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

SuStel sustel at trimboli.name
Thu Sep 16 08:11:27 PDT 2021

On 9/16/2021 10:32 AM, Will Martin wrote:
> 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.

The whole reason we make a distinction between syntax and semantics, and 
subjects, objects, agents, patients, and so on, is that they don't 
always appear in the same partnerships. Syntax defines how words fit 
together /without careful regard for their meaning./ Semantics defines 
what meaningful roles words play in sentences /without restricting their 

> 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

When you use an indefinite subject, the verb prefix does NOT imply a 
subject at all. The agent is not indefinite, and the agent is not the 
object. The SUBJECT is indefinite. These terms are not interchangeable.

TKD says that when using indefinite subject, the verb prefixes are used 
to agree with only the object, "since the subject is always the same 
(that is, it is always unstated)." This is the explicit reason the 
prefixes "flip": not because they're indicating some kind of reversed 
third-person entity, but because "the subject is always the same," 

Verb prefixes operate according to the rule of *rom:* that is, they must 
agree with the object and subject of the verb. When using an indefinite 
subject, there is NO SUBJECT for them to agree with. There's nothing 
there at all. They CAN'T agree with it. So indefinite subject prefixes 
only agree with the object, and they do so under what appears to be a 
fairly arbitrary convention.

The indefinite subject prefixes are certainly NOT matching the agent in 
any way. If *Daqawlu'*/you are remembered,/ and I'm doing the 
remembering /(you are remembered by me),/ you don't say *choqawlu'.* You 
say *qaqaw,* because Klingon doesn't have a passive voice, and 
indefinite subject is not passive voice, and if you've got an agent and 
a patient in Klingon (and no causer), the agent is the subject and the 
patient is the object, and that's pretty strict.

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.kli.org/pipermail/tlhingan-hol-kli.org/attachments/20210916/421b6416/attachment-0003.htm>

More information about the tlhIngan-Hol mailing list