This is another quick guide for the Quenya students out there, adding to the Verbs Guide already given 3 months ago.
Case declension is something many people are not aware of when speaking or writing (of course if one’s mother tongue doesn’t have that kind of feature). It’s really easy when start learning Quenya to commit translation mistakes due to lack of the right case suffix at the right time in the right spot. This guide will help you understand the notion and get used with it, developing the habit to ask yourself what you mean to translate and what’s its syntactical function. So, in the first place…
What is case declension?
Case declension is the mutation a word suffers when having a particular grammatical function. For instance, we all have the good old number declension (singular = car / plural = cars) that changes the word, adding a suffix to mark its plurality or singularity. That’s easy! We don’t think too much to speak and write that.
Now, when it comes to case, well…we have to stop and think about grammar (something people usually don’t) specially when dealing with a foreign language. Let’s have an English example to understand better:
I give the bread to the elf.
Quick exercise: Who is the subject? What is the object? To whom the object is given?
See? Right there, right now, you already got 3 cases and perhaps you never came to think about them.
- Nominative case = It marks the subject of the verb. “I” is the subject which gives something in our sentence.
- Accusative case = It marks the direct object of the verb. “The bread” is the direct object which is given in our sentence.
- Dative case = It marks the indirect object of the verb. “The elf” is the indirect object to whom something is given in our sentence.
As you can see, there’s no particular difference between an “elf” when it’s the subject or object
in an English sentence. It’s always “elf”. No change, no suffix, no mutation.
What about Quenya then?
Let’s have the very same example and see how things go in our beloved elvish language. Here it is:
Antan i coimas Eldan
The same thing, same sentence, same 3 cases (Nominative, Accusative and Dative). Pay close attention to the “elf” here. The Quenya word is Elda. Do you see anything odd happening with this word? YES, Elda is the Nominative form (when the “elf” is the subject of the sentence) while Eldan is the Dative form (when the “elf” is the indirect object of the sentence).
Noteworthy to say is that English shows no difference at all between the 3 cases mentioned. Quenya shows no difference in the first 2 (Nominative and Accusative). And that’s how languages are. Some have few cases, some have many, some have none! Finnish has 15 cases, Quenya has 8, German got 4 and English…..well….one might say English got 1 (Genitive = the boy‘s toy)
In the next article, we’re gonna talk about Quenya cases, what you need to nail them when translating something and how words change when declined. Stay tuned.