with the samples he had published. Certain post-LotR ideas about the phonology of Sindarin that were published in VT42:27 certainly do not fit the system we will outline here (see Appendix C), but neither do they fit all other samples of Sindarin proper. Tolkien evidently kept experimenting, and our task here is not to map every conceptual development, but to reconstruct a system that fits as much as possible of the available material.
The Noldorin of the Etymologies does exhibit special infinitive forms, and though the conceptual validity of the relevant forms in Tolkien's later Sindarin is not entirely certain, these features of Noldorin certainly deserve attention. In Etym-style Noldorin, two infinitive endings appear. One of them is -i, which descends from Old Noldorin -ie (notice that ON trenarie is explicitly called an "inf." form in the entry NAR2); thus these forms are in origin related to the Quenya gerundial or infinitival ending -ie (UT:317). Examples of Noldorin infinitives in -i: blebi "to beat" (root PALAP), degi "to slay" (NDAK; the ON inf. ndakie is given), deri "stop" (DAR), echedi "fashion" (KAT), esgeri "cut round, amputate" (OS), egledhi "go into exile" (LED; read -dl- for -gl- in Sindarin; the ON form et-ledie is given), gedi "catch" (GAT), giri "shudder" (GIR), gwedi "bind" (WED; this verb should evidently read *gwedhi), hedi "hurl" (KHAT), lhefi "lick" (LAB; in Sindarin-style phonology and spelling, read *levi), medi "eat" (MAT), nestegi "insert" (STAK; ON stem nestak- given), ortheri "conquer" (TUR), teli "to come" (TUL), tegi "to lead" (TUK), thribi "to scratch" (SRIP; in Sindarin-style phonology, read *rhibi), tiri "watch" (TIR), treneri "recount" (NAR2). In the case of blebi, degi, teli, tegi and thribi, Tolkien's English glosses explicitly includes the English infinitive marker "to". Also notice that treneri is said to be descended from trenarie, and as noted above, the latter is explicitly called an "inf." form (entry NAR2).
The verbs that receive the infinitive ending -i seem to be so-called "basic" or "primary" verbs, that is, verbs representing a primitive root with no derivational ending suffixed to the root itself (though some prefixed element may be present, like or- in ortheri). As we shall see, these verbs prefer -i not only as an infinitive ending but also as a connecting vowel before pronominal suffixes, so (post-Tolkien) researchers have also referred to them as I-stem verbs.
It should be noted that the infinitive ending -i causes umlaut, so that where the ending is added to a verb stem including the vowel a or o, it changes to e (the umlaut product of o was originally ö, pronounced as in German, but this ö later merged with e). So using examples from the list above, the Old Noldorin infinitive ndakie yields Noldorin degi (not *dagi), and the verb tol- "come" (cf. Sindarin imperative tolo, VT44:21) has the infinitive form teli (archaic *töli). In many cases, the o of the verbal stems as they appear in Noldorin/Sindarin is not original, but has been altered from primitive u: The verb tol- itself comes from a root TUL-. However, original o behaves in exactly the same way when umlauted: The infinitive esgeri "[to] amputate" is apparently meant to have developed from *os-skarie, literally "round-cutting", the prefixed element representing the root OS "round, about". Another form of the same verb is given as osgar, and the stem of the verb is also best cited as osgar-. This example (osgar- vs. the infinitive esgeri) also demonstrates that the umlaut a/o > e can be carried through all the syllables of a longer verb stem. However, a prefix is not necessarily umlauted if it is still recognized as such. In the case of ortheri "to conquer" or literally *"to overpower" (entry TUR), the prefix or- "over" is not affected by the umlaut (not **ertheri).
English dictionaries list verbs by their infinitive form, but this is not a happy solution in Sindarin: The umlaut turning a/o into e also erases information needed to conjugate a verb correctly. Provided with an infinitive form like deri "to stop", we cannot know whether the underlying verb stem is dar-, **der- or **dor-. It is actually dar-, and this stem appears unchanged in, say, the imperative daro! (see Etym, entry DAR), but if we knew only the infinitive deri, the imperative might just as well be **dero or **doro. So for lexical purposes, the verbs that in the infinitive appear as blebi, echedi, egledhi (Sindarin *edledhi), esgeri, deri, gedi, hedi, lhefi (S. *levi), medi, nestegi, ortheri and tegi are better listed as blab-, echad-, egledh- (S. *edledh-), osgar-, dar-, gad-, had-, lhaf- (S. *lav-), mad-, nestag-, orthor-, tog-. Another term for this kind of verbs could thus be consonant stems, since their stems end in a consonant rather than a vowel. One rule for constructing Sindarin (or at least Noldorin) infinitives may therefore be stated as follows: "To stems ending in a consonant, add the suffix -i, and if a or o appears in the verbal stem, change this vowel to e." In the case of gad- "catch", Tolkien himself listed both this stem-form and the infinitive gedi (GAT). Certain other verbs are listed only as stem-forms, with no mention of the infinitive form, e.g. hab- "to clothe", rhib- "to flow like a [?torrent]", nag- "bite", gonod- "count" (KHAP, RIP, NAK, WÔ). We can tell with some confidence that in Etym-style Noldorin at least, the infinitives of these verbs would be *hebi, *rhibi (in Sindarin, read r- for rh-), *negi, *genedi. The latter verb could also be *gonedi to the extent go- was still recognized as a distinct prefix and therefore not umlauted (go-nod- is literally "together-count" = count up).
The vowels i and e are not affected by the umlaut; thus the verb tir- "watch" has the infinitive tiri, and the initial syllable of echad- "fashion" is unaltered in the infinitive form echedi (TIR, KAT). Cf. also redi "to sow" from the root RED, though this should evidently read *reði = *redhi (many other examples show that original post-vocalic d becomes dh in Noldorin/Sindarin, and the past tense of the same verb is even given as reðant = redhant).
In addition to the infinitive ending -i, Etym-style Noldorin also has the infinitive ending -o, which ending is more common. Indeed most Noldorin verbs listed in the Etymologies are quoted with the infinitive ending -o. The fact that these forms really are infinitives is apparently confirmed by the entry THÊ: Here a verb thio "to seem" is listed, and immediately afterwards we are told that thia means "it appears". Though the English glosses differ somewhat, it would seem that thia is the present (or aorist) tense of the verb that in the infinitive appears as thio.
The verbs that have infinitives in -o are seen to be mostly derived verbs: These verbs do not represent a naked root, but are formed from a root by suffixing some derivational ending, most often original -yâ or -tâ. In Quenya these endings come out as -ya or -ta. In Noldorin/Sindarin the former ending becomes -ia and the latter -da, -tha, -ta or -na, depending on the phonological environment. Much rarer are the original endings -nâ (> Noldorin/Sindarin -na), *-lâ (> la), -râ (> -ra) or simple *-â (> a). These verbs may be termed A-stems, since they all end in -a. In the Etymologies these verbs are usually (but not consistently) cited with the infinitive ending -o attached, which ending displaces the final -a. Especially interesting in this regard is the entry LEK. Here a verb is first cited as lheitho "release" (with infinitive ending -o), but then Christopher Tolkien cites "a slip accompanying these etymologies", where the same verb is quoted as leithia without the ending -o attached. (The initial variation lh- vs. l- is inconsequential, reflecting Tolkien's indecision regarding one phonological detail; in Sindarin he settled on l-.) Examples of derived verbs with the ending -o attached:
berio "to protect" (Etym, entry BAR)Of these, berio is an example of an original -yâ stem (the primitive form baryâ- is cited), whereas anno, gwesto, gwatho and mudo demonstrate the various possible outcomes of original -tâ stems (primitive *antâ, *wedtâ, wa3tâ and *môtâ; the form wa3tâ was cited by Tolkien himself). The verbs harno, glavro and bauglo demonstrate the much rarer endings *-nâ, *-râ and *-lâ; these verbs may be referred to *skarnâ, *glamrâ, *mbauklâ. The original suffix *-lâ seems to be extremely rare as a verb ending; it is apparently attested in the word bauglo only.
anno "to give" (ANA1)
gwesto "to swear" (WED)
gwatho "to soil, stain" (WA3)
mudo "[to] toil" (MÔ)
harno "to wound" (SKAR)
glavro "to babble" (GLAM)
bauglo "to oppress" (MBAW)
So to summarize: In the Noldorin of the Etymologies, A-stem verbs have infinitive forms in -o, whereas consonant stems typically have infinitive forms in -i (causing umlaut in the stem it is added to, so that a/o becomes e). However, a few consonant stems seem to form their infinitive forms in -o instead, possibly by analogy with the more numerous A-stems.
Finite verbs: We will now proceed to discuss the various finite forms of the Noldorin/Sindarin verb. In this initial survey, we will mainly (though not exclusively) focus on the verb as it appears with no endings attached. The pronominal endings finite verbs can receive, and how they influence the shape of the verb itself, will be discussed in a special section below.
Finally it may be noted that what we here call the present tense of consonant stems seems to be cognate with Quenya aorist forms. For instance, the form tôl "comes" apparently corresponds to Quenya tule; indeed tule would still be the form of the verb at the stage of the linguistic evolution that Tolkien in the Etymologies calls Old Noldorin (more or less = the "pre-historic Sindarin" of later sources). As we will discuss below, consonant stems show the connecting vowel -i- before endings, as do Quenya aorists: Quenya tulin "I come" corresponds to Noldorin (and probably Sindarin) telin of the same meaning. It is not currently known whether Sindarin makes a distinction between the present/continuative tense and the aorist (like Quenya túla "is coming" vs. tule "comes"). A fuller discussion of this problem will be found below. If there is such a distinction, the "present-tense" forms of consonant stems that we discuss here are probably what Tolkien would rather have termed aorists.
