[tlhIngan Hol] -lI': intentional or not?

Brent Kesler brent.of.all.people at gmail.com
Wed Mar 1 07:12:53 PST 2017

I finally pulled out my copy of TKD and read the entire section about *-lI'*.
Based on TKD alone, I think the argument in favor of intention is weak for
two reasons:

1. The bulk of the description about *-lI'* is about how it denotes
progress toward a goal or end point, rather than intention.
2. The bit about intention only appears in the last sentence, and that
sentence only says that it's *possible* to consider *-lI'* a continuous
counterpart of *-ta'*, not that it's *mandatory*.

As for the canon examples discussed in this thread, I have two thoughts:

3. We may be suffering from selection bias. People like to tell stories
about other people, and people often act with intent, so we're going to get
a lopsided sample of *-lI' *being used for intention. That's not a
conclusive argument one way or the other, but it's something to keep in

4. Some of the examples seem ambiguous, and I think that lets us inject the
idea of intention when we don't need to. I think the discussion between
Lieven and Sustel about *chollI'* *(the torpedo) is getting closer *is

On Sun, Feb 26, 2017 at 6:32 AM, Lieven <levinius at gmx.de> wrote:

> I had some more thoughts about this and what I said, and found the answer
> to my own question:

> TKD gives the example {chollI'} "it (the torpedo) is getting closer"

> "when it is known that the missile has been aimed at that target."

> This does confirm that the thing does not itself have the intention to do
> what it does, a torpedoe does not "think" or "intend" to do what it does.
> The speaker does also not "intend" what is happening. He is neutral as
> describing what is going on: {chollI' peng} is to me the same as {pumlI'
> nagh}.

On Sun, Feb 26, 2017 at 7:14 AM, SuStel <sustel at trimboli.name> wrote:

> The restrictive side of the argument says that *someone* fired the
> torpedo and set its goal intentionally, and it is the firer's perspective
> that is generating the *-lI'.* Do you disagree with this argument?

To me, it feels like you're begging the question. If I fired the torpedo, I
know my intention, but if I'm the target, do I have to guess whether it was
intentionally fired? Maybe it was a misfire, like what the crew of the
Enterprise thought might have happened to Kronos 1 in ST6. In the heat of
battle, it might be a friendly fire incident. Intentional or not, I don't
care; the torpedo has a known end point, and that end point is *me*.

More importantly, if we're arguing about the the intentions hidden in the
minds of people we can't see, we're probably injecting our own thoughts
into the sentence rather than unpacking its meaning.

On the other hand, if Klingons do exactly that sort of thinking whenever
they construct a sentence, that's an important cultural difference that any
competent field linguist would take the time to make clear. It would merit
more discussion that a single sentence saying it's *possible *to *consider*
*-lI'* a continuous version of *-ta'*.

For these reasons, I favor the argument against intentional progress. I
think the argument in favor puts too much stress on just one sentence of
TKD, and the canon evidence is inconclusive at best.

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