[tlhIngan Hol] tuQ and tuQmoH difference

Will Martin willmartin2 at mac.com
Tue Feb 19 11:06:04 PST 2019

You perfectly describe why I’ve come to hate {-moH}.

I don’t suggest that there is anything objectively wrong with it. I subjectively despise the shift in what had otherwise been a clear relationship between a verb’s subject and its object.

What follows is not an attempt to shift the way Klingon speakers use {-moH}. I’m simply trying to describe why the veins stick out in my neck when I encounter this change in the understanding of how {-moH} works.

It relates to the way that Okrand demures from using the term “Direct Object” and chooses the apparently broader term “Object”.

Basically, the Subject or Agent does the action of the verb. Languages pretty universally agree on that, and pretty much every verb works with most nouns acting as Subject, if that noun is actually capable of doing the action of the verb, or acquiring the state suggested by the verb. That much has no controversy that I’ve seen.

Meanwhile, there are other nouns that give information about the action or state of the verb. A type 5 noun suffix defines specific relationships between the verb and that noun. Locative, beneficiary, etc.

The absence of any Type 5 suffix on a noun before the verb suggests that this noun is the “Object” of the verb. So, what does this mean, exactly? It seems straightforward enough, but if you look at it closer, it gets more complicated.

In English, you can take an example like, “The Moon orbits the Earth.” Simple enough. "The Earth" is the direct object of “orbit”.

The same meaning can be conveyed by saying, “The Moon goes around the Earth.” Here, the “Earth” is not the direct object of “goes”. The Moon doesn’t go the Earth. It goes around the Earth. The word “around” is a preposition.

So, in “The Moon orbits the Earth”, the direct object of “orbit” has a prepositional relationship with its subject.

This is a glimpse at something that is happening to the thought before it goes through a brain and comes out language.

Basically, each verb ties the subject and object together with a relationship that is the most common type of relationship implied by that verb. Different verbs imply different relationships between subject and object, but the most common relationship between nouns linked by the verb is the relationship defined by the appropriate direct object of the verb.

So, the direct object of “orbit” has a prepositional relationship between the subject and object. The direct object of “hit” has an event-centric, physical interaction between the subject and object. The direct object of “build” has a historical relationship between the entity that brought the direct object into being, and the resultant thing that was made. Building is the process. The direct object is the result of that process. The object and the process do not coexist in time. The action of building is always in the past of the object that was built. The object is not complete until the action of building it is complete.

But that’s a “direct object”. What about the larger class of “objects”? Why is Okrand so squeamish about adding the word “direct” in front of “object”?

Well, it doesn’t seem to make much difference until you add {-moH} to a verb. Then the reason for not wanting to put the descriptor “direct” in front of “object” really gets in your face and refuses to be ignored.

tlhIngan Hol vIghoj. I learn the language of a Klingon.

puqwI’ vIghojmoH. I teach my child. I cause my child to learn. I’m not the one learning. I’m the one causing learning to happen. My child is the one learning.

tlhIngan Hol vIghojmoH. I teach the language of a Klingon.

Okay, things just got weird. I am still causing learning to happen. The language of a Klingon is not learning. Okay, so unlike every other verb suffix, {-moH} is not merely modifying the verb in a way that can be explained by any standard, boilerplate text. It is opening up new opportunities for nouns to be objects of the verb. You don’t need no stinkin’ Type 5 suffix here. You can just put two completely different kinds of nouns in the role of the “object” of the verb. The object can be the direct object of causation, or the direct object of the action being caused.

The object of {ghojmoH} can either be the one who learns, or the topic or skill being learned. If only one of these is stated, these two potential objects are on equal footing and neither needs a Type 5 suffix to explain its relationship to the subject. Basically the relationship between the subject and object is grammatically ambiguous in a way that does not exist elsewhere in the language. This happens to every verb, whenever {-moH} is attached to it, and it doesn’t happen to any verbs without {-moH}, that we know of, anyway.

