[tlhIngan Hol] Can we say {qarbe''a'} ?

SuStel sustel at trimboli.name
Tue May 7 14:08:54 PDT 2019

On 5/7/2019 4:39 PM, Jeffrey Clark wrote:
> A point I tried to make in my previous reply was that a use of the 
> irregular {qarbe’’a’} is unusual, and would draw attention to it’s use 
> over the more normal {qar’a’}. You see this tactic used frequently as 
> a signalling device for specific intentionallities in academic 
> writing, precisely because it calls attention to itself.

And that's fine.

> I maintain that it is perfectly grammatical, and parseable, and — in 
> the right context — desirable (depending on the intention of the 
> speaker). If we follow your logic of “Okrand never used it that way” 
> too far, we can easily arrive at an extreme of only using sentences 
> that Okrand used… but, why bother having grammatical rules if we don’t 
> allow ourselves room to communicate using those rules? Or should we 
> not acknowledge and discuss the diversity available in expressing 
> thoughts and the subtleties inherent in making those choices?

You have incorrectly applied my logic. I do not say "if Okrand didn't 
say it, we can't say it." I say "Okrand gave us a special, 
not-reproducible-by-other-rules feature of the language, so when using 
that feature as that feature, use it the way he gave us." There is no 
slippery slope here.

I have no problem with analyzing the word *qarbe''a'.* It means 
something, and we can discuss its meaning.

What I do have a problem with is treating *qarbe''a'* like an 
alternative of *qar'a',* which we have no evidence of. I know how mayqel 
posts: he tries to probe the limits of the language. He's used to asking 
negative tag questions in his native and learned languages, and he's 
trying to do the same in Klingon. And so far as we know, the tag 
question formula we're given does not include negatives.

Maybe it does and we just haven't been told yet. But the variable 
placement of *qar'a'* in a sentence shows that it is not simply the 
sentence *qar'a'* in a grammatically normal position.

> If someone asked me if I already ate lunch. The expected answer would 
> be some variation of “I ate.” We tend to use simple tenses for simple 
> questions. However, if the reply comes back “I have eaten.” Despite 
> meaning the same thing, by changing the tense/mood of the verb, I’ve 
> signalled something semantically — the unusualness of the response 
> calls attention to itself, even if it conveys the same information. 
> This is why we recognise connotative and denotative meanings of things 
> — the semantic implications of a particular phrasing can have 
> implications beyond their literal meanings and their functional 
> equivalency.
> So, {qar’a’} and {qarbe’’a’} are functionally equivalent, and {qar’a’} 
> is the expected form;

No. *qar'a'* is a special case that's given to us; *qarbe'* has not been 
given to us. You can say *De' Sov qar'a' HoD*/The captain knows the 
information, right?/ and this is impossible to construct with 
*qarbe''a'.* The two words are not functionally equivalent.

> Finally, Okrand using the negative in the explanation for the 
> idiomatic use of {qar’a’} is irrelevant since “isn’t that so” is also 
> an idiomatic expression. Just because English uses the negative 
> doesn’t mean Klingon does.

That's why I brought it up: people were getting hung up on the negative 
tag question in English, so I showed how even Okrand equated /isn't it 
right/ with *qar'a'* and not *qarbe''a'.* How English translates it is 
irrelevant. That was the point.


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