[tlhIngan Hol] X which are not Y

Will Martin willmartin2 at mac.com
Fri Mar 22 13:00:39 PDT 2019

I was completely on board with this, until I thought about it a little deeper. Then it got weird, until I though even deeper, and now, it all makes sense, and I completely agree. You can skip the rest of this, unless you are interested in a thought experiment.

In terms of grammatical construction, yes, it appears to be completely correct, following all the grammatical rules we know. In this case {-‘e’} is doing two things:

1. It is doing what it always does in sentences like {tlhIngan ghaH Qanqor’e’}. We can argue about what the {-‘e’} is doing there, but we can’t really argue about whether or not it should be there. It just should. That’s how this kind of sentence always works. It’s like {-tu’lu’}. You can’t mess with it. Just do it. Don’t think too much about it.

2. It is marking the explicit head noun of a relative clause when the verb defining the relative clause has both a subject and an object. {puq’e’ qIppu’bogh loD Sov be’.} The woman knows the child who was hit by the man. {put qIppu’bogh loD’e’ Sov be’.} The woman knows the man who hit the child. Fine so far.

Toss these two into a barrel, toss in some seasonings, and you get {yIHmey bIHbe’bogh Ha’DIbaHmey’e’ vImaS.} I prefer animals which are not tribbles. No problem.


Okay, I completely agree that this is correct, now that I’ve fully explored what is going on here.

The issue is that the underlying relative clause is false as a main clause — {yIHmey bIHbe’ Ha’DIbaHmey’e’}. Animals are not tribbles.

Well, most of them are not tribbles, but…

What is a subset of what?

Going back to {tlhIngan ghaH Qanqor’e’}, the final noun with {-‘e’} is a subset of the first noun, or is the unity of the first noun, as in {SoSwI’ ghaH ‘elva’’e’}. You never say {Qanqor ghaH tlhIngan’e’} unless you are speaking about a specific Klingon who happens to be Krankor. The word with {-‘e’} is never the larger set of the two.

But when you negate the pronoun-as-verb-to-be, in a relative clause you reverse roles of set and subset. Clearly {Ha’DIbaHmey} is the set, and {yIHmey} is the subset. You are negating the subset from the set, resulting in “the other subset”. In other words, there’s a subset of animals that are tribbles and a different subset of animals that are not tribbles.

My confusion was that I wanted to ask how you would express the other side of the two options in example 2 above without thinking it through. At first glimpse, you can’t move the {-‘e’}, so you’d have to reverse the two nouns… blah, blah, blah, but what would I be saying? I prefer tribbles that are not animals?

But all tribbles ARE animals. Huh?


Okay, so I slowly come to understand the oddness of a negative “to-be” relative clause at this new, deeper level.

charghwI’ vaghnerya’ngan

rInpa’ bomnIS be’’a’ pI’.

> On Mar 22, 2019, at 11:52 AM, SuStel <sustel at trimboli.name> wrote:
> On 3/22/2019 11:47 AM, nIqolay Q wrote:
>> On Thu, Mar 21, 2019 at 8:17 PM Christa Hansberry <chransberry at gmail.com <mailto:chransberry at gmail.com>> wrote:
>> If I wanted to say, for example, "animals which are not tribbles", how would I do it? I don't think *yIHmey bIHbe'bogh Ha'DIbaHmey('e'?)* would be grammatical... but is there a good way to say it? 
>> Why wouldn't it be grammatical? Pronouns-as-copula can take -be': loD Quch jIHbe'. They can take -bogh: paq'batlh has ghaHtaHbogh. yIHmey bIHbe'bogh Ha'DIbaHmey'e' seems completely fine to me.
> Note that the -'e' is not optional here.
> Not only is it grammatical, but I don't see any reason not to say it either, if it best expresses what you mean.
> -- 
> SuStel
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