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

SuStel sustel at trimboli.name
Thu Oct 17 07:40:50 PDT 2019


On 10/16/2019 5:00 PM, Will Martin wrote:
> I think that {QIpmeH qatlh’a’?} is basically {-meH} used as if it were 
> to be used for a noun, but it’s used on a verb, instead. It’s a kind 
> of verb phrase instead of a verb clause. It’s the same kind of 
> infinitive (or near infinitive, since we are so shy about calling this 
> an infinitive). “Is it difficult to hit?”
>
> The subtext is that if it’s not difficult to hit, I’m not going to 
> bother with it. The whole point of hitting it is the difficulty.
>
> Perhaps a better literal translation would be “Is it in-order-to-hit 
> difficult?”

I had the same thought, but it kind of falls down when we remember the 
most prominent example of this phenomenon: *Heghlu'meH QaQ jajvam.* This 
sentence explicitly mentions its (indefinite) subject, so it is not 
infinitive.

However, there's no rule I'm aware of that says purpose-marked verbs 
modifying nouns have to be infinitive. In fact, we know there is no such 
rule, since we have *qaSuchmeH 'eb*/opportunity for me to visit you./

So whether a purpose-marked verb is infinitive or not is not prescribed 
in the grammar, which is a big reason why I avoid casually declaring 
anything to be infinitive in Klingon.

But it's still possible to view purpose clauses as closer-bound to their 
verbs than other dependent clauses. They are, after all, described as a 
different class than the other "subordinate" clauses, and they do only 
appear in front of a verb. It may be that such clauses can be tightly 
bound to a verb to mean what we're talking about.

However, they're not always this way. Our first purpose clause modifying 
a verb is *jagh luHoHmeH jagh lunejtaH.* Notice that the object of *nej* 
comes between *nej *and the purpose clause. This argues against 
*luHoHmeH lunejtaH* being some kind of "verb phrase" that gets treated 
as a verb the way a noun phrase gets treated as a noun. The purpose 
clause here really is a separate clause.

Maybe the "verb phrase" idea is valid when the main verb is a verb of 
quality but not a verb of action. Who knows? This is why I keep saying 
we don't really know /why/ *qIpmeH Qatlh'a'* and *Heghlu'meH QaQ jajvam* 
mean what they mean. The mechanics of the purpose clause are too unclear 
for us to be able to explain them; we just have to take them on faith 
that they work.

-- 
SuStel
http://trimboli.name

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