tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Mon Dec 13 10:55:07 1993

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something weird about imperatives



>From: DSTRADER@delphi.com
>Date: Sun, 12 Dec 1993 14:10:01 -0400 (EDT)

>In Klingon, all a verbal prefix really does is allow the pronouns to be
>implicit. Therefore, I conclude that this carries over to imperatives,
>where it would be safe to say something like:
>{tengchaH yIlon tlhIH}.  "All of you, abandon the station!"

I presume you mean without the "tlhIH", and you'd be right.  {tengchaH
yIlon} makes perfect sense, tho there is the problem of "coincidental"
ambiguity with the singular 2nd-person imperative prefix, which is also
"yI-".  But that's not at issue here.  Or maybe you mean with the {tlhIH},
and that Klingon allows the pronouns to be explicit.  Still no argument
from me.

>I've been thinking lately about those imperatives (I'm not sure what the
>accurate term for them is, but I know there must be one) that are translated
>as "Let's [do something]," where the subject is 1st person plural. This 
>has normally been translated with a 1st-pl.subject prefix with the {-jaj}
>suffix. But {-jaj} acts more like the Optative mood, so the idea of a 
>command is somehow lost.

>I would like to suggest, that if your intended meaning was "Let's abandon
>the station," it might come out better as:
>{tengchaH yIlon maH}  rather than  {tengchaH wIlonjaj}.

Doesn't hold any water to me.  For one thing, it's as logical as saying
"let's use "vI-" for all verb conjugations"; even if Klingon has a
first-person imperative, why on Qo'noS should it be "yI-" and not "mo-" or
"ghu-" or anything else?  What you're doing here is basically making up a
completely new verbal prefix.  This is not changed by the fact that it
happens to resemble an existing one; you're using it in a totally new way.

Moreover, why does Klingon have to have a 1st-person imperative?  Not every
language has one.  Many don't, why must Klingon?  English doesn't.  Your
"Let's abandon" is an idiomatic construction using a *second*-person
command: You! whoever you are, permit us to abandon the station.  That's
why it's "let *us*" in the objective case, because it's the object of the
verb "let".  Near as I can tell from canonical examples, Klingon either
uses "-jaj", with the Optative functioning here for your imperative, (e.g.
maja'chuqjaj in the beginning of PK, admittedly spoken by a
less-than-perfect Klingon speaker), or simply the indicative: "maja'chuq",
"we will talk".  I'm not sure, my tape isn't with me now, but I think we
see that in the sentence towards the end of PK, "'uQ maSoppu'DI',
maja'chuq"; "we'll talk/let's talk after dinner."

Maybe there was a 1st-person imperative in Old Klingon, but it probably had
its own prefixes; I wouldn't invent one now.

>I write this with NickNicholas in mind, since his broad linguistic knowledge
>seems appropriate to devise a clever solution to this.

Well, what do you think, Nick?

>Guido#1, Leader of All Guidos


~mark



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