This shorter consonant stems are another story. Where they end in any of the voiced stops -b, -d, or -g, they form their past tense by infixing the homorganic nasal before the consonant. Thus we have the infix m before b and n before d. Before g we have the sound of ng as in English song, which sound Tolkien sometimes represented as ñ. However, in the relevant class of past tense formations the infix ñ is simply written n in the normal Roman orthography of Noldorin/Sindarin (since before a velar sound, the correct pronunciation comes naturally to speakers of English; compare the pronunciation of n in English think). There is one more complication: Following a vowel, the voiced stops -b, -d and -g historically descend from unvoiced stops -p, -t, -k (or in Sindarin orthography, -c). Where the nasal infix intruded before these unvoiced consonants, and no other ending followed, their original unvoiced quality persisted. Thus consonant stems ending in -b, -d and -g have past tense forms in -mp, -nt and -nc, respectively. For instance, the verb ped- "say, speak" (cf. imperative pedo in the Moria Gate inscription) descends from pre-historic Sindarin *pet-, and the nasal-infixed past tense reflects this older form: "Said, spoke" is pent (cited in the so-called Turin Wrapper, shown by C. F. Hostetter to D. Salo on October 6th, 1996). Compare the Quenya cognates: quet-, pa.t. quente.
Examples of nasalized past tense forms from the Etymologies:
hant as the pa.t. of of had- "hurl" (inf. hedi, entry KHAT)
trevant as the pa.t. of trevad- "traverse" (inf. trevedi, BAT)
echant as the pa.t. of echad- "fashion" (inf. echedi, KAT)
nestanc as the pa.t. of nestag- "insert" (inf. nestegi, STAK)
rhimp as the pa.t. of rhib- "to flow like a [?torrent]" (RIP; read r- for rh- in Sindarin)
The form rhimp listed immediately after rhib- in the entry RIP is not explicitly said to be a past tense form, but it can hardly be anything else, given the wording of this entry. (Rhimp intrudes between rhib- and rhimmo, apparently two synonymous verbs "to flow like a [?torrent]"; the partly illegible gloss follows only after rhimmo. Apparently rhimp is best taken as a form of the verb rhib- listed immediately before, and then it can only be the past tense.)
In the entry NDAK, the Old Noldorin infinitive ndakie "to slay" and the corresponding nasal-infixed past tense ndanke are listed. Ndakie is shown to yield later Noldorin degi "to slay". The later form of ndanke is not given, but it would be *danc, underlying the attested past participle dangen "slain" (< early Lindarin *ndankênâ; compare Tolkien's "reconstructed" past participle form tháurênâ in the entry THUR).
One past tense form sog- "drink" (inf. sogo) is given as sunc in the entry SUK. This entry-head explains why the stem-vowel seemingly shifts from o to u in the past tense form: The original root indeed had the stem-vowel u, and while this vowel in very many cases became o in Noldorin/Sindarin, this shift did not occur before nasals. Contrast, for instance, two derivatives of the stem LUT "float": the verb lhoda of the same meaning, and the noun lhunt "boat" (in Sindarin, read l- for lh-). So actually it is the past tense sunc that preserves the original quality of the stem-vowel, whereas it has changed to o in most other forms of the verb (like the infinitive sogo). However, since Tolkien in at least one post-LotR source cited the Elvish root for "drink" as SOK rather than SUK (VT39:11), it may not necessarily be a mortal sin to let the past tense be *sonc instead of sunc. (The "U-stem" verbs are listed and further discussed in the section Special Verbs below.)
There is also one example of nasal infixion in a verb the stem of which originally ended in -d: From the root WED comes the verb gwed[h]- "bind" (inf. gwed[h]i given) with past tense gwend or gwenn. (The latter is meant to be an assimilated form of gwend. In Tolkien's later Sindarin we can perhaps only have gwend, for in Appendix E to the LotR, Tolkien commented on the change from nd to nn and wrote that it did not occur "at the end of fully accented monosyllables".) I cite the verb gwed[h]- in this fashion because in the entry WED, it appears as gwedi "to bind". However, this must be an error for *gwedhi-, whether Tolkien or the transcriber is to be blamed: Many other examples show that following a vowel, original d - as in the root WED - becomes dh (sc. the sound of English th as in these clothes, sometimes expressed by the special letter ð in Tolkien's writings; "gwedi" is possibly a misreading for *gweði in Tolkien's manuscript). Only in the nasal-infixed past tense form gwend, where the intruding nasal shields the original d from the preceding vowel, can it escape the change d > dh. An alternative past tense form of this verb is indeed given as gweðant, or in normalized spelling gwedhant.
In the case of polysyllabic verbs ending in -dh, the corresponding past tense would end in -nd in older or "middle" Sindarin, but according to the system of regularization adopted in my articles, -nd at the end of polysyllabic words appears as -nn (see the article The Question of ND or N(N) here). Hence our Suggested Conjugation presents *nelenn (for older *nelend) as the past tense of neledh- "go in". For all we know, *neledhant may also be a possible past-tense form in late Sindarin.
The past tense form gwend seems to be the only good example we have of the past tense form of a verb derived from a root originally ending in a voiced stop, which is then preserved following the infixed nasal. The Noldorin verb lhefi "to lick" may be updated to Sindarin as *levi, assuming that the genitive forms in -i remained conceptually valid (notice that the letter f is meant to represent [v] also in Tolkien's spelling of the Noldorin form). The original root is LAB, so lhefi/*levi would come from older *labie. If this verb lab- formed its past tense by means of nasal infixion, the resulting form would be *lambe, early Sindarin *lamb (Noldorin *lhamb). However, the final cluster -mb early became -mm, -m, so in classical Sindarin the past tense of *lav- "lick" may be *lam. Our Suggested Conjugation lists this form, but it is not certain. (In Quenya the corresponding past tense is not formed by means of nasal infixion; the quite different formation láve "licked" appears with a prefix in Namárië. If láve reflects Common Eldarin *lâbê, and the corresponding Sindarin past tense also descended from this form, "licked" would translate into Grey-elven as *law!) Except for the one verb *lav- "lick" from the root LAB, there does not appear to be any attested consonant stems ending in -v derived from original -b (and even *lav- itself is only "attested" as a thoroughly updated form of Tolkien's Noldorin verb lhefi, though as noted above, the letter f is surely meant to express the sound of [v] here). However, if the Quenya verbs tyav- "taste" and lav- "allow" have Noldorin/Sindarin cognates *cav-, *dav-, the past tense forms of these verbs could plausibly be *cam, *dam (archaic *camb, *damb), these forms representing nasal-infixed versions of the original roots KYAB, DAB.
Consonant stems ending in -v derived from original -m (instead of original -b) would likewise have past tenses in -m, though in their case there would be no archaic forms in -mb. No consonant stem in -v from original -m is attested, though there is no reason to assume that they could not exist in the language. Their likely behaviour is indirectly attested in the case of dravo "to hew" from the root DARÁM; this verb has the past tense dram[-]. (It is only attested with a pronominal suffix: drammen *"I hewed"; without the suffix -n "I" this would be *dram, since double -mm is simplified to -m finally.) Dravo itself is not a consonant stem (notice infinitive in -o rather than -i), but as I shall argue below, this verb belongs to a class of verbs that seem to behave like consonant stems in the past tense.
The past tense forms of consonant stems in -r and -l is only indirectly attested. We would expect stems in -r to have past tense forms in -rn, e.g. *tirn as the past tense of tir- "watch, guard"; *tirn is the obvious cognate of the Quenya past tense tirne (see entry TIR in Etym; this is the stem tir- + the past tense ending -ne, in Noldorin/Sindarin worn down to -n). The past tense *tirn underlies the attested past participle [t]irnen "watched, guarded", lenited dirnen in Talath Dirnen "Guarded Plain" (so in the published Silmarillion; variant Dalath Dirnen in Etym, entry TIR).
NOTE: Regarding the verb "watch", the entry TIR- in the Etymologies reads, in part: "N tiri or tirio, pa.t. tiriant." Here, tiri would seem to be the infinitive form of a consonant stem tir-, whereas tirio is the infinitive of an A-stem *tiria-. It is my opinion that tiriant is intended as the past tense of tirio only, whereas the past tense of tiri is simply not stated. It could thus be *tirn, as theorized above. Carl F. Hostetter argues that tiriant is intended as the past tense of both tir- and the synonymous A-stem tiri[a]-, but it is safe to say that if tiriant is to be the past tense of a primary verb like tir-, such a preterite could not be a historically justified form.
For the past tense of consonant stems in -l we must likewise fall back on a past participle: the form hollen that forms part in the name Fen Hollen mentioned in LotR. It occurs in the chapter The Siege of Gondor in Book V: "They came at length to a door... Fen Hollen it was called, for it was ever kept shut save at times of funeral." The name thus seems to mean "Closed Door", this translation occurring later in the chapter (as for the element fen "door", compare fennas "doorway" in the Moria Gate inscription). Hollen "closed, shut" would seem to be the lenited form of [s]ollen, and removing the participial ending -en points to *soll as the past tense of a verb *sol- "close". The form *soll also makes sense within the diachronic framework, for an earlier past tense form *solne (with the old past tense marker -ne) would indeed come out in this way: As for the cluster *ln becoming ll, compare a word like ndulna "secret" yielding Noldorin doll "obscure" (Etym, entry NDUL).
