[tlhIngan Hol] Can we say {'op ret ngaj} ?

Steven Boozer sboozer at uchicago.edu
Thu Dec 27 08:02:08 PST 2018

(IMO, HQ 8.3:3):  [{ret}] follows the noun specifying the length of time involved, as in {cha' tup ret} "two minutes ago".  It is to {poH} what {Hu'} is to {jaj}.  (One might say that these are associated with the word {poH} "period of time".)  These words follow the more specific time units.  For example, two minutes ago is {cha' tup ret}, literally 'two minute time-period-ago.'  Two minutes from now is {cha' tup pIq}.  (It is also possible, though not necessary, to use the plural suffixes with the time units if there is more than one of them:  {cha' tupmey ret, cha' tupmey pIq}.)  The words {ret} and {pIq} could also be used with days, months, and years (e.g., {wej jaj ret} "three days ago", rather than {wejHu'}, but utterances of these are not particularly common, sound a bit archaic, and are usually restricted to rather formal settings.  With longer time periods, such as a century ({vatlh DIS poH}), millennium ({SaD DIS poH}), or a period of 10,000 years (myriad, perhaps) ({netlh DIS poH}), the words {ret} or {pIq} may be used in place of {poH}, e.g., {cha' vatlh DIS poH} "two centuries", but {cha' vatlh DIS ret} "two centuries ago".  The phrase {cha' vatlh ben} would mean "200 years ago".  The choice of construction depends on what is being emphasized: in this case, the total number of centuries (two) or the total number of years (200).

(nIqolay Q, 10/17/2018):  The handout from qep'a' 23 just uses {'op ret} and {'op pIq}, without any further explanations or examples involving explicit time units ... I think we can assume they're fine as-is.  You don't really need to specify a time period because you're not being specific about how many of those periods there are anyway.

"These words follow the more specific time units."  It sounds like you do need to specify a time unit, even if it is the imprecise  {'op} "some,  an unknown or unspecified quantity".  

It would probably sound as odd as saying just "ago" or "from now" in English.  E.g. "Ago I drank two cups of coffee " or "Don't worry! I'll finish typing up this letter from now."


-----Original Message-----
From: Daniel Dadap

Can you use {ret} on its own without a unit though? To me it seems weird, and something like {'op tup ret} seems safer. To me this question is more about the {ret ngaj} than the {'op} part.

> On Dec 27, 2018, at 06:39, Felix Malmenbeck <felixm at kth.se> wrote:
> I'd probably just say {ret ngaj} in that case; it strikes me as a bit strange to use two different quantifiers (even if it matches the English "some sort time ago"). That being said, it is rather uncharted territory as far as canon goes, so I can't say with any degree of certainty.

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