tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Mar 02 00:15:53 1994

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>From: mark <[email protected]>
>Date: Tue, 01 Mar 94 13:12:47 EST

>More generally on this, we've all been assuming that the meaning 
>of the suffixes applies IN ORDER: that is, that the meaning of 
>each suffix applies to the entire sequence of 
>    (prefix) stem (suffix) (suffix) (...)
>piled up before it, except where -qu' picks out one part for 
>attention (p.49).  That means that a word like

>    yItuQHa''eghmoH

>which obeys the suffix ordering and has -moH "outside of" -'egh, 
>can only be interpreted as something like

>    'make yourself take off clothes'

>Now, I think this "boxes within boxes" semantics is generally true 
>in human languages, but the only ones I'm familiar with have much 
>more freedom of affixation and compounding than Klingon does.  
>Okrand is familiar with human languages (especially Amerindian) 
>that have the strict affix ordering of Klingon.  Does anyone here 
>know whether the semantics of affixes in such languages is also 
>strictly ordered?  In other words, could

>    yItuQHa''eghmoH


>    'undress yourself'

>with the -moH "inside of" the -'egh?

I'd say, "yes, definitely".  In this particular case it's not that
important (after all, making yourself take off clothes in almost all
circumstances amounts to the same thing as undressing yourself).  But this
case is a bad example anyway, as you point out, since it's unclear whether
or not "tuQHa'moH" is "undress" in the transitive or intransitive sense.

But we came across this problem once before, with the verb "tay'eghmoH", to
civilize oneself.  There was some argument that it should be "*taymoH'egh",
on the same grounds that you mention: the "-moH" is somehow "inside" the
"-'egh" (and possibly that "taymoH" was a verb in its own right since it
has its own entry in the lexicon).  I don't buy that.  If that were so,
then I can't offhand think of any reason why "-'egh" would *ever* be on the
"inside" of "-moH".  Okrand never said the ordering of the suffixes was
meant to bear on the meanings, except for the rovers "-be'" and "-qu'".  It
may be that this is a remnant of a time when the suffixes had free order,
and more evidence to this is the fact that *most* of the time the suffixes
wind up in an order that "feels" logical.  But basically the order is what
it is, and sticking an "-'egh" on a verb means that the subject is doing it
to itself, even though what makes the verb transitive is a "-moH" another
suffix or two down the road and the "-'egh" is up-front next to the verb.
It's another one of those charming irregularities about languages.

>- marqem


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