[tlhIngan Hol] Rendered fat

SuStel sustel at trimboli.name
Wed Feb 22 06:46:43 PST 2017

On 2/22/2017 1:39 AM, Ed Bailey wrote:
> Qu'wIjmo' jIyevnISpu'

I'm not going to call this use of *-pu'* categorically wrong, but I 
suspect you're thinking of past tense instead of aspect here. Are you 
conceiving of a need to pause that came to an end, or are you just 
talking about a need to pause? Not that the pause eventually came to an 
end, which it obviously did since you're writing now, but that it came 
to an end in the circumstance you're describing with the word *yIyavnISpu'.*

> 'ej Do'Ha' qaSpu' jaj bID je jItaHqa'laHpa'.

Stylistic note: *jItaHqa'laHpa'*/before I can resume enduring/ seems 
circuitous. Enduring what? Answering *(**jIjangqa'laHpa')*? Writing 
(composing) *(jIqonqa'laHpa')*?

> nI' QInmeymaj

reH jISIv: nI' QIn pagh tIq QIn. mu'tlhegh lugh vISovbe'.

> vaj loQ vImISchoH.


> jItaghqa'meH Daq vItu'.

ghItlhmeH Daq DaSamnISpu'?

> jIjatlh:
>> jagh QaHbe'nISlu' 'a vuDDaj meq qaq buSHa'law' SuStel.
> jatlh SuStel:
> nuqjatlh? /SuStel seems to ignore his preferable opinion./
> I should have said something like vuDDaj vuybogh meq qaq'e' buSHa'law' 
> SuStel.

*vuy?* mu'vetlh vISovbe'.

> And of course the preferable reason: wot tlhejbogh <-lu'> <-wI'> je 
> ngaSbogh mu'tlhegh naDpu''a' marq 'oqranD?

wa' naDpu'be' 'ej ghItlhpu'be'.

> In my opinion, the lack of canon -lu' plus -wI' is a stronger argument 
> than your inference from the rules of TKD. MO can always refine the 
> rules outlined in his "grammatical sketch," and he could easily say 
> the wording in TKD 3.2.2 fails to take into account one special case, 
> but if he were to start allowing -lu' plus -wI' at this point, some 
> explanation for its apparent rarity is called for.

If Okrand starts doing something, that takes priorty, obviously.

But a lack of evidence cannot reasonably be considered a stronger 
argument than drawing inferences from the rules. Okrand never says that 
Klingons don't add*wala wala bIng beng* to the end of encyclopedia 
entries written in Klingon; that doesn't mean we should advocate that in 
our own Klingon encyclopedia.

Your argument doesn't stem from lack of evidence anyway. It comes from 
analyzing the rules in TKD /as they are demonstrated in English 
translations/. You're taking the rule that *-wI'* turns the verb into 
its subject, thinking that the subject of *leghlu'* /it is seen/ is 
/it,/ and concluding that the /it,/ /that which is seen/, is the result. 
But while the /it/ is the subject in English, it is not in Klingon. The 
Klingon has no subject, and therefore nothing to turn into when a *-wI'* 
is added.

>>     In English passive voice, this is true. *-lu'* is not English
>>     passive voice. In Klingon, when *-lu'* is added, the object
>>     remains the object.
>>     This is the language used to decribe what goes on in Klingon. My
>>     point is the construction i
>     Your sentence seems to have been cut off.
> Oops! I think I was saying the language used in TKD attempts to 
> describe Klingon grammar in terms familiar to the reader, but that 
> Klingons do not necessarily conceive of their grammar in those terms. 
> Therefore there is a danger of accepting TKD's explanations too 
> literally, and based on that, forcing an interpretation of Klingon 
> grammar that Klingons would rightly consider alien.

I partly agree. TKD certainly is not written in careful linguistic 
terms. It uses many linguistic terms, but these are not usually defined 
for the reader; you have to already know what subjects and objects and 
nouns and verbs are, for instance. Taking TKD too literally is indeed 
fraught with peril.

However, that is not to say that a Klingon grammarian's analysis of 
Klingon is the only possible analysis. First remember the fictional 
background of the book. It is written by a Federation government 
committee, or a scientific council created by the Federation. 
English-speaking linguists have prepared it for an English-speaking 
audience. They describe separate parts of the language that Klingon 
linguists lump together.

The fiction of TKD is therefore that it is /describing/ the rules of 
Klingon as it appears naturally, rather than /prescribing/ rules to be 
followed. The rules that TKD describe actually exist and function in 
Klingon, whether or not Klingon linguists acknowledge or categorize 
them. There really is a distinction between question words and 
exclamations, even though Klingon linguists just call them *chuvmey.*

The language used to describe *-lu'* and *-wI'* describe incompatible 
functions. *-lu'* tells us there is no subject. *-wI'* tells us the verb 
becomes its subject. These cannot be reconciled by any rules described 
in TKD. If Okrand were to come and tell us that, in fact, here's what 
combining those two suffixes means, then that'd be a new rule he'd 
discovered in talking with Maltz and we could apply it. Languages 
sometimes have rules that seem nonsensical. But we cannot infer your 
preferred rule from anything we have been given about the rules of 
Klingon. You have inferred the rule based on the English translations of 
Klingon sentences.

