[tlhIngan Hol] Glue words, adjectives, "active" speech ..and the future

SuStel sustel at trimboli.name
Mon Jun 22 07:54:23 PDT 2020

On 6/22/2020 10:20 AM, mayqel qunen'oS wrote:
> Something a beginner hears from the start, is how klingon is an
> "active" language, a language which favors vivid live descriptions.
> Which of course is true.. But unfortunately, when he/she asks "and how
> is this achieved ?" the only argument he/she'll hear is "through the
> use of verbs".

Meh. I don't really like this line of thought. Klingon may have fewer 
parts of speech than English, and verbs may play a larger role, but I 
don't think that the conventional wisdom, that using verbs in Klingon is 
better than using nouns, is valid. I don't agree with the luminary who 
philosophized that English is "vague, wittering, and indecisive" but 
Klingon is not. Each language is only as elegant as the speaker or 
writer who uses it.

> Sometime ago, I'd written about the significance of the lack of an
> "adverbializer", and how according to many, overusing adverbs results
> in "telling" the listener, instead of actually describing vividly to
> him what you're trying to say.

One thing is a linguistic fact; the other is a matter of style. You can 
start with a telling-the-listener English sentence, translate it into a 
Klingon sentence that doesn't include adverbials, and still commit the 
literary sin of telling instead of showing.

/The captain enters his quarters angrily.
/*pa'Daj 'el HoD. QeH.*

No adverbials, just verbs, and we're still telling instead of showing.

> And recently I happened to read about something else which perhaps
> explains why okrand didn't choose to allow, to just stick as easily as
> we do in english, as many adjectives as we'd like on a noun.
> Now, the following link becomes relevant:
> https://www.writersdigest.com/improve-my-writing/nobles-writing-blunders-excerpt

I feel certain that Okrand didn't set up adverbials and verbs the way he 
did to suggest that Klingons avoid poor writing styles.

> Before moving on, I know that although we can't write in klingon "the
> violent, expensive, ancient cat" as {vIghro' ral wagh tIQ}, we *can*
> write {ralbogh 'ej waghbogh 'ej tIQbogh vIghro'}, or variations of
> {ralbogh 'ej waghbogh vIghro' tIQ}, but I don't know how many people
> would actually resort to doing something like this often in a regular
> passage since it would create long and clunky constructions.

I would have no problem with this sort of thing. If the description were 
apt and important, I don't see *ralbogh vIghro', waghbogh, 'ej tIQbogh* 
as particularly more clunky than /the violent, expensive, ancient cat./ 
It's got the same number of words and one fewer syllable. It's just 

Certainly a speaker or writer should avoid repeating overly long 
descriptions for common things in their sentences, but that's a style 
suggestion, not a grammatical one.

> Now, another relevant matter with regards to characteristics in
> klingon which make the language a direct and "action" one, is the
> concept of glue words and the sticky sentences they create:
> https://prowritingaid.com/art/347/How-to-use----The-Sticky-Sentence-Report.aspx
> The fse "in/on" is the {-Daq} which is placed after the noun as a suffix.
> The fse "for" is the {-vaD} which is placed after the noun as a suffix.
> The fse "from" is the {-vo'} which is placed after the noun as a suffix.
> The fse "if" is the {-chugh} which is placed after the verb as a suffix.
> And because there's no point in analyzing each glue word, and in what
> form it exists in klingon (and if it exists in the first place..), the
> pattern becomes obvious:
> Some glue words either don't exist, and most of the rest, are
> expressed by suffixes.

More specifically, what you're calling "glue words" in English is what 
Klingon calls "syntactic suffixes." There's a reason they're called 
that, both noun and verb: they inform the listener or reader of the 
grammatical role the words they're attached to have in the sentence.

The advice that your article gives is the long way (ironically) to 
explain what William Strunk Jr. famously said in his book /The Elements 
of Style:/ "Omit needless words." *(mu' 'utHa' tInop.)* Klingon can 
easily fall prey to the same problem, even if it's not from the same 
source. (I didn't say *mu'mey poQbe'bogh mu'tlheghmeylIj tIlo'Qo'.*)

In other words, don't try to apply style advice for English to Klingon 
without first modifying it to be appropriate. There's little point in 
worrying about Klingon "glue words" because Klingon mostly doesn't use them.

> So the reader doesn't have to spread his
> attention thin over kahless knows how many glue words, before reaching
> the verb/noun of significance. First the reader reads the verb/noun,
> and then comes the glue word equivalent suffix, making for a reading
> experience of what is truly an action-oriented language..

I don't see what that has to do with being action-oriented. 
Action-oriented means that actions, verbs, dominate sentences. I think 
the action-orientation of Klingon is rather overstated. A lot of 
semantic meaning is carried by noun suffixes. "Pronouns as to be" aren't 
verbal. The grammar of Klingon is quite simplified compared to English, 
so nouns and verbs dominate in Klingon (that's why there are nouns, 
verbs, and "everything else"), but English nouns and verbs carry less 
meaning, so it uses "glue words" and lots of prepositions and adverbial 
phrases to do the same job.


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