For the past tense of consonant stems in -n there are no examples, direct or indirect. However, it is generally assumed that the past tense of (say) Quenya cen- "see" would be *cenne, since adding the past tense ending -ne to a stem like cen- would not result in any impossible cluster. The Sindarin form corresponding to Quenya *cenne would be *cenn. So as long as there is no other evidence, it may be assumed that consonant stems in -n have past tense forms in -nn, the last -n being a remnant of the past tense ending -ne. (Incidentally, the verb cen- does seem to appear in Sindarin as well as in Quenya; the gerund cened is attested in a compound in RS:466.)
Some consonant stems are seen to have acquired analogical past tense forms, constructed simply by adding -ant to the root. The historically correct past tense of gwed[h]i "to bind" would be gwend, which form is given in Etym (WED), but there it is also said that gwend was later replaced by gwedhant. Another example is the verb sog- "drink"; its past tense form was originally sunc, but the form sogant was also used (SUK).
NOTE: In the entry SUK as printed in LR, the past tense forms of sog- are cited as "sunc, asogant". The form "asogant" however violates Noldorin/Sindarin phonology: between vowels, s would become h. Moreover, the prefix a- seems quite superfluous, has no parallels anywhere and can hardly be accounted for in historical terms. Likely, Tolkien actually meant to cite the past tense forms as "sunc, and sogant", alternatively "sunc, or sogant". However, the conjunction "and" or "or" may be only a small doodle in his manuscript, and the transcriber appears to have read it as "a", perceiving this vowel as part of the following word so that the reading "asogant" arose. I here treat the form sogant as attested, but it will be cited as sogant, as above.
In addition to the A-stems and the consonant stems, there may seem to be a small sub-group of verbs that share some characteristics of both. This group consists of the simplest A-stems, where the short ending -a (not a longer ending like -da/-tha/-na or -ia) has been added to the original root. Furthermore, there must only be a single consonant before this ending, so a verb like erch[a]- "prick" would not be included (inf. ercho in the entry EREK-; this entry-head suggests that this verb is to be derived from *er'kâ-).
One example of the kind of verb we are discussing would be dravo "to hew", derived from the root DARÁM: primitive *d'ramâ-. The present tense of such a verb can hardly be anything but *drava, but what about the past tense? According to the rules so far formulated, it would be **dravant, but in the relevant entry in Etym, Tolkien indicated that the actual form is dram (attested with the ending -n "I" attached; drammen seems to mean *"I hewed"). The form dram, dramm- would descend from *d'ramne-, with the old past tense ending -ne added directly to the root; the short ending -a does not appear in the past tense. Another example: In the entry NAR2, Tolkien mentions a verb which in the infinitive appears as naro "tell", evidently the infinitive of a simple A-stem *nara-. But the past tense is evidently not **narant; Tolkien cited the Old Noldorin past tense narne, lacking the middle vowel of the infinitive form naróbe (whence naro). Tolkien did not mention the later Noldorin/Sindarin form of narne, but it would come out as *narn, as if it were the past tense of a consonant stem **nar- (with infinitive **neri instead of the actual form naro). Compare our argument above, that we have indirect evidence suggesting that the past tense of the primary verb tir- is *tirn.
These verbs, though properly A-stems, seem to form their past tense as if they were consonant stems: The short ending -a simply drops out in the past tense. These simplest A-stems may seem to constitute what I call a mixed conjugation in my Sindarin article, since they are treated as consonant stems in the (endingless) past tense, but otherwise (presumably) behave like other A-stems. When endings are to be added to the past tense form, the verbs belonging to the mixed conjugation seem to prefer the same connecting vowel as other A-stems (namely -e- instead of -i-); see below.
To the Mixed Conjugation may also be assigned a few verbs that are derived from nouns or adjectives by means of the old derivational ending -tâ, which (in the Noldorin infinitive form) has evolved into -do. For instance, the verb tangado "to make firm" (TAK) seems to be in origin a causative formation incorportating the original cognate of Quenya tanka "firm" (the Quenya cognate of this Noldorin verb would be *tankata-). Other verbs of this shape are gannado "play a harp" and lhathrado (Sindarin *lathrado) "listen in, eavesdrop" (ÑGAN, LAS2). We assume that the forms cited are the infinitives of A-stems like tangad[a]-, gannad[a]- etc. Though the final -da (infinitive -do) of these verbs is the descendant of a longer derivational ending -tâ, these verbs are similar to the simplest A-stems (root + original -â) in that both categories of verbs end in a single, short vowel + a single consonant + a final -a (or in the infinitive, -o). We therefore theorize that these verbs would also form their past tense by dropping the final -a and treating the remaining part of the verb as a consonant stem. Thus, the past tense of verbs like tangado and gannado would likely be *tangant, *gannant rather than ?tangadant, ?gannadant. In the case of the verbs lhimmid "[to] moisten" and nimmid "to whiten", Tolkien explicitly listed the past tenses nimmint, lhimmint (LINKWI, NIK-W-). The only remaining mystery is why these verbs are cited as seeming consonant stems lhimmid, nimmid and not as infinitives *nimmido, *lhimmido (or as pure A-stems *nimmida-, *lhimmida-). There can be no doubt that these two verbs by their derivation are entirely similar to a form like tangado. For instance, nimmid "whiten" is derived by adding the causative ending -tâ to the old adjective ninkwi "white" listed by itself in the entry NIK-W-; also compare the Quenya cognate ninqitá- (in later spelling ninquitá-). If the ending -o does belong to a verb like tangado, it is difficult to understand why it does not belong to these two verbs as well. In my Suggested Conjugation, it is assumed that the forms "nimmid" and "lhimmid" simply represent an elliptical annotation of the full forms *nimmido, *lhimmido (somewhat like the cognate of Quenya linga- "hang, dangle" is cited as gling in the entry LING; this must be elliptical for *glinga-). Thus, I list these verbs as A-stems *nimmida-, *limmida- (with l- for lh- because of the normal updating to Sindarin phonology). Possibly pannod "fill" (stem KWAT) also belongs to this group of verbs, but for Neo-Sindarin purposes the synonym pathro can be used; the latter would seem to be the infinitive of a regular A-stem, and it is easier to predict its various tense-forms. (As for pannod "fill" itself, some would also connect it to infinitives in -od occurring in Tolkien's pre-Etym versions of Noldorin, like tangod "to fix" in PE13:131. If so we may be dealing with a leftover form from an earlier conceptual phase.)
NOTE: By its form, the verb athrado "to cross, traverse" (RAT) may also seem to belong to the same class as nimmid- etc., but athrado is evidently rado "to make a way" with the prefix ath- "across" (cf. AT(AT)), so the original derivational ending -tâ is not here present. Nonetheless, since rado may seem to belong to the Mixed Conjugation by its form, the past tense would probably follow the same pattern: *athrant rather than ?athradant.
Past tenses in -AU-: Another small sub-group of verbs are the past tense forms involving the diphthong au, sometimes only indirectly attested because it turns into a monophthong o in some positions. Among the explicit examples we have daul as the surprising past tense form of doltha "conceal". Daul seems to be an A-infixed form of the original root DUL, whereas doltha must descend from *dultâ-. Sometimes verbs in (original) -tâ lose this ending in the past tense; compare Quenya onta- having the past tense óne, coexisting with the more regular form ontane (Etym, entry ONO). It should be noted that Tolkien marked the form daul as archaic or poetic, so in "modern" usage, the verb doltha would perhaps have the more regular past tense *dolthant.
The past tense of thoro "[to] fence" is evidently *thaur, formed by A-infixion of the original root THUR. The form *thaur is only indirectly attested: it underlies the past participle thoren, which Tolkien referred to tháurênâ. In the participial form thoren, the diphthong au becomes o because of the added syllable. (In the entry DUL, the past passive participle corresponding to the past tense form daul is likewise given as dolen, evidently < *daulênâ.)
In other cases, Noldorin/Sindarin au does not originate by A-infixion (as in the case of daul, *thaur vs. the original roots DUL, THUR). Rather it descends from original long â. Gilraen's linnod has onen for "I gave". The underlying endingless form "gave" is probably *aun, which is simply the cognate of the Quenya past tense áne (attested in Tolkien's early material: QL:31). Compare, say, naur "flame" as the Noldorin/Sindarin cognate of Quenya náre (Etym, entry NAR1). When endings are added, *aun becomes on-, as in onen "I gave". Compare daul vs. dolen. (Indeed the latter word could by its form evidently be the 1st person past tense "I hid" as well as the past participle "hidden", and onen could likely be the past participle "given" as well as the 1st person past tense "I gave".) - In some editions of LotR, the first word of Gilraen's linnod has a long vowel: ónen. This ó would maintain the prosodic length of the underlying diphthong au. However; the diphthong au does not always produce long ó when it turns into a monophthong; cf. a word like caun vs. its plural form conath (PM:362). Therefore, the form onen with a short o is not necessarily erroneous.
