[tlhIngan Hol] Moods and modality

Rhona Fenwick qeslagh at hotmail.com
Thu May 10 02:13:27 PDT 2018


> My understanding is that "mood" as linguistically defined refers to specifically morphological means of signalling modality

mujangpu' SuStel, jatlh:

> Indeed, I was going to bring up that distinction, which is why "modality" is in the subject line,

Oh yes, that's entirely fair. In my original statement, I'd intended the emphasis on "morphological" rather than "modality". DopDaq qul yIchenmoH QobDI' ghu'.


> Does complexity disqualify combined moods?

Again, unfortunately it really seems to depend on (a) the language and (b) the analysis. There's one analysis of Tundra Nenets that presents sixteen distinct moods (http://www.helsinki.fi/~tasalmin/sketch.html), but if I myself were analysing these, I'd be reducing them heavily on at least the basis of aspect as a second dimension (several of these alleged "moods" are presented baldly as morphologically complex aspectual distinctions within the same underlying mood).

(poD vay')


> I'd like to see an argument against the type 2 suffixes beyond not being able to combine moods.

Me too, and while I was thinking about this I wasn't able to come up with any other decent argument for that.

With that said, there are not many human languages that do similar things to Klingon in this respect, so I haven't been able to find any coherent pattern among linguists as to what to call such things. (Inuktitut seems to be the most studied language with similar forms: tikivuk "he arrives" has derived forms like tikigunnatuk "he is able to arrive", tikigumatuk "he wants to arrive", etc. But even in Inuktitut linguistics there doesn't seem to be a consistent terminology for these morphological units.)

(poD vay')

> Type 4 (-moH), as a valency-changing device, would usually be referred to as voice

jang SuStel, jatlh:
> 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.

Indeed. And I'm one of those who doesn't usually think of the causative as a distinct voice (even while Ubykh, my human-language focus, has a fully developed morphological causative); it's so often just called, unqualified, "the causative" and so I suppose I mentally file it under a different place, though I really shouldn't.

> In what way is valency changed in a -lu' verb?

Primarily in the sense that it has clear and striking effects on verbal agreement involving promotion of the patient to subject as well as demotion of the indefinite person to object agreement position. Hence why there isn't an effective contrast between wIqIplu' and *DIqIplu': the indefinite person - the notional subject - is always third-person singular object in terms of verbal agreement. It's not an increase or decrease in valency, but it's a valency exchange of sorts. The antipassive voice in Circassian behave similarly; because Circassian has trivalent agreement, an antipassive always conditions two verb agreement prefixes even when demotion occurs, but it involves argument exchange of almost exactly this sort, confirmed by the exchange of case-marking as well: active pχaʈʂ’em pχer jeχʷe "the carpenter (-m, j-) is filing the plank (-r, Ø-) to completion" vs. antipassive pχaʈʂ’er pχem jeχʷe "the carpenter (-r, Ø-) is filing away at the plank (-m, j-)".

You're of course right that there's no effect on the argument structure from a syntactic point of view, and that (plus the retention of agreement for the indefinite person, albeit in object agreement position) is one major factor making it not a true passive, but I consider -lu' to be a form of voice - albeit an unusual one in terms of the clash between its syntax and its agreement pattern. Unfortunately, most languages with impersonal constructions of this kind don't have object agreement, so can't be of any terminological help; in the only one I've been able to find that does - Classical Nahuatl - the passive doesn't permit an unspecified agent to be resupplied by an adpositional phrase, and only the passive causes patient promotion to subject agreement (tamēchtlazohtlah "we (t-...-h) love you all (amēch-)", but antlazohtlaloh "you all (an-...-h) are loved"); no such promotion is permitted in the impersonal (tētlazohtlah "they (Ø-...-h) love someone unspecified (tē-)", but tētlazohtlalo "someone (Ø-...-Ø) loves someone unspecified (tē-)").

> -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.

jangqa' SuStel, jatlh:
> I don't see the connection here with Klingon, a completely unrelated language.

I wasn't intending to suggest there's any direct connection at all. I tried to make it clear in my previous message that I'm suggesting a parallel, that's all, a parallel that only suggested itself through looking into why linguists of Japanese refer to this phenomenon as "voice". I'm just spitballing the possibility that if an unrelated, but similar, phenomenon occurred during the diachronic development of Klingon, that may be an explanation of why -laH and -lu' pattern together. (That's also why I specifically said I'm talking about within the game. I know it's not something that can be easily answered, but this isn't the first point of grammar that's made me think Okrand probably gave more than passing thought to giving Klingon an internal history when he built it.)

> 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.

For sure, and from any synchronic point of view -laH is not voice in modern Klingon at all. Semantically it's really of a class with the Type 2s, but happens to appear in the Type 5s instead, whether due to some historical development or simply one of those kooky things that happens sometimes in languages.


> 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.

qay'be'qu'. And as I said, do take all the above with a healthy chunk of salt.

QeS 'utlh
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