[tlhIngan Hol] prefix trick with {-'eghmoH} and {-chuqmoH}

Will Martin willmartin2 at mac.com
Wed Jul 8 09:01:45 PDT 2020

The description in TKD of {-moH} is relatively simple, presenting what appeared at the time to be a shift in the interpretation of the verb prefix such that the subject was the one causing the action to happen and the object was the person or thing doing the action.

Those were simpler times.

When Okrand eventually got to greater depth on how {-moH} works when the action of the verb has an object, I… quit speaking Klingon for maybe a year or so…

The issue is that while the subject of the verb identified by the prefix on a verb with {-moH} is always the “agent” who causes the action to occur, the object specified by the prefix in a verb with {-moH} apparently can either be the subject performing the action, or it can be the direct object of the action of the verb. Apparently, context alone can disambiguate when nothing else provides that.

The point is, if I wanted to say, “I will teach you the Klingon language,” with the interpretation I had in those simpler days, I would have formed what is apparently a badly formed Klingon sentence:

*{tlhIngan Hol’e’ vIghojmoH.}* “On the topic of the Klingon language, I will cause you to learn it."

I still don’t understand how this is poorly formed. It makes total sense to me.

But, Okrand’s version of this is:

SoHvaD tlhIngan Hol vIghojmoH.

If you compress {ghojmoH} into its dictionary definition, this makes sense as “For you, I will teach the Klingon language.” Note that in English, you can teach a topic, and you can teach a student, and you can teach a topic to a student, as well as teach a student about a topic. These helper words disambiguate the topic and the student.

I, however, got hung up on the causation translation, which came out “For you, I cause the Klingon language to learn.”

I was wrong, but I was stubborn. I was weirdly offended by the apparent change in the rules on the use of {-moH}. I foolishly took this personally. I quit using the language for an extended period. Then I came back to use it, but refused to use this specific construction.

Now, I simply don’t feel called upon to use the construction. It exists. I acknowledge that it exists. It’s not my language. There’s a lot I can do with it without having to deal with this particular mess.

I know that SuStel believes that it is simple and okay and not messy at all. Good for him. I’m glad he’s found that contentment.

He’s obviously right.

And now, someone wants to focus on combining this specific mess with {-‘egh} and {-chuq}.


Once again, I find myself impressed by two features of the Klingon language and its speakers on this list.

1. I’m impressed that Okrand came up with this brilliant, little jewel of a language in very little time with a grammar and vocabulary that is this expressive and versatile, alien, yet natural, requiring only a slow trickle of new vocabulary and almost no new grammar in the decades that followed its original formation. It’s amazing how much you can say, using the tools Okrand has given us.

2. I’m impressed at how common it is on this list to ignore the magic described in item 1 and fixate on pushing the limits of the messiest, most crippled details of the affixes in combination, and on overburdening relative clauses or the prefix trick, or comparatives, or long strings of dependent clauses or ambiguous wordings as if breaking the language were the only interesting thing that anyone could possibly do with it.

It’s like the way torturing lab animals is considered science, regardless of whether any actual knowledge is extracted from the practice.

I should go back to French or ASL or German, or Malasian, or Cherokee, or Turkish, or take up some new language and leave Klingon forever. At least that would make someone happy…

I like making people happy.


Quarantine is making me crazy.


charghwI’ vaghnerya’ngan

rInpa’ bomnIS be’’a’ pI’.

> On Jul 8, 2020, at 8:13 AM, mayqel qunen'oS <mihkoun at gmail.com> wrote:
> The verb muv means "to join".
> There's the Ca'Non sentence:
> Qo'noS tuqmey muvchuqmoH qeylIS
> kahless united the tribes of kronos
> Which actually means "kahless caused the tribes of kronos to join each other".
> And now let's come to the prefix trick.
> qanob'eghmoH
> I cause you to give yourself something (which isn't specified)
> SanobchuqmoH
> I cause you to give each other something (which isn't specified)
> taj qanob'eghmoH
> I cause you to give yourself a knife
> taj SanobchuqmoH
> I cause you to give each other a knife
> In the above last two examples, seemingly/apparently the prefix trick rule isn't violated.
> So, seemingly/apparently we *can* use the prefix trick with {-'eghmoH} and {-chuqmoH}.
> Right ?
> ~ Qa'yIn
> _______________________________________________
> tlhIngan-Hol mailing list
> tlhIngan-Hol at lists.kli.org
> http://lists.kli.org/listinfo.cgi/tlhingan-hol-kli.org

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.kli.org/pipermail/tlhingan-hol-kli.org/attachments/20200708/bee1d279/attachment-0002.htm>

More information about the tlhIngan-Hol mailing list