The verb anno "to give" occurs in Noldorin (ANA1), and it is now also attested in Sindarin proper; the imperative anno occurs in Tolkien's Sindarin Lord's Prayer (VT44:21). The past tense form *aun seems irregular; normally we would expect anno to have the past tense **annant. However, this form becomes rather clumsy when further endings are added ("I gave" would be **annannen! - or contracted **annen). Therefore, it is not surprising that Tolkien went for the less common past tense formation *aun instead (< *ânê). It may be noted that anno "to give" is the cognate of Quenya anta, so this is another case of a -ta verb dropping this ending in the past tense, the pa.t. form being constructed directly from the root instead. Compare one Quenya example already mentioned: onta- with past tense óne, formed from the root ONO. Quenya anta- "give" [= Sindarin inf. anno] with past tense áne [= S. *aun] would have exactly the same relationship to the root ANA1, though in this case neither the Quenya nor the Noldorin past tense is listed in Etym.
Finally we may consider the verb trenar- (inf. treneri "tell"), the past tense of which is given as trenor (NAR2). It seems likely that this form represents older *trenaur, and that the diphthong *au descends from an original long â (cf. *aun vs. Quenya áne). At the end of a polysyllabic word, au is quite regularly reduced to o. Ultimately, the past tense (*trenaur >) trenor is likely meant to descend from *trenârê. This past tense formation may be compared to one Quenya form occurring in Galadriel's Lament: unduláve "down-licked" (i.e. "covered") as the past tense of undulav-: the primitive form would be *undulâbê. Notice the lengthening of the stem-vowel of the original roots LAB "lick" and NAR2 "tell, relate"; such lengthening seems to be characteristic of this class of past tense formations.
Besides trenor as the past tense of trenar-, the entry NAR2 in Etym also mentions a form printed as "trener". I cannot make sense of this form. Original a could become e by umlaut, but there is nothing to cause umlaut here. Possibly this "trener" is a misreading for *trenar in Tolkien's manuscript. (As we shall also have to mention later, the vowels e and a are sometimes difficult to distinguish in Tolkien's handwriting. Compare the entry KHAL2, where the transcriber tentatively reads one Noldorin word as "orchel" but admits that the e is uncertain. The Old Noldorin form orkhalla indicates that it should read orchal, and this form later turned up elsewhere: WJ:305, note 48.) Older *trenârê could perhaps produce both trenor and *trenar just like the old form katwârâ yields both cadwor and cadwar (KAT). However, *trenar would normally be expected to be the (3rd singular) present or aorist tense of the consonant stem trenar-, not the past tense. I would recommend the past tense trenor to writers, and let the problematic form "trener" rest in peace.
NOTE: In one experimental form of the name of the "Land of the Dead that Live", Gwerth-i-Cuina, the ending -r is missing from the verb even though "the Dead" is plural (WJ:132). It is, however, present in other variants of this name. We may also consider one sentence published in Tolkien: Artist & Illustrator which appears to belong to much the same time-dialect as Etym-style Noldorin: Lheben teil brann i annon ar neledh neledhi gar godrebh, evidently = "five feet high [is] the door and three can go through together". Here the verb gar appears to be the word meaning "can". If we assume a verb *gar- "be able" (in Etym, a verb of the same form means "hold, have"), we might expext the form *gerir or possibly *garar here, with the plural ending attached to go with the plural subject neledh "three". Or is a group of three, indicated by the simple cardinal neledh "3", somehow perceived as a unit? If gar is a singular verb, we should perhaps read *gâr with a long vowel (to go with such forms as tôl, [p]êd etc.)
The four endings -n "I", -m "we", -ch "you" and -r ?"they" can presumably be added to any finite verb. However, the question remains what vowel they should be preceded by.
As demonstrated above, A-stem verbs end in -a in the present (or aorist) tense, and so do future-tense verbs in -tha. However, the attested examples linnon *"I sing/chant", nallon "I cry" and linnathon "I will chant" indicate that an -a immediately preceding the ending -n is changed to -o- when this pronominal ending is added: We do not see **linnan, **linnathan. However, no such change occurs before the ending -m, as is evident from the example avam "we won't" in WJ:371 (which source also mentions avon "I won't" with the expected change from -a to -o- before -n).
One attempt to explain why -a becomes -o- before the ending -n "I", but not before -m "we", goes like this: The final vowel of the A-stems was originally a long -â. Before endings including only a single consonant, such as -n, this vowel could remain long and regularly evolved into Sindarin o (via au and long ó). However, before endings including a consonant cluster, the original long -â was shortened to -a- which simply remains -a- in Sindarin. The ending -m most likely represents an older cluster -mm- (or it would have turned into v following a vowel), so before this ending original -â was shortened to -a- and remained -a- in Sindarin. Hence avon "I won't", but avam "we won't". Since the ending -ch "you" (sg.) must descend from an earlier cluster (likely -kk-), we would expect to see -a- before this ending as well: *avach "you won't". (An alternative ending for "you", -g, is also reported to occur in Tolkien's manuscripts. If this is to descend from a single -k-, we would see *avog with -o- as an alternative word for "you won't".)
This successfully explains some things, but it remains unclear why -a does not become -o- before the plural ending -r as well, e.g. [c]uinar rather than **cuinor as the pl. present tense "live" (as in Dor Firn i guinar). There is no reason to believe that this -r is simplified from an earlier cluster, as is the ending -m "we". Some have suggested that this ending somehow entered the language at a late stage and therefore did not influence its phonological surroundings in the way we would expect. While some minor obscurities remain, we must conclude that a verb like linna- "chant" would most likely go like this in the present/aorist tense: linnon "I chant", *linnam "we chant", *linnach "you chant" and *linnar "(they) chant". In the future tense, the final vowel of the ending -tha would behave in the same way as the final -a of an A-stem in the present tense. So besides the attested form linnathon "I will chant", we would expect to see *linnatham "we will chant", *linnathach "you will chant", *linnathar "(they) will chant". Even ignoring the question of a possible distinction between inclusive and exclusive "we", at least one pronominal ending is missing: plural "you". One educated guess could be that it is *-l, since some variants of Quenya seem to use -lle for this meaning. If this *-l descends from a double -ll- (cf. the Quenya ending), we would likely see *linnal and *linnathal (rather than *linnol and *linnathol) for "you chant", "you will chant".
The present or aorist form of consonant stems is seen to include the vowel -i- before endings. (When they appear without endings, as in the 3rd person singular, these are the verbs that have their stem-vowel lengthened, e.g. tôl "comes".) For instance, from *heb- "keep" we have [h]ebin for "I keep" (attested in negated form ú-chebin "I do not keep" in Gilraen's linnod; the prefix ú- "not" causes lenition of the following consonant). This -i- umlauts the stem-vowel in the preceding syllable(s), just like the infinitive ending -i discussed above, so that the stem-vowels a and o both become -e-. Therefore, the verb car- "do, make" appears as cerir (not **carir) in the Sindarin Lord's Prayer, with -i- as a connecting vowel before the ending -r (VT44:22). Before the primitive root KHEP "keep" was published in VT41:6, it was indeed unclear whether the Sindarin verb "keep" was heb-, **hab- or **hob-, since all of these would become hebi- before endings and only the 1st sg form [h]ebin was attested. A verb like car- "do" would be expected to go like this with endings attached: *cerin "I do", *cerich "you do", *cerim "we do", cerir "(they) do". Tol- "come" would go like this: *telin "I come", *telich "you come", *telim "we come", *telir "(they) come" (compare teli as the umlauted infinitive form "to come", listed in the entry TUL in Etym).
The verb garo is said to have the 1st person present-tense form gerin "I have, hold" (Etym, entry 3AR; we interpret "garo-" as an infinitive in -o, despite the final hyphen). Above, we saw the form gerin as evidence that this verb is properly a consonant stem (cf. gar- in the deleted entry GAR), and that only the infinitive garo instead of the "regular" form **geri is exceptional. The verb sogo "to drink", which is said to correspond to a 3rd sg (present tense) sôg, may likewise be treated as a consonant stem except for the infinitive form. With endings, sog- would then appear as *segi-, e.g. *segin "I drink". But it is also possible, and maybe more probable, that sogo "to drink" represents a short A-stem sog[a] of the "mixed conjugation". This is the view taken in our Suggested Conjugation, so that "I drink" would be *sogon. (Before the other endings we would see *soga-, and the 3rd sg. form sôg would then be irregular, since if this is indeed an A-stem we would perhaps expect to see **soga even where the verb appears with no ending. Or maybe Mixed Conjugation verbs do regularly drop the final -a in the endingless 3rd sg present tense, contrary to the system currently assumed in our Suggested Conjugation which dismisses sôg as irregular?)
The endings -n, -m, -ch, -r can evidently also be added to past-tense forms of verbs; there are at least some attestations of -n "I". Gilraen's linnod has onen for "I gave". As we have argued above, the endingless past tense form "gave" is evidently *aun, becoming on- in polysyllables. The form onen suggests that the connecting vowel -e- is used before endings in at least some past-tense forms. Other examples from the Etymologies seem to confirm this. In the entry DARÁM one past tense of dravo "to hew" is given as drammen, and while this is not explicitly translated *"I hewed", the pronoun -n "I" seems to be included. As we argued above, the endingless past tense "hewed" would be *dram or technically *dramm (final -mm is reduced to -m in orthography), from older *dramne with the same past tense marker -ne that is also common in Quenya. The form drammen *"I hewed" regularly evolves from *dramnene (for the pronominal ending -ne "I", compare Old Noldorin yurine "I run", entry YUR). There is little reason to doubt that besides drammen *"I hewed" we could also have *drammem "we hewed", *drammech "you hewed", *drammer "(they) hewed".
