[tlhIngan Hol] noun-noun constructions and interpreting a missing {-'e'} in N2 of N1 meaning

Will Martin lojmitti7wi7nuv at gmail.com
Wed Jun 29 09:50:44 PDT 2022

Okay, so we all agree that it’s grammatically acceptable, but the result is confusing. Here’s an opinion of why this is true:

We know that Okrand said the first Noun of a Noun-Noun can’t take a Type 5 suffix. We might wonder why.

I suggest that the first Noun of a Noun-Noun construction has the role of assisting in identifying the second Noun. In your example, we’re talking about paint. That’s the second noun. You could say “The alien has tried to reproduce the paint.” That’s really all you are saying. What paint? The Klingon’s paint. Or is it the shield’s paint? The Klingon made something. Did he make the shield? Did he make the paint and put it on a shield that someone else made?

But you want to replace the Klingon with a Relative Clause, making the Klingon the Head Noun of the Relative Clause. Basically, you are tempted to use a Type 5 Noun suffix {‘e’} on that first Noun of your Noun-Noun suffix. It’s not technically required, but it does give you a strong hint that maybe you are going farther than Okrand intended anyone to go with a Noun-Noun.

In general, the first Noun of a Noun-Noun construction has no grammatical role in the sentence AT ALL beyond functioning as a Genitive Identifier for the second Noun. This is not an explicit rule, but it’s a pretty good guideline. If you start trying to add more words to the first Noun of a Noun-Noun construction, odds are pretty good that the result is going to be word salad, really hard to pick through and parse.

The alien tried to reproduce the paint of the shield that the Klingon made. Even in English, we don’t know if the Klingon made the shield or the paint. It could be the shield’s paint that the Klingon made or the Klingon-who-made-the-shield’s paint.

In Klingon, we don’t know if the it’s the Klingon’s paint or the shield’s paint. Maybe the Klingon made the shield and he owns the paint, but didn’t use the paint on the shield. We’re just identifying the Klingon as being the guy who made the shield, and by the way, this is his paint. He wouldn’t use it on a shield. He uses it on his house.

A Relative Clause and a first Noun of a Noun-Noun construction both identify a noun. It’s a mess when one sentence tries to identify the noun that identifies another noun that has a function in a larger sentence. I’m sure it can be done, but it really cries out to be more than one sentence.


charghwI’ ‘utlh
(ghaH, ghaH, -Daj)

> On Jun 29, 2022, at 9:50 AM, D qunen'oS <mihkoun at gmail.com> wrote:
> jIH:
> > yoD chenmoHpu'bogh tlhIngan rItlh 
> > lIngqa'meH nov, nIDpu'.
> > the alien has tried to reproduce the paint
> > of the shield which was created by the
> > klingon
> SuStel:
> > Are you asking for grammatical validity or
> > an opinion on whether what you said is
> > clear? It's perfectly grammatical and not
> > at all understandable.
> The thing I was wondering was whether the Klingon sentence can mean what the English one says.
> And -if I understand your reply correctly- indeed the Klingon sentence can mean what the English sentence says.
> Of course, I understand that the Klingon sentence isn't quite clear since it can mean other things too, so it isn't something I'd choose to use either.
> But -as always- I'm trying to understand how things work.
> -- 
> Dana'an
> https://sacredtextsinklingon.wordpress.com/ <https://sacredtextsinklingon.wordpress.com/>
> Ζεὺς ἦν, Ζεὺς ἐστίν, Ζεὺς ἔσσεται· ὦ μεγάλε Ζεῦ
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