[tlhIngan Hol] mutpu' or mutmey ?
Lawrence M. Schoen
klingonguy at gmail.com
Thu Dec 29 09:38:55 PST 2016
One of the things I used to tell my students (back in my professoring days)
was that language is the way we choose to carve up the universe. Different
languages carve differently.
The reason this comes to mind for me is that rules within a language are
not necessarily monolithic. Consider how we conjugate the verbs used with
mass nouns in English. If the mass noun is animate, it's treated as plural
(e.g., "the fish are in the pond") but if the mass noun is inanimate, it's
treated as singular ("the grass is on the hill"). And other languages do
this differently; Spanish, for example, but I no longer recall the critical
semantic feature it uses mass nouns, only that it's different from English.
Voragh's recitation of examples notwithstanding, I wonder if there is
something similar going on here. Something subtle. I have no data to
support such a position, just a gut feeling. And, as noted, there's lots of
evidence from multiple sources to support the other side.
I guess I'm saying I completely understand where you're coming from with
this, but also that I trust my gut and can't simply dismiss it (nor do I
think I'd be misunderstood if I constructed utterances based on my
It's a bit of a pointless cautionary reminder, but we have a long history
of generalizing rules from too few (and sometimes only one) example. But to
be clear, you're not doing that here, you have a whole slew of examples.
I just have my (impressive, but still just mine alone) gut.
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