[tlhIngan Hol] does the {-ta'} leave room for interpretation for the {-pu'} ?

De'vID de.vid.jonpin at gmail.com
Tue Apr 14 09:22:09 PDT 2020

On Sun, 12 Apr 2020 at 06:29, mayqel qunen'oS <mihkoun at gmail.com> wrote:

> De'vID:
> > I'd understand {qaqIpta'be'} as "I didn't hit you", with the implication
> > that I deliberately did not hit you. The {-be'} negates the completion
> > or accomplishment, not the intentionality.
> I'm afraid I can't understand that. Lets take things from the start,
> ignoring the initial question of this thread.

Let's read what TKD says in section 4.2.7:

--- begin quote ---
This suffix is similar to {-pu',} but it is used when an activity was
deliberately undertaken, the implication being that someone set out to do
something and in fact did it. English translations seldom reveal the

{vISuqta'} I have acquired it ({Suq} get, acquire)
{luHoHta'} they have killed him/her ({HoH} kill)

The second sentence above could not be used if the killing were the result
of a general attack not intended to kill a specific person or if the
killing were an accident. In such cases, {-pu'} would be used:

 {luHoHpu'} they have killed him/her
--- end quote ---

The negation of "I have acquired it" is "I have not acquired it". The
negation of "they have killed him/her" is "they have not killed him/her".
This is true whether the acquisition or the killing is intentional or not.

> qaqIpta'
> I set out to hit you and did it
> (qaqIpta')be'
> (I set out to hit you and did it)-not

Klingon is not a programming language. Negation in natural languages
doesn't work like this. The difference between {-ta'} and {-pu'} is subtle
and "English translations seldom reveal the distinction". The negation of
"I hit you" is "I did not hit you", regardless of intention.

If {qaqIpta'} is "I hit you (and I did it deliberately)", then
{qaqIpta'be'} is "I did not hit you (and I did it deliberately)". Arguably,
it's ambiguous whether the meaning is "I intended not to hit you, and in
fact did not hit you" or "I intended to hit you, but did not hit you".
Perhaps *that* distinction can be indicated by context. But the primary
action of the negation is to negate the completion or accomplishment, not
the intention.

{-pu'} can always be used in the place of {-ta'}, even when the action was
intentional, when one does not wish to imply that the action was
intentional. If {-be'} did not negate the completion of the action (whether
it negates the intention or not), this would not be true.

> Meaning that "no intentional hitting took place", and not
> "intentionally, no hitting took place"; now, whether this would leave
> room for interpretation that "unintentional hitting could have taken
> place", which was the original question of this thread, is another
> story.

No, it actually does mean "no hitting took place". The meanings of
{-pu'be'} and {-ta'be'} are the same, except that the latter implies the
(in)action was intentional.

> The only way I can see the "I deliberately did not hit you" meaning
> being produced is by writing {qaqIpbe'ta'}:

That means "I accomplished not hitting you", which is different from "I did
not hit you, on purpose" (though the difference is very subtle).

> qaqIpbe'
> I don't hit you
> (qaqIpbe')ta'
> I set out not to hit you and I accomplished it = I deliberately did not
> hit you
> Let alone the fact that there is another problem with interpreting the
> {qaqIpta'be'} as "I deliberately did not hit you"; doing so would call
> for the "deliberate action described by the {-ta'}" to be acting on
> the {-be'} which follows it.
> However, if we go here:
> https://www.qephom.de/e/message_from_maltz_140624.html
> We will see that maltz has said:
> *** quote start ***
> "For the possessive suffixes, however, this doesn't work. {jaghna'lI'}
> means "definitely your enemy (and not your friend, etc.)." It doesn't
> specifically mean "definitely your enemy (and not mine)."
> He said if you want to emphasize the possessor, just give it extra
> stress when saying the word: {DujlIj} (or DujlIj or DujlIj or DujlIj
> or DujLIJ or however you want to transcribe it -- I'm not sure whether
> italics and bold and all of that will show up for you)."
> *** quote end ***

Note that Okrand's message supports my interpretation: the {-be'} negates
the *aspect suffix* preceding it, i.e., the accomplishment. In order for
your interpretation to be true (hitting took place, but it wasn't
intentional), it would have to *not* negate the suffix, but at the same
time negate something *implied* by the suffix. We've never seen {-be'} do

> Seemingly/apparently, suffixes can act only on the suffixes preceding
> them, and not on the suffixes following them, which would be necessary
> to happen for the {qaqIpta'be'} to be meaning "I deliberately did not
> hit you".

No, the negation isn't acting on anything other than {-ta'}. Negating the
accomplishment means the hitting was not accomplished. "I did not hit you
(deliberately)" is what that sentence means.

What reason is there to believe that the negation doesn't negate the

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