[tlhIngan Hol] Topic

Daniel Dadap daniel at dadap.net
Mon Mar 4 06:26:00 PST 2019

> On Mar 4, 2019, at 07:27, Will Martin <willmartin2 at mac.com> wrote:
> But when you look at canon, Okrand puts {-‘e’} on nouns that are subjects and objects and are placed in the word order accordingly. {nuqDaq ‘oH puchpa’’e’?} That’s not the topic. That’s the subject. {De’’e’ vItlhapnISpu’.} While the placement COULD be explained as topic, the verb prefix {vI-} makes it obvious that this is the object of the verb. His translation, “I needed to get the INFORMATION,” makes it clear that this is emphatic, not topic.

I don’t know if these uses are incompatible with an understanding of 'e' as a topic marker. For one, I don’t think of pronominal “to be” constructions in Klingon as having subjects and objects, since there isn’t, strictly speaking, a verb in them. {nuqDaq 'oH puchpa''e'} could just as easily be understood as “as for the bathroom, where (is) it?” {De''e' vItlhapnISpu'} could be an example of {De'} serving as both a topic *and* an object. “As for the information, I needed to get the information.” 

As you seem to be hypothesizing, yes, perhaps it is by the means of topicalizing a noun that already has an existing syntactic role that it becomes emphasized, as the description of {-'e'} in TKD where the {De''e' vItlhaonISpu'} example comes up states.

Interestingly, in Morskan, the topic marker isn’t needed for constructions like {nuqDaq 'o puchpa'}, which frees it up for use as an emphatic marker once again, using whatever normal means {-'e'} has of emphasizing a noun rather than (or in addition to?) topicalizing it.

> Also, there is no grammatical explanation for how a noun could have a Type 5 suffix and yet its position in the sentence is not dictated by the rule that nouns with Type 5 suffix must appear before the object of the verb to which it applies. Obviously, there’s something going on here that Okrand has not described well.

I’m still in the process of learning the various nuances of the grammar, so I’m not familiar with this rule about nouns with syntactic marker suffixes needing to precede the object of a verb, and I couldn’t quickly find it. Could you point out where it’s given, please?

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