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

De'vID de.vid.jonpin at gmail.com
Tue Feb 16 00:38:23 PST 2021

On Tue, 16 Feb 2021 at 02:09, Will Martin <willmartin2 at mac.com> wrote:

> You’ve missed my point. Analysis of a Replacement Proverb is probably
> futile because it may very well be gibberish that lost its meaning
> thousands of years ago. We can process the words, shoving them through the
> algorithm of translation and not actually translate the meaning into
> anything… meaningful.
> I was trying to come up with something meaningful. My bad.
> I retract my earlier analysis, since I was leaning in toward something
> meaningful instead of leaning in toward something literal.
> It could very well mean, “On another person’s face [the fire is hottest.”
> And we might not really understand what that means, being perhaps a
> reference to a story long ago forgotten.

Thank you for recognising that your analysis of the proverb is inconsistent
with your explanation of the grammar of the superlative. But I think you're
retracting the wrong thing.

I actually think you were right to analyse the meaning of the proverb. The
problem with accepting that it means "on another person's face: the fire is
hottest", is that this doesn't seem to match the translation of the proverb
into English which we've been given: "The fire is always hotter on someone
else's face". The English translation strongly suggests a comparison to
someone else not on that face. (I'd have expected the other meaning to be
translated as "The fire is always the hottest thing on someone else's

> In English, when an atheist hears someone sneeze, they might very well
> say, “Bless you,” out of habit/courtesy or “Ga-Zoon-Height”, even if they
> don’t know German. This might be like that.
> Note that we’re not really told that {X Q law’ X Hoch puS} means X is
> "Q-er than everything.” We’re told that it means “X is Q-est.” It may look
> like a comparative, but it’s actually a superlative. It’s not really “The
> fire is hotter than everything.” It’s “The fire is hottest.” It looks like
> it’s saying, “The fire is hotter than everything,” but that’s the
> logical/literal translation, as opposed to a more accurate translation of
> what we are told it means in Klingon.

As I quoted earlier (from TKD section 6.6):
"The idea of something being more or greater than something else
(comparative) is expressed by means of a construction which can be
represented by the following formula: A Q {law'} B Q {puS}... To express
the superlative, that something is the most or the greatest of all, the
noun {Hoch} 'all' is used in the B position".

It certainly looks to me like we *are* being told, pretty explicitly, that
"A Q {law'} {Hoch} B {puS"} means exactly "A is Q-er than everything", not
just "A is Q-est". The word "superlative" is even glossed as "greatest of
all", not just "greatest", and its formula is stated as just the
comparative with {Hoch} in the B position. I don't see how it could be read

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