[tlhIngan Hol] verbs necessarily taking objects

nIqolay Q niqolay0 at gmail.com
Fri Feb 2 08:21:52 PST 2018

On Fri, Feb 2, 2018 at 9:59 AM, SuStel <sustel at trimboli.name> wrote:
> The difference, though, with *rang* versus *ngI'* is that I can easily
> understand what *rang* without an object would mean: *be responsible for
> things in general;* while *ngI'* without an object truly is weird: *have
> a weight of a general measurement?*
​Well, there's the example of {ngI'chu' muD} "the atmosphere weighs
perfectly/is properly pressurized". ​Based on that, {ngI'} without an
object might mean something like "have a weight, and it's not important
what that specific weight is, only that the subject has weight". Since
{ngI'} is usually used for measurements, it would be weird to leave the
specific measurement out, but I can imagine other situations like {ngI'chu'
muD} where you're only talking about the non-numeric "quality" of weight.

So if I were floating around on the International Space Station, I might
comment {jIngI'be'} "I do not have a weight, I am weightless, I do not
weigh anything." You could also say the same thing about photons: {ngI'be'
'otlhmey}. Or if you were being poetic, you could say it about abstract
qualities: {ngI'be' parmaq}. (Likewise, you might describe a geometric
point as {'aDbe' 'ej juchbe'} "lengthless and widthless".)

There are even scenarios where Okrand's example of {ngI' muD} might not be
weird or pointless. If you were explaining the concept of air pressure to
someone and starting with the very basics, you might start by saying {ngI'
muD} to mean "the atmosphere has weight, i.e. the atmosphere is a physical
object that pushes down on things because of gravity". The specific weight
of the atmosphere is not relevant at this point in the discussion, only the
fact that the atmosphere has a weight at all.

> So I think it IS ungrammatical to use *rang* without an object, but it is
> ungrammatical SEMANTICALLY, not syntactically. There is no syntactic rule
> that says a verb must have an object, but the particular meaning of *rang*
> forces it to have an object. To leave off an object is not syntactically
> incorrect, but it is still wrong.
Okrand uses the term "weird" for both objectless {ngI'} and objectless
{rang}, and we know at least one canon example of acceptably-objectless
{ngI'}. So I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say that objectless {rang} is
out-and-out wrong, it's just usually confusing because details are being
left out. (Though if your goal is clear writing, being confusing is also a
kind of wrong.) So in situations where those details don't matter, it might
not be unacceptable.

I can imagine a sentence like {rangbe'nIS cheng} to mean something like
"Chang needs to not be in charge, Chang needs to not be responsible for
anything, don't put Chang in charge of anything", in which {rang} is
objectless because it's a non-specific comment about Chang in general, not
a specific responsibility. Or, alternately, {rangnIS cheng} might mean
"Chang needs to be responsible for something, needs to be in charge of
something", which could imply something like "We should give Chang more
responsibility". Either way, the details of what Chang should or should not
be responsible for are irrelevant, just as the specific atmospheric weight
in {ngI'chu' muD} is irrelevant.
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