[tlhIngan Hol] Speculation: ship in which I fled

Ed Bailey bellerophon.modeler at gmail.com
Fri Apr 27 20:21:42 PDT 2018

SuStel: I presume you read this post of Alan Anderson's from last September
and have been giving it thought:
I was more than a little surprised that his post did not elicit further
comment, but perhaps it required some time to digest. I find your
speculation both surprising and welcome, due to what has seemed to me to be
your arch-conservatism in these matters, though I may have been mistaken in
that regard.

I don't have a problem with the description you cite of the relative clause
in TKD. I see a relative clause as being like an adjective that describes
the noun. One can say either *Duj Doq vIlegh* or *Doqbogh Duj vIlegh* *(I
see the red ship* or *I see the ship that is red*). The difference as I see
it is akin to how English uses a comma to separate a relative clause that
merely provides additional information while not doing so with one that is
necessary to identify the noun. But of course TKD describes itself as a
grammatical sketch, leaving wiggle-room, which is something Okrand
evidently wants, and who can blame him?

If as you suggest (or speculate or advocate: it's all fine as long as no
one pretends to authority that is not his), the locative (or for that
matter causative) noun of the relative clause can be the object of the main
clause, couldn't it be the subject as well? Then one could say *Saq DujDaq
jIHaw'bogh* *The ship on which I fled landed*. What do you make of this?

I see another major problem, besides the main verb being able to "see" into
the relative clause, and one which is not totally unrelated to the problem
of whether a preceding modifier acts on a relative clause preceding the
main clause or on the main clause. (Example: *vengDaq jIlwI' ghaHpu' loD'e'
vIlegh* Does it mean *I saw the man who had been my neighbor in the city*
or *In the city, I saw the man who had been my neighbor*?) The example you
use has only one possible candidate for head noun. If there's only one
candidate for head noun, it could conceivably fill some other slot in the
main clause, but if there are more than one, which gets priority? (Alan's
post I referred to above suggests a way around this dilemma in at least
some cases.)

The choppy short sentence technique (which you have advocated most
persuasively) also seems to offer a way around the problem: your *DujDaq
jIHaw'bogh vIngu'laH* *I can identify the ship in which I fled* could
simply be rendered as *DujDaq jIHaw' vIngu'laH** I fled in a ship. I can
identify it.* English speakers might consider the first sentence pedantic
if the listener already knows the speaker fled in a ship, but Klingons
might have no problem with this way of recapping known information. It also
has the virtue of brevity.

Lastly, (and I am confident that you won't like this, so please do not let
this derail the thread) but your argument that a noun can have another
syntactic role in the main clause because it's the only candidate for head
noun of a relative clause reminds me of an argument I made for the
combination of {-lu'} and {-wI'} to nominalize on the object because it is
the only candidate, the subject being pointedly moot.


On Fri, Apr 27, 2018 at 4:29 PM, SuStel <sustel at trimboli.name> wrote:

> A conversation on DuoLingo got me thinking. Okrand said long ago that he
> could not get the head noun of a relative clause to fit anywhere except as
> the subject or object of that clause. We accept this as meaning Klingon
> doesn't allow this, though all Okrand really said was he couldn't see how
> to do it.
> Consider the text of *The Klingon Dictionary:* "The whole construction
> (relative clause plus head noun), as a unit, is used in the sentence as a
> noun." I don't know about you, but this is not the mental image of relative
> clauses I have in my head. I imagine the main clause as a line, the head
> noun "pinned" to its place on that line, and the relative clause dangling
> off of the pinned head noun. But the text of TKD may suggest a different
> picture: the head noun plus verbal clause may be an enclosed package, no
> dangling, and whatever is part of the relative clause is isolated from
> interaction with the main clause. The main sentence, in other words,
> doesn't care what part the relative clause is the head noun; all it cares
> about is that something called "relative clause" is acting as a noun in a
> particular spot.
> For example, if *Duj vIleghpu'bogh* *ship which I saw* is said to be
> equal to *X,* then we can insert it into a main clause *vIngu'laH** I can
> identify it* like so: *X** vIngu'laH* *I can identify X.* As far as the
> main clause is concerned, *X* is a black box, internally any noun phrase
> it wants to be.
> So, let's suppose we start with a phrase, *DujDaq jIHaw'** I flee on a
> ship.* Let's us further suppose... and bear with me here... that we don't
> have to make the head noun the subject or object of the relative clause.
> What if we can say *DujDaq jIHaw'bogh** ship on which I flee.* Being the
> only noun in the clause, it's the only candidate for head noun. Let's
> suppose that it is. Just suppose.
> Now just take the noun phrase as a black box and stick it into the main
> sentence, *vIngu'laH** I can identify it.* We get: *DujDaq jIHaw'bogh
> vIngu'laH* *I can identify the ship in which I fled. *As far as the main
> sentence goes, this is not a locative, just a regular noun phrase.
> Yes, yes, I realize that the listener has no idea that *DujDaq jIHaw'bogh*
> is supposed to be a unit and that I'm not actually identifying something
> while I'm on a ship. I remember that Okrand didn't agree to this in his
> interview. All I'm saying is, it doesn't *actually* contradict TKD, and
> Okrand didn't *actually* say you can't do it. The phrasing used in TKD
> makes such a construction not completely impossible.
> There's one major problem with this idea: if you need to use main-sentence
> syntactic suffixes on the relative clause, you have to attach them to the
> head noun, which means the main sentence *does* see the inner parts of
> the relative clause, so it's not really a black box after all.
> Note: I'm not advocating for this idea here. I'm just publicly
> speculating. The Ship In Which I Fled Problem is one of those things that I
> constantly run up against and would like to pound into the ground.
> --
> SuStelhttp://trimboli.name
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