Further evidence for -e- as a connecting vowel is provided by the entry SUK in the Etymologies. After listing the form sogant, past tense of sogo "drink", Tolkien cited a word printed as sogennen (presented as a paranthetical variant of sogant, which in turn is explicitly identified as a past-tense form). This sogennen is likely the past tense sogant with the ending -n "I" attached, and a connecting vowel -e- is seen to appear before this ending. (Between vowels, -nt- regularly turns into -nn- for phonological reasons.) However, we would expect sogant + -e-n to produce *sogannen, not "sogennen" as printed. In all likelihood, "sogennen" is simply a misreading for *sogannen in Tolkien's manuscript; we have already discussed other cases of likely confusion of a with e in Tolkien's handwriting. In this essay, this form is henceforth cited as sog[a]nnen. If we have correctly interpreted this form as *"I drank", this is an important example, demonstating that the (apparently very frequent) past tense forms in -ant appear as -anne- when endings are appended. With endings a 3rd person sg. form like orthant (pa.t. of ortho "raise", ORO) would then turn into *orthannen "I raised", *orthannech "you raised", *orthannem "we raised", *orthanner "(they) raised".
However, the Etymologies provides one divergent example, where another connecting vowel appears. In the entry KHAT in Etym, Tolkien mentioned the verb that in the infinitive appears as hedi "[to] hurl". Two past tense forms are listed: hant and hennin (actually in the opposite order). Since the stem-form of the verb can be cited as *had- (the infinitive ending -i causes umlaut, hence the inf. form hedi), the form hant is simply the endingless (3rd person sg.) past tense, formed by nasal infixion as explained above. Hennin would seem to be hant *"hurled" with the ending -n attached, hence "I hurled". But in the form hennin, the connecting vowel -i- is used before -n, and hennin can then be derived from hant by observing the normal rules of umlaut a > e caused by a following i (as in the infinitive hedi and the present/aorist tense *hedin) and remembering that intervocalic -nt- becomes -nn-. The form hennin is however still surprising, for -i- as a connecting vowel does not seem to be historically justified. In the diachronic perspective, we would expect -e- to be the more or less universal connecting vowel in the past tense. This "connecting vowel" is simply the vowel all past tense verbs originally ended in, lost in endingless forms (where it was final), but preserved before endings. In Quenya, it appears that all past tense forms still end in the vowel -e, also in forms similar to the Noldorin verb before us. The verb quetin "I say" has the past tense quenten "I said" (both are attested with a prefix in WJ:370, 371). Phonologically, we would expect these forms to correspond to Noldorin/Sindarin *pedin and *pennen, respectively. The form *pedin, while not directly attested, is indeed what we would see according to the rules reconstructed above. However, the attested form hennin suggests that "I said" would not be *pennen, but rather *pennin. How can this be explained?
To use the attested example hennin *"I hurled", there can be little doubt that historically speaking, the past tense should have been **hannen (< Old Noldorin *khante-ne). The historically unjustified form hennin apparently arose by analogy with the present (or aorist) tense, where the connecting vowel -i- is indeed used: According to the system reconstructed above, the verb had- "hurl" would have the 1st person present tense *hedin. Notice that the verbs which in the past tense preserve the historically "correct" connecting vowel -e- are also verbs that do not show -i- in the present tense. The attested past-tense forms drammen *"I hewed" and onen "I gave" would (according to our reconstruction) correspond to present-tense forms *dravon "I hew" and *annon "I give". In these present-tense forms there is no connecting vowel -i-, and the past-tense forms are then seen to retain the historically justified connecting vowel -e-. It would seem that A-stems (including the simplest A-stems of the "Mixed Conjugation") use the connecting vowel -e- when endings are to be added to the past tense form, whereas the primary verbs use the connecting vowel -i-, introduced by analogy with the connecting vowel the primary verbs use in the present tense.
For a long time, the word hennin from the entry KHAT in the Etymologies was the sole example of a past-tense form with -i- as its connecting vowel, and I was somewhat skeptical about generalizing a rule affecting very many verbs based on only one single example (though this situation is far from unique in Tolkien-linguistics!) Now it turns out that the verb *dag- (inf. degi "to slay", NDAK), the endingless past tense of which would be *danc (Old Noldorin ndanke given), had the extended past tense form dengin *"I slew" already in pre-Etym Noldorin (PE13:130). Some of the other pre-Etym forms listed also seem compatible with later Sindarin, like dengim *"we slew" and [deng]ir *"(they) slew". These were the forms predicted in our Suggested Conjugation. Though the verb conjugations presented in PE13 (including the table providing the examples just cited) are mostly not compatible with Tolkien's later system, it would seem that having -i- as a connecting vowel in the past tense of some Noldorin/Sindarin verbs was indeed a long-standing idea: The form hennin does not represent a brief flicker in Tolkien's evolving conception.
We conclude, then, like this: In the past tense, the most frequent connecting vowel before endings is -e-, but the verbs that have -i- as their connecting vowel in the present (or aorist) tense also show this vowel in the past tense, evidently by analogy. This vowel -i- causes umlaut in the past tense as well as in the present tense; thus the vowel of the verb *had- "hurl" would turn into -e- in the present tense (*hedin "I hurl") as well as the past tense hennin *"I hurled"; compare the attested infinitive hedi. The vowel o would likewise become e (for archaic ö), so while the verb "run" seems to be nor-, the past tense "I ran" would evidently manifest as *nernin (< *nörnin).
When expanding a past tense form with the connecting vowel -e- or -i- before adding an ending, the past tense stem must often be somewhat modified. The forms sog[a]nnen and hennin vs. the endingless variants sogant, hant demonstrate how -nt turns into -nn- when this cluster becomes intervocalic. Intervocalic -nd would also turn into -nn-, so the old past tense gwend *"bound" (WED) would with endings appear as *gwenni-.
Similarly, -nc would become -ng- (as in English song, with no audible g). Sunc as the older past tense of sogo "drink" would presumably appear as *sunge- before endings (*sungen "I drank", *sungech "you drank" etc.) Cf. also dengin *"I slew" vs. endingless *danc "slew", if we dare to bring pre-Etym forms into the discussion (PE13:130). If there are any verbs that in the past tense would end in -ng (formed by nasal-infixing original roots in -G), it should be noted that this -ng came to be pronounced as a simple nasal - as in English sing, without a distinct [g].
Past-tense forms that end in -m or -mp when no ending is present would show double -mm- before endings. As I have argued above, the form drammen *"I hewed" would likely be *dram without the ending -(e)n "I". Interestingly, Tolkien in the entry DARÁM indicated that there also existed an endingless form dramp (marked as poetic). This form cannot be historically justified (the root would have had to be **DARÁP instead), and it evidently arose by analogy: The group -mp would also turn into -mm- when intervocalic, so the form drammen as such might just as well be formed from an endingless variant dramp. A genuine past tense in -mp is rhimp, pa.t. of rhib- "to flow like a [?torrent]" (rhimp representing a nasal-infixed form of the root RIP). According to the system here reconstructed, this would before endings appear as *rhimmi-, e.g. pl. *rhimmir. (In Sindarin, read r- for Noldorin rh-.)
When expanding an endingless past tense form, one must also bear in mind that the diphthong au occurring in some past tense forms turns into o when a monosyllabic word becomes polysyllabic. As noted above, the form onen "I gave" is probably formed from an endingless variant *aun "gave". (At the stage sometimes referred to as Middle Sindarin, "I gave" would still be *aunen.)
car- "make", perfect participle *córiel "having made"As for the of change of -e- to -í (< old long ê), the verb orthel- "roof, screen above" must be especially watched: When -thel- becomes -thíl- in the perfect participle, the í here emerging would be expected to umlaut the prefix or- to er-, so that "having roofed" would be *erthíliel (older *örthíliel).
heb- "keep", perfect participle *híbiel "having kept"
nor- "run", perfect participle *núriel "having run"
*firiel "dying, fading" vs. fíriel "having died, having faded"According to the system here reconstructed, other primary verbs would not come so close to coinciding in the perfect participle, e.g. *madel "eating", but *módiel "having eaten". If *thóniel does mean "having kindled", this form would confirm that all perfect participles take the ending -iel; here the i does not echo the stem-vowel (as could conceivably be the case in [t]íriel). Contrast the simple (present) active participle "kindling", which by our reconstruction would be *thanel (< *thanilâ).
*giriel "shuddering" vs. gíriel "having shuddered"
*gliriel "singing, reciting" vs. *glíriel "having sung, having recited"
Note on plural forms of active participles: In Etym-style Noldorin, as well as in Sindarin proper, there is currently no evidence whatsoever regarding any plural forms of the active participles (present or perfect). Regular Noldorin/Sindarin adjectives do agree in number, and the participles are basically adjectival. So would a participle like glavrol "babbling" have a distinct plural form, used to describe more than one "babbling" individual? A word of this shape would have the plural form *glavroel given its phonological history (-ol, representing older *-aul and still older *-âl-, would pluralize as -oel, and there would be no umlaut in the rest of the word). Participles in -el and -iel would have plural forms in -il, with I-umlaut also in the preceding syllable or even thoughout the entire word. In pre-Etym "Old Noldorin" (not the same as the ON of Etym) Tolkien did mention madel pl. medil as forms of the participle "eating" (PE13:131). These forms could be conceptually valid in Sindarin as well (representing pre-historic Sindarin *matila and *matili, in turn from *matilâ and *matilâi at the oldest stage). Yet we cannot be sure whether Sindarin active participles agree in number at all. Quenya participles in -la, cognate with the Sindarin ending, do not seem to agree in number in the late Markirya poem.
