[tlhIngan Hol] qaStaHvIS and perfective

SuStel sustel at trimboli.name
Sat Mar 21 07:43:42 PDT 2020

On 3/21/2020 9:04 AM, mayqel qunen'oS wrote:
> SuStel:
> > It's not about whether you're looking back
> > on an event; it's whether you're describing
> > an event as completed.
> ok, I understand this.. But there's something which confuses me..
> Imagine this: While I'm driving from new york to colorado, I see a cat.
> If I say {nyuyorghvo' *colorado*Daq jISeDtaHvIS vIghro' vIlegh}, then 
> doesn't that mean that "throughout the journey I see the cat" ?
> So, shouldn' we say instead {nyuyorghvo' *colorado*Daq jISeDtaHvIS 
> vIghro' vIleghpu'} ?

Two things. First, using *-taH + vIS* doesn't imply /throughout;/ it 
means /while, during./ If an action happens /during/ another action and 
the two actions take the same amount of time, then you might say 
throughout. But if one action is momentary /during/ another action, this 
isn't /throughout./

I'm going to simplify your sentence for the second part. /While I 
travel, I see a cat./ I intend here to say that I spot a cat on the side 
of the road as I pass it, not that I am staring at a cat the whole time 
I'm journeying.

In the English sentence, the tenses employed mean that traveling is an 
ongoing activity that I am currently engaged in, and I am currently 
passing the cat and noticing it. The English sentence has put the 
listener or reader in the very moment of spotting the cat. They are not 
looking back on the moment of spotting the cat; the sentence puts the 
listener into the very moment of the spotting.

To do this in Klingon, say *jIlengtaHvIS vIghro' vIlegh.* Lacking 
perfective or continuous on *legh* means the seeing is neither completed 
nor ongoing. I'm putting the listener into the moment of the seeing, so 
it's not completed. I'm not describing for the listener an activity of 
looking at the cat over a period of time, so it's not continuous. Use 
the unaspected verb. It doesn't matter whether the seeing of the cat 
happened before or is happening now; what matters is that I'm describing 
being in the moment of the seeing, not looking back at it after it's over.

Now, if I wanted to put the listener in the position of looking back at 
the spotting of the cat after it's already happened, you need 
perfective, because that's what perfective does. *jIlengtaHvIS vIghro' 
vIleghpu'*/While I traveled, I saw a cat. /The listener is asked to put 
themselves in a position to look back at an event. The traveling remains 
continuous because continuousness is required to use *-vIS,* but now 
we're not looking at the seeing from the moment of the seeing; we're 
looking back at it as a completed event. The Klingon sentence needs to 
be perfective.

When you lack a perfective (and continuous) suffix on a verb, that verb 
usually cannot be interpreted as placing the listener at a point where 
they can look back at the completed event. (Exceptions include times 
when you are not allowed to use aspect suffixes, like on the second verb 
of a sentence-as-object construction, and when you use *rIntaH* instead 
of a suffix.) This is why *jIlengtaHvIS vIghro' vIlegh* cannot mean 
/While I traveled, I saw a cat/ in the sense of a 
completed-from-my-viewpoint, one-time event of seeing. If an action is 
to be described as completed, it MUST have perfective on it. If 
*jIlengtaHvIS vIghro' vIlegh* is to be interpreted as happening in the 
past, it either means the speaker is asking the listener to inhabit a 
viewpoint in the past (like the historical present tense of English) or 
the seeing was a habitual or regular thing during the trip (while I was 
journeying, I would see this cat from time to time).


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