[tlhIngan Hol] Rendered fat

kechpaja kechpaja at comcast.net
Sat Feb 18 03:19:11 PST 2017

On Sat, Feb 18, 2017 at 12:18:55AM -0500, SuStel wrote:
> On 2/17/2017 11:24 PM, Ed Bailey wrote:
> > On Fri, Feb 17, 2017 at 5:36 PM, David Holt <kenjutsuka at live.com 
> > <mailto:kenjutsuka at live.com>> wrote:
> >
> >     I have a project I'm working on and I would like to figure out the
> >     most efficient way to elicit the image of rendered fat as a
> >     thing.  Is {tlhag} the subject of {'Im} and thus {'Impu'wI'} might
> >     work? Or is {tlhag} the object of {'Im} and thus we might have to
> >     go with the unwieldy {tlhagh 'Imlu'pu'bogh}?  What about {-wI'}
> >     with {-lu'} - {'Imlu'pu'wI'}?
> >
> >     Jeremy
> >
> > Oh, boy, the {-lu'} plus {-wI'} thing again! I so wish MO would 
> > finally rule on this, since it's immediately obvious to some this 
> > combination nominalizes the same way as "-ee" in "employee," but 
> > others regard the construction as grammatical gibberish, and they seem 
> > to have convinced most to avoid using it. (I can't help but suspect 
> > the difficulty with {-lu'} plus {-wI'} has a lot to do with a 
> > programming background, since the objection is often phrased as "I 
> > can't make that mean anything," which sounds a lot like a compiler 
> > error to me.)
> I understand your interpretation perfectly well, thank you very much. I 
> just think it's wrong.
> *-wI'* has the effect of nominalizing the verb into the subject of that 
> verb. A *vutwI'* is the thing that performs *vut,* the subject of *vut.*
> If you were to say **vutlu'wI',* you'd be trying to nominalize the verb 
> into a nonexistent subject. No one in particular performs *vutlu',* so 
> it makes no sense to talk about the noun that performs *vutlu'.*
> If **vutlu'wI'* were to mean /that which is cooked,/ you'd be 
> nominalizing the verb into its object, which is not what *-wI'* does. 
> There's a very strong reason to think that's what it means if you're 
> thinking in English: English passive voice turns the thing acted upon 
> into the subject. *Soj vutlu'*/the food is cooked,/ so it would seem 
> natural to say nominalizing that refers to the food. But it doesn't. 
> English passive voice doesn't exist in Klingon; the active voice 
> translation of *Soj vutlu'* is /one cooks the food,/ and so we're 
> nominalizing the verb into the cook. But that's no different than 
> nominalizing straight *vut,* so the *-lu'* has absolutely nothing to do 
> with the meaning of *-wI'.* The two simply don't go together.
> As for a parallel with English /-ee,/ remember that *-wI'* is equivalent 
> to English /-er,/ not /-ee,/ and even in English you need a whole 
> different suffix to nominalize to the object instead of the subject.
> The only way this could work would be if Okrand were to arbitrarily make
> up a new rule that says adding *-wI'* to a verb with *-lu'* changes the 
> process to refer to the object of the verb instead of the subject. He 
> hasn't said this, he hasn't done this, and there is no way to deduce 
> that rule from existing rules. It only seems right because you're 
> thinking in English passive voice.

As someone who speaks Finnish, I have to agree with this. The Klingon
"passive" in *-lu'* works almost exactly like the Finnish passive — that
is to say, it eliminates the subject, but doesn't promote the noun that
used to be the object to subject position (if it did, SuStel's example
would have to be *vutlu' Soj*, since subjects always come after nouns in

I suspect that part of the problem is that, for native speakers of 
English and most other European languages, the most natural place for the
subject is before the verb. Thus, when we see *Soj vutlu'*, our
instincts tell us that *Soj* is the subject, rather than an object in a
sentence that doens't have an overt subject. In Finnish, that sentence
would translate to something like *ruokaa laitetaan*, in which the noun
meaning "food" (ruoka) is clearly marked as the object (in this case,
with the partitive suffix -a). 

Are there any Finnish native speakers who speak Klingon? I'd be
interested to hear what their experience learning this construction was,
and whether they found it as familiar as I do (I'm an L2 speaker). 

 - SapIr

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