[tlhIngan Hol] Does Da necessarily require an object ?

Jeffrey Clark jmclark85 at gmail.com
Wed Mar 6 08:26:53 PST 2019


Let me try rephrasing, and stepping away from formal syntactical terminology — since I don’t have adequate command of it.

Also, I’m not questioning what canon says, I’m wonder “how” it came to be this way.

When one “understands”, there must always be something (however broad, vague, or abstract) that is being understood; even if the thing being understood isn’t explicitly mentioned, it is implicitly communicated through context. This is the case for many things in English (including: “understand”, “pay attention”, “behave”).

While I understand that {jIyaj} is a valid and canon construction, it seems counterintuitive to me that Klingons would not say {vIyaj}, since there is always an “it” (implied or explicitly stated) that is being understood. Changing it to {jIyaj} seems like it would have real meaning (explicitly denying the presence of an object — the thing being understood), unlike English where the object is left implied by context.


Sent from my iPhone

> On Mar 6, 2019, at 11:02, SuStel <sustel at trimboli.name> wrote:
>> On 3/6/2019 10:31 AM, Jeffrey Clark wrote:
>> I would argue that from a logical/semantic standpoint, “understand” has no real intransitive meaning.
> What is "intransitive meaning"? Intransitive is a syntactic property that means the verb has no object. If you look up understand in a dictionary, you will find both transitive and intransitive senses. It just means it has no direct object.
> Logically, when one understands, one understands something. But grammar isn't about logic; it's about rules of communication.       The rules say that if you don't mention the thing being acted upon, the verb is considered intransitive, and there's no problem doing this.
>> The intransitive use is simply a shorthand for an implied transitive meaning. While “I understand” might an intransitive use syntactically, the actual idea being communicated by the statement is “I understand this thing/concept/abstraction/whatever”, which is a transitive concept.
> This is not how the grammars of English or Klingon work. Concepts are not transitive or intransitive; verbs are.
>> It seems to me that there is no reason for Klingon to follow the syntactic shorthand that English does of “intranstivising” transitive verbs as a shorthand. {jIyaj} doesn’t save any time to say over {vIyaj}, and {vIyaj} is more semantically accurate — since there is an “it” that is being understood.
> Using verbs intransitively is not just about shorthand or saving time. It lets us say things that are more general than a specific object would allow. We don't have to know or mention what we're understanding or paying attention to or killing or eating or singing in order to do those things.
> And this is not murky territory in Klingon. It's explained to us, it's demonstrated for us, and it's used all the time in canon. It was settled before anybody thought to ask the question. The only thing we don't know for sure is, are there any verbs that must mention an object? I don't tend to think so.
> Here's a possible scenario for an object-less Da. The captain likes his officers to show the right attitude on the job...
> K1: QuchwI' vIDataH, yoHwI' DataH torgh, 'ej SeywI' DataH matlh.
> K2: maj. yonba' HoD.
> K1: maDataH ghorgh 'e' wImevlaH?
> K2: peDataH! SuDataH 'e' yImevQo'! pup yaSpu'Daj 'e' poQ HoD.
> -- 
> SuStel
> http://trimboli.name
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