tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Dec 15 09:47:17 1999

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Re: Topic or emphasis?

I really wish we could pull Okrand into these discussions.

On Mon, 14 Dec 2099 17:07:15 -0500 David Trimboli 
<> wrote:

> jatlh tlhIngan Hol mu'ghom:
>From TKD Appendix, 6.7:
> > ***********************************************************
> > The adverbial may actually follow the object noun (but still
> > precede the verb) when the object noun is topicalized by means
> > of the noun suffix {-'e'} (see Section 3.3.5.).
> >
> > HaqwI''e' DaH yISam -- Find the SURGEON now!
> > ***********************************************************
> jatlh charghwI':
> > My memory is far from perfect, but I believe that years ago,
> > Nick and Holtej wrote extensively about the difference between
> > emphasis and topic. English doesn't really have a topic
> > indicator and the idea of it is far from normal for us, but this
> > last example would probably be better translated:
> >
> > As for the surgeon, find him now!
> >
> > Evidence is that what is really going on here is one of the
> > extremely few instances that Okrand gives us to fit his
> > otherwise cryptic 6.1 reference:
> >
> > "Any noun in the sentence indicating something other than
> > subject or object comes first, before the object noun. Sch nouns
> > usually end in a Type 5 noun suffix (section 3.3.5)."
> Ooooooh!  Ooooooh oooooh ooooooh!!!!  I LIKE this!  It explains a lot!  (Not
> the . . . ahem . . . topic of discussion, but a lot of other things!)

I'm glad I came up with something you like.

> jatlh charghwI':
> > I'd argue that in this case, {Haq'e'} is a noun appearing not as
> > the direct object, but instead as the topic of the sentence.
> > Since it is obviously third person and the prefix indicates a
> > third person direct object, we assume that {Haq'e'} is the
> > direct object, but I'd argue that I could just as easily say:
> >
> > Haq'e' chIch muDuQta'!
> I have removed your further comments for brevity, but considering them I am
> not convinced that {HaqwI''e' chIch muDuQta'} is different in meaning from
> {chIch muDuQta' HaqwI''e'}.  It's a very neat theory and I like it, but
> obviously one not supported very much by actual evidence.

If my theory has a weakness, it is that {HaqwI''e' chIch 
muDuQta'} is a valid sentence. I believe that it is, but we 
don't have anything in canon or explanations that would confirm 

Meanwhile, if it IS a valid sentence, I honestly believe that it 
has a very different meaning than {chIch muDuQta' HaqwI''e'}. I 
believe that there really is a difference between emphasis/focus 
and topic. I believe that Okrand almost always uses {-'e'} for 
the former and almost never uses it for the latter. He SAYS he 
is using it for the latter, but in real usage, I don't believe 
him. I don't see it happening.
> As an aside, this resembles an idea I had (which was generally rejected by
> the list a couple of years ago) in which I described my idea of the "to be"
> structure.

If I rejected it, I hope I at least offered some respect for the 
idea. It definitely has some merit, at least in an abstract 
> tera'ngan ghaH yaS'e'.
> The officer is a Terran.
> As for the officer, he is a Terran.

This is more sensible than considering it to be any kind of 
emphasis. Meanwhile, I can see this more as an abstract concept 
that has perhaps been formalized into the current meaning where 
the marked noun is simply the subject.
> While TKD clearly calls {yaS} the subject, if we are to believe that usage
> is more important than definition (as you suggest), I put it again that this
> sentence can be considered to be similar to your {HaqwI''e' chIch muDuQta'}.

The difference being that I'm treating {-'e'} like any other 
Type 5 noun suffix such that the combination of the suffix and 
its position at the beginning of the sentence tells you the 
grammatical function in the sentence, instead of having the 
position telling you the function and the marker simply adding 
some new property to the noun. Emphasis is a property that can 
be added to a noun regardless of its function, but being the 
topic of a sentence is a function unto itself. Once a noun is 
established as the topic of a sentence, it doesn't need some 
other function. Consider:

Qo'noS'e' batlh bIvangbe'chugh vaj bIHegh.

