[tlhIngan Hol] Time elements and *qaStaHvIS*, continuous and perfective aspect

SuStel sustel at trimboli.name
Tue Feb 22 06:47:56 PST 2022

On 2/22/2022 6:45 AM, luis.chaparro at web.de wrote:
> Thank you for taking the time to *translate* it into the Spanish 
> grammar! ¿Hablas español? 

Solo un poco.

>> bIpawDI', qaStaHvIS wa' rep jIghItlhtaH.
>> bIpawDI', jIghItlhtaH.
>> I'm not sure what you're last one means. When you arrive, I will start writing and do it for an hour?
>> bIpawDI', jIghItlhchoH; qaStaHvIS wa' rep jIghItlhtaH.
> Yes, that was exactly what I was trying to say.
> I find this subject really interesting, so I hope you excuse me if I still have a couple of questions I would like to discuss. I understand what you mean when you say that Klingon breaks apart Spanish imperfective into *-taH* (*estaba escribiendo*, *I was writing*) and *no-aspect-suffix* (*escribía*, *I wrote*). However, *estuve escribiendo* (*I was writing*, *Pretérito Indefinido*) is for me, as Spanish speaker, something with represents a mix between continuous and perfective. For example, I cannot say: *Cuando llegaste, estuve escribiendo un texto* if what I want to say is *When you arrived, I was writing a text*, because *estuve escribiendo* presents the ongoing action of writing as a whole and completed *before* the arriving, although not focusing on the result of the action like *había escrito* (*had written*, *Pretérito Pluscuamperfecto*: focus on the result, the text is here finished).

You've exhausted my knowledge of Spanish tenses, I'm afraid. The best I 
can do is summarize the Klingon situation from the point of view of 
someone speaking from "now":

*-pu'* and *-ta'* mean I'm describing the action as a completed whole, 
without inspecting its interior structure.
*-taH* and *-lI'* mean I'm describing the action as having an "ongoing" 
structure, already happening before the given moment and still happening 
after the given moment.
/Lacking any of these suffixes/ means I'm describing the action as 
neither completed nor as ongoing. I might be describing being in the 
moment of the action, or I might be describing a timeless or general truth.

*wa'Hu' jIghItlhpu':*//I performed an act of writing yesterday and 
competed it. I'm not describing how the act went, just that it was finished.
*DaH jIghItlhpu':* I have performed an act of writing that is finished 
now, or who prior completion is relevant now.
*wa'leS jIghItlhpu':* At some point tomorrow I will be looking back at a 
competed act of writing.

*wa'Hu' jIghItlhtaH:* I am describing a moment that occurred yesterday 
in which I was writing, and describing it as an ongoing action. Shortly 
before the moment I was writing, and after the moment I'll still be writing.
*DaH jIghItlhtaH:* At this moment I am in the act of writing. I was 
doing this before this moment, and I'll still be doing it after this moment.
*wa'leS jIghItlhtaH:* At some point tomorrow I'll be in the act of 
writing. I will have been doing this before that point, and I'll still 
be doing it after that point.

*wa'Hu' jIghItlh:* Yesterday was a day for writing for me. OR I am 
describing a moment yesterday in which I was writing, without any 
reference to writing before that moment or after that moment, and 
without any indication that I completed the act of writing.
*DaH jIghItlh:* Right now writing is something I do, generally. OR I am 
in the middle of an act of writing, but I'm not making any suggestion 
that I was writing before this moment or that I'll be writing after this 
moment, or that my writing is in any way complete.
*wa'leS jIghItlh:* Tomorrow will be a day for writing for me. OR I am 
describing a moment that will occur tomorrow in which I will be writing, 
but I don't give any indication that I was writing before this moment or 
after this moment, and I don't give any indication that the writing will 
be complete.

> That's the reason why something like *bIpawDI', qaStaHvIS wa' rep jIghItlhtaH* sounds for me, as Spanish speaker, really strange. I would interpret it probably as the third option, *When you arrive, I will be writing for an hour (I will start writing and do it for an hour)*,

In English, you would  have to say /When you arrive, I will write for an 
hour./ I was confused about your meaning, because in English you don't 
say /I will be writing/ to indicate an action that you just started; it 
means you're describing a moment in which writing was already happening.

>   and in order to get the meaning *I will have been writing for an hour* I would probably decide to give up the continuous aspect and say something like *jIghItlhpu'* (*I will have written*).

/I will have been writing/ is not perfective; it's the future perfect 
progressive tense. (Remember, perfect is not perfective.) There is no 
perfective in /I will have been writing,/ so translating it as 
*jIghItlhpu'* isn't right. But it is progressive, and the 
progressiveness of it is part of the actual meaning (ongoing writing), 
so *-taH* is the correct Klingon translation.

Again, /perfect/ means an action is prior to the time of the sentence 
but somehow relevant to the time of the sentence, while /perfective/ 
means an action described as a whole without reference to how it unfolds 
over time. Klingon has explicit perfective aspect, not a perfect tense.

> I'm not trying to say that Klingon must work as Spanish does, I'm just trying to understand how Klingon works in order to avoid *Spanish* mistakes. From what you are saying I see three possibilities:
> 1. *-taH* always expresses continuous and imperfective aspect, so if I want to express perfective aspect I must use *-pu'* and give up *-taH*.

Continuous and perfective are mutually exclusive in Klingon, yes. *-taH* 
describes the internal structure of an action as already happening 
before now and still happening after now (where "now" is the time of the 
sentence). *-pu'* describes a completed, whole action with no 
description of how the action unfolded over time. You have to figure out 
which of these things your sentence wants to express — or, if neither, 
to leave off any type 7 suffix.

> 2. *-taH* always expresses continuous aspect and we should use it when we prefer, for whatever reason, to present the action as continuous - the perfective or imperfective aspect of the action comes from the context.

*-taH* will never be perfective, and Klingon doesn't have an explicit 
imperfective aspect. If you want to identify imperfective in Klingon, 
it's just everything that doesn't have perfective. "Imperfective" isn't 
a very useful label in Klingon.

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