tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Mar 08 20:20:06 1994

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Re: Qaghqoq

[email protected] (Amy West) ghItlh:

[speaking about the plural of "family"]
>But families *can* speak!  Though it may be the eldest who does the
>speaking as a representative.  A familiy can also die if all
>members die at the same time.  Why should there be no respect for the
>family just because they are together as a group instead of
>individuals?  I haven't seen any proof yet the Klingons don't view it
>in this way.  I'm prepared to go either way on this if there ever
>is a canon example.  I just was trying to see it from a more
>Klingon point of view.

I would prefer to look at this in a more "linguistic" way. Many Terran
languages have "noun classification systems", some more elaborate than
others. French more-or-less arbitrarily throws all nouns into one of
two bins and treats them as grammatically distinct classes; they
happen to be called "masculine" and "feminine". English tends to
divide things up into "male living beings", "female living beings",
and "everything else", with a few exceptions (ships, for example).
Navajo classes nouns by the shape of the object being referred to;
this include "long and rigid", "long and flexible",
"shapeless/amorphous", and many others. (An unconscious drunk human is
a "shapeless" object in this language!)

Klingon also has a noun classification scheme, the classes being
"speaking beings", "body parts", and "everything else"; they determine
pluralization, possessives, and pronoun selection. The special forms
for "speaking beings" aren't there to "give respect" to the item being
referred to; they're just a feature of the grammar. Using the wrong
suffix is, first and foremost, gramatically wrong; it so happens the
error in question gives the impression of disrespect to listeners.

The approach I take is to think of things in a "generic" sense. Does
this noun, when used "generically", connote a speaking being?  Also,
my view is that "speaking being" is a pre-scientific way of saying
"obviously sentient being"; a being is sentient if it can tell you so.

I personally think "family" is an "everything else" noun, along with
"army" and "ship's crew". A family isn't a "being", it's a group of
beings. A talking computer isn't a "being", it's an object. A
deaf-mute Klingon, however, would still be referred with the "speaking
being" constructs, because Klingons in general are speaking beings.

I hope this makes sense.

-QumpIn 'avrIn  [email protected]

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