[tlhIngan Hol] law' puS with the -taHvIS and type-9 clauses preceding each element

De'vID de.vid.jonpin at gmail.com
Thu Feb 11 14:31:17 PST 2021

On Thu, 11 Feb 2021 at 20:14, SuStel <sustel at trimboli.name> wrote:

> I see a lot of assumptions going on about what this Klingon sentence — not
> the English translation — means.
> Let's check that by first noting that the comparative/superlative
> *literally* means *A's Q is many; B's Q is few.* It doesn't follow basic
> sentence syntax, but that's okay: we're told that comparatives and
> superlatives have their own construction.
> *reH latlh qabDaq qul tuj law' Hoch tuj puS*
> So what is the scope of *reH?* What is the scope of *latlh qabDaq?*
> We know that *latlh qabDaq* cannot be attached to *qul* because a type 5
> noun suffix cannot be anywhere in a noun-noun construction but at the end.
It cannot attach to {qul}, but it is valid to write a sentence such as
{latlh qabDaq tuj qul}. One might say that, effectively, the {latlh qabDaq}
is being applied to {qul}.

> We can suppose both *reH* and *latlh qabDaq* belong to the space before
> sentences: *[reH] [latlh qabDaq] [qul tuj law' Hoch tuj puS].* This would
> mean *Fire's hot is many, and all else's hot is few; this is true always
> and on another's face.*
That's one possibility. It would mean: "always, on someone else's face,
fire is hotter than anything (i.e., on that someone else's face)". I don't
think that's what the proverb is saying (but maybe it is, and I'm
misinterpreting it).

> We might also suppose that the *reH* remains before the main sentence but
> that *latlh qabDaq* modifies something else, and *qul* just gets in the
> way because of the odd syntax. It might be attached to *tuj:* *fire's
> hot-on-another's-face is many, and all else's hot is few; this is always
> true.* Or it might be attached to *law':* *fire's hot is many *
> *on-another's-face, and all else's hot is few; this is always true.*
 I would think of it as being applied to "A's Q is many", so something like
"on someone else's face, fire's hot is many; everything (else)'s hot is

We also have {DujvamDaq tlhIngan nuH tu'lu'bogh pov law' Hoch pov puS}
which follows a similar structure. "on this ship, Klingon weapons which are
found's excellent is many; everything (else)'s excellent is few".

Getting back to the original sentence that started the discussion, we might
read it like this:

{QamtaHvIS Hegh qaq law'; tortaHvIS yIn qaq puS}
While standing, death's preferable is many; while kneeling, life's
preferable is few.

> Given the odd syntax of the comparative/superlative, the unexplained
> nature of observed modifiers outside of that construction, the fairly
> non-literal nature of the proverb (What the heck does it MEAN that the fire
> is hotter on someone else's face? What fire? Hotter than what? Hotter than
> another fire?), and the very fact that Klingon proverbs are prone to
> containing grammatical exceptions, I don't see how we can draw any solid
> conclusions.
I know what I think it means that the fire is hotter on someone else's
face, but I apparently have a very different understanding of what the
proverb means than charghwI' does.

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