tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Oct 05 15:52:59 1993

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Re: Plurals

The issue of plurals, are more clearly the issue over when to use -pu' and
when to use -mey, comes down to a question of understanding.  Are we to take
literally the notion of "beings who use language" as only those who are able
to speak or currently speaking?  Or to look at the intention behind this and
interpret it as getting to the concept of "intelligence."  You don't have to
look further than terrestrial philosophy to find many people arguing that
language use defines intelligence.  That is, it is language is both necessary
and sufficient for designating an intelligent being.

But we're still not free of the tribbles yet.

Are the mute, the sleeping, and the brain damaged still entitled to -pu' when
they congregate?  If we acknowledge that language exists in forms of than
oral, we can sneak the mute in (assuming they can write or use a manual
system or some such).  The case of people who, when awake have language, but
when asleep don't appear to (and if you don't know them, how would you know?)
seems silly, almost to beg the question, but hey, I'm just playing both sides
of the rules here.  

Suppose you're a Federation transfer to the Klingon militia. You walk into
the barracks, eager to find your bunk, and gag at the odor of the Klingons
already fast asleep in there.  You might exclaim (if you knew the language):

    He'qu' QongwI'pu'   The sleepers smell!

Which of course presupposes that they have language.  If not, you could go

    He'qu' QongwI'mey   The sleepers smell!

As for the brain damaged who no longer possess the facility for language,
that gets trickier still.  If you grant that they no longer qualify for -pu'
then you're stuck with situations where, in a single sentence, you might
describe refer to them both ways (some sort of before and after reference to
the incident that damaged them?).

Of course all of this is just sophistry.  And yet, I believe it was Descartes
who, taking the arguement that language is intelligence (and demonstration of
a soul), grouped prelinguistic children in with animals.  Go figure.

Anyway, now that I've rambled (but I hope in an entertaining fashion) let me
simply say that, for the most part, I agree with Mark Shoulson, vis a vis the
computer arguement, and the underlying intent which seems to be expressed in
the explanation of when to use -pu' and when to use -mey.

:: Dr Lawrence M Schoen, Director   ::
:: The Klingon Language Institute   ::
:: POB 634, Flourtown, PA 19031 USA ::

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