[tlhIngan Hol] expressing "they are there"

SuStel sustel at trimboli.name
Thu Feb 18 08:11:56 PST 2021

On 2/18/2021 10:18 AM, Will Martin wrote:
> Also, I appreciate the insight into the use of {-‘e’} on the last noun 
> in {X ‘oH Y’e’} sentences. {tlhIngan ghaH Qanqor’e’} does get it’s 
> “Krankor is a Klingon” translation through the mechanism of “Krankor 
> is the topic of the sentence, 'He is a Klingon.’” Translation 
> compresses the latter into the former. We are talking about Krankor 
> when we say, “He is a Klingon."

Well, yes, but I wouldn't call this insight on my part: it's explained 
fairly explicitly in TKD when the topic (ahem) is introduced.

    *puqpu' chaH qama'pu''e'*/The prisoners are children./
    *pa'DajDaq ghaHtaH la''e'*/The commander is in his quarters./

    These sentences might also be translated /As for the prisoners, they
    are children; As for the commander, he is in his quarters./


> Okrand was trying to work out the mechanics of a language with no verb 
> for “to be”, and came up with two mechanics. One is to imply “to be” 
> in all the adjectival or stative verbs.

I wouldn't look at it this way. In English it is required to use /be/ to 
assign an adjective to a subject as the main thrust of a sentence; 
Klingon does away with this middleman and just makes all qualities equal 
to other verbs. You "do" *Quch* just as much as you "do" *qet.* To 
mentally insert a /be/ every time you see a verb of quality is to think 
in English or some similar language. When I see *Quch tlhIngan,* I think 
/A Klingon *Quch*es./

> The other is to use pronouns as both subject and verb, like {tlhIngan 
> ghaH.} Meanwhile, in “Krankor is a Klingon,” you have this additional 
> noun. What do you do with THAT?

I consider the idea that the pronoun "acts" as the verb to be a 
simplification of what's really going on, to explain the grammar to an 
English speaker who can't conceive of a complete sentence without a verb 
(i.e., the intended audience of the book). In Klingon, a copula links 
either a noun with a pronoun or two nouns. Saying *tlhIngan ghaH* is to 
say *tlhIngan = ghaH:* you're explicitly setting the antecedent for your 
pronoun. You can use verb suffixes on the pronoun because you're allowed 
to modify that equals sign to better reflect the identity: is the 
identity continuous? negative? relative? interrogative?

> So, he made the subject noun the Topic of the sentence, and instead of 
> placing this extra noun more like other {-‘e’} marked topics at the 
> beginning of the sentence, which would have made it {Qanqor’e’ 
> tlhIngan ghaH},

Except for *qIbDaq SuvwI''e' SoH Dun law' Hoch Dun puS *and "fronted" 
sentences like *HaqwI''e' DaH yISam,* he has never done this. The former 
is a comparative or superlative and may not operate on the rules of 
basic sentences. The latter specifically explains that the marked noun 
is the object, so it's not a case of a free-floating topic noun (and 
Okrand has said fronting this way is marked and wouldn't be done 
regularly). So except for special cases, he has never used a 
free-floating topic noun. I have serious doubts whether they're used by 

> Note that {Qanqor’e’ tlhIngan ghaH,} doesn’t break any rules and would 
> effectively have the same meaning as {tlhIngan ghaH Qanqor’e’.} 
> Likely, it’s a valid expression, though through habit and convention, 
> Klingons always order the words {tlhIngan ghaH Qanqor’e’.} Using the 
> unconventional word order wouldn’t be technically wrong, but at the 
> least it would be “highly marked” suggesting that you don’t speak the 
> language very well.

Correct. *Qanqor'e' tlhIngan ghaH* may not break any rules, but it's 
obviously not the right way to say this. I could imagine this to be 
another case of fronting. A bit of punctuation would make the use-case 
clearer:**Imagine a scene where Rich pulls off his rubber forehead and 
reveals that he's got a real Klingon forehead underneath. Everyone is 
stunned, and someone says *Qanqor'e'! tlhIngan ghaH!* /Krankor! He's a 
Klingon! /In any case, just because you can imagine a way it might be 
said doesn't mean it's now open season on the grammar.

I mean, there's nothing actually /wrong/ with speaking like Yoda, and 
everyone will understand you, but that doesn't mean you want to emulate 
it for anything other than speaking like Yoda.


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