[tlhIngan Hol] {-vaD} {-moH} combination front slot missing middle slot missing and the {'e'} of a sao

Will Martin lojmitti7wi7nuv at gmail.com
Fri May 20 08:25:14 PDT 2022

This is actually the point of grammar in Klingon that I allowed myself to be sufficiently upset over to leave the list and stop using the language for a while. Totally my bad. I was invested in a misunderstanding of the grammar; too cock-sure that I knew how it SHOULD work, if it made sense, so obviously it DOESN’T make sense and I’m not doing it anymore…

“I was so much older then, but I’m younger than that now…”

When I had my one interview with Okrand, he vaguely avoided using the terms “transitive” and “intransitive” referring to verbs. I wish he’d explained things better then. I misinterpreted this, believing that he wanted wiggle room to change his mind about any verb at any time; that verbs were transitive or intransitive, but he just didn’t want to commit, so in the future, errors wouldn’t be errors. I was wrong.

The term he kept returning to, which I failed to understand, was that he replaced “transitive” with “can take objects”. Note that he didn’t say, “Can take DIRECT objects.” While backing away from the term “transitive” he was more accurately backing away from the word “direct”, since a transitive verb can take a direct object, and Klingon lacks that category of noun function.

Klingon grammar sees nouns acting as subjects or objects of verbs. Subjects follow verbs. Objects precede verbs.

An indirect object (the linguistic term is apparently “beneficiary”, though I’m not a linguist and the detailed answer is probably more nuanced, as the more linguistically inclined will surely correct) is a specific kind of object. You can reveal that special status with {-vaD}, perhaps optionally, like the plural suffixes. It’s never wrong to use {-vaD} where appropriate, but maybe it’s not so wrong to not use it when one might expect it, as a non-native speaker, to be required. The prefix trick suggests this kind of squishiness, and it really comes to light with {-moH} verbs, as you have discovered.

{tlhIngan Hol vIghojmoH.} {tera’nganpu’ vIghojmoH.} Both are correctly stated because of this optional nature of {-vaD}. I could have said {tera’nganpu’vaD jIghojmoH} and I’d be exactly as correct. There’s more pressure to use {-vaD} if I have two objects, like {tera’nganpu’vaD tlhIngan Hol vIghojmoH.} I still argue that it would be just as accurate to say {tlhIngan Hol’e’ tera’nganpu’ vIghojmoH}, but that’s my original construction, never backed by canon, so it cannot be relied on as correct. It merely fails to break any rules we have had explained to us, and its meaning is obvious.

“Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, did you enjoy the show?"

You can also probably argue that to a Klingon linguist, other Type 5 marked nouns are special types of objects of the verb. If you don’t have any Type 5 marking on a noun before a verb, it’s not a direct object. It’s just an object. Klingon doesn’t have a suffix for direct object because it doesn’t really have the category of “direct object”. It’s just the leftover kind of object of the verb. If it is an object and it CAN’T take a Type 5 suffix, then a human-language linguist would call it a direct object, but a Klingon linguist would just call it an object and be done with it.

Objects marked with Type 5 noun suffixes (except {-‘e’}, which is always special) are required to precede the verb, just like what human linguists call direct objects, though the prefix on the verb exclusively refers to generic objects lacking a Type 5 suffix, whether those objects are stated or implied (witness the Prefix Trick). The prefix trick takes what we would call the indirect object, and because it is absent and by necessity has no suffix, points to it as an object, which it is. This is an alien justification for an accidental similarity to the English in “I gave you the pie.” {chab qanob.} He’s not mimicking English. He has a REASON for saying it that way. English doesn’t have a reason. It just does it because it can, in its arbitrary way.

As an extension of this, stative verbs (with “be” in the definition, which can be used adjectivally) technically can take objects, but only if they have a Type 5 noun suffix. They can’t take generic objects. You need a suffix to explain the relationship between stative verbs and their objects, as locatives, topics, or beneficiaries, etc. Those qualified objects still have to precede the verb, just like all Klingon objects.

This can provide part of the explanation for the weirdness of certain verbs with {-Daq} absent from their objects or why {ghoS} can even be vague in terms of whether the object should have a {-Daq} or a {-vo’}. The sentence is {juH vIghoS} whether I’m going to or from home because I’m moving along the “home path”, regardless of which direction I’m traveling. If it’s important that I let you know that I’m going FROM home as opposed to toward it, I optionally can say {juHvo’ jIghoS}, but I’m not WRONG if I just say {juH vIghoS}. I’m just being a little vague, focusing on the route I’m traveling instead of the destination. Note that I can’t say {juHDaq jIghoS} unless I am within the boundaries of my home, so there is no way that I can unambiguously tell you that I am going TOWARD my home. It’s what I’m more commonly saying to you, but it’s never completely explicit.

The prefix, oddly, doesn’t indicate an object for qualified (suffixed) objects. It just indicates the link between the verb and its vaguely remainder type of object that doesn’t have a suffix, which isn’t a direct object because, hey, Klingons are ALIEN and their language is ALIEN.

Get used to it.


charghwI’ ‘utlh
(ghaH, ghaH, -Daj)

> On May 20, 2022, at 7:42 AM, D qunen'oS <mihkoun at gmail.com> wrote:
> jIH:
> > paq luyajmoH ghojmoHwI'
> > Could this new sentence mean too "the teachers 
> > cause someone unspecified to understand the book"?
> > Or is that the only thing it can mean is "the teachers cause 
> > the book to understand" as if the book was alive or something?
> SuStel:
> > Yes, it can mean "The teachers 
> > cause someone unspecified to understand the book."
> Ok, thanks for clarifying this. Everything is crystal clear now.
> The reason I've started to wonder about all this, is that while working on my site, I've regularly been writing things like: {yadda yadda yadda 'e' SovmoH ngervam} for "this theory informs that..".
> But suddenly I started to wonder "Wait; what's happening with {-vaD} {-moH} and in the case the {-vaD}'ed noun is missing? Do things work the way I think they do?".
> Luckily, now I understand. Thanks.
> -- 
> Dana'an
> https://sacredtextsinklingon.wordpress.com/ <https://sacredtextsinklingon.wordpress.com/>
> Ζεὺς ἦν, Ζεὺς ἐστίν, Ζεὺς ἔσσεται· ὦ μεγάλε Ζεῦ
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