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

SuStel sustel at trimboli.name
Wed Jul 8 09:35:39 PDT 2020

On 7/8/2020 12:01 PM, Will Martin wrote:
> 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.

But that's just it. TKD doesn't say ANYTHING WHATSOEVER about *-moH* 
causing a shifting prefix or subjects becoming objects. NOTHING. That 
was a rule YOU MADE UP to explain some of the examples you saw in TKD, 
like *tIjwI'ghom vIchenmoH.* You made up the wrong rule and believed it 
to be a rule Okrand made up.

(And I don't mean "you" as in you, personally.)

When we got *ghaHvaD quHDaj qawmoH,* we found an exception to that 
so-called rule. We later found other exceptions that worked identically, 
proving that the first one wasn't an error or a special case. What we 
needed was to recognize that the rule you made up was inadequate. You 
(now you, personally) have always been unable to make that leap. You've 
never been able to truly accept that the made up rule you internalized 
was wrong.

What I have done is also make up a rule to explain examples. But the 
rule I have made up is consistent with everything we know. And if 
something comes along that disproves that rule, I'll change it.

> 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.

No. The subject of a verb with *-moH,* even if that subject is elided, 
is the cause, not the agent. In semantics, an agent is an entity that 
deliberately performs the action of the verb. In the sentence *la'vaD 
Hol ghojmoH Sogh,* the *Sogh* is the cause, and the *la'* is the agent, 
because the *la'* is the one that deliberately performs *Sogh.*

Meanwhile, the object of the verb is the patient (undergoes the action 
and changes its state) or theme (undergoes the action and does not 
change its state). In the above sentence, the *Hol* is the theme.

The terminology in TKD is obviously inadequate to address this, because 
it doesn't even try to address it. It presents examples of *-moH* 
without explaining AT ALL how it works. You came up with your own 
explanation and believed it to be gospel. In the terminology of TKD, we 
have the SYNTACTIC roles of subject (the unmarked noun after the verb), 
object (the unmarked noun before the verb), and beneficiary (the noun 
marked with *-vaD* before any object) and the SEMANTIC roles of direct 
object (the patient or theme), indirect object (the recipient), and 
cause (and we don't get a semantic term for the subject of a verb 
without *-moH*).

And the rule that DOES seem to accommodate every example we have is 
this: when using *-moH,* the subject has the semantic role of cause, the 
object has the semantic role of either direct object or indirect object 
if there is no direct object, and the beneficiary has the role of 
indirect object if the object already has the semantic role of direct 

This explains how *tIjwI'ghom vIchenmoH* (TKD) works. This explains how 
*ghaHvaD quHDaj qawmoH* (S20) works. This explains how *[**puqloDwI'] 
vIghojHa'moH* (PB) works. It explains everything. As long as it 
continues to explain everything, it is the best model for *-moH* we have.

> 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.

It's not /for you./ That's a general benefactive interpretation. *-vaD* 
nouns play two separate semantic roles. They can be a general 
benefactive, as in *Qu'vaD lI'*/It is useful for the mission,/ or they 
can be indirect objects, as in*yaSvaD taj nobpu' qama'*/The prisoner 
gave the officer the knife./ In the former, you would not interpret 
*Qu'vaD* as /received by the mission,/ and in the latter you would not 
interpret *yaSvaD* as /for the benefit of the officer./


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