[tlhIngan Hol] Klingon Word of the Day: yItlhHa'

Ed Bailey bellerophon.modeler at gmail.com
Tue Mar 26 08:42:07 PDT 2019

On Tue, Mar 26, 2019 at 2:55 AM De'vID <de.vid.jonpin at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Tue, 26 Mar 2019 at 05:35, Ed Bailey <bellerophon.modeler at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> On Fri, Mar 22, 2019 at 5:28 AM De'vID <de.vid.jonpin at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> If you think about it, while {-Ha'} can mean both "undo" and "do
>>> wrongly", it doesn't really make sense for it to be possible to have both
>>> meanings on the same verb. If it did, then how would I know if you meant
>>> "be unmotivated" or "be wrongly motivated" (be motivated but in a bad way,
>>> or for the wrong reason)? How would I say that the judge has commuted
>>> ({wuqHa'}) my sentence, rather than that he had wrongly decided upon my
>>> sentence (a rather important legal distinction)? Of course, language *can*
>>> be ambiguous, but in this case, I think the dozens of examples from canon
>>> strongly suggests a pattern. I think this is one of those cases where TKD
>>> offers a bare sketch, but we actually have a lot of canon examples to
>>> justifiably derive something which is almost a rule.
>> I like your inferred rules for *-Ha'*, but allow me to suggest a
>> qualification. Perhaps, rather than an unambiguous interpretation, a verb
>> plus *-Ha'* has a strongly preferred interpretation that follows the
>> pattern you lay out. The listener who isn't being deliberately obtuse will
>> reject any other interpretation unless the speaker gives cues to indicate
>> it. This would be rather like intentional ungrammaticality. Wouldn't it
>> make more sense to understand *mu'mey Dajatlhpu'bogh DajatlhHa'laHbe'* as
>> "You cannot *unspeak* words you have spoken" rather than *misspeak*?
> Yes, that would be how I read that sentence.
> That sense of {jatlhHa'} (undo speaking), that is, "taking back one's
> words", reminds me of {nobHa'}, which bothered me when I first encountered
> it. In the {nobHa'} example, {Huch nobHa'bogh verenganpu''e' yIvoqQo'}, the
> giver isn't the one undoing the giving; the recipient is. Before that
> example, I might've used {tlhapHa'} in that sentence instead of {nobHa'},
> or at least been undecided between them.
> I wonder if {jatlhHa'} in the "undo" sense could work in the same way?
> That is, would this make sense: {mu'mey Dajatlhpu'bogh *vI*jatlhHa'laHbe'}?

Yes. I can't unspeak your words. I can misspeak them, of course, so
*unspeak* makes  more sense here.
Consider this: *noymo' mu'meylIj jatlhHa'laH pagh.* Does it mean "because
your words are famous, no one can misspeak them" or "unspeak them"? I'd
suggest that idea expressed covers both meanings, that it's tolerable
ambiguity. Perhaps to the Klingon mind there's a continuum between undoing
and doing wrongly, so *-Ha'* covers both. (The grammatical role of
*mu'meylIj* is also tolerably ambiguous; it makes equal sense as the
subject of *noy* or as the object of *jatlh*.)
So your interpretation of *-Ha'* for each class of verbs is very useful, as
long as it's not applied rigidly.

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