[tlhIngan Hol] Suffix position: semantically significant?

Daniel Dadap daniel at dadap.net
Thu Jun 7 06:25:04 PDT 2018

Obviously, position is semantically significant for rovers, but does it have any semantic significance for fixed-position verb suffixes?

I wanted to express “I obviously need to be able to speak Federation Standard”, which I initially composed as {DIvI' Hol vIjatlhlaHnISba'}; however, after checking my verb suffix types, realized that this was ungrammatical. However, the grammatically correct {DIvI' Hol vIjatlhnISlaHba'} seems like it should mean something else to me: “I obviously can need to speak Federation Standard.”

I ended up writing it as {DIvI' Hol vIghojnISba'} instead, but I’m still curious about this. My intuition tells me that the ordering of the verb suffixes *is* semantically significant, and that in order to say something like what I originally intended, a construction like {DIvI' Hol jatlhmeH laH vIghajnISba'} (or more pointedly, {vISuqnISba'}). I sort of envision {vIjatlhnISlaHba'} as being parsed like ((((vI-(jatlh))-nIS)-laH)-ba'), with each affix modifying the meaning of the unit it is directly attached to, rather than just having all the affixes considered together within the context in which they appear for meaning.

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