[tlhIngan Hol] can the object of the {-meH} be the subject of what follows it ?

Will Martin willmartin2 at mac.com
Tue Oct 15 09:57:48 PDT 2019


You say, “I’m not sure it’s quite right to say that a {-meH} verb modifying a noun can have no subject.” 

That might be why I quite carefully never said that. You are arguing with a straw man.

charghwI’ vaghnerya’ngan

rInpa’ bomnIS be’’a’ pI’.




> On Oct 15, 2019, at 12:46 PM, nIqolay Q <niqolay0 at gmail.com> wrote:
> 
> On Tue, Oct 15, 2019 at 11:09 AM Will Martin <willmartin2 at mac.com <mailto:willmartin2 at mac.com>> wrote:
> Many times, you will encounter {-meH} verbs that modify a noun with no subject or object in the phrase. This is as close to an infinitive (like “to learn”, which has no subject) as Klingon has. It’s really the only time that a verb in a well-formed Klingon sentence has no subject; not even an indefinite subject. No subject at all. There are instances where such a verb may have a subject and perhaps even an object, but if the verb with {-meH} is modifying a noun, it often has neither subject nor object.
> 
> I'm not sure it's quite right to say that a {-meH} verb modifying a noun can have no subject. Apparently it's not common for noun-purpose verbs to use {-lu'}, but there's still an implied, vague subject: somebody is learning from a {ghojmeH taj}. The subject is an unspecified person or thing, so there's just the third-person null prefix. 
> 
> It's similar to how the infinitive "to be" was translated as {taH pagh taHbe'} (KGT, p. 194):
> There is a story, perhaps apocryphal, of a non-Klingon actor who attempted to play the lead in the original Klingon version of Shakespeare's <Hamlet>  but was shouted off the stage when he began the famous soliloquy by saying, {taQ pagh taQbe'} ("To be weird or not to be weird"), rather than the correct {taH pagh taHbe'} ("To be or not to be"; literally, "[one] continues or [one] does not continue").
> The gloss shows there's an implied [one] as the subject of the pseudo-infinitive {taH}. I assume the reason it's in brackets is because there's nothing explicit in the sentence marking the subject as indefinite. (I don't know why there's no {-lu'}, but I'm not going to argue with the Bard. I would like to ask Maltz about {-lu'} and {-meH} sometime.) This suggests that simple verbs, when they're used in the places other languages might use infinitives, are still conceived of as having implied subjects.
> 
> (I recall reading a while back somewhere that some languages, including many Native American ones, don't have infinitive forms, and instead use other constructions like an unmarked third person form, and I thought "Aha, that must be where Klingon gets it from.")
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