NOTE: On October 19th, 2003, in a letter to the Elfscript list, Carl F. Hostetter writes regarding this explanation of the origin of the Noldorin/Sindarin past participles: "I disagree with this unqualified assertion. This -en may also have arisen from *-inâ, and thus be cognate with the Quenya past participial ending -ina exhibited by such relatively late Quenya forms as rákina 'broken', etc" (MC:223). However, the Quenya past passive participles are quite different in form. If we assume that, say, the verb *dag- "slay" (inf. degi from root NDAK, LR:375) had the Old Noldorin past participle **ndákina to go with a Quenya form like rákina, then the later form of the past participle would have been (**daugen >) **dogen, but the attested form is dangen! Moreover, in Quenya the ending -ina is also added to A-stem verbs, resulting in a diphthong ai as in hastaina "marred" (MR:254). If we tried to apply this system to a verb like prest[a]- "to affect", so that the Old Noldorin passive participle had been **prestaina, then the later form would have been either **prestoen (in Etym-style Noldorin) or **prestaen (in Sindarin). The attested form is prestannen! Presumably Hostetter will have to agree that the Noldorin/Sindarin passive participles cannot possibly be direct cognates of the Quenya formations; the N/S forms are unquestionably formed from past-tense verbs. But if I understand him correctly, he argues that the very ending -en may well be a direct cognate of the Quenya ending -ina. However, the form thoren, which Tolkien explicitly calls a "pp." (past/passive participle), he equally explicitly derived from tháurênâ (Etym, entry THUR). This indicates that in this case at least, the ending -en descends from -ê (old past tense ending) + nâ (basically an old adjectival ending). As far as I can see, all attested Noldorin/Sindarin past passive participles can be successfully explained as being formed by the same pattern: we are dealing with old past tense forms to which the ending -nâ was added. The consonant of the ending -en is what remains of -nâ after the loss of final vowels, whereas the vowel of -en is the vowel all past tense forms formerly ended in (in Quenya, all preterites still end in -e). While it is true that *-inâ would also produce Noldorin/Sindarin -en (the final â umlauting the i to e before it was lost), I do not see the need to arbitrarily assume that this ending was formerly present when we have an attested pattern which is equally capable of explaining all known Noldorin/Sindarin past participles.
To summarize, in a synchronic perspective the rules for how past passive participles are formed can be stated like this: The ending -en is added to the past tense. In accordance with general phonology, final -nc, -nt, -mp become -ng- (i.e. -ññ-), -nn-, -mm- respectively when intervocalic: the past tense forms *danc, *prestant, dramp (DARÁM) therefore correspond to the participles dangen, prestannen, *drammen (the form drammen is actually given in the entry DARÁM, but evidently this is the 1st person past tense "I hewed" rather than the passive participle "hewed"; however, the two would probably coincide in form). Though we have no explicit examples, general phonology tells us that past tense forms in -nd, -ng (sc. ñg, if there are any), and -m (older -mb) would also show -nn-, -ng-, -mm-, respectively, before the ending -en. For instance, gwend as one past tense of gwed[h]- "to bind" would correspond to the passive participle *gwennen "bound". Past-tense forms including the dipthong au show o in the passive participle (daul "hid" vs. dolen "hidden"). The plural forms show I-umlaut throughout the word, so that a becomes e (dangen pl. dengin) and o becomes ö, later merging with e (Abonnen pl. Ebönnen, but later *Ebennin). However, o derived from au would not be affected (so the pl. form of dolen "hidden" must be *dolin rather than **delin; compare daul as the past tense "hid").
The example Abonnen "Afterborn" (pl. Ebönnin > *Ebennin) may also illustrate another rule. Ignoring the prefix ab- "after", the form onnen meaning "born" (or perhaps rather *"begotten") may well be the passive participle of *onna-, the otherwise unattested Sindarin cognate of Quenya onta- "beget, create" (LR:379 s.v. ONO; notice that the same stem is mentioned in WJ:387 where the form Abonnen is cited - Tolkien calls Abonnen a "participial formation" from this stem). If *onna- has the past tense *onnant (as it would have according to the rules we have tried to reconstruct), its passive participle would be *onnannen according to the rules suggested above, but it may seem that this cumbersome form is contracted by merging the two double nn's and omitting the vowel between them. Hence onnen as in Abonnen. A similar system is employed throughout our Suggested Conjugation; haplology in general seems to be a frequent phenomenon in Tolkien's Elvish. So though "chant" is linna- and the past tense "sang" would presumably be *linnant, we suggest *linnen rather than ?linnannen as the passive participle "chanted" (and also the 1st person past tense "I chanted", which by our reconstruction would coincide with the passive participle in form).
It may also be noted that "gaw-" would be the sole known basic verb in -w, and if we try to conjugate it according to the normal system, some pretty outlandish forms would result. If the older past tense of *ñgaw- was formed by nasal-infixion, hence *ñganwe, we would have Middle Sindarin *ganw and Classical Sindarin *ganu! (For nasal-infixion before -w, compare the old Quenya past tense anwe vs. the root AWA, WJ:366.) I tend to believe that if Tolkien had something this exotic in mind, he would have made an explicit note about it in the Etymologies. In our Suggested Conjugation, gaw[a]- is assumed to belong to the Mixed Conjugation, the older past tense *ñgawne = *ñgaune yielding Sindarin *gaun, or with endings *gone-.
The King's Letter contains several examples of gerunds or verbal nouns in -ad. Irrespective of the prefix ge-, the form genediad "reckoning" (used = "calendar") seems to be the gerund of the verb nödia ("noedia") listed in the entry NOT in Etym. In the early Fourth Age when the Letter is supposed to have been written, ö had long since become e (compare arnediad "without reckoning" in the entry AR2 in Etym itself; this form contains nediad as the gerund of *nedia-, later form of nödia-). Interestingly, gerunds are repeatedly used as infinitives in the text of the King's Letter: E aníra ennas suilannad mhellyn ín phain, "he desires to greet there all his friends", e aníra tírad i Cherdir Perhael "he desires to see the Master Samwise". One may think that this is literally *"he desires greeting [of] all his friends", *"he desires seeing [of] the Master Samwise" - as if the forms in -ad are really just verbal nouns. But this analysis would make the verbal noun the real object of the sentence, and then it should have been lenited (as the object of a Sindarin sentence regularly seems to be). We would have seen **e aníra huilannad mellyn ín phain (suilannad rather than mellyn being lenited). But since Tolkien actually left suilannad unlenited and lenited mellyn instead (as mhellyn = vellyn), we must probably conclude that suilannad here does function as a regular infinitive, and it is mellyn, as the logical object of the sentence, that is lenited. As noted above, the Sindarin gerunds are descended from forms in -ta, and Tolkien translated one such form as an infinitive in a Quenya phrase (lá karita "not to do, VT42:33). We must inevitably ask whether the infinitives in -i and -o that are exemplified in the Etymologies belong only to that conceptual stage, and are a feature of "Noldorin" that did not survive into Tolkien's thinking on Sindarin proper. In some ways, gerunds would be clearer and less ambigious than these infinitives: All the Noldorin infinitives in -o clash with the imperative forms of the same verbs (though they would hardly be very difficult to distinguish in context). As for the infinitives in -i, the I-umlaut of the stem-vowel which it causes may sometimes result in confusion, since this umlaut neutralizes both a and o to e (and leaves original e unchanged). For instance, is *ceni the infinitive of cen- "see, look" or can- "call"? If there exists a verb *con-, its infinitive would be *ceni as well. On the other hand, the gerunds would remain distinct: *cened "seeing" vs. *caned "calling" (and if there is indeed a verb *con-, its gerund would be *coned). So even apart from the uncertain status of the Noldorin infinitives in -o and -i in Sindarin proper, there may be good reasons for writers to use gerunds instead.
Incidentally, suilannad "to greet" seems to include the gerund of anna- "give"; hence "to give (a) greeting" or "giving a greeting". Later in the text, suilad is used for "greeting"; this may seem to presuppose a simpler verb *suila- "greet". As for tírad, translated "to see", it is obviously formed from the stem TIR "watch", but tírad can hardly be formed from the basic verb tir- as such (*tirita should have produced *tired instead); rather tírad seems to presuppose a longer A-stem *tíra-, but one may not exclude the other. See Appendix B.
Finally it may be noted that A-stem verbs in -ada seem to have gerunds, not in **-adad, but simply -ad (evidently by haplology). In the entry RAT- in Etym, Tolkien listed a verb athrado "to cross, traverse" (evidently an A-stem athrad[a]- with infinitive in -o). Then he mentioned the word athrad "crossing", which may in origin be a gerund or verbal noun connecting with this verb, though it was also used in a concrete sense: "ford".
