tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Mon Oct 25 07:05:13 1993

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porghpu' porghDu' porghmey joq

>Date: Sun, 24 Oct 1993 15:57:38 -0400 (EDT)

>Well, just looking at the subject line here should tell you what my 
>question is. What plural do you use for {porgh}. Probably it depends
>somewhat on context, I'd imagine. Suppose the bodies are alive and
>belong to something capable of using language. This rules out the
>elimination of {-pu'} or {-mey}. {porghpu'} is probably very close to
>{nuvpu'} or {ghotpu'}. And maybe {porghmey} is approximately equivalent
>to {lommey}. But if the true plural of {porgh} is {porghDu'}, then
>{porghmey} is an illegal construction: TKD, section 3.3.2, pg.23,
>"The suffix {-mey} cannot be used with body parts." That's it, the plain
>and simple truth. It's a confusing issue.

This is a good one.  Way back when, early on in this list, I argued in
favor or {porghwIj} as opposed to {?porghwI'} on the grounds that the
{wI'}/{wIj} distinction was based on some sort of feeling of sentience or
intelligence, and I'd no more say {porghwIj} than {nujwIj} (and presumably
the {pu'}/{mey} distinction works the same way).  I'd say that {porghmey}
should be okay, even if the bodies in question happen to be living and
belong to sentient, language-using beings, provided that all I was really
talking about was the bodies and not really the fact that they're people.
{porghpu'} sounds kind of idiomatic to me, almost like we sometimes use
"warm bodies" in English to refer to people.

{porghDu'} is something I never thought of.  It makes sense; a body is
certainly a body-part in some sense: it's a part that happens to comprise
the whole (Heh... If it made sense to talk about the plural of {pagh}, I
wonder if you'd use {*paghDu'}?  After all, the nullset is also a subset of
setthe  of parts of a body :-).  OK, I'm not serious.)  Somehow it doesn't
sound quite so right as {porghmey} to me, but it really doesn't sound all
that wrong.  Trouble is, I can build the sentient/non-sentient distinction
into my thoughts okay, but body-parts don't seem as natural.  Maybe someone
with Chinese experience might do better (it's my understanding that Chinese
has "classifiers" when counting, so one counts some objects as "round
things" and others as "long things"...).  It certainly feels like a
borderline case to me, and every language has these borderlines that
aren't well-defined by the rules.  I'd probably have to cop out here and
invoke the statement in the introduction that the "rules" are often broken
and say that you could probably use any of the plurals, preferably using
the one that best fit how you were referring to them (if you meant the
bodies as dead weight, {-mey}; as people, {-pu'}/{-mey} for scattered
meaning, etc.)  And then there's always the way out: {porgh law'}.


Gee, {porghDu'} is sounding better and better...

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