As for Kronos, if you do not act honorably, you die.

Note that Qo'noS has no function in this sentence at all except 
as the topic. We are only talking about Qo'noS. There, if you do 
not act honorably, you die. We don't consider any other places 
in this statement.

You can't do that with emphasis. This is the fundamental 
difference between topic and emphasis. This is the element that 
I don't see you recognizing yet. I don't see Okrand recognizing 
it, either, for that matter. If this is not a valid example, 
then I honestly believe that Okrand should never have used the 
term "topic". The suffix {-'e'} would then indicate emphasis 

> The following two sentences would be exactly the same in meaning:
> tera'ngan ghaH yaS'e'.
> yaS'e' tera'ngan ghaH.

I disagree. Either the meaning is different, or the second 
example is not valid. We don't say {*yaS ghaH tera'Daq}. The 
function of {tera'Daq} is defined by its Type 5 suffix and it is 
required to go at the beginning of the sentence. The locative 
concept is a function unto itself. Nouns with this function do 
not serve as subject or object, except in apposition:

Qo'noSDaq Qo'noSvaD matlhlu' 'ej Qo'noSDaq Qo'noS Hublu'.

If a noun is truely serving as topic, it should behave 
similarly. Meanwhile, {-'e'} is often used simply to emphasize a 
noun, and in that case, the noun's placement should reflect its 
grammatical function while emphasis on the noun is accomplished 
by the suffix {-e'}.
> The first follows the rules as they really occur.  The second does precisely
> the same thing, putting the noun with the Type 5 suffix at the beginning of
> the sentence. 

The difference is that the first one suggests the noun's 
function with its position and the suffix is merely an add-on to 
add a property to that noun, the property being emphasis. Topic 
is not a property. It is a function. In the second example the 
grammatical function of the noun is indicated by its suffix 
alone. Its position is dictated by the suffix itself. The verb 
refers to the same noun as an implicit apposition, but it does 
not have a direct, explicit relationship to this noun.

> My suggestion is that {X <pronoun> Y'e'} can be considered to
> be a sentence and a topic: the sentence is {X <pronoun>} and the topic is
> {Y'e'}.  In this case, the sentence is {tera'ngan ghaH}, and the topic is
> {yaS'e'}.

Again, this does have some merit, except that it is all so 
formalized and inflexible. It does serve your argument well in 
terms of the whole subset aspect of "to be" sentences.
> The reason I had considered this was because there had been much debate over
> whether the nouns in a "to be" sentence were subsets of each other, or equal
> to each other, etc.  I realized that the {-'e'} topicalizer might still be
> acting as a true topicalizer, and not solely performing a grammatical
> function without any idea of topic.  This idea was rejected.

I regret that it was rejected apparently without respect. You 
and your idea deserve respect.

> jatlh charghwI':
> > I'd argue that this is even MORE correct, if what I'm indicating
> > is that the surgeon is the TOPIC of the sentence. If I merely
> > wanted to emphasize the surgeon and not make him topic of the
> > sentence, I'd say:
> >
> > chIch muDuQta' Haq'e'!
> Once more, I'll say that I like this idea: it's clearly laid out and makes
> sense.  Unfortunately, I'm not convinced that any evidence really supports
> it. 

The step you have not taken is to say that if the idea is not 
valid, neither is the construction of placing a subject noun at 
the beginning of the sentence with the {-'e'} topicalizer. I 
definitely believe that this is an all-or-nothing deal. Either 
the construction is valid and there are two functions for {-'e'} 
which can be determined by whether or not the marked noun is at 
the beginning of the sentence, or {-'e'} is used for emphasis 
only and Okrand simply used the wrong term to describe it. It is 
never a topicalizer. Any other view will require a lot more 
explanation than we've gotten.

> In TKD, Okrand doesn't say that {-'e'} can topicalize or emphasize, he
> says that {-'e'} "emphasized that the noun to which it is attached is the
> topic of the sentence."  (p.29)  It emphasizes the fact that it is a topic,
> it doesn't simply emphasize the noun. 