U-stems: Some verbs that in contemporary Sindarin show the vowel -o- are derived from stems that had U instead. For instance, the verb sogo "drink" comes (at least according to the Etymologies) from a root SUK-. At one stage, the short vowel u was changed to o in most positions. But for whatever reason, this did not happen before nasal consonants - and in Eldarin, the past tense is often formed by nasal infixion. Therefore, the past tense of sogo (< *sukâ-) is given as sunc (< *sunkê). The original quality of the stem-vowel is here preserved in the nasal-infixed past tense.
We have already noted that Tolkien elsewhere (VT39:11) listed the stem for "to drink" as SOK rather than SUK, so maybe the past tense "drank" could also simply be *sonc. Yet the pattern exemplified by sunc may be assumed to be valid as such, and then it would also apply to the nasal-infixed past tense forms of other verbs of derived from stems that have the vowel U:
*tog- "lead, bring" > pa.t. *tunc (stem TUK)
nod- "tie, bind" > pa.t. *nunt (stem NUT)
The verbal stem tog- can be deduced from the 3rd sg. tôg listed in the entry TUK; otherwise Tolkien listed this verb in the infinitive form tegi, with an infinitive ending that has umlauted the stem-vowel to e. The verb "tie, bind" is actually listed as nud- in the entry NUT in Etym, but this must be a mistake, by Tolkien or the transcriber, for nod-, the form demanded by general phonology. In the entry WÔ, Tolkien explicitly states that the old stems "not- count, nut- tie coalesced in Exilic [Noldorin] *nod-"; then he explains that the verb "count" was distinguished by adding the prefix go- (hence gonod-). It would seem, then, that the verb "tie, bind" is nod- with no prefix.
If, as suggested by the example hennin *"I hurled" (KHAT), the past tense forms of basic verbs use the connecting vowel -i- before endings, interesting things would happen in the case of U-stem verbs. For, as is demonstrated by hennin vs. the endingless form hant *"hurled" (also listed under KHAT), the vowel -i- umlauts the stem-vowel. In these verbs - the only verbs to have past-tense forms preserving original -u- as the stem-vowel - the umlaut would turn this vowel into -y-. From *nunt "tied" and tunc "brought" we would thus expect *nynnin "I tied" and *tyngin "I brought" (final -nt, -nc regularly becoming -nn-, -ng- when intervocalic).
Also some of the verbs that must be assigned to what we have called the "Mixed Conjugation" would preserve the original vowel -u- in the nasal-infixed past tense (indeed our attested example of this phenomenon, sog[a]- "drink", inf. sogo with past tense sunc, belongs to this group of verbs):
groga- "feel terror" > 3 pers. sg. pa.t. *grunc (original stem RUK, WJ:415)In the Etymologies, the verb tob[a]- (listed in the infinitive: tobo) is derived from a stem TOP, and then the past tense would simply be *tomp. However, in the Quenya song Namárië in LotR, Tolkien seems to be presupposing *TUP as the Elvish root for "cover" (the literal meaning of the verb untúpa occurring in this song is given as "down-roofs" in RGEO:67). If the stem is to be *TUP instead, then the nasal-infixed past tense of *tob[a]- should probably be *tump.
[l]oda- "float" (Noldorin lhoda-) > pa.t. *lunt (stem LUT)
tob[a]- "cover, roof over" > pa.t. *tump (stem *TUP)
Notice, however, that *mudannen as the past participle of the verb mud[a]- should probably have the plural form *mudennin rather than ?mydennin, for in this case the u is derived from an old long ô, mud[a]- being the cognate of Quenya móta- (root MÔ). The (original) long vowels would be immune to I-umlaut. However, the intransitive verb muda- "labour, toil" may not normally have a past participle anyway.
All of these elaborations are of course merely an attempt to work out what seems to be the logical and necessary consequence of Tolkien's general system. The reader will understand that the primary sources only provide hints, like Tolkien noting that *sogo has the past tense form sunc. It is up to ourselves to find out what kind of forms would arise if we apply the grammatical rules we have tried to make out, taking into account what can be inferred about the intended phonology of the language. Hopefully we are not too clever here.
Other special verbs would be the so-called impersonal verbs, verbs that by their meaning can have no logical subject. In the Noldorin of the Etymologies, we have eil "it is raining" (ULU) and bui, the latter explicitly said to be impersonal but not clearly glossed (MBAW). However, bui is quite clearly meant to be the cognate of Quenya mauya- "compel". We may assume that bui would mean "(it) compels", "(it) is necessary", used in such sentences as *bui anim teli, "(it) compels for me to come" = "I must come" (as we could theorize that this sentence might appear in Etym-style Noldorin).
As for eil (older form "oeil" = öil) "it is raining", Tolkien derived this verb from ulyâ, which would also be the source of Quenya ulya- "pour". The final vowel of ulyâ has been lost, and the original y has also disappeared, but it has umlauted the stem-vowel to produce the dipthong öi, later ei.
At this point, a question arises: if the old A-stem ulyâ comes out as eil, why does (say) *dulyâ "conceil" produce döli[a], deli[a] instead? (These A-stems are cited in infinitive form "doelio, delio" in the entry DUL.) Why is the original final -â here preserved as -a, whereas in ulyâ > eil it has been lost? Indeed, how can Sindarin have such present-tense forms as penna "slants" (observed in the hymn to Elbereth) given the fact that at one point, Noldorin/Sindarin is known to have lost all final vowels? The development suggested by ulyâ > eil would be expected to be normal, but actually it is highly exceptional.
Where other N/S verb-forms end in a vowel, the explanation is simple: this vowel was not final at the point where the loss of final vowels occurred. For instance, the Noldorin infinitives in -i are descended from older forms in -ie (e.g. trenarie > treneri, NAR2), so the final vowel was indeed lost; what remains is the original second-to-last vowel. The imperative ending -o is descended from an originally independent imperative particle á (WJ:371-372); apparently it was suffixed to the verbal stem at a relatively late stage and so escaped the loss of final vowels. Also in the case of forms like penna "slants", it is tempting to assume that the surviving final vowel somehow was not final at the time of the loss of final vowels. The solution to this little mystery may be that verbs originally received 3rd person markers including the consonant -s. In the entry S- in the Etymologies, references are made to primitive endings -so or -se, apparently meaning "he" and "she" respectively; there may also have been an ending *-sa "it" (compare Noldorin ha "it" mentioned in the same entry); Quenya also preserves -s as an ending for "he, she, it". If, as it seems, a similar 3rd person singular marker -s (with or without a following vowel) also existed in early Sindarin, it would later become lenited to -h. Compare the entry BARÁS in Etym, where we have Old Noldorin barasa "hot, burning" later becoming baraha and finally yielding Noldorin bara, again with a surviving final vowel because it was not final when the original final vowels disappeared (baraha > *barah > bara). Likely, then, the immediate ancestor of penna "slants" was *pennah with a short-lived final -h which in turn derives from the ancient 3rd person sg. endings in -s-.
Impersonal verbs like ulyâ > eil "it is raining" would indirectly confirm this scenario. Precisely because these verbs were entirely impersonal, having no logical subject, they did not receive the 3rd person sg. subject marker -s: It would seem that unlike speakers of English, the Sindar of pre-historic times did not slip in the same kind of dummy-subject as the one occurring in the phrase "it is raining" ("it" having no real meaning here). The original ulyâ- received no ending that could "shield" the final -â, and eventually it was lost like all final vowels, leaving eil as the comtemporary form. It may be assumed, though, that where various endings were added, the old -â would survive as -a- (shielded by the endings), and ulyâ- would regularly evolve into *elia- (compare, for instance, deli[a]- from *dulyâ, entry DUL in Etym). So as the past tense of this verb, our Suggested Conjugation lists *eliant, as the future tense, *eliatha, as the active participle, *eliol etc. However, as indicated in the Suggested Conjugation, it is possible that the past tense "it was raining" could also be *aul; compare daul as an archaic past tense of *deli[a]- "conceal" (the entry DUL seems to suggest that this can be the past tense of deli[a] and doltha- alike, these verbs having the same meaning). The monosyllabic past tense *aul would go well with eil as the present tense. Incidentally, eil would have become *ail in Third Age Sindarin, since Middle Sindarin ei turned into ai where this diphthong occurred in a final syllable; hence the reading *ail occurs in our Suggested Conjugation.
The other Noldorin impersonal verb, bui *"it compels, it is necessary", is derived from "mauy-" in the entry MBAW in Etym. This cannot be right; *mauy- would produce Noldorin *mui instead. As indicated by the entry-head MBAW, the actual ancestral form must be *mbauy-, or in full form *mbauyâ. As in the case of ulyâ > öil > eil > *ail, *mbauyâ "[it] compels/is necessary" was apparently considered an impersonal verb which therefore did not receive the 3rd person marker -s-; therefore there is no trace of the final -â either, there being no following ending to shield it. The -y- before it is also gone, but its former presence caused I-umlaut and changed the original diphthong au to ui; hence *mbauyâ > bui. In Etym-style Noldorin, I-umlaut regularly turns au into ui. Consider, for instance, rhaw (= *rhau) "lion" and its plural form rhui, the latter being the cognate of Quenya rávi "lions", the Quenya form preserving the old plural ending which now only manifests as I-umlaut in Noldorin (see entry RAW).
