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

Will Martin lojmitti7wi7nuv at gmail.com
Sun Feb 20 06:20:50 PST 2022

Thank you for another remarkably clear explanation of perhaps the most confusing [ahem] aspect of learning Klingon for English speakers. The English “perfect” sounds a lot like the Klingon “perfective” because “perfect” sounds like “perfective”, but they are remarkably unrelated. 

Each time you explain it, it gets more polished and clear. As one who was confused by this for years longer than I should, I look forward to your explanation every time I see one of these posts come along that highlights this point of confusion in Klingon grammar.

Eventually, I might even get Klingon aspect more consistently right, myself.

It could happen.


charghwI’ ‘utlh
(ghaH, ghaH, -Daj)

> On Feb 20, 2022, at 9:07 AM, SuStel <sustel at trimboli.name> wrote:
> On 2/20/2022 8:12 AM, luis.chaparro at web.de <mailto:luis.chaparro at web.de> wrote:
>> In my last text I wrote: ** (I've changed *yIn* for *SIQ* following the recommendations). I have a few questions:
>> 1. Thinking about this sentence, I wasn't sure if I should have said: *qaStaHvIS poH nI'*. I don't think so, because if I understand it correctly, *poH nI'* acts as a time element, just like *DaHjaj*, *Hoghvam*, *cha' ben*, *rep cha'* or *jar cha' DIS 2022*. All these elements don't need *qaStaHvIS*, right?
>> 2. Since *poH nI'* expresses itself a duration, I'm not sure if there is any difference between *poH nI'* and *qaStaHvIS poH nI'*. When should I use the latter, if ever?
>> 3. In Spanish and German, and probably in English too, there is a difference between *this week* and *during this week*. I would use *during this week* if I wanted to speak about something that happened all the time or several times among this week, but not if I only wanted to situate an singular event in the timeline (e.g. I wouldn't say *During this week I've eaten pizza* if I only ate it once and I just wanted to say when I did it). Could we render this difference in Klingon using *qaStaHvIS Hoghvam* instead of just *Hoghvam*? Or has it nothing to do with this?
> All three of your points are wrapped up in the same answer. The difference between poH nI' and qaStaHvIS poH nI' is the same as the difference between this week and during this week. One names a time in which something happened; the other names a time over whose duration an action occurred continuously or potentially repeatedly. Using poH nI' is extremely vague: you're saying that there was once a long period of time, and on the occasion of that long period, something happened. It doesn't mean that something happened for a long time — for that, use qaStaHvIS poH nI'.
>> 4. All of this led me to a question I've wanted to ask for a long time. In Spanish (and in English I think) we can say something like: *It had been raining all day*, *It has been raining all day* / *It was raining all day*, *It will have been raining all day* expressing a continuous *and* perfective action. Since aspect suffixes belong to the same type in Klingon, how could I express this? Simply by not expressing the continuous aspect, for example?
> Those sentences do not express perfective.
> It had been raining all day. English past perfect progressive tense.
> It has been raining all day. English present perfect progressive tense.
> It was raining all day. English past progressive tense.
> It will have been raining all day. English future perfect progressive tense.
> All of these are progressive, or continuous, and therefore not perfective. Perfective means an action is viewed as a whole, without reference to its internal flow. English progressive tenses do reference the internal flow of actions: they tell you that the action occurred in an ongoing manner.
> Three of these are also perfect. Perfect means the action took place before the time context of the sentence, and that the result of the action is relevant in some way to at the time context. It had been raining all day. We're talking about a time X in the past, and prior to time X there was ongoing rain, the state of which became relevant at time X.
> Importantly, perfect is NOT perfective. These mean two very different things.
> Klingon aspects do not match one-for-one with any English tenses. English has rules about when to use progressive tenses that do not match the rules for when Klingon uses continuous aspect. (For instance, in the present tense, English must use the present progressive tense to describe events that aren't states. I know John is a state. You can't say I am knowing John. I am making lunch right now is an event. You can't say I make lunch right now. But it is NOT correct to say that the correct Klingon translations are John vISov and megh vIchenmoHtaH. Klingon doesn't follow these rules. megh vIchenmoH is a valid way to express the fact of your lunch-making without describing it as an ongoing action, and John vISovtaH is a valid way to express ongoing knowledge of John.) English also does not mark sentences for perfective,while Klingon does. (For instance, I slept on a bed might refer to something I did last night, in which case I'm describing a completed action without reference to its internal structure, so that's perfective, and can be translated QongDaqDaq jIQongpu'. On the other hand, I slept on a bed might refer to the sleeping arrangements of myself and a roommate over all of last year, who slept on a couch, in which case I'm describing a situation, not a closed event, and the sentence is therefore not perfective, and should be translated QongDaqDaq jIQong.)
> Now back to your original sentence. poH nI' bov chep wISIQpu' 'ewropngan. You've got a mismatched subject and verb prefix. You use wI- to agree with a subject of maH, not a noun like 'ewropngan. You're probably trying to say something like we Europeans, but Klingon doesn't do this. The prefix must agree with the subject and object (direct or indirect). Let's drop the 'ewropngan and assume we're talking about maH. If you're rather talk about Europeans, keep the 'ewropngan and drop the wI-.
> We've already discussed how if you want to talk about an action occurring over a period of time, you'll need something like qaStaHvIS. Let's add that as well.
> We're also talking about an ongoing state of endurance, not describing an action without reference to its internal structure (so it's not perfective). We have two choices: describe ongoing endurance, or describe endurance in an open-ended manner as a general fact. The former sounds better to me, so that's what I'll do.
> qaStaHvIS poH nI', bov chep wISIQtaH. We endured a prosperous era for a long time.
> Personally, describing both a poH nI' and a bov seems redundant to me. Just saying bov chep wISIQtaH would probably get the point across.
> -- 
> SuStel
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