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BĀ/ABA root. “refuse, forbid, prohibit, say nay (in refusal or denial)”

BĀ/ABA root. “refuse, forbid, prohibit, say nay (in refusal or denial), [ᴹ√] deny; ⚠️away, go away, depart”

The invertible root √BA or √ABA was principally connected to refusal, and its best known derivative was Avari, the group of Elves that refused to travel to Valinor. When Tolkien first introduce the root ᴹ√AB in The Etymologies of the 1930s and other contemporaneous writings on Ancient Quenya, he gave this root the meaning “go away, depart” (Ety/AB; PE19/045); in this sense it may have been a replacement for the early root ᴱ√AVA “go away, depart, leave” (QL/33). Indeed, the first application of Avari was to the Elves that left for Valinor, “the Departing”, rather than those that stayed behind (LR/169-170). But the sense “away” was soon transferred to ᴹ√AWA (Ety/AWA) and √AB was revised in The Etymologies to mean “refuse, deny, say no” (Ety/AB), a sense it retained thereafter.

Tolkien wrote about this root at great length in the 1959 when he decided that √BA was part of the Eldarin system of negation, distinguishing negation of volition (I will not) from negative of fact (it is not so). Tolkien seems to have introduced this notion at the same time he decided to abandon la-negation, so the corresponding negation of fact was the root √Ū (PE17/143). Even when Tolkien considered restoring la-negation in the late 1960s, √BA still retained a role as the negation of volition (PE22/161).

One peculiar feature of √BA is that it represented refusal from the perspective of the speaker. Thus in 1st person, √BA meant “I will not” (refusal), but in 2nd person or 3rd person it meant “do not” (forbiddance). Tolkien discussed this topic at some length in the Quendi and Eldar essay from 1959-60 (WJ/370-2). In 1st person this was Q. ván(ye)/S. avon “I won’t” and Q. vamme/S. avam “we won’t” [using the circa-1960 pronominal suffix -mme; with later pronouns this would be valve and avof]. In 2nd person this used the interjection Q. /S. baw “don’t”, or the negative imperative particle Q. áva/S. avo, as in Q. áva care/S. avo garo “don’t do [it]”.

When Tolkien revisited his ideas for negation in 1969, he still kept this notion of 1st person refusal vs. 2nd/3rd person forbiddance (PE22/161-3), so that the system of √BA negation remained more or less the same (barring changes like new pronouns).

References ✧ PE17/143, 145, 149; PE19/90; PE22/151, 161-165; VT42/32; VT49/13; WJ/361, 370, 372, 411

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ᴹ√AB root. “refuse, deny, say no; away, go away, depart”

See √BĀ/ABA for discussion.

References ✧ Ety/AB; EtyAC/AB; PE19/45

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