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

Will Martin willmartin2 at mac.com
Tue Oct 15 07:58:12 PDT 2019

SuStel answered this comprehensively. I just want to make sure that you get an answer is focused on your specific misunderstanding of {-meH}.

What you describe as your problem sounds like you only think of {-meH} modifying a noun. As such, since the verb with {-meH} precedes the noun, it’s easy to think of that noun as being the subject of the verb, but it isn’t. {ghojmeH taj} doesn’t mean “In order that the knife learns”. {taj} is not the subject of {ghojmeH}.

In the sentence {‘IHqu’ ghojmeH taj}, {taj} is the subject of {‘IHqu’}, but {ghojmeH} is merely modifying (or describing) the knife. What kind of knife is it? It’s an “in order to learn” knife. The knife’s purpose is that someone learns to use a knife and this is the knife that person practices with while learning to use the knife. By the way, that knife is beautiful. {‘IHqu’ taj} is a complete sentence. {ghojmeH taj} is just a noun phrase. There is no sentence there.

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.

But verbs with {-meH} modifying a verb, there is no almost-infinitive form. Your example of {tlhInganpu’ luleghlu’meH Suv tlhInganpu’} is a case in point. You have what would be a complete sentence assigned a role as a dependent clause by adding {-meH} to the verb, and that entire clause precedes the clause that has the main verb in it. The purpose is not a simple “to see”. The purpose is “In order that one sees Klingons.” {legh} has both a subject (indefinite) and an object {tlhInganpu’}.

The only grammatical construction in Klingon that always gives a noun a dual role, both in a dependent clause and in the main clause, is the Relative Clause created by adding {-bogh} to the verb. In that case, the “head noun” (can be the subject or object of the dependent clause) of the Relative Clause is also a noun in the main clause (can be the subject or object of the main clause).

But this is not true for {-meH}.

charghwI’ vaghnerya’ngan

rInpa’ bomnIS be’’a’ pI’.

> On Oct 15, 2019, at 8:14 AM, mayqel qunen'oS <mihkoun at gmail.com> wrote:
> I want to say "klingons fight in order to be seen".
> Suppose I write:
> {tlhInganpu' luleghlu'meH Suv tlhInganpu'}
> Would it be correct ?
> What puzzles me is this..
> The way "I've gotten used to the {-meH}", is that the subject of the {-meH} phrase, is the subject of the phrase which follows it too.
> But is that the case, or can the object of the {-meH} phrase, be the subject of the phrase which follows it ?
> So, could I write {tlhIngan leghmeH romuluSngan, jach tlhIngan} for "the klingon shouts, in order that the romulan sees him" ?
> ~ bara'qa'
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