[tlhIngan Hol] where the adverb refers and {tlhoS}

Will Martin willmartin2 at mac.com
Fri Aug 27 13:08:32 PDT 2021

First, an apology. I obviously should have chosen my words better so as not to so significantly mislead you in terms of reading my emotions. I’m not angry at all. I’m just… well… stunned; taken aback; remarkably surprised. Amused, even.

It’s not a big deal. No angst. More of a … “really?"

Looking at your evidence, which I appreciate because I’m personally very bad at gathering evidence, I expected to see Okrand doing exactly what you want him to be doing, showing that an adverbial can be meaningfully translated as applying its meaning to a noun instead of a verb or a whole sentence.

Meanwhile, when I see this canon example, quite honestly, I don’t see him doing what you say he’s doing. I see him doing what I love to do when translating Klingon: He’s recasting an expression in order to say something that the grammar of the Klingon language doesn’t support.

The English translation that you present as evidence that adverbials can point to something other than a verb is a result of very masterful recasting of what we would say in a single sentence in English into a pair of sentences in Klingon because Klingon doesn’t support applying an adverbial to a noun the way that adverbs can be applied to nouns in English.
> Qo'noS romuluS je boSuqlaH. vabDot tera' Qejjbogh DIvI' ram boSuqlaH. Kronos, Romulus, and even the puny Federation's precious Earth are all up for grabs.
The literal translation is more like “You can acquire Kronos and Romulus. You can even acquire Earth, which the unimportant Federation cherishes."

By repeating the first sentence's verb in the second sentence with a new subject and the adverbial, the grammatical link between the adverbial and the verb can be implied to apply to the subject, since that’s the thing that’s different between the two sentences.  When you say you can acquire A and B, and then you say you can even acquire C, what is different between “acquiring” and “even acquiring”? Well, C is different from A and B, obviously.

You had suggested that given context, the adverbial could apply to any non-chuvmey word in the sentence. It could apply to the subject or object. Like this is a normal thing that could be done in any Klingon sentence.

Meanwhile, in the lone sentence {vabDot tera’ Qejbogh DIvI’ ram boSuqlaH}, {vabDot} applies to {boSuqlaH}. It does not apply to {tera’}.

We get the meaning of it applying to {tera’} outside of Klingon grammar by this recasting device of repetition of the verb.

Essentially we are making three statements:

You can acquire Kronos.
You can acquire Romulus.
You can even acquire Earth.

Two of these acquisitions are identical. One is different, qualified by {vabDot}. The other two don’t get {vabDot}.

So, outside of Klingon grammar, we mark Earth as different from Kronos and Romulus because the first two just get acquired, while the third one EVEN gets acquired.

You’d have a stronger argument if the example somehow used context to make the lone sentence mean “You can acquire even Earth,” but this example doesn’t really go that far. It says, “You can even acquire Earth.”

Your last paragraph is much more convincing.

The use of {je} as an adverbial is very exceptional in Klingon.

Step 1: {je} and {‘ej} are both conjunctions, and like {qoj} and {joq}, one is the other spelled backwards, and one applies to nouns, following the nouns, but the other applies to verbs, and precedes the second verb.

Step 2: Take the noun version, and apply it to verbs, but place it like you would for a noun, after the word it modifies.

Given how exceptional it is, it also gets exceptionally ambiguous translation. Is it really modifying the verb, or could it modify the subject or object as well?

In the past, we’ve glossed past this and assumed that the English ambiguity of “too” applies fully to the Klingon adverbial {je}.

So, it’s stretching things a bit thinner to take this uncertainty surrounding {je} and assume it also applies to {vabDot} and {tlhoS}, and then we should go hunting through our list of adverbials and see how many others we can assume might apply to subjects and objects instead of just verbs.

It might be just as likely that it always only applies to verbs, and by cleverly recasting, we can express the meaning that English has grammar for, but Klingon lacks.

I’m not declaring myself The Voice of Authority here, declaring that you are all wrong and I’m all right. This is simply a difference of opinion among people who are unusually good with the language. You’ve made your case that you think {vabDot} and possibly other adverbials can generally be used to apply to verbs or subjects or objects, given sufficient context, while I think that it always applies to verbs, and through clever recasting, one can use this relationship between the adverbial and its verb to express translation from English that apply related adverbs to subjects and objects.

I doubt I’ve convinced anyone to change their opinion. The last time I succeeded in that, I unintentionally inspired our Australian friend to rewrite most of his translations of Shakespeare’s sonnets, proving him to be even more brilliant than we already knew him to be.

Anyway, I’m definitely not angry, and I hope nobody else is angered by this. Anger is not my goal, for myself or anyone else.

I mean, who cares what I think? Why should it matter enough to make anyone angry? If anything I say starts to make you angry, just blow it off as being unimportant. It’s an opinion about a point of grammar for an artificial language created for a fictitious alien race.

There are things out there worth getting angry at. Mask mandates and bans. Virus and vaccine. The fall of nations. War crimes. Ecological disaster. Impending nuclear disaster.

But whether or not Klingon adverbials can apply their shades of meaning to subjects or objects? Really?


charghwI’ ‘utlh
(ghaH, ghaH, -Daj)

> On Aug 27, 2021, at 9:52 AM, SuStel <sustel at trimboli.name> wrote:
> On 8/27/2021 9:29 AM, Will Martin wrote:
>> I think you guys have gone overboard with this thin-ice argument that Klingon adverbials CAN BE TRANSLATED to apply to things other than either the verb (most commonly), or in special cases where the context clarifies WTF you are talking about, nouns.
>> A simpler truth is that your precious, exceptional English translations would only make sense if the English translation had the same context that the Klingon expression did, and if it HAD that context, you would, like the Klingon expression, not need the emphasis you are putting on it.
> Why are you so angry?
>> I maintain that adverbials apply to verbs or to whole sentences, and if you want to weight the meaning toward specific non-verb words in the sentence, you need very special context, and if you have that context, you don’t need to add weight to make the English translation mean something other than what the Klingon sentence actually means, which is either a verb or whole-sentence application of the adverbial.
> Did you miss the bit where I said I was using emphasis for illustrative purposes only, and that it did NOT represent actual emphasis in the sentences? The only point to it was to show  that the interpretation of even and almost or vabDot and tlhoS could change depending on which part of the sentence was being treated as the independent variable.
> Let's look at a canonical example. Qo'noS romuluS je boSuqlaH. vabDot tera' Qejjbogh DIvI' ram boSuqlaH. Kronos, Romulus, and even the puny Federation's precious Earth are all up for grabs. (Klingon Monopoly) Look at the vabDot here. The focus here is to say Kronos, Romulus, and even Earth! If the vabDot merely modified the verb, the focus would be VerbX and even acquire! That's clearly not what's going on here. The vabDot acts on the entire sentence to make the noun tera' stand out.
> vabDot is just like je, except for its placement and the extra connotation of unexpectedness. We are told this explicitly. Let's take the TKD sentence qaleghpu' je I also saw you, I saw you too. "As in English, the meaning of such sentences is ambiguous: I and others saw you or I saw you and others. The exact meaning is determined by context. Let's replace je with vabDot: vabDot qaleghpu' Even I saw you; I saw even you. Since we know that vabDot is just je with the extra connotation of unexpectedness, we should be able to see the same ambiguity, and we do. Are we focused on the surprise of me (Even I saw you) or you (I saw even you)? There's an additional possibility which TKD doesn't address: qaleghpu' je I also saw you (in addition to doing other things to or with you); vabDot qaleghpu' I even saw you (in addition to doing other things to or with you).
> -- 
> SuStel
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