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

SuStel sustel at trimboli.name
Fri May 20 09:20:02 PDT 2022

On 5/20/2022 11:25 AM, Will Martin wrote:
> 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. 

/Beneficiary/ is a nontechnical description of what an indirect object 
is. /Indirect object/ is the linguistic term. It refers to whoever or 
whatever "receives" or is the "beneficiary" of the action or the result 
of the action. There is another term, /benefactive,/ which is a noun 
case that indicates someone who actually benefits from an action. 
Klingon *-vaD* puts nouns into the benefactive case. In Klingon, the 
benefactive case is also used to indicate an indirect object, which can 
be viewed as a subset of the benefactive: receiving the result of the 
action is like a kind of benefit.

A direct object, on the other hand, is someone or something upon which 
the action is directed. The subject acts upon or toward the direct object.

In Klingon, the "object" is /usually/ a direct object. You can say *taj 
vInob*/I give the knife/ (the knife is the direct object), but you 
cannot say *SoH qanob* /I give (something to) you/ (where you are the 
indirect object) or even just *qanob*. You can't say /I give you/ in 
English, either, if you intend /you/ to be an indirect object.

But there are times when the object is more flexible. Whenever you use 
*-moH,* you have a choice: does the object continue to represent the 
patient acted upon by the agent (let's just assume patients and agents 
for now, rather than themes and experiencers and so on), or does it 
represent the receiver (indirect object) of the result of the agent 
acting upon the patient? It can be either, because the receiver of the 
action can be thought of as the one acted upon by the causer. But the 
patient is more closely tied to the action than the receiver is, so if 
there is a conflict and both want to be the object, the patient wins and 
the receiver is marked as a benefactive.

The verb prefix also shows that flexibility in the prefix trick. When 
it's allowed, it means the prefix agrees with the indirect object 
instead of any direct object, but it's tricky because it also means the 
indirect object must be elided. It only ever agrees with an unstated 
word. That's why you can't say*qanob* or *SoH qanob* or even *SoHvaD 
qanob.* But you /can/ say *taj qanob* because it meets the requirements 
of the prefix trick.

So the object argument of a Klingon verb is not necessarily always a 
direct object, but it can only represent an indirect object under 
certain circumstances. It's not purely optional.

> 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.

It does not break any rules, but its meaning is only obvious if you 
already know what it's supposed to mean.

I could argue that I could just as easily say *tlhIngan Holmo' tera'ngan 
vIghojmoH*/I teach the Terran because of the Klingon language,/ and 
/obviously/ I'm saying that because I'm talking about teaching and a 
cause, that cause is what causes me to teach the Terran, so I must be 
teaching that language. I could argue that *tlhIngan HolvaD tera'ngan 
vIghojmoH* is what we should say because by teaching the Terran Klingon, 
the Klingon language receives a benefit, so /obviously/ I must be 
teaching Klingon. But none of these, including yours, actually express 
the idea I want to get across; they just skirt around the idea and hope 
you'll make the connection. You could take this to another extreme: 
*qoSDaj'e' vaS'a''e' tlhIngan Hol'e' tera'ngan'e' jIghojmoH*/As for his 
birthday, as for the Great Hall, as for the Klingon language, as for the 
Terran, I teach. /Well, /obviously/ it means I'm teaching the Terran the 
Klingon language in the Great Hall on his birthday. You've got a day, a 
place, a person, a language, and teaching. What else could it possibly mean?

Just sticking an *-'e'* on a noun doesn't /really/ tell you what its 
function is in the sentence. Yes, it's the topic, but how does it 
interact with all the of the other entities in the sentence? It doesn't 
say. "This sentence is about X" begs the question "So what did X do?" 
Saying "X'e' N1 V N2" tells you all about what N1 and N2 did, but 
nothing about what X did.

> 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.

Nooooooooooo, nonononono. Those aren't objects. Those are nouns in roles 
other than object or subject. Object is a role. Subject is a role. Those 
other nouns are in roles like "locative," "benefactive," and "cause." 
Instead of being identified by their position in the sentence, they're 
identified by their endings. I'm sorry we don't have a nice, neat term 
for "noun role besides object or subject," but that's what they are. I 
tend to call them "syntactic nouns" or "syntactic noun phrases," since 
they're nouns or noun phrases marked by "syntactic markers," but this 
isn't a very good name.

> 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,

No, "any noun in the sentence indicating something other than subject or 
object comes first, before the object noun."

> 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.

I think it's quite clear that the prefix trick was a retroactive 
explanation for too-close translations. He translated things like /I 
give you the pie/ as *chab qanob* because he read "I give you" and found 
the /I+you(sing)/ prefix, not considering that in English it is an 
indirect object. When asked about it, he came up with an explanation 
that mirrors what English does and normalizes his previous errors. It 
was well done, but I'm sure he didn't think this is what was happening 
from the start.

> 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.

But quality verbs (not "stative verbs," which would include verbs like 
*Qong*/sleep,/ which describes the state of being asleep) /can/ have 
objects... when they have *-moH* on them.

> 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’}.

It's not vague. It's explained clearly in TKD: certain verbs include a 
locative sense in their meanings, so their objects already refer to 
places. Putting the "place" suffix *-Daq* on one of these words wouldn't 
change its meaning in the sentence at all, so you can do it, and the 
only cost is redundancy.

You can't say, for instance, *tajDaq vInob* because *nob* does not have 
a place as its object, so you /are/ changing the meaning of the sentence 
by adding that *-Daq,* and that meaning is inappropriate. The object of 
*nob* is the thing given, not the location or destination of the action, 
so using a location as its object is not allowed.

> 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.

*juHDaq vIghoS*/I am proceeding toward my home./ This is unambiguous, 
disregarding interpretations of an elided pronoun like *juHDaq ghaH vIghoS*.

> 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 

Or you can take that as evidence that nouns marked as something other 
than object or subject simply aren't objects or subjects.

> Get used to it.


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