Meanwhile, Okrand spends no time whatsoever explaining what he 
means by "topic". He clearly confuses these ideas when he says, 
"Without the {'e'} these same sentences would have no noun 
singled out FOR EMPHASIS." He did not say, "... as the topic." 
He said, "... for emphasis." All he is doing here is emphasizing 
these nouns.

> I would say that there are many times
> when simply emphasizing the noun DOES make that noun the topic of the
> sentence. 

I see this difference:

Take a piece of paper. Write a sentence on it. Take a 
highlighter and highlight one of the nouns. This is emphasis.

Now, take this piece of paper and put it in a file folder. Mark 
on the file folder the name of the topic for that piece of 
paper. This is the topicalizer. Note that what is on the folder 
does not have to match anything written on the page. The topic 
is its own function. The highligher definitely emphasizes a 
noun, which has a grammatical function whether or not it is 
emphasized, but the topic is a separate entity altogether and 
has a function without having any other grammatical function in 
the sentence.

If you highlight a noun on that piece of paper, that won't have 
any affect on the name on the folder.

> I'd also say that Klingon-to-English translations won't always
> make the topicalization clear.  As you and TKD have both pointed out,
> English doesn't have a grammatical way to indicate topic, thus, the
> translations won't necessarily bear that idea clearly.

TKD does not mention anywhere that English lacks a grammatical 
way to indicate topic. I said that and others with more 
meaningful linguistic credentials have said that, but TKD 
doesn't mention it. Instead, he tells us how he believes that 
English indicates topic. Everything he then mentions applies to 
emphasis, not topic. We speak emphatically the words we wish to 
emphasize. The grammatical constructions he gives serve to 
emphasize a noun, not make it the topic. There really is a 
> As I said, I'd like to see some examples in which we can see that the noun
> with {-'e'} is clearly not the topic (and not fulfilling a grammatical
> function of disambiguation, etc.).

All of them, except the example in 6.7 of the appendix:

HaqwI''e' DaH yISam.

That is the only one that can be argued to have the topic marked.
> Ooooh!  I'd like to throw in the suggestion that EVERY grammatical function
> of {-'e'}, like head-noun identification, etc., indicates topic.  Take an
> few examples:
> yaS'e' qIpbogh puq vIlegh
> I see the officer who hit the child.

This is a fine idea. I like it. Again, like "to be", this is a 
formalization of something that has the idea of topicalization, 
in that you are topicalizing something within the relative 
clause and that topicalization has a specialized grammatical 
function. It is not simply the topic of the relative clause. It 
is the head noun of the relative clause, which is a special kind 
of topicalization. It still needs its position held as subject 
or object of the verb in order to function well.
> As we know from conjunctions, adverbials, and so on, TKD frequently fails to
> distinguish between "verbal clause" and "sentence."  (For instance,
> "sentence" conjunctions can conjoin phrases with verbs possessing
> subordinate clause suffixes.) 

This is an example of how Okrand often gives us simplified, 
incomplete descriptions we are supposed to refine by observing 
usage. I definitely believe that this is what is going on with 

> Perhaps with {-'e'} disambiguation, one might
> consider {yaS} to be the topic of the CLAUSE, not the whole sentence.  "The
> officer.  We're talkin' 'bout the officer.  What about the officer?  You
> ready to hear about the officer?  Here's what I'm sayin' 'bout the officer:
> a child hit him."  It then goes into the main sentence as usual: "I saw the
> officer."

> tera'ngan ghaH yaS'e'
> The officer is a Terran.

Again, I see this as a specialized form of topicalization that 
serves a grammatical link in the sentence that is then 
formalized in a consistent way such that the suffix always 
appears the same way with the noun position in the same place. 
It is no longer the same kind of topical marker. Meanwhile, I do 
agree with you that it adds insight into the relationship 
between a subject and object in a "to be" sentence to recognize 
the subject as setting the outer borders of the topic considered 
while including the object. If one is a subset of the other, the 
object must be the smaller party, though the object can be equal 
to the subject. It just can't be greater, since that would 
extend beyond the bounds of the topic at hand.
> I've already explained how one might consider the obligitory {-'e'} here to
> be a topic.  "The officer.  We're talkin' 'bout the officer.  What about the
> officer?  You ready to hear about the officer?  Here's what I'm sayin' 'bout
> the officer: he's a Terran."

