tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Mon Dec 13 17:46:45 1999

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Re: KLBC: tlhIngan Hol vIqeq vIneH

> Incidentally, was <jonta'> a back-fit?  It seems to be composed
> of <jon> + <ta'> (i.e. "captured").

Yes.  ln Star Trek III, Commander Kruge tells his gunner:

DoS jonta' neH
Target: only the engines.  "Target engines only."

(Note that this is not a complete sentence.  It's just a couple of noun

After the USS Grissom is destroyed, he shouts at the gunner:

qama'pu' jonta' neH
I wanted prisoners!

See what's happening here?  {jonta' neH} shows up again!

In fact, Marc Okrand has explained this line.  I believe I heard it from him
at qep'a' wejDIch.

Originally, there was a word *{ma'} meaning "tell."  That would make
{qama'pu' jonta' neH} mean "I told you only the engines!"  Aha!!

But somewhere along the line, as happens all too often in Star Trek movies,
someone decided to change the subtitle.  Now, {qama'pu' jonta' neH} suddenly
meant "I wanted prisoners!"

So, when writing the dictionary, Okrand had to backfit.  {qama'pu'}, which
previously was a verb *{ma'} with the verb prefix {qa-} "I-you" and verb
suffix {-pu'} "completed" (though I'll bet at that time it was when Okrand
was still using tense instead of aspect), was turned into "prisoners."  He
decided that {qama'} was "prisoner," and that {-pu'} was not just a verb
suffix meaning "completed," but also a noun suffix meaning "plural."  He had
surely already come up with the plural suffix {-mey}, so this caused the
distinction between different plural suffixes (things, beings, body parts).

{jonta' neH} had meant "engines only," but became one of the reasons we have
Clipped Klingon.  He decided the whole sentence meant "I wanted to capture
prisoners," and made {jonta' neH} a clipped form, with some new words.
{jon} became "capture," and a new aspect suffix, {-ta'} was born.  The verb
{neH} "want" was also created here.

Thus, {qama'pu' jonta' neH}, which originally meant "I told you engines
only" became "Wanted prisoners."

As you can plainly see, this one little sentence became the basis for a
great deal of the grammar that we know today.  Without that subtitle change,
Klingon would be a very different animal.

Stardate 99950.2

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