tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Thu Mar 10 08:29:40 1994

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re: Dogh/qoH

jang Guido#1:

>jatlh Qanqor:
>>Personally, my own usage would be contextual; in my mind, qoH ghaH
>>is much more strongly derogatory.  Dogh, to me, implies that, right
>>now, at present, he's acting foolish, whereas qoH ghaH says something
>>fundamental about his nature.  It implies:  he is a fool, he's
>>always been a fool, he'll always be a fool.  But this is just my
>>take, not proven fact.
>'e' vIQoch
>Klingon does not have any sort of tense. Saying "He is foolish" in English
>*would* imply that he is acting like a fool right now, and may not generally
>act that way all the time, but in Klingon {Dogh} means "he/she/it
>is/was/will-always-be foolish".

It certainly true that Klingon has no tense per se, and that Dogh
does not necessarily mean "He acts foolishly [right now]".  In the
right context, it could mean "He was foolish" or "He will be
foolish" or whatever.

But I strongly dispute the notion that Dogh means "he/she/it
is/was/will-always-be foolish."  The fact that the verb takes no
explicit tense marker does NOT mean therefore it is all tenses at
once.  It means it is tense-neutral, and therefore context must
provide a time-sense.  To be specific, the dictionary says:

        The absence of a Type 7 suffix usually means that the
        action is not completed and is not continuous (that is,
        it is not one of the things indicated by the Type 7
        suffixes).  --TKD 4.2.7, page 40.

This really leaves out the likelihood of a translation of "he
is/was/will-always-be foolish" since that kind of sustained
continuity is clearly in the domain of -taH, as someone else
(charghwI'?) mentioned.  No, I'd say the best ultra-explicit
translation would be something like:

Dogh        "He is foolish at the moment in time we are talking
             about, and, as of this time-frame, he has not yet
             ceased to be so."

Typically, in the absence of context, we assume the time-frame we're
talking about is the present, so I translated with present tense.

Let's look at a more clear example.  Suppose I say:  jIghung.  This
*clearly* does not mean "I am/was/will-always-be hungry".  With no
context at all (say I phoned you up and that was the first thing I
said), it probably means "I'm hungry."  If I'm telling you about my
day yesterday and I say "jIghung vaj Qe'Daq jIghoS", it means "I was
hungry, so I went to a restaurant."  If we're taking a trip together
and I turn to you and say "ghochDaq mapawDI' jIghung", this might
reasonably be interpreted as "By the time we get there, I'm gonna be
hungry."  Again, the lack of explicit tense does not mean that we
mean all time-frames simultaneously.

>With aspect, we can only interpret an action's state in reference to any
>chronological frame of reference, be it now, an hour ago, thirty centuries
>from now, or last week. The only thing Klingon aspect does is indicate if an
>action is completed or in the process of occuring, and also whether performed
>intentionally or unintentionally. For example, {Doghpu'/Doghta'} means he has
>just made a fool of himself. {DoghtaH/DoghlI'} means he is in the process of
>doing so. In either of those cases, it is not as derogatory as saying that he
>is a fool in general, in which case the tenseless {Dogh} should suffice.

Well, of course, Doghpu' (or Doghta') does NOT mean he has just made a fool of
himself, in the same way-- it requires context.  Lacking context,
that might be a reasonable translation.  But consider some usages:

Doghpu' DuqIHpa' 'ach DachoHmoHlaw'

    "He had been foolish before he met you, but you seem to have changed him.


nuHIv 'e' wuqchugh jagh ra'wI' vaj Doghpu'

    "If the enemy commander decides to attack us, then he will have
        been foolish.

In particular, it is not necessarily so that Doghpu' means he *just*
made a fool of himself.  The -pu' means the action completed at some
prior time-- it does not in anyway indicate that that time of
completion was necessarily recent.

And DoghtaH certainly does not necessarily mean "He is in the
process of making a fool of himself."  I could certainly say:

vISovtaHvIS DoghtaH     "He's been foolish for as long as I've known him."

In any case, my main point was not predicated on presumed
present-tense-ness of Dogh.  It is simply that Dogh by its very
nature is less eternal.  It describes a property, not an essence.
In particular, looking at it from a tlhIngan Hol, and therefore,
presumably, from a tlhIngan point of view, it is something one
*does*.  It is a verb.  An action.  One might even go so far as to
say:  a choice.  qoH is something one *is*.  Whereas the time-frame
for Dogh is context-sensitive and may be modified with aspect
markers, being a qoH *has no time frame*.  It is here my
interpretation begins:  lacking a time-frame, one could claim that
the pronouncement qoH ghaH is being rendered as an eternal truth,
not something the person could change in the next moment, based on
his behavior.  Here are some sentences as food for thought:

DaHjaj val wuqghachDaj 'e' vISaHbe'-- qoH ghaH

    "I don't care that he decided wisely today-- he's still a fool."

cha'logh Dogh valwI'; cha'SaDlogh Dogh qoH

    "A wise man is foolish twice; a fool two thousand times."

I think I'll just leave it at that.


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