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

Will Martin lojmitti7wi7nuv at gmail.com
Tue Mar 1 07:39:26 PST 2022

Agreeing with SuStel here and trying to help understand the brokenness of saying that perfective aspect with a future time stamp always needs to be future perfect in English:

Your example is {wa’leS rep wa’maH loS jISoppu’} could be translated as:

Tomorrow at 2:00pm, I will have eaten. (Future perfect)
Tomorrow at 2:00pm, I will finish eating. (Simple future)
Tomorrow at 2:00pm, I will have finished eating. (Future perfect)
[Context: I want to meet with you, but I don’t want to disturb your meal.] Tomorrow at 2:00pm, I will not be eating [because I will have finished eating by then].

I think the weirdness here is that simple tense always refers to “now”, even when you have a Time Stamp. Perfect tense just tries to mimic the same information, relative to the time stamp. Future perfect is just past tense applied to some future Time Stamp.

Aspect is about the duration of the action of the verb. What part of that duration are you looking at? Are you looking at the start of the action? Are you looking at a time while the action is occurring? Are you looking at the state of the action being completed?

The moment that an action is completed triggers the perfective aspect, and the perfective aspect holds from that moment infinitely into the future.

Real world example:

I’m building a retainer wall. I started it four days ago. I have built this wall for three of the past four days. If I work on the wall for another three days, I will have built the wall for a week. It probably still won’t be completed. I have used perfect tense to describe several stages of the wall construction, but I can’t use the perfective aspect until the wall is done.

You may argue that I should have said, “I will have been building the wall for a week,” and that might be a more accurate statement, but what I wrote was not wrong in English, though using {-pu’} or {-ta’} would be wrong in Klingon.


Because in that future, three days from now, the building process of the wall will extend into the past, and the focus of my attention in my statement is on that pastness of the process instead of on the completion of the process. Klingon doesn’t care if the process has any pastness. It only cares about it having completion.

Tense, including perfect tense, is all about which way you are looking in time from whatever time environment you are looking. Aspect is all about specific time markers associated with the duration of the action of the verb.

SuStel: Is this an accurate description? Can you improve on it, clarifying anything I’m getting wrong?

Luis: Does this clarify the issue at all?


charghwI’ ‘utlh
(ghaH, ghaH, -Daj)

> On Mar 1, 2022, at 9:03 AM, SuStel <sustel at trimboli.name> wrote:
> On 3/1/2022 7:53 AM, luis.chaparro at web.de <mailto:luis.chaparro at web.de> wrote:
>> I wasn't trying to ask if a certain perfect tense maps to the Klingon perfective aspect, I was actually trying (that's at least what I think) to ask the opposite: I was trying to think about aspect without hanging it to a specific tense. My question was why *wa'leS rep wa'maH loS jISoppu'* must necessarily fit the English Future Perfect, and why we couldn't give it another interpretation, *even though* there is no English tense to express it:
> The key here is not to try to understand it in terms of fitting or not fitting English tenses. What you need to do is understand what the Klingon elements mean, not how they translate.
>> instead of forcing it to a perfect interpretation in which the eating will be completed before 2 pm (*Tomorrow at 2 pm I will have eaten*), why couldn't we give it, depending on the situation, a perfective but not perfect interpretation similar to *Yesterday I ate at 2 pm*, but in the future, where the eating happens at 2 pm and is considered as a completed whole?
> English does not have any special markers for perfective concepts, so it doesn't matter what verb tense you use.
>> In the past you can chose to translate *jISoppu'* with a perfect tense (e.g
>>  . *I had eaten*) or with a non perfect tense (*I ate*), depending on the situation. Why should we interpret *jISoppu'* in the future always as perfect?
> Because Klingon perfective includes the concept of being completed, and to express something as completed, you have to be looking at it from after it is completed.
> In English, we can use the simple past tense to look backward at an action. We are looking at that action from a vantage point where its completion can be perceived. If we use the simple future to look forward to an action, we can only perceive the beginning of the action. I will eat does not imply completion. In order to take a vantage point that lets us see the future action as completed, we have to go even farther into the future, to a point where the action is finished. We can then look backward at it to see its completion. This kind of expression has a name: future perfect.
> That's why I can't give you a future perfective that isn't perfect in English.
> Again, this is just the way English works. It's more important here that you try to understand the way that Klingon works, and to do that you need to analyze and understand the Klingon elements involved regardless of how they're translated into English or Spanish.
> -- 
> SuStel
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