[tlhIngan Hol] Rendered fat

Ed Bailey bellerophon.modeler at gmail.com
Wed Feb 22 22:07:38 PST 2017

On Wed, Feb 22, 2017 at 9:46 AM, SuStel <sustel at trimboli.name> wrote:

> 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'.*
I need to keep increasing my use of time stamps. *wa'Hu' Qu'wIjmo' jImevnIS*
is more to the point.

> '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')*?
*taH* <continue, go, endure, survive> It only means continue in the general
sense, as in *taH pagh taHbe'*? And I don't imply any object if I use a
null-object prefix. Though you have a good point that *jIjangqa'laHpa'* is
precise as to what activity I'm resuming, and as the saying goes, a Klingon
may be inaccurate, but he is never imprecise.

> nI' QInmeymaj
> reH jISIv: nI' QIn pagh tIq QIn. mu'tlhegh lugh vISovbe'.
> vaj loQ vImISchoH.
> *jImISchoH*
moHaq luboplu'DI' jIyepnISqu'. pIj jIghItlhHa' ghIq mu'meywIj vIlaDHa'.

> jItaghqa'meH Daq vItu'.
> ghItlhmeH Daq DaSamnISpu'?
ghobe'. QInDaq jItaghqa'meH Daq vI'tu'pu'.

> 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'.
mu' chu' 'oH: http://www.kli.org/about-klingon/new-klingon-words/v/
'a vIlo'Ha'pu'. vIghItlhtaHvIS, jIjatlhnIS <vuDDajvaD vuybogh meq qaq'e'
buSHa'law' SuStel>

> 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.
Haven't you got the Chipmunks reference reversed? I pointed out that the
absence of *-lu'wI'* in canon argues against its use, rather than for it.

> 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.
No, my argument that *-lu'wI'* might function as -ee in employee stems from
the fact that if there's a *-lu'* on the verb, *-wI'* can't nominalize it
as the subject, since there isn't any, so the next candidate is the object.
Every example in TKD 3.2.2 uses *-wI'* on a bare stem, so of course it uses
the translation <one who does> or <thing which does>, which implies
subject. But is it phrased this way because *-wI'* can only nominalize as
the subject (I hear your emphatic "YES!"), or simply because, at the time,
Okrand hadn't considered the possibility of adding *-wI'* to a verb plus
*-lu'*? Granted, he's had three decades to go into more detail on this, but
you probably wouldn't disagree that he is loathe to paint himself into a

An additional point is that special prefixes are used for a verb plus *-lu'*.
There's clearly something unusual going on when special grammatical rules
come into play, which makes one expect more to follow. When I considered
the possibility of *-lu'wI'*, it was like hearing the other shoe dropping.

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

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.
On what do you base your assertion that my inferences are based on English
translations? Was it something I said?

>>> 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 patient.
> *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.
Yes, but thanks to Klingon's rigid word order, for the nouns, the syntax
corresponds perfectly to the semantics, so the syntactic analysis is
redundant. (The only syntax change is the prefix reassignment, and it's a
thing to memorize, but it's also an interesting mystery, and we'll probably
never hear an in-universe explanation of how it got that way.) In English,
we inflect pronouns to mark their syntactical role. In Klingon, nouns,
pronouns, and adjectives undergo a change to mark their syntactic role only
when they are neither subject nor object.

>> '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.*
Let me state for the record that I do not assert that *-lu'wI'* is good
Klingon; I can't possibly know that. The safe bet is that it is not. I
merely find the arguments against it, while persuasive, are not conclusive,
and have presented my reasons for thinking this. I also think it's a good
thing that we can carry on disagreeing about it, without either side
getting run out of town. Eventually I'd like to hear from Maltz about it,
so we find something else to argue about.

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