[tlhIngan Hol] mughmeH laH vs mughlaHghach

Ed Bailey bellerophon.modeler at gmail.com
Tue May 15 23:01:27 PDT 2018

On Tue, May 15, 2018 at 9:42 PM, SuStel <sustel at trimboli.name> wrote:

> On 5/15/2018 8:37 PM, Ed Bailey wrote:
>   For instance, *ghItlhvam mughlu'meH laH chavlu'pu'be'* as a way of
> saying "No one has figured out how to translate this manuscript."
> This says "One has not achieved this manuscript's ability in order that
> one translates." That is, the manuscript has an ability to translate
> something (not itself). Another reading, making the purpose clause attach
> to *chav* instead of *laH,* would be *In order that one translates this
> manuscript, one has not achieved the ability.* This is close to what you
> want, but look closely at the grammar. And look also at this post
> <http://klingonska.org/canon/1998-01-18b-news.txt> by Okrand, wherein he
> tries to resolve the problem of applying purpose clauses to negative
> statements by avoiding the problem altogether. (Did you carefully try not
> to achieve the ability, so that you could translate the manuscript?)
> Your first translation assigns one of many possible genitive relations
between *ghItlhvam* and *laH*, but I can't fault you for interpreting it
differently than I intended since I proposed the example so you could pick
it apart and we can discuss how the grammar works. However, it would be
more neutral, if unidiomatic, to say "ability for one to translate of this
manuscript" instead. I think the only genitive relation that is meaningful
here is as the patient, as in "translation of the Iliad." Such a
construction would be indistinguishable from a noun modified by a purpose
clause with an object, and I actually saw it both ways as I wrote it and it
seemed right to me since both grammatical interpretations led to the same
result for me*, though of course that's useless if it doesn't lead others
to the same interpretation. A partial justification for explicit objects on
purpose clauses that modify nouns is *qaSuchmeH 'eb*. Due to the verb's
conjugation, it has the implied object *SoH*. Or *SuvwI' DevmeH paq*, which
I interpret as "Book for Guiding the Warrior," though it could be
"Warrior's Guidebook." Even this last interpretation could be considered
genitive as patient, since the apostrophe-s is not expressing ownership.

*One kind of grammatically ambiguous but semantically non-ambiguous
construction I particularly like is a noun acting as either the subject of
the preceding clause or the object of the following clause, as in *noychoHpa'
wo'rIv vIqIHpu'*: *wo'rIv* can be either the subject of *noychoHpa'* or the
object of *vIqIHpu'*; semantically it makes no difference unless context
alters the meaning. But I digress.

jatlh SuStel:

> I think you're confusing attaching a purpose clause to a verb (or clause)
> and attaching a purpose clause to a noun. Purpose clauses are different
> than other dependent clauses. You can attach purpose clauses to sentences
> like other dependent clauses *(Heghlu'meH QaQ jajvam),* but you can also
> attach purpose clauses to nouns *(qa'meH vIttlhegh).* In the latter case,
> the resulting phrase, purpose clause plus head noun, is a noun phrase.
> Notice that in the example *qa'meH vIttlhegh, *the noun is not the
> subject of the purpose clause. Notice also that the purpose clause has not
> been given a subject or object: it's a *proverb-for-replacing,* not a
> *proverb-for-him-to-replace.*
No, I recognize there's a difference between purpose clauses as used on
verbs and as used on nouns, but as you pointed out in your translations of
my sentence, it can be an ambiguous case when the purpose clause precedes
the object. Purpose clauses modifying verbs are separate sentences as
defined in TKD and need to follow the rule of rom. For instance, your first
canon example of *Heghlu'meH QaQ jajvam* has *-lu'* in the purpose clause
and needs it, or else it means "Today is a good day for him/her to die."

I see what you mean about *qa'meH vIttlhegh*, though. No *-lu'* is needed,
even though they're for anyone to use for replacement. But the *vIttlhegh*
is not merely used for replacing; it does the replacing, too, as a *pe'meH
taj* is both used for cutting, and does the cutting. So while they're
really the instruments, I also think of these nouns as the agent of the
action in the purpose clause, so I envision the purpose clause in these
cases as still following the rule of rom, with a null prefix, which leads
me to a digression. You might part company with me here, but if the noun
modified by a purpose clause is also the patient of the action, I tend to
stick *-lu'* in there, e.g. *pe'lu'meH nav* "paper for one to cut."
Digression over. In the case of *mughmeH laH*, or *SuchmeH 'eb*, the noun
makes no sense as either agent or patient of the action of the purpose
clause, and I take your point below that the purpose clause in these cases
is without arguments; i.e., it's not the null prefix.

jatlh SuStel:

> The rules for when purpose clauses must take subjects or objects are not
> given by Okrand. In general, it appears that purpose clauses attached to
> verbs (sentences) get subjects (possibly indefinite) and objects, while
> those attached to nouns don't. But he's broken that general trend from time
> to time *(qaSuchmeH 'eb; qIpmeH Qatlh'a'; *and even the
> object-but-no-subject *SuvwI' DevmeH paq**).*
> jIjatlh:
> So would you agree that *mughmeH laH* and *mughlu'meH laH* are not
> synonymous, and that *mughlaHghach* is ambiguously synonymous with both
> of them?
> jatlh SuStel:

> No. *mughmeH laH* and *mughlu'meH laH* mean the same thing, though *mughmeH
> laH* is the expected form.
> In the first form, the verb is completely without arguments. It's like in
> English how the *translate* in *ability to translate* has no subject or
> object at all. Klingon has no infinitives, but this is close.
> In the second form, the verb is not close to an infinitive: it has an
> explicit indefinite subject. Just as *qaSuchmeH 'eb* means *opportunity
> for me to visit you,* *mughlu'meH laH* means *ability for someone
> indefinite to translate. *There is no significant difference between *ability
> to translate* and *ability for someone indefinite to translate.* I
> wouldn't bother with the *-lu',* but if it's there it makes no
> difference. I could say *jImughmeH laH* *ability for me to translate,*
> and now it means something different, but adding an indefinite subject to a
> verb that had no subject to begin with doesn't change the meaning. And I
> see no significant difference between that meaning and *mughlaHghach**
> ability to translate.*
Although I agree with you now that adding *-lu'* doesn't add meaning in
this case, I'd also add that it messes things up if we're talking about a
particular translator: **mughlu'meH laHDaj* is nonsense. Now, instead of
"his ability to translate," it's "his ability for one to translate." The
verb without arguments is universally adaptable; the explicit indefinite
subject is in conflict with the possessive suffix.

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