[tlhIngan Hol] Relevance of language ability to third person singular pronouns

Daniel Dadap daniel at dadap.net
Fri Sep 7 16:47:43 PDT 2018


> On Sep 7, 2018, at 17:49, SuStel <sustel at trimboli.name> wrote:
> 
>> On 9/7/2018 5:49 PM, Daniel Dadap wrote:
>> I had always thought that the distinction between {'oH} and {ghaH} was the same as the distinction between {bIH} and {chaH}, i.e., that {ghaH} is reserved for beings capable of language. It would seem natural that the singular and plural third-person pronouns would be divided up the same way, but it was recently pointed out to me that TKD never actually says that {‘oH} is for things and beings that are incapable of languages, or that {ghaH} is exclusively for language-capable beings. But just because that would seem natural doesn’t mean that it is so.
> It's an interesting observation. If correct, what's the difference between ghaH and 'oH?
> 

That’s exactly the question I’m asking. I’ve long thought the difference was (and I’m guessing most Klingonists think of it as):

ghaH - single language capable being
'oH - single non-language capable being or inanimate object

But since TKD never actually says this is the case, it seems possible to interpret the difference as:

ghaH - single animate being (language capable or not)
'oH - single inanimate object

The difference could be something other than the above two options, but I’m not creative enough to think of another alternative.

> To support the idea, you need to find somewhere in canon that uses ghaH or 'oH in a way that shows that difference: some being capable of using language being referred to as 'oH, or something not a being capable of using language being referred to as ghaH.
> 

Agreed. I’d be interested to see if there are any canon examples to provide stronger evidence of one interpretation or the other. I don’t think that {'oH} for a language capable being would be something we’d look for, though, since I’m not creative enough to come up where an interpretation where a language capable being would be anything other than {ghaH}. What we want to look for is pronominal references to animate beings that are not language capable, like a targh or a bo'Degh or whatever. {'oH} would imply that it has to do with whether the referent is capable of language, and {ghaH} would imply that it has to do with whether the referent is animate.

> Personally, I think Okrand just assumed that the difference between it and he/she/him/her showed up the difference well enough. It's the fact that English they/them can cover plural it as well as he/she/him/her that warrants special mention of the difference between bIH and chaH, not the exclusivity of the capable-of-using-language status of the words.
> 

Sure, but he/she/him/her doesn’t necessarily indicate language capability in English. Non-language capable beings can be hes and shes and hims and hers.

> -- 
> SuStel
> http://trimboli.name
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