[tlhIngan Hol] Topic

SuStel sustel at trimboli.name
Mon Mar 4 10:25:12 PST 2019

On 3/4/2019 12:56 PM, Will Martin wrote:
> juHDaq vIghoS. (Same meaning as {juH vIghoS}, and not grammatically 
> incorrect, though there was a sense that this is typically less 
> preferable to {juH vIghoS}.

Specifically, Okrand says in TKD that "if the locative suffix is used 
with such verbs, the resulting sentence is somewhat redundant, but not 
out-and-out wrong."

> juHDaq ghoS HoD Qanqor. (Okay, so which does this mean? The prefix 
> doesn’t make it clear. It could be either. You need context to 
> disambiguate. I’ve heard from people how much they don’t mind 
> ambiguity that I don’t need reminding again. Still, you have to 
> confess this is messier. Language is messy sometimes. I get that. 
> Meanwhile, that doesn’t make messiness any more noble or preferable.

If you were about to say this sentence you'd realize the ambiguity and 
say it a different way. People do this all the time in any language: 
they say something, realize it's ambiguous, and say it again slightly 
differently so that it's not ambiguous.

K1: *juHDaq ghoS HoD Qanqor.
*K2: *jIyajbe'. juHDaq ghaHtaH'a' HoD Qanqor'e' yIttaHvIS?
*K1: *ghobe'; **juH ghoS HoD Qanqor.*

The solution to the messiness is not to say things like that in the 
first place, and that's what real people do every day.

> Furthermore, I suggest that putting {-Daq} on the direct object of 
> these special verbs probably is technically an error, but it’s such a 
> common error that nobody counts it as an error anymore, very much like 
> omitting the verb prefix {lu-} in the many canon examples that we have 
> where it should have been there, but Okrand obviously forgot, 
> especially the many examples of {tu’lu’} that technically should have 
> been {lutu’lu’}.

You can suggest that, but it directly contradicts what Okrand said about 
it. An error that nobody counts as an error anymore is not an error, and 
it's only an error to you because you've got this mental map of where 
*-Daq* nouns are allowed to go that forbids them from going on objects, 
even though no rule ever said that they can't go on objects.

Dropping of *lu-* /is/ counted as an error, because some Klingons still 
consider it an error. So far as we know, all Klingons recognize it as an 
error, but it gets commonly made. Even the hippest youngster might 
consider it a slip-up:

K3: *DujwIj muSHa'chu' be'pu'! va... DujwIj *lu*muSHa'chu' be'pu'.*

> I do get your point, that topicalization can also possibly occur on a 
> noun that also functions as a subject or object, but my problem, which 
> you don’t show great evidence of acknowledging, is that except for 
> {-‘e’} and the weird case of {-Daq}, in what could arguably be cases 
> or marginal grammatical correctness, we don’t have examples of Type 5 
> suffixed nouns appearing in positions of subject or object. Even 
> {-Daq} never appears on a subject in canon, and it never appears on 
> the object in canon for any verbs EXCEPT for those special ones that 
> assume location when the direct object doesn’t have {-Daq}.

There are no words for which such combinations make sense. That they 
don't appear in other meanings doesn't make the meanings they do appear 
in strange.

I could invent such a word. *foo* means /location of the noun is big./ 
Not that the noun is big, the location of the noun is big. *foo 
qachDaq*/the location of the building is big./ Now, we don't actually 
need such a word, because we have the noun *Daq* that we can use in 
noun-noun constructions *(tIn qach Daq)*, but the point remains that the 
meaning of this is not strange. Klingon doesn't forbid syntactic nouns 
in these positions; it just doesn't /need/ most syntactic nouns in these 
positions. And when it does, it uses them.

> Typically, the addition of Type 5 suffix on a noun DEFINES the noun’s 
> grammatical function, and assigns its place in the word order of the 
> clause in which it participates. This is the thing that is radically 
> different about {-‘e’}, and Okrand makes no effort to describe this in 
> his grammatical description.

There is no rule that says "subject" and "location" are grammatically 
incompatible. It's just that Klingon doesn't need to combine such ideas, 
so it doesn't. There is also no rule that says that "subject" and 
"topic" are grammatically incompatible, and Klingon /does/ allow you to 
combine these roles.

> Yes, he lathers it thickly among canon examples, but there is a place 
> he should have explicitly explained {-‘e’}’s unique rules of use among 
> Type 5 suffixes, and he completely ignored that opportunity or 
> responsibility. We’re just supposed to figure it out on our own from 
> canon.

Which we have done. Again, it's not that *-'e'* works differently; it's 
just that the meaning of *-'e'* may be applied to other syntactic roles 
as well. And the syntactic roles of /location/ and /object/ are also 
known to be compatible under certain circumstances.

> I suggest that there is nothing else in the language that gets more 
> canon examples with more scant and inaccurate grammatical description 
> than {-‘e’}. He either made a mistake in the description or by 
> omission providing an incomplete description, and he’s never made an 
> effort to return to the topic (so to speak) to clarify exactly how 
> {-‘e’} is supposed to work.

While more explanation is always welcome, this is an area that is pretty 
well understood. *-'e'* has meanings including topic, focus, and 
emphasis, and its use in the sentence determines how to interpret it. It 
can be applied to subjects and objects because there is no conflict 
between the meaning of subject or object and topic, focus, or emphasis.


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