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

SuStel sustel at trimboli.name
Tue Oct 15 10:06:31 PDT 2019

On 10/15/2019 12:46 PM, nIqolay Q wrote:
> On Tue, Oct 15, 2019 at 11:09 AM Will Martin <willmartin2 at mac.com 
> <mailto:willmartin2 at mac.com>> wrote:
>     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.
> I'm not sure it's quite right to say that a {-meH} verb modifying a 
> noun can have no subject. Apparently it's not common for noun-purpose 
> verbs to use {-lu'}, but there's still an implied, vague subject: 
> /somebody/ is learning from a {ghojmeH taj}. The subject is an 
> unspecified person or thing, so there's just the third-person null 
> prefix.

I don't think that's what's happening. Sometimes Klingon will just use 
the bare verb to refer to the general idea of the verb without there 
being anyone doing anything to anyone. It's infinitive in nature, but 
there is no subject. It's not a subject meaning "unspecified person or 
thing"; it's literally no subject.

> (I recall reading a while back somewhere that some languages, 
> including many Native American ones, don't have infinitive forms, and 
> instead use other constructions like an unmarked third person form, 
> and I thought "Aha, that must be where Klingon gets it from.")

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.


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