[tlhIngan Hol] inherently plural nouns and collection nouns for groups of people (in the paq'batlh)

De'vID de.vid.jonpin at gmail.com
Mon Feb 28 16:38:37 PST 2022

In TKD 3.3.2, it says that inherently plural nouns are treated
grammatically as singular nouns and that singular pronouns are used to
refer to them. There was some controversy about this as the paq'batlh
appears to violate these rules, namely, by using prefixes corresponding to
the plural for inherently singular nouns and referring to them using plural
pronouns. In addition, possessive suffixes were used on {qorDu'} which
indicate a being capable of language. Dr. Okrand has said that these were
mistakes, and they will be fixed in the 2nd edition. Inherently plural
nouns should always be treated as singular in the grammar, and collection
words for groups of beings capable of language are generally not themselves
beings capable of language. For example, "soldiers" and "family members"
are beings capable of language, but generally speaking, "army" and "family"
are not.

(Dr. Okrand likes to emphasise that everything he says which looks like a
rule is only "generally" true, allowing for possible exceptions, and my
impression is that it would be acceptable to use a suffix for a being
capable of language on a collection of beings which speaks with a single
hive mind, or maybe talk metaphorically or poetically of an army speaking
with a single voice. But if you're talking about a {ghom} of Klingons or a
Human {qorDu'} under normal circumstances, you would not use the suffixes
for beings capable of language for {ghom} or {qorDu'}.)

Our exchange is below. The indented text is his quoting me, and I've elided
[...] over some parts which are not relevant to the issue at hand, but
otherwise these are his words as he wrote them.

--- begin quote ---

{lojmItvo' molor neghvo' je / DoH chaH / qamchIy Hoch negh}
"The men of Qam-Chee / They all back away / From the gates and Molor's men."

If the structure of this sentence is to remain as it is, the pronoun should
be {ghaH} (not {chaH}).  That's the short, easy answer. It got snarled up
in trying to match the style of the English ("The men of Qam-Chee, they all
back away…") rather than doing it in a more straightforward way ("The men
of Qam-Chee all back away…"). I think if I were to do it again, I'd just
leave the pronoun out altogether, not try to mimic the English, and have it

{lojmItvo' molor neghvo' je / DoH / qamchIy Hoch negh}

But that leaves the second of the three lines with a single word, and a
short one at that, which would make it a bit unusual for paq'batlh's
overall structure — though not unprecedented. My vote is for the
pronoun-free version. [...]

{'uQ'a' luSop neghwI' 'e' vIchaw' / chaHvaD 'Iw HIq vInob / vaj tlhutlhlaH
'e' luSIQlaHbe'}
"I will let my soldiers feast, / Give them blood wine / Until they can
stand no more!"

You're right about this one. {negh} is grammatically singular and the
pronouns should follow suit:

{'uQ'a' Sop neghwI' 'e' vIchaw' / ghaHvaD 'Iw HIq vInob / vaj tlhutlhlaH e'

But while we're here, I think I'd like to make another change as well.  The
English phrase "until they can stand no more" was originally interpreted to
mean something like "until they cannot stand any more blood wine" (that is,
until they can't tolerate any more wine). But, looking at it again, I think
the intended meaning is "until they can't stand up any longer."  So this
would be:

{'uQ'a' Sop neghwI' 'e' vIchaw' / ghaHvaD 'Iw HIq vInob / 'ej SIbI'Ha'

It's dangerous to let authors/translators/editors go back and review what
they've done. They'll want to do some parts over again! [...]

...{qorDu'} is given inconsistent suffixes in paq'batlh. In some places, it
seems to be treated as being capable of language ({-lI'}, {-wI'}), and in
others, it's treated as a non-being ({-wIj}). Furthermore, in a few places
{qeylIS qorDu' je} acts grammatically as if it were singular. There doesn't
seem to be any pattern as to why this is so (e.g., I thought it might be
that in the instances where it takes suffixes for a being, it's referring
to one person, but this isn't the case).

{qorDu'} should be considered something that is not capable of language
(though its individual members, of course, might be… and normally are).
{qeylIS qorDu' je} is plural (it's Kahless and family).

p. 61 - {qorDu'lI'}:
{maHvaD lojmItmey tIpoSmoH / SoHvaD tuqlIj vInoblaH / batlh Hegh qorDu'lI'}
"Open the gates for us, / I can offer you your house / And your kin will
die with honor."

