Q. na airë esselya “hallowed be thy name”

Q. na airë esselya “hallowed be thy name”

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The second line of Átaremma, Tolkien’s Quenya translation of the Lord’s Prayer. The first word na “be” is a subjunctive or imperative form, which is generally the case when this word appears at the beginning of a sentence (VT43/14). It is followed by airë¹ “hallowed” and esselya “thy name”, the 2nd person singular polite form of essë¹ “name”.

Decomposition: Broken into its constituent elements, this phrase would be:

na airë esse-lya = “*be hallowed [holy] name-thy”

Conceptual Development: The words in this phrase remained the same in all versions of the prayer, changing only their word order. The one exception is in version III, where Tolkien considered and rejected aira for “holy” instead of airë. As suggested by the Wynne, Smith and Hostetter (VT43/14), this probably reflects Tolkien’s uncertainty as to the proper adjectival form of this word. Elsewhere, Tolkien stated that airë was a noun meaning “holiness, sanctity” while aira was the adjective (PM/363).

Tolkien experimented with different word orders for this phrase in different versions of the prayer. In versions I-IIba and V-VI he used copula-adjective-noun, while in the version IIa-IV he used noun-copula-adjective. The reasons for the different orders is unclear.

    I   IIa IIb III IV V VI
na esselya na
{esselya >>} aire na aire
{aire >>} esselya aire {aira in III} esselya

References ✧ VT43/8-12



ná- “to be” subjunctive ✧ VT43/14 (na)
airë¹ “holy; sanctity, holiness” ✧ VT43/14
essë¹ “name” 2nd-sg-polite-poss ✧ VT43/14 (esselya)
aira “holy, sanctified” ✧ VT43/14 (aira)

Element In