tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Mar 08 23:09:03 1994

Back to archive top level

To this year's listing

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]


>From: [email protected] (Amy West)
>Date: Tue, 08 Mar 94 23:32:50 PST

>> *normal* terms for non-speaking objects.  Families, too, are considered
>> collections of people, not people themselves.  Families aren't born,
>> they don't die, they don't speak (do they have high voices or low
>> voices?  What's their handwriting like?). It is their *members* that
>> do all these things.

>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

You're mixing your arguments here.  On the one hand you grant that you
understand (I didn't say agree with) my contention that families are
collectives and thus not speaking, sentient things.  But in the same breath
you ask why there's no respect for them.  My point is there's no lack of
respect in this case, any more than there's lack of respect for a book
calling it "paqlIj".  The whole situation doesn't apply to families any
more than it applies to a book.

Now, to the first point...  Yes, a family can speak or hold opinions
*through its spokesman/men*, but that's not the same thing.  When we talk
about that in English, we're using the family as metonymy for the *members*
(or leadership) of the family.  That's really what it is, a very pedestrian
metaphor, just like talking about what Washington "says" about this or that
crisis.  Cities don't speak either, but someone associated with the city,
or the building when it's the White House that's speaking, can indeed
cogitate.  The Klingon Defense Force can issue statements, but that doesn't
make it one vast sentient creature.  It makes it an organization, composed
of people who are.  Would you call the UFP "DIvI'lI'"?  I wouldn't.

> 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've seen no canonical proof either; we're both working off our instincts
and intuitions based on our linguistic knowledge and what we think is a
"Klingon" perspective.  We're obviously not agreeing, but that doesn't mean
it isn't worth considering.  As I turn it over in my head, using my own
concept of a "Klingon point of view", I get my opinion.  You get yours from
yours.  So we try to convince each other that our respective opinion is
"better".  That's the way arguments go, and its often a good way to gain
better perspectives.

I could also see a duality for collective nouns: treating them as sentient
when the sentence does (i.e. when that metonymy is at work).  So "my family
is large" would be "tIn qorDu'wIj", but "my family believes the Emperor is
a fool" might be "qoH ghaH ta''e' 'e' Har ?qorDu'wI'".  Hmmm, an
interesting point I just realized on that last sentence.  In American
English, we say "My family believes", with the singular form of the verb
(and I did the same in the Klingon).  In British English (I'm led to
understand), in many such situations they would "unwrap" the metonymy in
the grammar, and say "my family believe", using the plural form of the verb
(and the Klingon would have had "luHar").  That is, "family" is recognized
as an abbreviation for "the members of my family".  There are at least some
cases where the Klingon would seem to conform more to the American usage.
Irregular plurals, like "cha", are treated as singular grammatically
(3.3.2, p. 24), thus implying that the grammar follows the grammatical
number blindly, the number which inheres to the noun, and not the
"real-world" equivalent.  This is not a direct proof that it applies here,
but it's something to consider.


>[email protected]


Back to archive top level