[tlhIngan Hol] Verbs of measure

Daniel Dadap daniel at dadap.net
Wed Mar 27 07:12:18 PDT 2019

> On Mar 27, 2019, at 05:54, De'vID <de.vid.jonpin at gmail.com> wrote:
> If we accept the fiction that KGT simply describes Klingon as it's actually used, then it's hard to interpret the use of {-taH} and {-jaj} together, without being called out, in the section on variations in grammar other than as an indication that it's become unremarkable in the time of Gowron. It may be something that grammarians fume over, but {wo' DevtaHjaj ghawran} also seems to be something people normally say.

Knowing now that {tlhIngan maH! taHjaj!} was originally intended to be {tlhIngan maHtaHjaj!}, it actually makes a lot more sense with the TKD-grammar-violating combination of {-taH} and {-jaj}. The rule is still there obviously, but I found your analysis on why it was possibly a mistake interesting, and I don’t think that anybody could argue that the meaning of {-taH} combined with {-jaj} would be unclear, if somebody uses those suffixes together either because they forgot the rule, never knew about it, or are intentionally violating it.

The description of the restriction in TKD seems to support your guess that the implications of replacing tense with aspect weren’t fully thought through:

> This suffix is used to express a desire or wish on the part of the speaker that something take place in the future. When it is used, there is never a Type 7 aspect suffix.

If we re-read “Type 7 aspect suffix” as “Type 7 tense suffix”, imagining that the Type 7 suffixes originally indicated tense, then the rule makes perfect sense for the reasons you describe. This suffix is explicitly for wishing that something takes place in the future, so there’s no need to indicate tense on top of that. The way it actually is written, though, seems a bit arbitrary (not that rules of grammar have any obligation to seem non-arbitrary).

Contrast with the restriction that {-vIS} must always be used with {-taH}. This one does look like it’s actually grounded in sensible principles with aspect, not tense, specifically in mind. Naturally, for something to happen while something else is happening, that something else needs to be happening on a continuous basis. Yet this rule gets broken, too, in lines like {QamvIS Hegh qaq law' torvIS yIn qaq puS}. (IIUC this was because the line got edited down to assist actors that were struggling with the Klingon, so that doesn’t really seem like a good example to emulate, whereas contrasting {wo' DevtaHjaj ghawran} with {wo' ghawran DevtaHjaj} in KGT to illustrate how verb-final toast syntax works had no production reason to ignore established grammar rules about allowed suffix combinations.)

More information about the tlhIngan-Hol mailing list