[tlhIngan Hol] doubly {-meH}ed nouns

Jeffrey Clark jmclark85 at gmail.com
Tue May 14 17:29:28 PDT 2019

Sent from my iPhone

> On May 14, 2019, at 18:11, Will Martin <willmartin2 at mac.com> wrote:
> It may be possible to nest purpose or relative clauses, but we’ve never seen examples and I doubt there’s a way to do this that isn’t too complex to reliably parse. Add that it’s unnecessary. There are ways of doing what you want done without pushing the grammar so far.


I was asking for clarification on the point based on those “minute nuances” SuStel was describing. Please keep in mind that you likely have over a decade of experience beyond some of us newer speakers (and I’d be willing to bet I’m in the top 3 newest speakers posting to the list — if not the newest speaker that posts). Things that are obvious to you now may not be to a new speaker, especially since many of us are self-taught to varying degrees and may or may not have the benefit of any formal linguistics training (I know technical linguistic terms have tripped me up on more than one occasion, and I’ve seen it happen to others — I too understood “marked” as meaning “emphasised” in a very recent thread until someone was kind enough to hurl a spear). 

Perhaps it’s because of my discipline, working where I do in the arts I’m hardwired to push boundaries and poke theories and systems until they break — it’s pretty much my job — and many of those things that I work with centre around information processing and human expression; so language as a means of expressing oneself is interesting to me. Finding the varied ways one /can/ express themselves is interesting to me, discovering the nuances between them is interesting to me. Maybe I push too hard, if so, I apologise; but the goal is to learn, and learn the diversity of expression of the language because expression in Klingon is interesting.

We shouldn’t do it because Okrand hasn’t given us a form for it. I agree that it’s a bad idea based on the limited information, I’m not arguing that. We have no precedent for nesting relative clauses. However I disagree about our ability to: we are cognitively capable of parsing long and complicated sentences with many, many, many labyrinthian clauses, anyone who has read old-style academic writing (especially in English or German — doubly so English translations of German) can attest to this. There is no reason we could not follow nested -meH clauses /if/ we had clarification from Okrand on how their order of presentation determined their logical order. It seems difficult since this is a second language for all of us and we have a lack of clarity on what the ordering of clauses really implies (as I understand it). However, we could use other forms to get the point across, as you say, but those have their own nuances and meanings — a change in syntax usually results in a change in semantics, even if the information is the same; it’s basic semiotics, change the symbol and the meaning shifts. The more diversity we discover in a language the more freedom we have to communicate beyond factual statements.

Intuitively, one would think the integrating purpose would come first, followed by each utilitarian purpose in order of increasing immediacy; however, as has been pointed out (and the purpose of my initial question), we don’t know. And maybe Klingons just don’t do this: we don’t know that either.

But, none of that is my core question/point.

I question the current understanding of the complementary and/or causal relationship between two -meH clauses separated by a conjunction. I disagree with SuStel that the difference between the two cases (causal and complementary) is trivial from a semantic point of view: I think it is quite important to distinguish between purposes that have a dominant/subordinate relationship between one another, and purposes that are equal (“killing two birds with one stone” so to speak). Maybe there’s more canon that clarifies that someone can reference beyond the “Romulan Hunter-Killer”?

In mayqel’s suggestion, the clauses seemed to have a causal relationship: the processes is to help the chancellor train, and that training is designed to cause thinning. The reference quoted using {‘ej} seems (to me) to promote an equality between the causes: the process is to help the chancellor training (his bat’leth fighting, his disruptor aim, whatever), and it also causes thinning. This points to the original clarification I was seeking: how we disambiguate between them.

My sense (admitting my inexperience) is that the {‘ej} use should be avoided for statements of a causal relationship (like mayqel’s, if my interpretation of his statement is correct). As you posit, there are more clear ways of indicating the relationship between the process, the training, and the thinning; however, (and ironically) a nested -meH statement would end up being more compact in this case; and I feel that it would signal the causal link more strongly.

{QangvaD langmoHmeH qeqmeH mIw vInab} — (invalid/questionable construction) “For the chancellor I devised a process for training for thinning.” Or more naturally: “I devised a thinning training process for the chancellor.”

{langmeH Qang qeqnIS, ghaHvaD qeqmeH mIw vInab} — “For the chancellor to be thin, he needs to train. I’ve devised a process for training for him.”

Although, {mI’meH mIw} might be better for fitness.

Thus, my question and the point of clarification I’ve been seeking is one of disambiguation between possible meanings of a construction; so that I might better understand its proper use — and if any alternate constructions/uses shake out, that’s vIl je.

meHghem ‘oH meHghem ngoQ’e’

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