[tlhIngan Hol] {mej} with and without {-vo'}

De'vID de.vid.jonpin at gmail.com
Tue May 24 02:08:13 PDT 2022

In the Saarbrücken qepHom'a' 2019 booklet, Dr. Okrand answered this
question about {mej}:

Lieven: What is the difference between {mej} "leave" and {tlheD} "depart"?

MO: They certainly overlap, but, generally speaking, {tlheD} implies
setting out on a journey, having a goal or destination in mind, while {mej}
refers simply to leaving one's current location. In both cases, the object
is the place you're departing/leaving from. (end of reply)

While revising the paq'batlh, in discussing how {mej} is used with Dr.
Okrand (the context is p. 163 line 4 in the 1st edition, which said
{chalqachlIjvo' bImej...} and which should be {... Damej...}), I brought up
the object of {mej}, gave him the existing example of {bIghHa'
DamejDI' pagh QaS yInob} "Get out of jail free" (or literally, "when you
leave jail, give zero troops") from Klingon Monopoly, and asked whether
{-vo'} is necessary on {chalqachlIj[vo'] Damej...}.

Here's what he wrote back:

>>> Good catch. Both ways are okay, but the {-vo’} is not needed here.

{mej} without {-vo’} implies you’re no longer in a place where you’ve been.
(You were in jail, but now you’re not.)

{mej} with {-vo’} is used when the place you’re leaving from (the place
with the {-vo’}) is a starting point. You intend to journey from that point
to some other point. (“The hikers left from the trailhead” suggests they
began their hike on the trail. If you said “the hikers left the trailhead”
— no {-vo’} — they may or may not have started hiking on the trail. Maybe
they just got hungry and went home.)

In addition to the {chalqachlIjvo’} example you cite, the paq’batlh has
examples of {mej} with and without a preceding {-vo’}:

(a) {lojmItmeyvo’ Damejta’} “you left from the gates” (p. 193, line 11).
Kahless didn’t really spend any time at the gates — he went right
through/past them and made it into Gre’thor without being harmed (well, he
had to trick Fek’lhr, so it’s not like he did nothing). So Kotar is saying
that Kahless got into Gre’thor from Gre’thor’s starting point so to speak
(the gates), not that he escaped from the gates or something like that. So
{-vo’} makes sense here.

(b) {ghe’tor Da’elmo’ ’ej Damejmo’} “because you entered and left Gre’thor}
(p. 195, line 26)

Here there’s no place noun immediately preceding {Damejmo’}, but if there
were (and there certainly could be), it would be {ghe’tor}, not
{ghe’torvo’}. Kahless was in Gre’thor for a bit and then he wasn’t anymore
— he left. So no {-vo’} is needed.

The “to {-vo’} or not to {-vo’}” distinction isn’t as clear-cut as I may
have made it sound. It’s subtle. You can be in a place for a while and then
leave it and start your journey from that point. In many (most?)
situations, you could use it or not and still be fine. But as a rule of
thumb: If the focus is on not being somewhere anymore, no need for {-vo’};
if the focus is on starting from a certain place towards a certain path or
goal, {-vo’} makes that clear.

(end of message)

So, to summarise:
{tlheD} - implies a goal or destination
{mej} without {-vo'} - just leaving a place
{mej} with {-vo'} - the place marked with {-vo'} is a starting point

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