[tlhIngan Hol] A thought on the irrealis construction

Ed Bailey bellerophon.modeler at gmail.com
Sun Nov 6 08:19:44 PST 2016


> > 'a pa'logh qeltaHvIS, qaSbe'bogh wanI' qelbe'.
> > qellaHbe'law'.
jang qunnoq, jatlh

> If I understand the klingon sentence correctly (and if I don't, then
> please correct me) it says: "however, the past while it is considering, it
> doesn't consider events which didn't happen. seemingly it isn't able to
> consider them".
> I think, it is perfectly able to consider events which didn't happen in
> the past. Check this out:
> "If I hadn't closed the door yesterday, the cat would have been able to
> enter the house"
> the above in klingon:
> {wa'Hu' lojmIt vISoQmoHta'; vISoQbe'moHta' net jalchugh vaj juH 'ellaH
> vIghro'}.
> "yesterday I closed the door; if one imagines I hadn't closed it,then the
> cat would have been able to enter the house".
> anyway, if you disagree at anything of the above, I would love to hear
> your thoughts.
I was talking about plural Klingons as I recall, so I should have said
pa'logh luqeltaHvIS.

I'm pretty sure {tuch} <future> and {pa'logh} <past> are not merely time
stamps, so it's perfectly possible to say "They consider the future" or
"the past." (For that matter, I think even a time stamp like {wa'leS} might
be used in such a way, as in DaHjaj bIHIj 'e' Dalay'! yapbe' wa'leS!) In
fact, {pIq} and {ret} are the time stamps you'd use, maybe with {'op} or
{Hoch}, to say "in the future" or "in the past."

I haven't seen much usage of these new words, {tuch} and {pa'logh}, as in,
let me suggest, {pa'loghmo' ghojbe'chugh vay', pa'logh qaSqa'moH 'e'

But Klingon does have what might be considered a deficiency by Terrans who
are used to using the subjunctive mood, particularly the contrary-to-fact
subjunctive. Klingon handles the other subjunctive (I'm not sure what it's
called in English, but it's called Konjunktiv I in German), as in "Long
live the Queen!" or "Be he live or be he dead," quite well with {-jaj} and
{-chugh}. Your example using the wording De'vID suggested does a good job
of discussing a formerly possible event which did not occur. Stating that
something could happen but didn't might also cover some situations, as in
{poStaH lojmIt 'e' bong vIchaw', vaj juH 'ellaHpu' vIghro' 'a not 'el}.

But my point is that for Klingons, it's not a deficiency that Klingon
doesn't have the sort of grammatical apparatus seen in "If I were rich."
Not just because there are workarounds, but also because it's not something
they feel the need to say. Based on my knowledge of Star Trek, I have the
very strong impression that, unlike humans, Klingons don't give a damn
about stuff that doesn't happen. Martok said it as one who discovered this
difference between the two species from the other side.

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