tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Fri Oct 22 07:53:32 1993

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Double Predicate Whatsits



>From: Will Martin <whm2m@uva.pcmail.virginia.edu>
>Date: Fri, 22 Oct 93 08:52:29 EDT


>qajatlh

>As for the overuse of -ghach, it illuminates how nouncentric English is.
>We will take any verb and turn it into a noun or perfer a noun when a verb
>will do. Instead of saying, "Tomorrow, my teacher evaluates me," we say, "I
>have a test tomorrow." Instead of saying "We are reorganizing," we say, "We
>are going through a reorganization." Instead of asking, "What do you
>conclude?" we ask, "What is your conclusion?"

>-ghach, -ghach, -ghach! The core of a Klingon sentence is the verb!
>Nouns are optional. Part of the English fascination with the verb "to be" is
>rooted in this determination to nominalize everything. Our second most
>important words in English are adjectives. They barely exist in Klingon. Even
>then, they exist as verbs. This is a root level shift of linguistic
>perspective, and those who fail to make that shift and complain because
>pseudonouns and detailed adjectives are difficult to squeeze out of Klingon
>are probably missing the point.

This is really an excellent point, and it's something to bear in mind.
While I fully accept and use the pronouns-as-copulas, I do try to take a
semi-E-primish view towards the languages when I try to construct sentences
in Klingon (E-prime, for those who don't know, is basically English with
all forms of the verb "to be" deleted.  It's proponents make all sorts of
hotly-debated claims as to its importance; I consider it to be a useful and
informative, though not earth-shattering, mind game).  If you go through
the tapes and sample sentences, you'll find that Okrand uses those
pronoun-copulas very sparingly. Not because they're wrong, but because if
you think about it there are ways at least as good to express things in
Klingon without them.  They just don't match our English notions of
sentence structure.  Some examples from Power Klingon, English is Okrand's:
"De' lI' Sovlu'DI' chaq Do'Ha'" (Knowledge of useful information may be
dangerous) "DopDaq qul yIchenmoH QobDI' ghu'" (set fire on the side when
there is danger) "HoS lI' Dalo'Ha'chu'" (You are a total waste of good
energy).  These don't necessarily show ways to avoid pronoun-verbs, but
they fo demonstrate how to avoid "-ghach"; we'd probably use lots of
"-ghach"'s for them.  The problem is that English idiom doesn't run towards
heavy use of "-DI'"-like sentences (even in the TKD "Revenge is a dish best
served cold", we have "bortaS bIr jablu'DI' reH QaQqu' nay'", a completely
different construction).  "When the situation is dangerous" or "when useful
knowledge is known" are not common English sentence-building elements.  The
trick is unlearning your English, and that takes some doing.

~mark



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