tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Mon Dec 13 17:43:14 1999

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Topic or emphasis?

> > Adding {-'e'} does more than just add emphasis.  It indicates that the
> > is the topic of the sentence.  I agree that {-'e'} doesn't belong on the
> > {jIH} here, but not for reasons of overkill.

jatlh charghwI':
> This has been a controversial point, and in conversations with
> Okrand he has admitted that he has used {-'e'} as an emphatic as
> much as a true "topicalizer".  In fact, he has done so more
> often than he has used it as a real topicalizer.
> He describes, for example, the use of {-'e'} on a direct object
> causing it to preceed the adverbial, with the justification
> being that it is the topic of the sentence. Meanwhile, that's
> not how it appears quite often. Certainly, that is not how it is
> used to mark the head noun of a relative clause and it is not
> how it is used to mark the subject of the verb "to be". It is
> also not how it has tended to be used in canon.

I do not think that {-'e'} being used to fulfill a special grammatical
function interferes with its role when not being used in one of those
functions.  I certainly agree that when {-'e'} is being used as a "head noun
marker" or a "to be marker" it does not necessarily indicate topic.

But none of that is happening here.  When one tries to indicate that {jIH}
the subject is the topic of the sentence, one should add {-'e'} to it.  {puq
vIlegh jIH'e'} "*I* am the one who saw the boy (not someone else)."  When
one tries to emphasize the same pronoun in the same sentence, but is NOT
making the point that that pronoun is the topic, then {-'e'} should not be
used.  {yaS'e' vIlegh jIH} "[Oh yeah?  Well,] *I* saw the OFFICER."

If you want to use {-'e'} simply as an emphatic as Okrand does, knock
yourself out.  But be aware that you are marking the noun as the topic of
the sentence.

Can we perhaps see some examples of {-'e'} which are NOT assisting special
contructions, but which also clearly do not indicate topic?  I'd be more
inclined to believe that such a sentence has a non-topicalized emphasis if I
could see some examples.

> > This is what I believe is meant to be conveyed, in English:
> >
> > General 1: I have armies on two planets.
> > General 2: *I* have armies on *THREE* planets!

jatlh charghwI':
> Simply having the {jIH} explicit takes care of the emphasis on
> *I*.

Yes, it does.  No argument there.  As I indicated elsewhere in my previous
post, I agree that the {-'e'} was inappropriate, but not for reasons of
overkill.  My objection is that "I" is not the topic of the sentence.

> > Both "I" and "three" are emphasized, and rightly so.  But the TOPIC of
> > sentence is the fact that I have three planets, instead of just two.
> >
> > However, Klingon has no grammatical tool to topicalize the number in
> > case.  (Neither does English, as far as I can think of off the top of my
> > head!)  It would be clear in speech; your voice would indicate the
> > and topic you're looking for.

jatlh charghwI':
> The difference between topic and emphasis is vague enough that
> it has caused more than one heated argument here.

Perhaps so, but surely you can see the difference between mere emphasis and
topic in these examples!

> > And *I'd* prefer to say:
> >
> > Sa' wa': cha' yuQDaq mangghommey vIghaj.
> > Sa' cha': *wej* yuQDaq mangghommey vIghaj jIH.

jatlh charghwI':
> Are you are indicating verbal emphasis here? If so, that works
> for me.


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