[tlhIngan Hol] Moods and modality

SuStel sustel at trimboli.name
Tue May 8 07:32:27 PDT 2018

On 5/8/2018 4:41 AM, Rhona Fenwick wrote:
> ghItlhpu' SuStel, jatlh:
> > Basically, how does one determine what moods a language actually has,
> > and can we apply this to Klingon?
> My understanding is that "mood" as linguistically defined refers to 
> specifically morphological means of signalling modality

Indeed, I was going to bring up that distinction, which is why 
"modality" is in the subject line, but my topic was getting away from 
me, so I cut out the modality part.

> (that is, the speaker's subjective attitude towards the action of the 
> verb as it is, should be, or may be) on finite verbs, since lexical 
> expressions of modality are presumably limitless in any given 
> language. Also, I think moods in a morphological system of modality 
> would need to be mutually exclusive, otherwise you'd start multiplying 
> moods together and end up with a much more complicated system.

Does complexity disqualify combined moods?

> With the idea of clearly separating evidentiality from modality, I'd 
> probably treat Klingon as having four distinct morphological moods: 
> one realis (indicative), two deontic (imperative, optative -*jaj*), 
> and one epistemic (interrogative -*'a'*). The other Type 9s are all 
> basically involved in making a verb non-finite, either as subordinate 
> clauses (-*DI'*, -*bogh*, -*chugh*, -*pa'*, -*vIS*, -*meH*) or nouns 
> (-*ghach*, -*wI'*), and because non-finite, modality doesn't really apply.

Noting that most of the syntactic suffixes make non-finite verbs is 
useful, and not something that had occurred to me.

I see that none of your proposed moods can coexist, as you suggested.

> Whether one would want to include the Type 2 suffixes in a count of 
> moods is a more open question. I would tend to say no, because they 
> seem to be able to happily co-occur with the non-indicative moods as 
> well. In Turkish, -/mAlI/- forms (e.g. /gelmeliyim/ "I must come") are 
> often treated as a distinct necessitative mood, and the difference 
> there is that a verb cannot be necessitative and any other mood at the 
> same time: you can't have an imperative necessitative, for instance. 
> Whereas in Klingon, as far as I know we can quite happily say 
> something like *mejnISjaj* "may he have to leave" (even if the 
> circumstances in which one would say something like that would be 
> rather narrow).
> The Type 6 qualification suffixes fall pretty neatly into the category 
> of evidentiality (and for me therefore not mood, though again, depends 
> on one's analysis).

With my limited understanding, I tend to agree with the qualification 
suffixes being evidentiality and not mood. I'd like to see an argument 
against the type 2 suffixes beyond not being able to combine moods.

> For type 3, I think that's more aspect, though not the classic forms 
> seen in the Type 7 aspect suffixes. -*choH* corresponds pretty neatly 
> to what linguists call inchoative aspect, which is not uncommon in 
> various languages. Much rarer is the idea of resumption that -*qa'* 
> shows, but the Google overlords indicate there's a morphological 
> resumptive aspect "again, starting again" in Kiliwa, a language of 
> Baja California in Mexico. (Tangentially, Kiliwa was the dissertation 
> topic of one Mauricio Mixco, who completed his doctorate at UC 
> Berkeley, in the 1970s, and under the supervision of Mary Haas. 
> Coincidence? I doubt it.)

I unhesitatingly call the type 3 suffixes aspect.

> Type 8 (-*neS*) seems clearly just an honorific, with no other real 
> semantic function (a couple of strange KGT examples aside).
> Type 4 (-*moH*), as a valency-changing device, would usually be 
> referred to as voice (cp. other valency-changing devices like passive, 
> middle, antipassive, etc.).

I've never heard of *-moH* being described as voice, but that's probably 
because I'm always so busy telling people *-lu'* isn't passive voice I 
hadn't considered other types of voice. You're absolutely right. 
According to Wikipedia, Mongolian, Turkish, Hebrew, and Japanese all 
have a causative voice. Very cool.

> Finally, Type 5. Here things get kind of interesting. -*lu'* isn't 
> passive as such; we know that. But like the English passive, and 
> indeed the Klingon causative, it's a valency-changing operation, 
> therefore voice.

I had to look this up to convince myself. There is a grammatical "fourth 
person," the indefinite person, used in languages like French and 
Welsh... and Klingon. But what I'm finding about it doesn't make clear 
the link between fourth person and voice. The fourth person is still the 
subject and agent, even if demoted in presence, and would seem to me to 
be active voice. In what way is valency changed in a *-lu'* verb?

> -*laH* is a bit different because it doesn't actually alter valency in 
> modern Klingon, so it's hard to call it voice /sensu stricto/. 
> However, I've just discovered that in Japanese grammar what's usually 
> called the "potential voice" originates from a form not unlike the 
> passive, and has two case-marked forms, one of which /does/ alter 
> valency:
> Active: /Tomoko ga mizu o nomimasu/ "Tomoko drinks water"
> Passive: /Mizu ga /(/Tomoko ni/)/nomaremasu/ "water is drunk (by Tomoko)"
> Potential: /Tomoko ga mizu o nomemasu/ "Tomoko is able to drink water"
> Potential: /Mizu ga /(/Tomoko ni/)/nomemasu/ "water is drinkable (by 
> Tomoko)"
> It may be worthy of noting that English deverbal adjectives in -/able/ 
> are generally passive in nature too: /drinkable/ is not "able to 
> drink", but "able to _be_ drunk". Perhaps an insight (within the game, 
> at least) into the historical origin of why Klingon -*laH* patterns 
> with -*lu'*?

I don't see the connection here with Klingon, a completely unrelated 
language. You'd first have to convince me that *-lu'* is a separate 
voice, then maybe we could speculate on *-laH* being based in voice 
simply by virtue of its type 5 classification, even though it doesn't 
seem to change voice at all.

Thank you very much for this! It's been extremely helpful to me and 
cleared up some confusion I've had about applying grammatical 
terminology to describe Klingon.


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