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

SuStel sustel at trimboli.name
Tue Oct 15 12:25:10 PDT 2019

On 10/15/2019 1:56 PM, nIqolay Q wrote:
> 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.

I don't see we have any evidence to support the notion that *ghojmeH 
taj* means /in-order-that-someone-unspecified-learns knife./ We do, on 
the other hand, have phrases like *ja'chuqmeH rojHom*/truce (in order) 
to confer,/ in the sentence *ja'chuqmeH rojHom neH jaghla'*/The enemy 
commander wishes a truce (in order) to confer,/ which we know is what 
Kruge is told about Kirk — it would have to be a *maja'chuqmeH rojHom* 
in that circumstance. Yes, you could argue that this line is not said in 
Klingon in the movie, but this is obviously meant to be the very line 
from the movie. You'd also have to explain why we don't say *ghojlu'meH 

> We know that Klingon has impersonal third-person verbs that are still 
> conceived of as having unspecified subjects: {SIS}, {taH pagh taHbe'.}

I don't think it's all that clear that *taH pagh taHbe'* is an example 
of an unspecified subject. I don't think of this line as /Either an 
unspecified someone goes on or an unspecified someone doesn't go on;/ I 
think of it as /Either (unconjugated) go on or (unconjugated) not go on./

As for *SIS* and other weather-related words, this isn't just a case of 
having an unspecified subject; it's a case of not explicitly mentioning 
the subject because it's understood. It's idiomatic not to say the 
subject. What IS the subject? Typically *muD* or *chal. SIS* doesn't 
just mean /something unspecified rains;/ it means 
/something-we-all-know-about-so-it's-customary-not-to-mention-it rains./ 
It's not customary not to mention the subject of *ja'chuqmeH rojHom;* it 
literally has no subject.

> 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.}

I'm not arguing based on English infinitives, but based on canonical 
usage and the meaning of the word infinitive.

> 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.

I don't see any reason to believe that there's a rule that says all 
verbs must have subjects and persons unless exempted. The fact that 
Klingon lacks an infinitive form for verbs just means that when 
infinitives occur, they're not marked.


-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.kli.org/pipermail/tlhingan-hol-kli.org/attachments/20191015/f6e2c0b3/attachment-0004.htm>

More information about the tlhIngan-Hol mailing list