[tlhIngan Hol] Verbs of measure

Will Martin willmartin2 at mac.com
Tue Mar 26 13:18:46 PDT 2019

I really think you are taking {Do’Ha’} and {qay’be’} and other fossilized, common responses to situations too seriously. It’s like {tu’lu’}. It’s fossilized by habit. Somewhere back in history, someone was probably actually thinking when they said this the first time, but since then, everybody has latched onto it as “the thing you say when stuff like this happens”. It’s not like a normal grammatical construction anymore. It’s like “yes” and “no”; an utterance that conveys a thought or feeling that is so familiar to common experience that it immediately conveys, “Yeah, it’s that again.”

{Do’Ha’} is so fossilized as a sentence that it has become an adverbial introduction to other sentences.

Consider {rIntaH} and {qar’a’?}. You can’t look at these and derive general rules about Klingon grammar.

All of these extremely common, brief utterances do not give you evidence of how Klingon grammar generally works. You can’t take a unique, new sentence and treat it as if it were one of these fossilized nuggets of common expression. It’s like the way that natural languages have rules about verbs, and then there are irregular verbs, and it’s always the most common verbs that are irregular. This is so true that as previously common, irregular words become used less often, as they become semi-obsolete, they become regularized.

None of this justifies the general practice of pairing two sentences and representing the first sentence as an unstated pronoun acting as subject of the verb in the second sentence. There is no formal grammar linking pairs of sentences in this way.

We have formal grammar for Sentence As Object linking pairs of sentences. We have formal grammar for pairing directly quoted speech with the sentence with the verb of speech.  We basically pair sentences where the second sentence is {rIntaH} or {qar’a’?}. There are enough of these explicitly described grammatical constructions for pairing sentences to be pretty clear that they didn’t just accidentally omit the one where the first sentence is the subject of the second sentence. That probably didn’t happen.

More than likely, it’s simply not a thing in Klingon. You can’t just make it a thing in Klingon. You might be able to get away with it in conversation every rare now and then, and people will understand you, but if you start peppering your speech with it, it’s going to sound weird and confusing. You are going to seem to be a person who doesn’t quite speak the Empiror’s Klingon. It will be hard for you to attract a mate. Business associates will disassociate from you. Old women will amuse themselves, sniggering gossip with each other about the most recent stupid thing you said.

No one will stop you from implying that the subject of a particular sentence is an unstated pronoun representing the previous sentence. The Constitution guarantees your right to free speech, even if what you say is complete gibberish. Our political system thrives on this.

But I really think that further research into canon examples of a pair of sentences with the first sentence represented by an implied subject pronoun for the verb of the second sentence… is misguided.

charghwI’ vaghnerya’ngan

rInpa’ bomnIS be’’a’ pI’.

> On Mar 26, 2019, at 3:16 PM, nIqolay Q <niqolay0 at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Tue, Mar 26, 2019 at 2:16 PM mayqel qunen'oS <mihkoun at gmail.com <mailto:mihkoun at gmail.com>> wrote:
> So, I took the opportunity of this thread, to express my problem with
> the {tlhIngan maH! taHjaj!}..
> bo'Dagh'a'vetlh Dalo'nISbe'. That phrasing is fine (it's just not intended to be a literal translation) and I would say so even if it had never appeared on screen. I also don't see a problem with bIvoqbe' 'ej muSuj. The fact that you can't use 'e' as a subject doesn't mean there's no way to refer to a previous utterance as the subject. It just means you can't use 'e' to do it. Words like ghu'vam or ngoDvam are one option. The example of Do'Ha' suggests you can also do it with just an unstated third-person subject. 
> (I'm still looking for other examples. qay'be' used as "No problem!" is one; the subject presumably refers to the thing the speaker was just told or asked to do. The use of rIntaH and qar'a' as "auxiliary verbs" are also examples, though they're a little weird grammatically.)
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