tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Dec 14 09:22:36 1999

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Re: KLBC: tlhIngan Hol vIqeq vIneH

SuStel and I were both in the crowd listening to Marc Okrand 
explain how this happened. He remembered a lot of detail I had 
forgotten and has explained things quite well. I just want to 
add a couple details I remember.


On Sun, 13 Dec 2099 20:40:00 -0500 David Trimboli 
<> wrote:

> > 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
> phrases.)
> 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!"

Apparently, the script originally only had the line "Target 
engines only". That scene was shot twice. The first time, 
Christopher Lloyd forgot the first word, so they shot the scene 
over again. The first take was then an "outtake". It was on 
film, but it wasn't intended to be used for the movie.

In editing, the director realized that nobody had explained why 
Kruge asked the gunner to target engines only or why he got so 
upset and killed the gunner. He decided that he wanted added to 
the script the line "I wanted prisoners!" It was too late to 
shoot such a scene. The set had been torn down, etc. Okrand was 
called in to work with the outtakes and creatively figure out 
how to do this.

He apparently chose the outtake to use with the original 
subtitle, figuring that it was close enough to work. That left 
him with a couple needed syllables for the new subtitle.
> So, when writing the dictionary, Okrand had to backfit.  {qama'pu'}, which
> previously was a verb *{ma'}

Note that the word {ma'} is now defined as "accommodate". More 
MO humor.

> 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).

He said that he had already created {-mey}, so he had to explain 
why there would be two different plural suffixes.
> {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.

Also note that {neH} is being used as the second verb of a 
Sentence As Object construction, with no {'e'}, and now it is 
the only verb that behaves this way. Additionally, this single 
line may have been the whole reason Okrand changed {-pu'} to 
mean aspect instead of tense, since now {neH} needs to be past 
tense, but it has no suffix. If nothing else, this line almost 
certainly explains the least popular grammatical rule in the 
language: The second verb of SAO can't take a Type 7 verb suffix.
> Thus, {qama'pu' jonta' neH}, which originally meant "I told you engines
> only" became "Wanted prisoners."

Or more accurately, "Wanted accomplished-capture 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.
Surely there is no other single example of backfitting in any of 
the movies that has had as profound an effect on the grammar.
> SuStel
> Stardate 99950.2


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