The suffix on {qorDu'} should be {-lIj}.

{maHvaD lojmItmey tIpoSmoH / SoHvaD tuqlIj vInoblaH / batlh Hegh qorDu'lIj}

p. 63 - {qorDu'Daj} (gives no information either way):
{qorDu'Daj lon lojmIt ngaQHa'moH / SumchoH mangghom 'Iw largh / moratlh
wanI'vam DaSov}
"He leaves his kin, unlocks the gates, / The army closes in, smelling
blood. / Oh, Morath, and you know this:"

This is fine.

p. 87 - {qorDu'wI'}:
{ghe'torDaq lengbe'meH / qorDu'wI' vIQan / muyonmoH bortaS neH}
"I will save my kin / From Gre'thor / And take revenge!"

The suffix on {qorDu'} should be {-wIj}.

{ghe'torDaq lengbe'meH / qorDu'wIj vIQan / muyonmoH bortaS neH}

p. 107 - [...]
{tlhoS lojmItmey veghDI' / qeylIS qorDu' je / 'el veqlargh}
"Kahless and his kin / Were almost at the gates, / When Fek'lhr came in."
(The translation suggests {qorDu'Daj} but perhaps the suffix {-Daj} isn't
necessary here since context makes it clear whose kin we're talking about.)

Adding {-Daj} to {qorDu'} makes sense, though it’s not needed
grammatically. Without it, maybe a better gloss is “Kahless and (the)
family.” But the English says "his kin," so let's add the {-Daj}. [...] But
as long as we’re looking at this, let's match English more closely and
change the whole thing to:

     {tlhoS lojmItmey vegh / qeylIS qorDu’Daj je / 'elDI' veqlargh}

p. 123 - again, should be {lupawDI'} with {lu-}:
{Dung qo' pawDI' / qeylIS qorDu' je ta''e' neH / bop bommey}
"Upon reaching the upper world, / No one could speak of anything, / But the
deeds of Kahless and his kin."
This and the sentence above makes me think that maybe {qeylIS qorDu' je} is
being treated as singular?

I agree. It should be {lupawDI'}. The real problem with this sentence,
though, is that out of context it's not clear what the subject of {paw} is.
If we have only these three lines, it would appear that the subject is
{qeylIS qorDu' je}. In fact, the subject is given in the preceding
three-line stanza (or whatever we're calling these three-line things):
{qotar qempa'QeH je}. Kotar and his Qempa'keh are the ones reaching the
upper world. {qeylIS qorDu' je} is whose deeds the songs are all about. For
clarity, we should probably add {chaH} after {lupawDI'}. And, as with the
sentence on p. 107, we should add {-Daj} to {qorDu'}.

p. 145 - {qorDu'wIj} twice:
{qorDu'wIj quvmo' jImaghpu' / qorDu'wIj quvqa'moHlu'meH / jIvang vIneH}
"The reason of my betrayal / Was my family honor, / I want to restore this

p. 183 - {qorDu'wIj}:
{reH tlhIngan tlhIH 'e' yIqaw / pewuv'egh / qotar vImuv qorDu'wIj vImuv}
"Remember forever that you are Klingons, / You need no one but yourselves!
/ I will go and join Kotar, to be with my kin."

These two sentences (pp. 145, 183) are fine.

p. 191:
{'uQ'a' lutIv / molor luHarghbogh SuvwI'pu' / qeylIS qorDu' je}
"There was a feast with his kin, / And the warriors that took part / In the
great battle against Molor."
The expected prefix {lu-} is used, but the grouping includes {SuvwI'pu'} so
{qeylIS qorDu' je} could be either singular or plural.

The subject is {SuvwI'pu' qeylIS qorDu' je} "the warriors and Kahless's
family." That is, there are two parts to the plural subject (the warriors +
Kahless's family), not three (the warriors + Kahless + the family). Of
course, Kahless was feasting as well, not just his family. If we want to
make that explicit, we can change the subject to {SuvwI'pu' qeylIS
qorDu'Daj je}, which is probably better.

--- end quote ---

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