[tlhIngan Hol] Use of *-'e'* with adverbials

SuStel sustel at trimboli.name
Wed Oct 20 06:17:46 PDT 2021

On 10/20/2021 8:05 AM, mayqel qunen'oS wrote:
> SuStel:
>> chang'e' DaH Sam Find Chang now!
>> In this context, I believe the sentence
>> can be interpreted like so: Chang! Find him now!
>> That is, it's using the object noun as a topic instead of a focus.
> SuStel:
>> The parallel sentence in TKD gives us what seems to be a focus interpretation
>> (HaqwI''e' DaH yISam Find the SURGEON now!), but no context is given, so it's
>> a little hard to interpret.
> I'm afraid you lost me here; the {chang'e' DaH Sam} and {HaqwI''e' DaH
> yISam} seem identical with the only difference being that the first
> uses clipped klingon.
> So, couldn't there be the opposite interpretation as well, i.e. the
> {chang'e' DaH Sam} using the focus function of {-'e'}, and the
> {HaqwI''e' DaH yISam} using the topic function {-'e'}?

Yes, that's why I said the various functions of *-'e'* are closely 
related, and I think pushing the object out in front of the adverbial 
where other non-subject, non-object nouns might go further blurs the lines.

I agree with JanSIy that Klingons pay more attention to the context in 
which *-'e'* is used more than in trying to understand arbitrary 
distinctions in its use. I think fronting an object with *-'e'* might be 
changing its context from "special object" to "what the whole sentence 
is about."

Wikipedia article on topic (but note that the word /focus/ on that page 
is used in a slightly different way than what we're talking about here): 

Wikipedia article on focus: 

Look over the beginning of those two pages, then compare them to what 
TKD says about *-'e'* in various places. You'll see that the use of 
*-'e'* in copulas matches what is said about topic, while the use of 
*-'e'* in subjects and objects matches what is said about focus.

*-'e'* on a non-subject, non-object noun is not explicitly addressed in 
TKD, and we have only one clear example of it, the one from ST5, and it 
matches the description of topic, not focus. The examples in the TKD 
Addendum of moving the object to before the adverbial /might/ be an 
example of this, but this is not made explicit or denied. When Gorkon 
shouts *chang'e' DaH Sam,* is he saying /As for Chang, find him now!/ or 
is he saying /Find Chang (not someone else) now!/ I'm not entirely sure, 
though I guess that it's the former. If that's the case, then it may be 
that "fronting" the object with *-'e'* is not just a syntactic trick, 
but means you're actually changing the context of the noun from being an 
object (where *-'e'* means focus) to being a non-subject, non-object 
noun, where *-'e'* apparently means topic.

But we don't KNOW any of this for sure, so I can't give you the solid 
answers you both keep asking for. Okrand himself admitted error in 
calling *-'e'* topic in TKD where he uses it as focus. I think he's not 
entirely clear on the distinction himself, or wasn't until Lawrence 
pointed it out to him. So, in general, try to use *-'e'* as focus when 
putting it on subjects or objects that aren't head nouns of relative 
clauses, and try to use it as topic when putting it on nouns at the end 
of copulas. For the weird cases, take your best guess.

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