[tlhIngan Hol] Present tense and context

SuStel sustel at trimboli.name
Wed Jun 23 10:09:36 PDT 2021

On 6/23/2021 12:27 PM, luis.chaparro at web.de wrote:
> In the last text in Klingon I've posted here I began with this sentence: <DoyIchlanDaq tagha' loQ QaQ muD Dotlh 'ej Hur wItIvlaH. 'ach jImejpa' tlhIngan HolwIj vIqeq vIneH. ghojmeH pov meq motlh luSovlu'bogh. vaj *flamenco* meHghem vIrIch vIneH.> Till this point a Klingon wouldn't interpret it as past, present or future. Then I begin to speak about *flamenco*, so context makes it clear and the Klingon reader understands I'm speaking about "now", right? If I want to make it clearer from the beginning, I can say something like: *DaHjaj DoyIchlanDaq...*

I don't see the sentence that introduces the flamenco adds any time 
context. The only time context I could possibly piece together from this 
is from the word *jImejpa',* which isn't *jImejpu'pa',* so you're not 
describing something /before I left/ (a competed act); you're describing 
something happening contemporaneous with some viewpoint, possibly 
/before I leave/ (an imperfective act, presumably in the future)//. 
Therefore I probably would not interpret this sentence as being in the 
past, but as referring to something that takes place before you leave in 
the future. It might be in the present (/before I leave /[the leaving is 
in the future] /I want to practice Klingon/ [the wanting is in the 
present])//or in the future (/before I leave/ [the leaving is in the 
future] /I will want to practice Klingon/ [the wanting is in the 
future]). The former seems more likely to me, so I'd interpret the whole 
thing to refer approximately to the present.

> But later I say: <vatlh DIS poH wa'maH Hut *Andalusia*Daq chenpu' *flamenco*, 'ach mungDaj Sovlu'chu'be'. nger law' tu'lu'. meHghemvam luSIghlaw'pu' nugh pIm. wa' nugh potlh 'oHbejpu' *Romani* nugh'e'.> The sentences *'ach mungDaj Sovlu'chu'be'. nger law' tu'lu'* aren't actually clear for someone who has no idea about the actual situation of *flamenco* research: There are or there were many theories?

It could be interpreted that way, yes. But the time context is *vatlh 
DIS poH wa'maH Hut*/the nineteenth century./ If the flamenco was 
invented in the nineteenth century, then people in the nineteenth 
century probably aren't the ones who don't clearly know its origins and 
have many theories. You don't say in which time people have don't know 
and theories, so all we know is that it's after the invention of the 

> However, when you are explaining something and say: *Its origin wasn't known, there were many theories*, the logical thing to do is to add something like: "But today we know it" or "And it's still unknown today". So, since I didn't add anything like this in my Klingon text, the reader is likely to interpret it as present: *Its origin isn't known. There are many theories*. What I'm trying to say is that sometimes context comes from what isn't said rather than from what is actually said, and that what is expected in a particular context should be taken into account.

That's true. Context isn't only simple and explicit time references. It 
can be reasonable or common assumptions.

Now, Klingons aren't computers, and they don't interpret their language 
procedurally. If you try to overspecify your time contexts, you'll just 
write an uncouth mess. It's a balancing act between making things clear 
and speaking elegantly.

The trick for us is to remember that in translating into Klingon from 
other languages, we may lose some time context contained in the other 
languages' verbs that we didn't even notice was there.


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