[tlhIngan Hol] According to Matthew chapter 1 (quotations punctuated)

Rhona Fenwick qeslagh at hotmail.com
Sun Jun 2 07:46:27 PDT 2019

ghItlhpu' Hugh, jatlhpu':
> 'a nuq 'oS «chel» 'e' vISovbejbe'.

jangpu' mayqel, jatlhpu':
> I'm afraid I don't understand this sentence. You're using a question
> as object, which is an illegal construction.

jang Quvar, jatlh:
> I'm not sure, but I think that {nuq} forms an exception. We have only
> one example from the TalkNow Software {nuq Datlhutlh DaneH} but
> we have no explanation on how we can expand that. But I think that
> Hugh's sentence is all fine.

I disagree. nuq doesn't form an exception; I think the distinction between the two formations is of a different nature entirely. The crucial difference is that nuq Datlhutlh DaneH still asks a question: "What do you want to drink?". Conversely, Hugh's ??nuq 'oS «chel» 'e' vISovbejbe' presumably has the intended meaning of "I do not know for sure what «chel» means": this is a statement, not a question, using nuq as a relative instead of an interrogative pronoun, and we don't know if that's possible (based on a continued absence of such structures in canon since 1998, I suspect it's unlikely). I believe the TNK example is direct counterevidence for such a reading; if anything, the TNK examples suggests that QAO structures are to be read as questions: nuq 'oS «chel» 'e' vISovbejbe' should mean "What do I not certainly believe «chel» means?".

Of course, how far we can expand the structure is another question. Something like 'Iv vIleghpu' 'e' DaHar? "when do you believe that I saw it?" is a relatively simple extension of the TNK example. But more speculatively, would ghorgh jIvem DaneH? mean "When do you want me to wake up?"? (Subjectively, I think so; semantically, jIvem ghorgh DaneH might rather be "When do you [start to] want that I wake up?" - admittedly, a hard distinction to express cleanly in English). And would "How did you hear that he died?" be ?chay' Heghpu' 'e' DaQoy? or ?Heghpu' chay' 'e' DaQoy? (I suspect both may be possible - I can't think of another plausible reading for the former that retains a fundamentally interrogative nature.)

In short, though, I don't believe there are any canon grounds for QAO constructions with a declarative meaning. I think a better way to express Hugh's idea is a relative clause: qech'e' 'oSbogh «chel» vISovbejbe' "I don't know for sure the idea that «chel» represents". Or maybe even just (mu') «chel» vIyajbejbe' "I do not certainly understand (the word) «chel»". :)

QeS 'utlh
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