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

nIqolay Q niqolay0 at gmail.com
Tue Oct 15 10:56:28 PDT 2019


On Tue, Oct 15, 2019 at 12:57 PM Will Martin <willmartin2 at mac.com> wrote:

> 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.
>

I meant "can have no subject" as in "it is possible to have no subject",
not "it is not possible to have a subject". That is, I don't think it's
quite right to say that it's possible for a {-meH} verb modifying a noun to
have no subject at all.

On Tue, Oct 15, 2019 at 1:06 PM SuStel <sustel at trimboli.name> wrote:

> If your third person happens to be unmarked, that's not terribly
> surprising. I don't think something like *ghojmeH taj* has the verb in
> the third person. I don't think it has any person at all. It just so
> happens that the unmarked verb with no person is identical to the verb in
> the third person.
>

Unless I've missed something, the only situation where we know that a verb
is considered to have no subject and to not be in any person is when it's
used with {-ghach}. Given the framework of the language as we currently
know it, it makes more sense to me to interpret {ghojmeH taj} as having an
impersonal third-person verb, rather than a subjectless quasi-infinitive.
We know that Klingon has impersonal third-person verbs that are still
conceived of as having unspecified subjects: {SIS}, {taH pagh taHbe'.}
We know that some noun-modifying {-meH} verbs have explicit subjects:
{jIpaSqu'mo' narghpu' qaSuchmeH 'eb.}
We know that in other instances where English or other languages usually
use infinitives that Klingon still requires a subject, explicit or
otherwise, like in sentences with {'e'} or {neH}. E.g. "I want to drink" is
translated with an explicit subject for "drink": {jItlhutlh vIneH.}
It's possible that some {-meH} verbs modifying nouns are another exception
to the "verbs have subjects and persons" pattern like {-ghach}, but Maltz
hasn't said so one way or the other. Until he does, I don't see a reason to
make an exception to this pattern just for some uses of {-meH}, when the
existing pattern can handle those uses just fine as impersonal third-person
verbs.
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