However, this is one feature of Noldorin which did not survive unmodified into Sindarin proper. In Sindarin, au + I-umlaut results in oe, not ui. For instance, the Sindarin plural form of naug "dwarf" is noeg rather than **nuig (cf. Nibin-noeg "Petty-dwarves", WJ:187). Thus Noldorin bui would become *boe if updated to Sindarin phonology, and this is the form listed in my Suggested Conjugation. One may of course question the value of such "updated" forms: Maybe Tolkien liked the word when it appeared as bui, and would have rejected it altogether when his own phonological revisions would turn it into *boe instead? But most likely, he never even considered this; he may have spontaneously created the form bui when writing the Etymologies, and we cannot know whether he ever returned to this verb. In the "Neo-Sindarin" lines composed by David Salo for the Jackson movies, the updated form *boe is used repeatedly. For instance, in The Fellowship of the Ring Aragorn tells Haldir: Boe ammen i dulu lín, "is-necessary for-us the support of-yours" = "we need your help". - Whether *boe would have any further tense-forms is unclear; none are listed in our Suggested Conjugation.
Discussing special verbs, we may finally mention a few verbs the exact behaviour of which is uncertain, because Tolkien's notes are obscure. In the entry MBAKH in the Etymologies, we read: "Q manka- trade; makar tradesman; mankale commerce. N banc, banga." There can be little doubt that banga is a verb, the cognate of Quenya manka- "trade", both from primitive *mbankâ-. But what does banc, the form listed immediately before banga, mean? It does not seem to mean either "tradesman" (a distinct word for "pedlar" is listed afterwards) or "commerce". May banc rather be a form of the verb banga? If so it would be the past tense, used instead of the longer form *bangant. Banc could be a past tense formed by nasal-infixing the original stem: primitive *mbank(h)ê. Our Suggested Conjugation presents banc as the past tense of banga-, but it should be understood that this is merely an attempt to make sense of Tolkien's brief notes.
Another somewhat obscure verb is listed in the entry DAT-, DANT-. Following Quenya lanta- "to fall", the corresponding Noldorin verb is simply cited as "dant-". Tolkien's annotation is highly elliptical. Quenya lanta- would come from *dantâ-, the Noldorin/Sindarin cognate of which should be *danna- (so in our Suggested Conjugation). Maybe "dant-" is simply meant to represent the primitive form underlying the actual later form. It is, however, entirely possible that the past tense of *danna- should be, not *dannant, but rather *dant, formed directly from the stem DAT-. If so, it would parallel banc as a possible past tense of banga- discussed above. It may be noted that after listing the strange verb "dant-", Tolkien immediately went on to cite the form dannen "fallen". According to the general principle that such a past participle would be formed by adding -en to the past tense form (and bearing in mind that -nt becomes -nn- between vowels), dannen "fallen" could be formed from a past tense *dant "fell". Yet we cannot be sure, for even if the past tense of *danna- were *dannant, the past participle *dannannen would probably still be shortened to dannen by haplology.
NOTE: Carl F. Hostetter argues that before the extra syllable that is added when a connecting vowel and a pronominal ending is suffixed, the formerly long vowel in the preceding syllable should remain long (e.g. *idíren rather than *idiren for "I watched", because the older form would be *itîr-). (Incidentally, Hostetter also argues that the connecting vowel before the pronominal suffix may not always be -e-, but analogy would certainly work in this direction.) The attested example agorech (instead of **agórech) he dismisses because we would here see au at an intermediate stage between the original long â and the later o: akâra- > *agaur- > agor-. Apparently he feels that au was directly monophthongized to o, without considering the possibility of it first becoming a long ó (later shortened, as other long vowels would also be). Such a long vowel probably did exist at one stage; compare ónen for "I gave" in Gilraen's linnod according to many LotR editions. This ó is commonly understood to represent an older au, ultimately representing a long â in the primitive language. Anyway, the shortening of formerly long vowels in polysyllabic words is a common though not universal phenomenon in Noldorin/Sindarin. There are some cases where a vowel maintains its former length, e.g. in the name Tin(n)úviel "Nightingale", which Tolkien in the Etymologies (entry TIN) derived from Tindômiselde. The fact that the vowel of Tinnúviel receives the main stress in a long compound may have helped to preserve its original length. But the tendency is rather to shorten long vowels in polysyllabic words; compare Noldorin hiril "lady" with the Old Noldorin form khíril (from even older *khêrill-, compare the original root KHER). Another example would be milui "friendly" vs. the root MEL; to have its quality altered from E to I, the stem-vowel must have been a long ê at an older stage, initially yielding a long î the length of which does not survive in milui. If Hostetter will argue that milui is likely an adjective derived in more recent times from the related noun mîl "love, affection" (< *mêl-), then milui would still demonstrate the shortening of long vowels in polysyllabic words: Analogy with the noun would tend to preserve the long vowel, but this does not happen, indicating a strong tendency to shorten vowels in longer words. In the case of verbs, analogy with the unsuffixed forms (the 3rd person sg., or in Hostetterian terminology "personless" forms) would also be a strong influence: While Hostetter at one point seemed to argue that the formerly long vowel could remain long even in the final syllable of a word, he now insists that this was not what he really meant; he and I apparently agree that *itîr- by itself would yield *idir rather than *idír with the long vowel intact. So if *idir is indeed a possible translation of "watched" (and this is far from certain - see below), then I do think there is very good reason to expect *idiren rather than *idíren for "I watched", even though the vowel in the second-to-last syllable was long at an older stage. A survey of the Noldorin material indicates that in polysyllabic words, long vowels rarely occur outside compounds one element of which has a long vowel when it occurs by itself (as a monosyllable).
As I also point out in my main Sindarin article, this way of forming preterites would seem to contradict other sources. The past tenses of ped- and gwed[h]- are attested as pent and gwend, respectively (see our discussion of the past tense above). Are such forms to be considered conceptually obsolete? Moreover, where would this leave the past passive participles that are apparently formed by adding -en to the past tense? Does not [t]irnen as the word for "watched, guarded" (lenited in Talath Dirnen "Guarded Plain") presuppose *tirn as the past tense of tir-? Surely there is no evidence that Tolkien ever considered altering this name to *Talath Idiren to go with *idir as the "new" past tense of tir-! Yet if car- "do, make" is to have the past tense agor, should "done, made" be *agoren or *carnen (the latter presupposing *carn as the pa.t. "did"?) Evidently following the pattern of [t]irnen vs. the verb tir-, David Salo used *carnen in the lines he constructed for the Jackson movies (in The Two Towers, the filmatic version of Aragorn at one point says mae carnen "well done" to a horse).
In this case, Tolkien's intentions cannot be reconstructed with any confidence. May "fossilized" past tense forms underlie some participles, so that the old past tense *tirn "watched, guarded" (= Quenya tirne) survives in a participle like [t]irnen, whereas the living past tense of tir- is rather *idir? However, agor remains the sole attested example of this kind of past tense, though Tolkien did state that this formation is "usual" in the primary verbs. Yet what does "usual" mean? That it was the regular or at least the dominant system, or merely that it was relatively common? Until more material is available, I would accept agor as the past tense of car- but otherwise use the past tense system reconstructed above (e.g. *tirn rather than *idir as the past tense of tir-).
mad- "eat": aorist *mâd "eats" (< *mati), continuative *móda "is eating" (< *mât-)Only verbal stems with the vowel i would simply lengthen it in the continuative tense, like sil- "shine" having the aorist form *sîl and continuative form síla *"is shining".
ped- "say": aorist pêd "says" (< *kweti), continuative *pída "is saying" (< *kwêt-)
nor- ?"run": aorist *nôr "runs" (< *nori, if the root is *NOR), continuative *núra "is running" (< *nôr-)
tol- "come": aorist tôl "comes" (< *tuli), continuative *túla "is coming" (< *tûl-)
Fauskanger repeatedly refers to past-tense verbs in -nt as "3rd pers. sg." (in some cases "transparently" so). In light of this, it is noteworthy that none of the Noldorin verbs of this form found in Etymologies is translated with specifically 3rd-person sg. glosses; short of an explicit statement by Tolkien that all Noldorin past-tense verbs in -nt are specifically 3rd pers. sg., there is in fact no way to prove what Fauskanger silently asserts. In fact, given what we know about personless verb forms in the Eldarin tongues [...] and based on the evidence we actually have, it is far more likely that these forms are singular personless forms, and therefore would be used in any case where an explicit, singular subject precedes the verb. Indeed, the same holds true of the Sindarin past-tense verbs in -nt, for although teithant is indeed used by Tolkien with a 3rd pers. sg. subject (Celebrimbor ... teithant 'Celebrimbor ... drew'), this does not in itself necessarily preclude its possible usage as a personless verb with 1st and 2nd person subjects, any more than the use of endingless present-tense verbs in Quenya with 3rd pers. sg. subjects precludes their use with other singular persons, such as in elye hiruva 'thou shalt find" (where the subject is 2nd sg.). Indeed, another such verb, echant, is used by Tolkien with a 1st pers. sg. subject, and translated as such: Im, Narvi, ... echant 'I, Narvi, ... made'.First of all, it should be noted that this "controversy" only has to do with what terminology it is best to use when describing the Sindarin verb system; there is not (in this case) any disagreement about how the verb system actually works.
The Sindarin verb system by Thorsten Renk
The Past-Tense Verb in the Noldorin of the Etymologies by Carl F. Hostetter (an important source for Renk's treatment)