[tlhIngan Hol] Speculation: ship in which I fled

SuStel sustel at trimboli.name
Sat Apr 28 10:11:40 PDT 2018

On 4/27/2018 11:21 PM, Ed Bailey wrote:
> SuStel: I presume you read this post of Alan Anderson's from last 
> September and have been giving it thought: 
> http://diswww.mit.edu/charon.MIT.EDU/ja'chuq/110966 
> <http://diswww.mit.edu/charon.MIT.EDU/ja%27chuq/110966>

I read it at the time, but haven't been thinking about it. This came 
about because of a discussion the other day on DuoLingo.

My argument is based on the text of TKD that declares the head noun plus 
relative clause a "unit." ghunchu'wI''s argument has always been based 
on the comparison Okrand makes in TKD which describes what a relative 
clause is in English and includes "the restaurant where we ate." His 
error, in my opinion, is in believing that Okrand's example of an 
English relative clause is meant to illustrate possible Klingon relative 
clauses. It's not. That passage is simply trying to get the 
English-speaking reader to understand that a relative clause is like an 
adjective that modifies the head noun. How English constructs relative 
clauses, and what meanings they encompass, are different things than 
Klingon. Klingon does not have /the restaurant where we ate./

> 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 have no problem with speculation or musing. I say again: I am NOT 
saying this is right. I think my idea is WRONG. I am interested merely 
in considering the implications of treating the relative clause as the 
described "unit," instead of a head noun pinned to the main clause with 
the relative clause dangling off of it.

> 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.

These are known as restrictive and non-restrictive clauses. Klingon 
relative clauses appear to be restrictive; that is, they appear to 
narrow down the sense of the head noun. But I wouldn't be at all 
surprised if that isn't an absolute.

> If as you suggest (or speculate or advocate: it's all fine as long as 
> no one pretends to authority that is not his),

More than authority: I'm not suggesting or speculating or advocating 
that this idea is RIGHT. I'm just musing on what the "unit" idea might mean.

> 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?

If this were correct, then yes, it could do that.

> 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.)

You forgot the *-bogh* in the example. This is a poor example, because 
as a "to be" sentence the final noun requires an *-'e',* automatically 
making it the head noun. You have no choice.

A more interesting example would be how to say /I see the ship in which 
the captain fled./ If you try *DujDaq Haw'pu'bogh HoD vIlegh,* how would 
you know that *DujDaq,* and not *HoD,* is supposed to be the head noun? 
You wouldn't.

> 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.

Add a *-pu'* and I'd be happy, because I'm imagining a ship in which I 
made a complete getaway. If you say *DujDaq jIHaw'pu'; vIngu'laH *as a 
smooth utterance, with only the slightest pause between them, you get 
something very similar to the *'uSDaj chop; chev!* /Bite his arm off! 
/of /Power Klingon./ Your cadence will make it clear to listeners that 
this is a single idea, even if it is presented in two "basic sentences." 
I am utterly convinced that Klingons combine these smaller ideas into 
larger ideas as a matter of course.

A hundred years and more ago, it was all the rage for English writers to 
use tremendously long and complicated sentences. I've thought about 
translating /The War of the Worlds,/ and it would involve breaking these 
huge sentences down into tiny chunks. Here's the first sentence:

    No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth
    century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by
    intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that
    as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were
    scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a
    microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and
    multiply in a drop of water.

One idea per sentence? Pshaw! If you were writing that in modern, 
colloquial English you'd have to break it down into several sentences, 
let alone translating it into Klingon. I did translate the first line 
once; look how many "sentences" it contains (basic sentences, "to be" 
sentences, comparatives, and sentence-as-object each count as one 
"sentence"; conjunctions count as multiple "sentences"):

    DIS poH wa'maH Hut Dor qo'vam lubejchu'taH yabDu' net Harbe';
    yabDu'vam 'Itlh law' Human yab 'Itlh puS, 'ach jubbe' yabDu'vam.
    malja' Sar HuqtaHvIS Humanpu' lunuDlu'chu'taH 'ej luHaDlu'taH, net
    Harbe'. bIQ chovnatlh HotlhlaH Hoqra' lo'bogh Human, 'ej pa' qevbogh
    DepHommey 'ej Sepbogh nuDchu'laH; Humanvam lurur bejwI'pu'.

By my count, I used nine "sentences" to cover just one English sentence. 
It really is not a big deal to split one small English sentence into two 
small Klingon sentences.

> 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.

My argument is not that the locative noun of the relative clause must be 
the head noun because no other noun can be; my argument is that the 
locative noun can be RECOGNIZED as the head noun because there is no 
other noun distracting you from that conclusion. You have to first 
accept the notion that some noun other than the subject or object of the 
relative clause can be the head noun.

I don't accept the argument that *-lu'* + *-wI'* must nominalize the 
object because there's no subject available. *-wI'* never nominalizes 
the object. There is no rule, no example, that supports any evidence at 
all that *-wI'* can nominalize objects. IF there were such a rule, then 
I might consider the idea that, lacking a subject, it would nominalize 
the object. But there is no such rule, and no evidence that any such 
rule exists.


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