[tlhIngan Hol] thoughts on the perfective {-pu'}

De'vID de.vid.jonpin at gmail.com
Tue Apr 5 16:46:19 PDT 2022

On Tue, 5 Apr 2022 at 20:20, Iikka Hauhio <fergusq at protonmail.com> wrote:

> SuStel:
> for a quality, that's weird. Again, I'm not saying it's possible, but it's
> weird, and I'm still not aware of any evidence that Klingon does it
> I don't think it's weird. I've explained how such a word has a useful
> meaning. I think you too see how it could have a meaning, as you have
> multiple times described what it would mean, and I agree with your
> analysis. It seems the only reason you have to argue against this construct
> is that it is "weird" and doesn't fit to your personal model of how Klingon
> works.

He wasn't just saying it was "weird" as a sort of personal feeling. He
explained *how* it was weird: it treats a quality as an event (in the
linguistic sense).

TKD says that {-pu'} indicates that "an action is completed" and {-ta'} is
used when "an activity was deliberately undertaken". Applying these to a
state or quality is "weird" because actions or activities have a kind of
internal structure or flow that a state or quality does not. An action is
what something *does*, and putting {-pu'} on an action makes sense because
it's saying that the action was completed (i.e., it expresses that the
action is done). A state or quality is what something *is*, and putting
{-pu'} on a state or quality doesn't make sense (is "weird"), because it's
indicating that an action is completed when the verb doesn't express an
action in the first place (i.e., it expresses that the quality is been? has
been? I can't even describe what it would be doing).

In {jIroppu'}, what is the "action" (in the linguistic sense) that's
completed? It makes sense to say something like {rojchoHpu'} (because the
{-choH} turns the verb into an action), but what would {roppu'} mean?

> I don't think you can answer it just by declaring a yes or a no as Iikka
> is doing.
> Please don't put words in my mouth. All I've said is that there is no
> intrinsic semantic distinction between a quality verb and a non-quality
> verb. There is a grammatical distinction: quality verbs can be used as
> "adjective attributes". That is the only canonical distinction there is
> between these two parts of speech.
> All I've said is that 1) using perfective on quality verbs is both
> meaningful and useful 2) it isn't forbidden and 3) the lack of evidence is
> not proof of ungrammaticality.

Just because something isn't ungrammatical doesn't mean it makes sense.
There's no explicit rule that prevents suffixes that apply only to actions
from being attached to verbs which are non-actions, but the result doesn't
make sense.

> We cannot expect there to be a canonical sentence for every possible
> combination of words and suffixes, so just that there are not good data
> points doesn't mean anything. Instead, to support this kind of claim, one
> should find a sentence that should have a perfective suffix but doesn't,
> and argue that the lack of suffix is due to an unwritten rule.

That seems like begging the question to me. If it doesn't make sense to
ever put a perfective suffix on a non-action verb, as I believe, then there
can never be a sentence with a non-action verb which "should have a
perfective suffix but doesn't". The fact that no perfective suffix is found
on a non-action verb in canon *is* evidence that the two normally don't go
together, even if it doesn't prove that they can't.

> One interesting canon sentence to consider is *vIneHpu' **I wanted them* that
> uses *-pu'* on *neH* which is a verb describing a state.

It is? It seems pretty clear to me that {neH} is an action and not a state
(in the senses of these words as used in TKD). {vIneHpu'} is even used as
an example for {-pu'}, right after it's explained that the suffix indicates
that "an action is completed". (A verb expressing a state can be used as an
adjective following a noun, whereas {neH} clearly can't.)

> While not an "adjective" like *rop*, it isn't an "action" either. If
> words like *neH* and *Sov* can have the perfective aspect, why wouldn't
> quality verbs too?

Because the meaning of {-pu'} makes sense on {neH} and {Sov} (which are
both actions), and it doesn't seem to make sense on a verb of quality or

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