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

Steven Boozer sboozer at uchicago.edu
Mon Sep 10 08:44:41 PDT 2018

At  qepHom 2015 qurgh asked Okrand about this:

(qurgh, 11/10/2015):  I had a conversation with Marc about 'oH and ghaH and animals when I was at the qepHom. He said that if you (the speaker) believe you can communicate with a creature, then it's a ghaH, if you don't believe you can communicate with a creature, then it's 'oH. It's down the personal beliefs of the speaker, not a set formula.


From: De'vID

On Sat, 8 Sep 2018 at 04:52, Alan Anderson <qunchuy at alcaco.net<mailto:qunchuy at alcaco.net>> wrote:
On Fri, Sep 7, 2018 at 5:49 PM Daniel Dadap <daniel at dadap.net<mailto:daniel at dadap.net>> wrote:
What do you all think about {'oH} versus {ghaH}? Has Maltz ever said anything to point us more strongly towards one interpretation or the other, with regards to whether {ghaH} might apply to beings incapable of language?

On the old MSN expert forum, Marc Okrand said:
the question {yIH nuq?} "What is a tribble?" is exactly parallel to the statement {yIH 'oH} "It is a tribble"

A tribble is an animate being. It gets the pronouns {'oH} and {nuq}, not {ghaH} and {'Iv}.

In HolQeD 10:4, Okrand discusses birds that talk. He makes a point of saying that the usual suffix for birds is {-mey}, but that some Klingons use {-pu'} for birds which mimick speech. He does not mention whether they take {'oH} or {ghaH}, which could be interpreted either way. That is, it might be that the distinction between {'oH} and {ghaH} is so obviously the same as between {-mey} and {-pu'} as to be not worth mentioning (and hence those Klingons who use {-pu'} would use {ghaH}, and those who use {-mey} would use {'oH}). Or it might be that all animals always take {'oH} (or always take {ghaH}), and this doesn't change regardless of whether they talk. But in the latter case, the fact that a {yIH} is referred to using {'oH} implies that all animals are {'oH}. So in either interpretation, {'oH} is used for animals which don't talk. What's left open is whether those Klingons who use {-pu'} for talking birds would also use {ghaH}/{chaH} for them.

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