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

SuStel sustel at trimboli.name
Wed Oct 16 12:46:48 PDT 2019

On 10/16/2019 3:20 PM, nIqolay Q wrote:
> On Wed, Oct 16, 2019 at 9:24 AM SuStel <sustel at trimboli.name 
> <mailto:sustel at trimboli.name>> wrote:
>     Whose purpose it is will be subject to context. In this case, it's
>     the Klingon's purpose because the Klingon is trying to get the
>     Romulan's attention. The subject of the main clause will usually
>     be the one acting toward the purpose, and I can't think of an
>     example where that is not the case, but it's possible someone
>     could construct a sentence that defies this expectation.
> Something with a stative verb would work. *SaqlaHmeH 'orwI'pu' wovqu' 
> wovmoHwI'mey* "The lights are very bright so the pilots can land."
>     (I'm ignoring sentences like *qIpmeH Qatlh'a',* whose grammar I
>     find to be fairly impenetrable.)
> They're not that impenetrable. It seems that Okrand is using the idea 
> of "for the purpose of accomplishing something" in a somewhat 
> different way than the examples in TKD. Those examples use *XmeH Y Z* 
> to mean "Z does Y, and does so for the purpose/intent of accomplishing 
> X". In later examples like *qIpmeH Qatlh'a'*, it seems to be also used 
> with stative verbs to mean something like "Z has quality Y 
> for/regarding the purposes of accomplishing X".
> So *qIpmeH Qatlh* would be "For the purposes of [one] hitting it, it 
> is difficult" or "As far as hitting it is concerned, it is difficult" 
> or just "It is difficult to hit." Something similar is used 
> with*Heghlu'meH QaQ jajvam* and *tlhutlhmeH HIq ngeb qaq law' bIQ qaq 
> puS*. They're describing something's 
> usefulness/suitability/quality/etc. towards achieving a purpose, not 
> describing a thing happening to bring about a purpose.
> I assume context helps listeners determine whether something like 
> *vIqIpmeH Qatlh* is intended to mean "For the purposes of me hitting 
> him, he's difficult"/"He's difficult for me to hit" or to mean "He's 
> difficult, for the purpose of me hitting him"/"He's difficult so that 
> I'll hit him."

I understand how the English means that; I don't see how the Klingon 
means that. "Z has quality Y for/regarding the purposes of accomplishing 
X" isn't what the line *qIpmeH Qatlh['a']* is saying. It's literally 
saying something is difficult so that something hits.

I feel fairly certain that this line came about due to a sloppy 
translation. Okrand was handed the line /Difficult to hit?/, which is an 
adjective + infinitive restricting the scope of the adjective (it's not 
difficult in general; it's difficult to hit) and mistook it for a verb + 
infinitive expressing the purpose of the verb. So he constructed a 
Klingon purpose clause. Being canon now, he would rather just accept the 
grammar now and move on. That it /can/ be done is clear, but exactly 
/how/ it means what it's supposed to mean remains inadequately explained.


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