[tlhIngan Hol] mughmeH laH vs mughlaHghach

Aurélie Demonchaux demonchaux.aurelie at gmail.com
Wed May 16 13:40:02 PDT 2018

Thank you both mIp'av and SuStel for your replies!

When I started the thread, I had in mind more the ability of the
translator, not the "translatability" of texts, but this is indeed a very
interesting question!

I'd like to contribute a few remarks to the debate after reading your

1/ I would avoid writing {ghItlhvam mughlu'meH laH}, I think its meaning
may be ambiguous or at least not very easy to figure out, perhaps because a
reader may be tempted to associate the noun "laH" with the indefinite
subject conveyed by {-lu'}. Also, a manuscript in and of itself cannot have

2/ But there can exist a "possibility" for a manuscript to be translated.
What do you make of {ghItlhvam mughlu'meH DuH} ?

>> As in: ghItlhvam mughlu'meH DuH tu'lu'be' = There is no possibility to
translate this manuscript / it is impossible to translate this manuscript

>> of course a simpler (safer) way to say it could be {ghItlhvam mughlaH
pagh} = no one can translate this manuscript

3/ For the sentence "no one has figured out how to translate this
manuscript", I would not consider using {laH}:

{ghItlhvam mughlu'meH mIw Sam pagh} = no one has found a way for this
manuscript to be translated

Note: when the English uses "how" in a sentence, I often consider {mIw} as
a possible translation.

4/ As for the contexts when we refer to the ability as pertaining to a
specific person (the subject), while in terms of semantics the 2 options
seem identical, there may be some situations where it is grammatically
preferrable to choose one over the other.

Example: for "they are studying the linguists' ability to translate", I
would use {mughlaHghach}:

Hol tejpu' mughlaHghach luHaD

This is because, with {mughmeH laH}, placement of {Hol tej} may be
problematic and possibly ambiguous to the reader:

(?) Hol tejpu' mughmeH laH luHaD: may be misunderstood as "They are
studying the ability to translate the linguists"

(?) mughmeH Hol tejpu' laH luHaD: I am uncomfortable with introducing
anything between {laH} and its purpose clause - not to mention the fact
that {Hol tej} is aready composed of 2 nouns. So which noun goes with
"mughmeH"? It could be misunderstood as "They are studying the ability of
the scientists (studying) the language-for-translating".

nuq boQub? :)


PS: SuStel, thanks for the link above to the post by Dr Okrand, very

2018-05-16 17:52 GMT+02:00 SuStel <sustel at trimboli.name>:

> On 5/16/2018 11:24 AM, Ed Bailey wrote:
> So you'd accept that the purpose clause in a noun phrase can have an
> object?
> Sure. What else do you think is happening with *qaSuchmeH 'eb?* It's *SoH
> qaSuchmeH jIH 'eb.*
> This makes it more like a relative clause.
> All of the subordinate clauses can have subjects and objects. It's just
> the purpose clauses that are exceptional in that they can also NOT have
> subjects and objects. We simply don't know exactly when you can and can't
> drop the arguments. In general, purpose clauses attached to verbs have them
> and purpose clauses attached to nouns don't, but both sides of that are
> broken from time to time.
> Unlike a relative clause, the head noun of a purpose clause is NOT the
> subject or object of the clause.
> It would be interesting to compare nouns with purpose clauses to relative
> clauses. There are enough similarities that one could stumble over the
> differences. One difference is that the purpose clause must still precede
> that which it modifies, correct?
> Correct. A purpose clause precedes its head noun, while a relative clause
> puts its head noun into a subject or object position within the clause.
> And the topic marker can make either subject or object be the head noun of
> a relative clause, but I don't get that this could happen with a purpose
> clause.
> There would be no point. Since the head noun is not inside the purpose
> clause, there is nothing to disambiguate.
> Let's bring this back to Aurélie's original point: would *ghItlhvam
> mughlaHghach chavlu'pu'* be a better way to say "The ability to translate
> this manuscript has been achieved" (colloquially, "They've figured out how
> to translate this manuscript")?
> Now you're trying to add an object to a verb before a *-ghach* is
> applied, and that's a whole other kettle of fish. I don't personally
> subscribe to the idea that *-ghach*'d verbs can be given arguments before
> the *-ghach* is applied; Okrand declined to comment on this possibility
> when given the chance. Start with a root verb, add one or more suffixes,
> then add *-ghach.* That's it. No prefixes, no objects, no subjects, no
> other syntactic nouns or clauses go inside the scope of the *-ghach.*
> What you have above says *This manuscript's ability to translate has been
> achieved.* That is, the manuscript has been working to be able to
> translate something, and now it has the ability to do so. What the
> manuscript is going to translate, or how it's going to translate it, is not
> said.
> It seems like a good choice to me, since *-ghach *nominalizes in such a
> way that *mughlaHghach* encompasses both "ability to translate" and
> "ability to be translated."
> IT DOES NOT. *mughlaHghach* means only *ability to translate.* To mean *ability
> to be translated,* you'd need a verb X that means *be translated,* and
> then you could say *XlaHghach.* That verb is not *mugh.*
> Are you getting mixed up by the word *translate?* In English you can say
> things like "I can't say that; it doesn't translate." That's not *mugh.*
> The message does not *mugh; *it gets *mugh*'d. Klingon *mugh* is
> transitive.
> --
> SuStelhttp://trimboli.name
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