[tlhIngan Hol] Verbs of measure

Will Martin willmartin2 at mac.com
Wed Mar 27 09:52:18 PDT 2019

While the case in point may not be an instance of this happening, you should be aware that often rules about when you can’t use a particular suffix originated when for some reason a line in a movie obviously SHOULD have had a particular suffix, but the movie went out without it, so there needs to be grammar to explain why it was missing. In this case, Okrand invents a rule saying you can never use that suffix (because a canon instance forgot to use this suffix when it really should have been there), so now the mistake makes sense.

This is why you aren’t supposed to use a Type 7 suffix in the second verb in Sentence As Object constructions. And this is why I sometimes intentionally break this rule because there is no real language-related reason that you can’t. It was a rule created in order to explain what would have otherwise been a mistake in canon, but hey, languages change, right? So, maybe that rule will eventually go away… and then we can write things a little more clearly without having to follow a rule that exists because of a flubbed movie subtitle…

I do respect that we’re supposed to pretend that there is some other mysterious reason that this is disallowed, since we are all supposed to be living in the fictionalized world where that movie subtitle was actually right…

… but maybe I come from some other Klingon planet or region that speaks a dialect that is exactly like the Empiror’s Klingon, except that in our {Sep}, we can use a Type 7 suffix on the second verb of an SAO construction…

… Yeah. That’s the ticket...

charghwI’ vaghnerya’ngan

rInpa’ bomnIS be’’a’ pI’.

> On Mar 27, 2019, at 10:12 AM, Daniel Dadap <daniel at dadap.net> wrote:
>> 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.)
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