[tlhIngan Hol] And now..

Will Martin willmartin2 at mac.com
Thu May 30 06:51:25 PDT 2019


I applaud this very clear explanation of the “don’t split infinitives” rule, why it exists, and why English speakers commonly ignore it, and why it has nothing to do with Klingon grammar.

Well done, sir.

The only thing I’d add is that the closest thing to an infinitive in Klingon is a verb with {-meH}. Sometimes a verb with {-meH} does have a subject, but it often doesn’t, especially in common noun phrases like {ghojmeH taj}.

And, it’s worth noting that Okrand’s glosses do not use the infinitive form on the English side, when most dictionaries would. The definition of {mach} is “small, be small”, not “small, to be small”. {ghoj} is “learn”, not “to learn”. I’m sure Okrand did that on purpose, to make the point that with rare exception, Klingon does not have an infinitive form for its verbs.

charghwI’ vaghnerya’ngan

rInpa’ bomnIS be’’a’ pI’.




> On May 29, 2019, at 9:28 AM, SuStel <sustel at trimboli.name> wrote:
> 
> On 5/29/2019 9:06 AM, mayqel qunen'oS wrote:
>> ok, now I understand what "to split infinitives" is in english.
>> 
>> but how could I do that in klingon (even if I wanted to) ?
> Klingon doesn't have infinitives, so you can't split one.
> 
> A verb is called finite if it has a subject. The subject might be elided in some languages, but it's still identifiable.
> 
> An infinitive is a verb that has no subject. I don't mean an indefinite subject like Klingon -lu' gives, but actually no subject. A mission to explore has the verb to explore without a subject: no one is the subject of the exploring.
> 
> In English we usually conjugate infinitives with to in front of them. The full infinitive form is not just explore; it's to explore.
> 
> Long ago, English grammarians started analyzing English according to the rules of Latin, which was largely believed to be a nearly perfectly formed language. For instance, Latin noun cases would be applied to English nouns, even though English nouns rarely exhibit case. The rules of good grammar, they claimed, must obey the rules of Latin.
> 
> Latin verbs have their own infinitive conjugations. You don't add anything like a to to the word. The Latin for the present tense to read, for instance is legere. Since it's a single word, there's no way you could possibly put, say, an adverb inside the verb. It has to go before or after. But in English, you CAN put an adverb between to and read: to quickly read.
> 
> Nonono! shouted the grammarians. Latin's grammar is perfect, so you must be doing it wrong. Don't split infinitives with other words! Make English work the same as Latin!
> 
> This argument is nonsense. English quite happily splits infinitives, and there are times when it is preferable to do so. To boldly go sounds much more dramatic than to go boldly or boldly to go.
> 
> Another such Latin-is-perfect rule is the rule that you can't end a sentence with a preposition. Of course you can end a sentence with a preposition.
> 
> But even today you'll still find English teachers and grammarians who insist that you mustn't split infinitives or end sentences with prepositions, or any number of other rules that were imposed unnaturally on the language by overzealous grammarians with platforms.
> 
> Back to Klingon. It has no infinitive conjugation. Once in a while we'll use a purpose clause in an infinitive way (e.g., ghojmeH taj knife for learning, where the verb has no subject, explicit or implied), but there is no special form of the verb to do this and no unique construction that requires a verb be infinitive.
> 
> So even if you WERE worried about splitting infinitives in Klingon, it has no infinitives for you to split.
> 
> -- 
> SuStel
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