[tlhIngan Hol] The problem of the same word being both a verb and a noun

nIqolay Q niqolay0 at gmail.com
Mon Nov 19 08:58:21 PST 2018

On Mon, Nov 19, 2018 at 11:41 AM mayqel qunenoS <mihkoun at gmail.com> wrote:

> Often, while writing, I come across the problem of having to use a word
> which exists both as a verb and a noun, e.g. {choH} (v) change, {choH} (n)
> change.
> And the problem being, making absolutely certain that the reader will
> immediately understand that it is e.g. the noun that I use and not the
> verb, or vice versa.
> And recently I found the solution of adding a verb or noun suffix,
> depending on the situation.
> For example, instead of writing {qa'Daj choH} for "the change of his
> spirit", writing {qa'Daj choHna'} "the definite change of his spirit".
> Or, instead of {qa'Daj choH} for "it changes his spirit", saying {qa'Daj
> choHba'} "it obviously changes his spirit".
> Of course context could also specify. But there are times I feel, we're
> leaving so many things on context, to the point of assuming the reader to
> be some kind of psychic.

All languages require the reader to resolve ambiguity with context. When
you're writing a language you and your audience are both fluent in, though,
you already know what sorts of things are likely to be confusing and which
things aren't, so you don't really think of such things as needing context.
In a sentence like "I left my tie at work", half the words have other
meanings, but no one is likely to misinterpret "left" as "left side", "tie"
as "to tie a knot", or "work" as "to toil". Fluency helps you know what
meanings are possible and which of those are likely to be intended.

In the case of Klingon, it's easy to be unsure of what sentences will be
confusing if you're still working on fluency, and if most of your audience
is also working on fluency. You don't have a good feel yet for what sort of
context can be assumed. Happens to me all the time.

In your specific examples, though, I'd probably interpret {qa'Daj choH} as
a noun phrase if it appeared in a sentence with another verb (e.g. {qa'Doj
choH vIlegh} "I see the change in his spirit"), and {qa'Daj choH} as a verb
phrase if it appeared on its own as a sentence, since sentence fragments
are uncommon outside Clipped Klingon. (Another way to clarify that {choH}
is a verb would be to make the subject explicit: {qa'Daj choH 'oH.})
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