[tlhIngan Hol] meaning of an {x-mo' verb-be'} sentence

SuStel sustel at trimboli.name
Sun Jan 12 06:16:36 PST 2020

On 1/11/2020 11:18 PM, Will Martin wrote:
>> On Jan 10, 2020, at 4:23 PM, SuStel <sustel at trimboli.name 
>> <mailto:sustel at trimboli.name>> wrote:
>>> All you get out this uncommon parsing is, “It is not the case that I 
>>> destroyed my life because of her.”
>>> That’s kind of vague, don’t you think?
>> No, I don't. Not at all.
> I see it as very different from the canon example that first suggested 
> that this grammar works. A Klingon mother manipulates her child into 
> eating everything served him by suggesting that if he doesn’t, then 
> {batlh bIHeghbe’.}
> A Klingon would not misinterpret this as “You will honorably not-die,” 
> because, whether you like it or not, Klingon culture heavily contrasts 
> American and Western European culture in terms of in the attitude 
> concerning death. Klingons know that we will all die and they are 
> quite open about it. There is no option to honorably not die. You can 
> live honorably, but that’s not the same thing as honorably not dying, 
> because YOU WILL DIE. There is no option to not die. All lives end.
> Humans speak most often in euphemisms to avoid the topic entirely. “My 
> uncle passed away. He is no longer with us.”

This is a ludicrous argument. The issue here is that English has 
prepositions and Klingon doesn't. It has nothing to do with the 
difference between how Klingons and Humans persuade their kids to eat 
their dinners. In English we have the preposition /without,/ but in 
Klingon we don't. This phrase was obviously invented before Okrand had 
decided that you can add *-Ha'* to adverbials; the sentence *Hoch 
DaSopbe'chugh batlhHa' bIHegh* would also be perfectly valid. But 
because *batlh bIHeghbe'* appears, if we suppose it is not an error, 
then we must conclude that the *-be'* applies to the adverbial or the 
entire sentence.

Yes, the difference between honorably not-dying and not-honorably dying 
is clear by context. That's not the issue. The issue is WHETHER IT'S 
GRAMMATICAL, not whether context tells you which way to interpret it. 
The context is obvious. Even if the sentence is ungrammatical, you'd 
still understand the context, but you couldn't use it because it's 

> Ask a human how they wish to die, and the response is typically quite 
> different from a Klingon. A Klingon would quite comfortably suggest 
> {batlh jIHegh vIneH.} A human would more typically evade or redirect 
> the conversation.
> So, when a mother suggests, {batlh bIHeghbe’}, it’s obvious her 
> message is, “The path between you and an honorable death is THROUGH MY 
> COOKING. If you don’t eat what I feed you, you will die ignominiously. 
> Your relatives will spit at the mention of your name. You will be 
> shunned by your superiors. NOW EAT!”

Does your mind always work on an exaggeration level of 11?

> If you tell me {ghaHmo’ yInwIj vIQaw’be’}, my natural response is a 
> mixture of {nuqjatlh?} and {nuqneH?}
> There’s no time stamp, so I don’t even know whether you are talking 
> about the past or the future. I consider the past and reject it. You 
> are here. You are alive. You’ve obviously not destroyed your life. Why 
> bother me with something so obvious? What is it supposed to mean to me?

It's not supposed to mean anything to you. mayqel stated explicitly that 
he was ruminating about an ex, and this sentence was his thought. 
There's your context: thinking about an ex. Since he understands his own 
context, he has everything he needs to understand the context of his 

> I consider the present. This isn’t the middle east. She’s not handing 
> you an explosive vest. You aren’t dressed as a samurai. She’s not 
> handing you a short sword. There is no evidence that suggests that she 
> is the cause of you destroying your life, so again, you seem to be 
> telling me something obvious.

He's not telling you anything. He's ruminating to himself.

For someone so obsessed with grammar-according-to-context, you don't 
seem to be very good at figuring out the context.

> Three: Accusing people or their writing of being "vague, wittering, 
> and indecisive" is RUDE. Especially by turning it into a catchphrase. 
> It's not funny.
> Klingons are rude. And your point is...?

Klingons are not rude. Klingons follow elaborate codes of honor and 
behavior. Klingons tend not to have the wheel-greasing utterances that 
humans have, and humans may consider this rude, but they don't go out of 
their way to insult people and then claim their culture made them do it 
— except in the case of Curse Warfare, which is an activity that all 
parties mutually agree to participate in. This is not Curse Warfare.

And if you're pretending to be a Klingon as an excuse for being rude to 
people, at least do us the very Klingon courtesy of translating the 
phrase into Klingon.


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