tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Oct 05 14:11:41 1993

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Birthright Song, Dave`s take on it. [REPOST]

{ talk about plurals and ghaH/'oH, from before the list crash }

>From: Will Martin <>
>Date: Wed, 15 Sep 93 17:35:04 EDT
>X-Mailer: UVa PCMail 1.8.4
>Content-Length: 1165

>> {ghaH} can mean "it", I suppose, but it's a *sentient* "it" ...

>I don't know that I'd make the leap between "capable of language" and
>"sentient". I think that Okrand was once again trying to enter an alien
>mindset here. 

Exactly.  My feeling (maybe not supported) on this is that the "capable of
using language" distinction is an attempt to define "sentience".  In other
words, things that can be considered somehow "people", to take it more
broadly.  Things with the intelligence to be able to speak, in some sense.

>      If a computer can talk, one should probably use "ghaH" to refer
>to it instead of "'oH", especially since we don't have gender problems in
>such a context in Klingon. 

I agree, provided that "a computer that can talk" doesn't mean "an Apple ][
with a cheap voice-synthesizer chip that can record and spit back people's
voices".  But, an artificial intelligence capable of somehow "conversing"
with you, even by printed messages, I would certainly call {ghaH}.  The
difference to me is the same one that makes "it" sound so bad to an
English-speaker's ear when applied to a person, or the personification that
occurs when you start calling a cat "he" or "she" (note that animals which
unquestionably have gender are very often referred to as "it" in English,
even when you know what sex they are, because otherwise it feels like
you're personifying them somehow, while you can't usually call a person
"it" even if you don't know the sex).

Similarly, the implication of this "sentience" is on the ability to _use_
language, i.e. the intelligence to make it work, and not simply the ability
to produce it.  My mouth can speak, but it's still {nujwIj}.  I mentioned
this very early on on this list, defending the use of {porghwIj} for "my
body," even though bodies talk.  But only when there's a *mind* in them!

>         If a person cannot talk, I think one should use
>"'oH" instead of "ghaH" to refer to him or her, hence a husband might
>gleefully introduce his temporarily mute, illiterate wife:

>		be'nalwIj yIqIH
>		 roplI' HughDaj
>	    ghItlh 'e' ghojbe'taH 'oH'e'
>		jatlhlaHbe' 'oH'e'

Perhaps that's the meaning implied by the derogatory use of "-wIj" as
mentioned in TKD, but not necessarily.  It may be unrelated, or at least
have become unrelated by now.  It certainly would not be wrong to call
someone's father "vavlIj" if you wanted to start a fight, even if the old
man could speak.  And I doubt a good answer to such a statement would be
{jatlhlaHqu' vavwI'!}.  Moreoever, unless I wanted to insult your family,
I'd refer to your father as "vavlI'" even if he was dead (and thus
certainly no longer speaking).  Your story with the mute wife is plausible,
but more as a nonce joke, a play on words at the moment, than the general
implied meaning, at least to my ears.  Remember, it's being *capable* of
using language, which I read in a sort of timeless sense: being who were or
will be or are capable, even if they don't.  Babies too young to speak are
still {ghupu'}, and mutes who haven't learned to read or write or sign yet
are also {ghaH}--even if they never get around to learning!  Because they
are *capable* of it.  Granted, this is a somewhat informal definition (how
do I know they're capable?  Maybe the one that died before he learned was
inherently too stupid), but it makes the most sense to me.


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