[tlhIngan Hol] relative clauses with {Hoch} in noun-noun constructions

SuStel sustel at trimboli.name
Mon Jan 6 07:53:45 PST 2020

On 1/6/2020 10:25 AM, Will Martin wrote:
> Answering a question different than you asked, I’d translate the 
> English, “The origin of everything which exits the mouth is the 
> heart,” into the Klingon:
> Hoch mu’ luwIv tIq.
> It fulfills the Klingon aversion to being “vague, wittering and 
> indecisive”.

That is an aversion you made up. No language has a tolerance for being 
vague, wittering, and indecisive. No, not even English. People who don't 
use language well may be vague, wittering, and indecisive, and Klingons 
who don't use Klingon well may be vague, wittering, and indecisive. 
Avoidance to this is not built into Klingon; good style avoids this, in 
any language.

> It doesn’t wander through a pile of extra words.

It also doesn't say what the English original says. It might do as a 
substitute in the right circumstances, but it means something different. 
There are closer Klingon translations that also aren't ambiguous or 

> Meanwhile, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed that I am more often 
> happy when I think of something to say and stop myself from saying it, 
> than I am when I think of something to say and say it. (I’m sure I 
> would have been happier if I hadn’t written this message and thus had 
> avoided dealing with responses to it, for instance. Notice that I 
> don’t write to this list NEARLY as often as I once did.) Essentially, 
> my heart stops my words, which the mind has chosen.

*tIqlIj ghogh yIQoy!*

> As for your question, Okrand has said that Klingon speakers often 
> express a single English sentence as multiple Klingon sentences to 
> avoid grammatical complexity.

I don't think he said it was something Klingon does to avoid grammatical 
complexity. Some of the Skybox translations are quite complex. I think 
this is the quote you're thinking of 
<http://klingonska.org/canon/1995-06-holqed-04-2-a.txt>, and Okrand said 
that splitting into smaller sentences was "what I find myself doing a 
lot, especially with these Skybox things." It was something that OKRAND 
did to avoid compexity.

> This is particularly true with attempts to extend Relative Clauses 
> beyond the simple examples we’ve been given. Ditto for Comparatives, 
> and other constructions that linguists, in particular, so often seek 
> to extend to the breaking point.

I agree about relative clauses: they can be extended while remaining 
completely grammatical, but go too far and you risk your audience losing 
the thread of the sentence. Since Klingon lacks prepositions, it packs a 
lot more meaning into nouns and verbs that can't be set apart the way 
prepositions can.

Comparatives and superlatives don't get extended legally very much. 
People often try ungrammatical extensions though.

> I’m not telling you that you can’t do it. I’m just suggesting that you 
> might be wiser, were you to seek grammatically simpler methods of 
> expressing meaning. Certainly, your Klingon sentences would be 
> misunderstood less often.

I agree. mayqel has a tendency to string a lot of noun phrases together 
and worry about what modifies what. If a sentence COULD be 
misinterpreted, then just rewrite it in a way that it won't be. And if 
you're just interested in whether something is grammatically valid, just 
apply the known rules mechanically.

> But that assumes that your goal is to be understood clearly in 
> Klingon, and I will confess that it is a weak assumption.

There are other reasonable goals. From the original posts, I got the 
impression that the goal wasn't to find an unambiguous way to say this, 
but whether it was grammatically valid to say it at all, and if not, why.


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