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

SuStel sustel at trimboli.name
Thu Oct 17 07:24:28 PDT 2019

On 10/16/2019 4:52 PM, nIqolay Q wrote:
> On Wed, Oct 16, 2019 at 3:46 PM SuStel <sustel at trimboli.name 
> <mailto:sustel at trimboli.name>> wrote:
>     I understand how the English means that; I don't see how the
>     Klingon means that.
> Simple: It means that, because Okrand has been using that Klingon 
> construction to mean that.Either the Klingon sentences that use it are 
> wrong, including the most famous Klingon aphorism, or he is using an 
> additional meaning of *-meH*, besides "in order to", that he hasn't 
> talked about.

Yes, I understand the "it just is" explanation. I understand and accept 
that the construction exists and is valid, and I understand that Okrand 
can arbitrarily declare that something is so. That's not my problem. My 
problem is that there is no "purpose" in this kind of purpose clause.

Whenever Okrand expands some grammatical point, it's always based in 
some way on the meaning of the original grammar. When he expanded *-vaD* 
to include indirect objects, he was building on the original idea of a 
beneficiary. ("While the object of the verb is the recipient of the 
action, the indirect object may be considered the beneficiary.") He 
didn't just make it up out of whole cloth. When he expanded the idea of 
the "topic" suffix *-'e'* to include disambiguating a relative clause, 
it's not difficult to see how the *-'e'* draws our attention to the head 
noun as the important part of the clause.

But with *qIpmeH Qatlh* or *Heghlu'meH QaQ* we have little or no link to 
any kind of purpose. At best you could say, if your purpose is hitting, 
that target is difficult; if your purpose is dying, today is good. But 
why aren't these *Qatlh qIpmeH DoS* and *QaQ Heghlu'meH jajvam?*

But when you consider these to be overly literal translation from 
English, everything suddenly makes sense. A phrase like /difficult to 
hit/ sounds like it's made up of /be difficult/ and /in order to hit,/ 
but that's not what the English is actually saying. English just happens 
to have a construction of /adjective+infinitive/ that is a way of 
restricting the scope of the adjective. It's not a purpose.

Again, I accept that this purpose clause + verb of quality construction 
exists in Klingon. I see it there in black and white. I'm just saying we 
don't have a good explanation for why it means what it means, and as 
such, it makes a lousy set of data points when analyzing the role of 
purpose clauses in sentences.


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