[tlhIngan Hol] Present tense and context

SuStel sustel at trimboli.name
Wed Jun 23 06:23:19 PDT 2021

On 6/23/2021 7:16 AM, luis.chaparro at web.de wrote:
> Sometimes the more you learn, the more insecure you feel. In TKD, section 4.2.7 we read:
> <The absence of a Type 7 suffix usually means that the action is not completed and is not continuous (that is, it is not one of the things indicated by the Type 7 suffixes). Verbs with no Type 7 suffix are translated by the English simple present tense. (...) When the context is appropriate, verbs without a Type 7 suffix may be translated by the English future tense (will), but the real feeling of the Klingon is closer to English sentences such as *We fly tomorrow at dawn*, where the present-tense verb refers to an event in the future.>
> I guess Okrand forgot the (imperfective) past tense, so it should actually say: *may be translated by the English future tense (will) or simple past*.

When Okrand says "Verbs with no Type 7 suffix are translated by the 
English simple present tense," mentally add "in this book" to the end of 
it. He's not telling you how to translate Klingon; he's telling you how, 
for simplicity, the book is going to present aspectless translations.

Earlier, he also says that the book will translate verbs with a 
perfective suffix into the English present perfect tense, but 
immediately afterward he translates a bunch of sentences using the 
simple past tense. So don't take the book's declared conventions too 

> My question is: If you don't have any specific context or any words indicating past or future, should you interpret a verb with no Type 7 suffix as present (as suggested by this quotation of TKD)? Of course, there is (almost) always a context, but sometimes it takes a little bit till context is clear. If a Klingon read at the beginning of a text: *tera'Daq Dab muchwI' noy*, will she or he interpret it as present, because if you want it to mean past or future you MUST use a time expression or a clear context, or will she or he simply not interpret it as present / past / future till context or a time expression clarify it (which could be pretty confusing)?

No, don't automatically assume present tense. Don't assume any tense. 
*tera' Dab muchwI' noy* all by itself doesn't occupy any place on a 
timeline. You can do this if the time the verb takes place isn't 
important. For instance: *qur Hoch verenganpu'.* This isn't saying that 
Ferengi /are/ greedy or /were /greedy or /will be/ greedy; it's 
assigning greediness to all Ferengi without any consideration of time. 
And this may be useful sometimes, as I don't /want/ to restrict my 
statement to a particular time.

When you come from a language that encodes tense unavoidably in every 
verb, it can be hard to think timelessly. I imagine this isn't so 
difficult for Klingons.

> Let me put it other way: MUST I always use a clear context or a time expression to get the meaning of present (i.e. be very careful to be sure present is the only possible interpretation in a text), or can I assume that, if no other word or context indicate past or future, the listener / the reader will understand a verb with no Type 7 suffix as present?

If you want to restrict your verb to the present, you must supply the 

Note that, once you have established a time context, it might be hard to 
remove it. If I want to say /A year ago//a famous musician lived on 
Earth. Not all musicians are famous,/ I could say *wa' ben tera' Dab 
muchwI' noy. noybe' Hoch muchwI'pu',* but it might be misinterpreted to 
mean that, one year ago, not all musicians were famous. You have to be 
careful about this sort of thing; don't translate time contexts without 
considering their effects on later statements. I can do it in English 
because the tense is built into the verb. I can't just translate it into 
Klingon without considering that effect.


-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.kli.org/pipermail/tlhingan-hol-kli.org/attachments/20210623/d741b6f2/attachment-0002.htm>

More information about the tlhIngan-Hol mailing list