[tlhIngan Hol] *-moH* with verbs of state / quality

SuStel sustel at trimboli.name
Tue Nov 16 09:44:25 PST 2021

On 11/16/2021 11:36 AM, Will Martin wrote:
> I think this is a really important point that is not universally 
> understood by Klingon speakers. There is no rule that says you MUST 
> use EVERY suffix that could possibly apply during ever utterance. You 
> use suffixes like English uses helper words. They are optional, unless 
> the meaning that the suffix adds is essential to your motive for 
> communication or is grammatically important to the structure of the 
> sentence. Clipped Klingon even drops prefixes, which ARE grammatically 
> required for well-expressed Klingon.
> So, if you want to bring your listener’s attention to a state of 
> change, you need {-choH}. You don’t have to agonize over every verb, 
> wondering if it should have {-choH} on it.

Yes. But it's not just that most suffixes are optional. The point is 
that Klingon words are not coded representations of objective reality; 
they're coded representations of expression. I described the difference 
between *Say'moH* and *Say'choHmoH* as the difference between talking 
about being the cause of being clean and being the cause of becoming 
clean. The one describes what the end result is like; the other 
describes what the change is like. They both may describe the same 
event, but I am expressing different things about the event. I'm not 
just saying, "Eh, there was a change, but I don't feel like pointing 
that out." I choose the sentence that focuses on the concepts I'm trying 
to convey.

> If getting the sequence of events or the timing of events clear is 
> important, then Type 7 can be really important, but is otherwise not 
> required.

Type 7 is the wrong type of suffix to say this for, because we are told 
that the lack of a type 7 suffix means something specific, not just that 
you didn't feel like saying it.

Using *-pu'* or *-ta'* means you are describing the action from a 
viewpoint after it's done, and looking back on it as a whole. This is 
known as /perfective./

Using *-taH* or *-lI'* means your viewpoint is zoomed into the action so 
that it extends before and after your local viewpoint's "horizon." This 
is known as /continuous/ or /progressive./

Using none of these means you are neither looking back on the action as 
a completed whole, nor are you zooming in until it extends before and 
after your viewpoint. This is your default aspect when you're not doing 
either of these things. It is used for imperfective actions /(Now I chop 
the wood, now I pile it up),/ general truths /(The pen is blue),/ states 
/(I am happy), /and other things. The only way I can leave off an aspect 
suffix is to describe an action as non-perfective and non-continuous.

Again, that doesn't mean the action was never completed or was 
necessarily instantaneous. It means I'm not setting up one of the 
viewpoints that these aspects sets up.

> If expressing humility before a greater power authority is important, 
> leaving out Type 8 could be fatal, but it is otherwise optional.

Type 8 is said to be /always/ optional. Adding it /will/ express 
humility, or at least a recognition of a higher authority, but your 
situation would already have to be fatal where adding *-neS* would tip 
the balance back in your favor.

> Think of it like a plural suffix on a noun. If plurality is not 
> important or if it’s obvious from context, you don’ need the plural 
> suffix, though it’s not wrong to use it even if it is obvious or 
> unimportant (so long as the noun isn’t actually singular). Most 
> suffixes in Klingon are like this,

No, noun plurals are different. Not counting the exceptional ones, 
unmarked nouns are neither singular nor plural. Regular Klingon nouns 
have two plurality states: plural and neutral. Picking one or the other 
usually isn't a matter of expressing different things, as it is with 
other suffix choices, it's a matter of preference and clarity.

> unless it is critical to the overall grammatical construction, like 
> {-moH} or any Type 9 suffix (unless the verb has such a strong 
> association with a specific suffix like {-Daq} that the direct object 
> is assumed to be a location even without {-Daq}).
> This is to say, that if someone leaves off a non-essential, but 
> applicable suffix, you don’t score Klingon points for wagging your 
> finger at them,

That depends. Often, someone will leave off an "optional" suffix in a 
translation and then believe they have expressed the same thing as the 
English original. If you're translating /Sit down!/, you pretty much 
need to say *yIba'choH.* Saying *yIba'* means /Be in a seated position!/ 
which, while it will get the point across, does not express the same 
concept as the original. In English, an imperative /be!/ means /become!/ 
or /remain!,/ which concepts require Klingon suffixes like *-choH* and 

> especially if the target of your finger is Dr. Marc Okrand. While 
> there are errors in canon, some suffix omission is simply an example 
> of the optional character of most suffixes most of the time.

Most of the time, if you think Okrand erroneously missed a suffix or was 
just dropping one because "hey, it's optional," consider carefully the 
meanings of what he wrote with and without the suffix. You'll usually 
find that the two versions mean different things, and that the version 
he wrote translates properly. Sometimes the two versions are so close to 
the same meaning it makes no difference, and sometimes the grammar of 
the English translation obscures the difference between them.

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