>>>         So'bogh DoS DIp chu' jal rom chut je,
>>         /The rule of accord envisions a new, hidden target noun/?
>>     My language here is awkward. An example is called for. When
>>     {mulegh ghaH} is changed to {vIleghlu'}. The rule of accord
>>     requires the prefix {vI-}, so although semantically there is a
>>     null agent and first-person singular patient, grammatically the
>>     rule of accord treats this situation as if there were a
>>     first-person singular subject and third-person singular object,
>>     although that object is merely a grammatical fiction. This is
>>     clearly a special situation, and I have to wonder whether OVS
>>     accurately reflects how Klingon linguists would interpret it.
>     *mulegh ghaH* is not changed to *vIleghlu'.* You construct
>     *vIleghlu'* directly. There is no transformation from one to
>     another. When I am thinking in Klingon and I intend to use an
>     indefinite subject, my mind goes straight to *vI-* being the
>     proper prefix.
>     The *vI-* prefix does not, according to the description in TKD,
>     treat *vIleghlu'* as if it had a first-person singular subject and
>     a third-person singular object. TKD explicitly says the prefixes
>     are used to mean something else. With *-lu',* *vI-* MEANS
>     first-person object. There's no grammatical fiction going on; the
>     prefixes are simply reassigned for *-lu'.*
>     Now, is it possible that there is some "grammatical fiction"
>     reason WHY the prefixes are reassigned? Maybe, but that's pure
>     conjecture and there's no evidence for it anywhere.
> I wasn't implying that vIleghlu' was a form of mulegh ghaH, but rather 
> considering the effect on the prefix if the speaker rephrased the 
> sentence to eliminate the explicit agent. It's impossible (for me, 
> anyway) not to wonder how verbs with -lu' came to have the prefixes 
> they do. I expect that, as with any language, that it's just natural 
> and unquestioned for most native speakers but that it entered speech 
> for a very definite reason that speakers didn't take for granted at 
> the time. What that reason could be I won't even try to guess.

You have now more than once invoked the language of semantics with 
/agent/. When comparing English passive and active sentences, the shift 
of agent from object to subject is significant. Let's look at the case 
for Klingon *-lu'.*

I'm going to use a more active verb than *legh;* there is an argument to 
be made that there is no agent in seeing. Let's use *qIp* /hit./

*jagh vIqIp jIH*/I hit the enemy
/Here, *jIH* is the subject and the agent. *jagh* is the object and the 

*jagh qIplu' */someone/something hits the enemy; the enemy is hit
/Here, there is no subject or agent. *jagh* is the object and the patient.

There has been no shifting around of either syntactic or semantic roles.

Here's another:

*jIH muqIp ghaH//*/he hits me/

*ghaH* is the subject and the agent; *jIH* is the object and the patient

*jIH vIqIplu'*/someone/something hits me; I am hit
/There is no subject or agent; *jIH* is the object and the patient.

See? No shift at all in either syntax or semantics. We're simply 
eliminating the subject from consideration. The fact that prefixes are 
reassigned is completely irrelevant. It's just a thing to memorize; it 
doesn't affect the grammar in any other way.

>>>         'a potlhbe', mu'tlheghDaq DI'rujDaq ghap DoS DIpqoqvam chu'
>>>         tu'be'lu'mo'. wotvaD DoS DIp 'oHtaH nungbogh DIp'e'.
>>>         moHaqvaD chuHwI' DIp mojlaw' nungbogh DIp. ghu'vam vIqelmeH
>>>         DIvI' Hol qechmey /subject/ /object/ je, jImISqu'choH. 'ach
>>>         vuDlIj QIjmeH /subject/ /object/ je wuv SuStel. rarchu'be'
>>>         tlhIngan Hol, qechmeyvam je 'e' vIQub.
>>>         ghu'vam le'mo', SuStel vuD vIHon. latlh meq vIghaj.
>>>         'oSlaHbe' wot'e' tlhejbogh <-lu'> <-wI'> je, 'eb lonlu'pu'
>>>         'ej pagh chavlu'.
>>         Hoch 'eb jon Hol 'e' SaHbe' Hol.
>>     'a chaq SaH tlhInganpu'. 'eb tu'DI', lulo' 'e' bot nuq?
>>     lubotlaHbe'ba' tera'ngan Holtej. 'a 'eb lulo' luneHbe' tlhIngan,
>>     SIghlaHbe' je tera'ngan Holtej.
>     Arguing over whether a Klingon would or would not care about a
>     particular grammatical feature is not a useful line of reasoning,
>     in my view.
> No, but as any of us who've studied a natural language have observed 
> (and it wouldn't surprise me if this applies to every subscriber on 
> this list), native speakers are under no obligation to speak the 
> language the way the student expects, no matter how good the student's 
> reasoning. Our reasoning is ultimately of a kind with that of the 
> toddler who says "goed" instead of "went." Some of my favorite moments 
> in studying Klingon are Maltz's revelations that Klingons don't speak 
> the language the way we'd expect.
> There's much to be said for your conservative approach, that it is 
> less likely to generate Klingon expressions that no Klingon would 
> accept than an approach that accepts any Klingon expression that canon 
> doesn't expressly forbid.

Yes, sometimes in our ignorance we say the grammatical equivalent of 
/goed/ instead of /went./ You're asking us to say /wented./


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