[tlhIngan Hol] suffix numbering

Chris O'Regan christopher.oregan at gmail.com
Tue Nov 26 04:08:15 PST 2019

I thought I would try to offer a response to QIDwI' on the question of 'why
are the suffixes' necessary from my perspective as someone who is currently
studying for Level 1 of the KLCP.

I agree that knowing the suffix numbering is probably the least important
part of the test. That said, I don't feel like it's arbitrary or there is
no point to it - I feel like learning the order has helped me learn
important rules. I have been trying to learn them by rote with some
success. I appreciate learning by rote is not always fun but I feel like
it's sometimes necessary in learning any language.

I agree with SuStel's point that someone acquiring a second language is
going to have to learn more explicit grammar than a native speaker. It's
probably impossible for a native English speaker to learn Klingon without
being explicitly familiar with the grammatical concepts of 'subject' and
'object' for example.

If I was a native speaker of Russian, I wouldn't have to know the
terminology of the 'dative' case, I would already know how it worked
intuitively without having to name it. However as a non-native speaker,
when I am learning Russian I have to learn to recognise all the case
endings and learn what circumstances it is used in. I think it's fair that
a test of my Russian knowledge as a learner would be to give an example
noun and say 'what case is this noun in?' Because case is important to
learning Russian, explicitly knowing the names of the cases helps a lot.

Learning the suffix types gives a learner a few advantages: it tells me
that (e.g.) the suffixes -mo', -vaD, -Daq, -vo' and -'e' all have something
in common. It tells me what suffixes I can put on the first noun of a
noun-noun construction. It groups the suffixes together conceptually so
that I'm not tempted to say something like 'that friend of mine' as
**junvetlhwI' or whatever. Not to say that as a learner I couldn't come up
with strategies to do all these things without learning the type numbers;
but learning the type numbers makes it slightly easier. Learning a language
is about learning the patterns, and sometimes being able to name the
patterns helps, both in keeping them straight in your own head and in
simply being able to talk about them with other learners.

Anyway, this is probably not anything new to the po'wI'pu' on this list. I
just feel like it's wrong to describe learning the type numbers as
arbitrary - they are useful.


Message: 18
> Date: Mon, 25 Nov 2019 15:21:48 -0500
> From: SuStel <sustel at trimboli.name>
> To: tlhingan-hol at lists.kli.org
> Subject: Re: [tlhIngan Hol] Suffix-number questions in the KLCP test
> Message-ID: <64d7a278-0d0d-db22-e128-5f201618276c at trimboli.name>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"; Format="flowed"
> On 11/25/2019 2:54 PM, Will Martin wrote:
> > 1. If you are so good at knowing what suffix follows what, then it
> > shouldn?t be so difficult for you to map out which numbered suffix it
> > is. You know most of the suffixes, and you know how many Types there
> > are (5 for nouns, 9 for verbs, plus rovers). Pull out a scrap of paper
> > and doodle them out. It?s not that hard.
> He's not complaining that he can't figure it out; he's complaining that
> knowing the numbers isn't necessary to speaking the language?
> If you learn Klingon through Duolingo, for instance, you may not even be
> aware that suffixes have numbers. You may know the suffixes and their
> orders, but you didn't realize they were numbered.
> When I took that test, I had to do exactly what you said: I had
> memorized the word *QaghHommeyHeylIjmo'* so that I would have a map to
> noun suffixes, because I didn't think in terms of numbers; I just felt
> which ones came first. To this day I can't always rattle off noun suffix
> numbers without thinking about them. Learning the numbers has little to
> do with speaking the language.
> > 2. Tests are arbitrary. ALL tests are arbitrary. It?s okay for tests
> > to be arbitrary. If you eliminate one arbitrary part of a test, you?ll
> > just have to replace it with some other arbitrary thing that someone
> > ELSE will object to.
> I object completely to everything you say in this paragraph. Tests are
> not supposed to be arbitrary. Tests are supposed to evaluate your
> knowledge and skill in the given subject. They should be designed to
> expose the ability of the person taking them. Being able to tell whether
> something is a type 1 or type 2 suffix is, as QIDwI' says, no different
> than someone being able to define what a participle is to prove their
> ability to speak English.
> In this point, the KLI tests test knowledge of Klingon grammar, not
> ability to use Klingon.
> > 3. Respect that the people who created these tests did so voluntarily,
> > putting in a lot of time and thought in to what they sincerely thought
> > would help people learn the language well. Complaints like this don?t
> > make them feel good about that positive spirit they put into their
> > sincere effort to give our nerdy little society another helpful
> > resource. Whine too much about this sort of thing and we won?t have
> > any tests, or Wikis or Web sites or mailing lists, for that matter.
> > Appreciate what people do for you and for all of us. So, what resource
> > have YOU created from hours of your own work that you voluntarily
> > offered to the rest of us? Share with us how much you appreciate it
> > when someone complains about how poorly executed your effort was.
> So now you've implied that QIDwI' is disrespectful, whining, and a
> layabout. C'mon. He's tried to present a respectful criticism, and I for
> one think he has a point.
> I happen to think that most anyone learning English as a second language
> is going to learn more grammar than a native English speaker, so someone
> being tested in English as a second language /would/ need to know the
> definition of a participle. A native speaker wouldn't be tested in their
> ability to speak English, so the ability to explain the grammar isn't
> tested anywhere except in an English class that's teaching grammar.
> So ultimately I see the inclusion of suffix numbers on the KLI test as
> parallel to the inclusion of grammar rules in an
> English-as-a-second-language test, so probably appropriate. But I
> appreciate QIDwI''s point. I don't think testing on suffix numbers is
> strictly /necessary./
> > 4. If you are so naturally talented that you can intuitively absorb
> > the language and know all the suffixes in the right order without
> > learning the numbers of the suffix, then why are you bothering to take
> > the test?
> Now you're just being offensive. If you love the Klingon language so
> much, why don't you marry it?
> > A primary reason for creating the test is to give people guidance
> > about what to work on in order to learn the language. If you just know
> > the language like the back of your hand, then you don?t need no
> > stinkin? test.
> If the KLI didn't hand out medals and certification levels for passing
> those tests, then no, he wouldn't need to take them. But it does, and
> students feel a certain pressure to prove themselves, as you yourself
> admit to.
> > I didn?t ask for a special pass on any part of the test. I didn?t ask
> > to be an exception because I was so special.
> >
> > And you shouldn?t, either.
> He's not asking for a special pass or to be an exception. He's
> criticizing the content constructively. If you don't think his criticism
> is valid ? that is, if you have a reason why suffix numbers /should/ be
> taught, say so and have done. If not, stop trying to beat him into
> submission.
> > Just do the extra work and pass the test, or don?t do the work and
> > skip the test. You?ll still be respected here as a full member even if
> > you don?t get to wear the cool little pins.
> I don't see any respect coming from your post.
> --
> SuStel
> http://trimboli.name
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