tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Mar 09 06:36:28 1994

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On Tue  8 Mar 94 23:06, Mark E. Shoulson writes:
>>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.
Not quite.  I meant that there is usually a representative speaker,
but families can still speak together.  You say they have no
voice, I say they have several voices.
> 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.
But a book can't be broken down into individual speaking persons.
It's not the same thing.
> 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 wouldn't either, but those examples are much larger and more
abstract.  They also contain other, non-speaking elements.  But a
family is *only* made up of people, which is why I make the
> 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
The fact that you can say "My family believes" at all implies
to me that -wI' would be the appropriate suffix.  But appart
from that, in English, you can consider a family to be an "it",
(implied when you say "My family believes"), or "them", (implied
when you say "My family believe").  However, we don't know that
Klingon has this interchangeability.

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