[{jatlh} comes close, since its object apparently can be either the utterance or the person addressed. Again, a beautiful division between two similar verbs {jatlh} and {ja’} divided by the type of appropriate object, later watered down so that either verb can have either object type.]

Furthermore, if both of these nouns appear, so that I say, “I teach Klingon to my child,” then one of the two nouns acquires the requirement of a Type 5 suffix. Oddly enough, it’s not the topic of the learning. It’s the little kid doing the learning. {puqwI’vaD tlhIngan Hol vIghojmoH.}

Personally, I would have strongly preferred {tlhIngan Hol’e’ puqwI’ vIghojmoH.} That would have been more obviously understandable to new people learning the language, and it would not have required a reevaluation of masses of earlier canon, especially for stative verbs with {-moH}.

The implication is that if I say {HIqwIj vIbuy’moH}, this is sort of like the prefix trick played on the explicit version, which would be {HIqwIjvaD jIbuy’moH.} Note that nouns with {-vaD} are not grammatically functioning as “objects”, and so the verb prefix would more properly be {bI-} than {vI-}.

Okrand’s answer to this is that you never explicitly add the {-vaD} and change the verb prefix if you only have one object. You only pull out {-vaD} if you need to express both objects, just to disambiguate what would otherwise be the uncommon occurrence of two different object nouns that might be misinterpreted as a noun-noun possessive/genitive construction.

This suggests that Type 5 suffixes are in some cases optional, merely needed to disambiguate two different kinds of objects… except that you can’t generalize on this idea, because it only happens when you add {-moH} to the verb.

… and so…

I understand how it works. I just don’t like it.

It would be interesting if Okrand felt that {tlhIngan Hol’e’ puqwI’ vIghojmoH} were an equally grammatical expression of {puqwI’vaD tlhIngan Hol vIghojmoH.} In that case, Type 5 suffixes could more generally be optional clarifiers as to the type of objects that a particular noun satisfied, when there are more than one object to be used simultaneously with a verb. I could have dealt with that, since it would then require less reevaluating all those examples of stative verbs with {-moH} added.

But he didn’t do that. Somehow, {-vaD} and {-moH} have this special relationship, unlike any other two affixes in the language. {-vaD} is the only Type 5 noun suffix to disambiguate multiple objects of a verb with {-moH}, and {-moH} is the only suffix that uses a Type 5 noun suffix to disambiguate two objects of the resulting verb construction.

That’s just a little too special for me.

I know I’m wrong to feel this way. That’s okay. I get used to people here telling me that I’m wrong. It happens a lot. I often agree.

I’m wrong.

Move along. This is not the grammarian you are looking for.

charghwI’ vaghnerya’ngan

rInpa’ bomnIS be’’a’ pI’.

> On Feb 19, 2019, at 12:02 PM, Lieven L. Litaer <levinius at gmx.de> wrote:
> the tuQmoH problem also exists in German: you can tuQmoH a piece of clothing, but also tuQmoH a person.
> Each time when my wife says "could you please dress the baby" I love to answer "I don't don't know if it fits me."
> I think that doesn't translate well into English...
>> This reminds me of a tailor or seamstress, or perhaps a squire, the servant of a knight one of whose jobs it is to dress him. In the same way that {tlhIngan Hol ghojmoHwI'} is a person who teaches Klingon to unspecified people, a {HIp tuQmoHwI'} is a person who puts uniforms on unspecified people.
> Have you heard of the German word "Zitronenfalter"? It's definitely not a folder of lemons :-)
> -- 
> Lieven L. Litaer
> aka the "Klingon Teacher from Germany"
> http://www.klingonisch.de
> http://www.klingonwiki.net/En/PortalVocabulary
> _______________________________________________
> tlhIngan-Hol mailing list
> tlhIngan-Hol at lists.kli.org
> http://lists.kli.org/listinfo.cgi/tlhingan-hol-kli.org

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