[tlhIngan Hol] {-'egh} and {-chuq} with {-lu'}

Will Martin willmartin2 at mac.com
Thu Sep 16 07:32:13 PDT 2021

Thanks for this clarification. Not being a linguist, I was unclear about the difference between the Subject (I’m guessing that’s a syntactic term) and the Agent (I’m guessing that has more to do with semantics), since they are usually one and the same… except in the passive voice.

I see a parallel between this exceptional use of Patient as Subject in the English passive voice and the change in meaning of the Klingon prefix (like {vI-}, where it is clearer) with the suffix {-lu’}. In English, the Patient is placed in the sentence in the location that the Subject belongs and the Agent is optional with the helper word “by” and the location of the Object, but in Klingon, the optionally explicit Patient is left grammatically in the Object position or is indicated by the subject implied in the verb prefix, and the Object (the agent) is always syntactically indicated as third person singular, and that Agent is never stated because it is, by definition, Indefinite.

It’s refreshing after all these years to have another layer of the onion peeled away.

Thank you.

> On Sep 16, 2021, at 9:52 AM, SuStel <sustel at trimboli.name> wrote:
> On 9/16/2021 9:24 AM, Will Martin wrote:
>> The thing to keep in mind here is that while the English passive voice CAN be a translation of the Klingon indefinite subject, the two are not equivalent. SuStel has pointed this out in the past. The English passive voice can have a subject, as in “The song was sung by the singer.”
>> If it were just “The song was sung”, that’s English passive voice and fits Klingon indefinite subject, but when you add “by the singer”, the English passive voice just defined the subject, and you can no longer use {-lu’} in the translation into Klingon.
> Ooh, I was about to post a rare "I agree with charghwI' 100%" message, but then I read this last line.
> The job of English passive voice is to make the recipient of the action instead of the performer the subject of the sentence. For simplicity, I will assume the recipient of the action is the patient and the performer of the action is the agent. In the passive voice, the patient is the subject, and including the agent is optional.
> An important reason we use the passive voice is that English requires a subject in every sentence. But what English doesn't require is an agent in every sentence. If you want to obscure or de-emphasize the agent, it can't be the subject. Mistakes were made.
> In Klingon, on the other hand, we can have sentences without subjects, using -lu'. Qaghlu'pu'. There is no reassignment of agent and patient. But Klingon also doesn't have prepositions, so if you use the indefinite subject, there is no other place to express the agent. If you've got an agent (and there's no -moH mucking things up), it has to be the subject. Klingon syntax is more strict than that of English.
> You might get around this strictness by saying things like bomwI'mo' bom bomlu'pu' Because of the singer, the song was sung. But this doesn't quite express the same thing as bom bompu' bomwI'. bomwI'mo' might mean the singer contracted a chorus to sing the song. The cause-noun is not the agent-noun.
> So I agree with your conclusion: where an English passive-voice sentence expresses both patient and agent, you cannot translate into an equivalent Klingon sentence using indefinite subject. I just object to the statement that "the English passive voice just defined the subject."
> -- 
> SuStel
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