This is a fine casting. It doesn't work for any of the "regular" 
uses for {-'e'} that we've been given. You are not saying, "The 
doctor. We're talking 'bout the docter. What about the doctor? 
You ready to hear about the doctor? Here's what I'm sayin' 'bout 
the doctor: Find him."

Instead, we are saying "Find the DOCTOR, NOW!" The first concept 
is "find". Find who? Find the doctor. Don't find anybody else. 
Find the DOCTOR. I'm emphatic about this. Find him and only 
him." If there is a topic, it is finding. We just want to 
emphasize who you need to find. This is VERY different.

In the first case, you have a file folder marked "Officer" and 
in it you have a piece of paper with "He is a Terran," written 
on it. In the second case, we have a piece of paper with "Find 
the doctor now!" written on it. The word "Doctor" has been 
highlighted with a yellow marker. You don't put this in a folder 
marked "Doctor". If anything, you'd put it in a folder marked, 
"Things to find immediately". Maybe you'd label the folder 
something else, but the fact is, highlighting "Doctor" does not 
have an effect on the appropriate folder into which this page 
would be filed. The topic sets the scope and helps you find the 

Is this working yet?
> yaS'e' DaH yISam
> Find the OFFICER now!
> Even TKD says this one would be indicating topic. 

And it is wrong. That is not what is happening at all.

> "The officer.  We're
> talkin' 'bout the officer.  What about the officer?  You ready to hear about
> the officer?  Here's what I'm sayin' 'bout the officer: find him now!"
I completely disagree. That is not what is meant here. See above.
> jatlh charghwI':
> > This is the difference between saying, "As for the SURGEON, he
> > intentionally stabbed me!" and saying, "The SURGEON
> > intentionally stabbed me! The difference in meaning is subtle in
> > English because we don't really have any clear topicalizing
> > grammatical construction. Since the whole topic of
> > topicalization is somewhat alien to us, we vaguely mash it over
> > into the same category as simple emphasis, but in other
> > languages, the two concepts are more distinct.
> As Okrand points out in TKD, and as you seem to agree, English does not have
> a grammatical way of indicating topic. 

Okay, show me where in TKD Okrand says that English does not 
have a grammatical way of indicating topic. I can't find it. 
Instead, what I see is Okrand calling this "topic" and 
proceeding to describe emphasis instead of topic. I mean no 
disrespect here. Okrand created something weird and wonderful 
when he made up this language and he took on a remarkable task 
to present something this different in a form that non-linguists 
and linguists alike can relish and enjoy. He can goof some. I 
don't mind. Meanwhile, over time, we ought to straighten these 
things out.

> Thus, when you see two translations,
> "As for the SURGEON, he intentionally stabbed me!" and "The SURGEON
> intentionally stabbed me!" how can you say that one indicates a topic and
> the other simple emphasis? 

In one, you have a file folder marked "Surgeon" and inside, you 
see a piece of paper that says, "He intentionally stabbed me." 
In the other, there is a piece of paper with the words, "The 
Surgeon intentionally stabbed me!" The word "Surgeon" is 
highlighted with a yellow marker. I would not immediately know 
which folder to put this second piece of paper in. It doesn't 
really belong in the "Surgeon" folder so much as it belongs in a 
folder about people who have been unjust to me. There is no 
established topic. Maybe it would just sit on my desk and never 
get filed.

> I think you cannot base your claims upon the
> merits of the chosen translation, as English does not have the proper tools,
> as we all agree.

Okrand never agreed. If you think he did, tell me where. I can't 
find it. I looked.

> > See my point here? If a word really is the topic of the
> > sentence, that function is its grammatical function. Being the
> > topic alone gives it a grammatical place in the sentence
> > structure. It has a Type 5 noun suffix, and like a locative, it
> > goes at the beginning of the sentence. Meanwhile, if you merely
> > want to emphasize a noun that has some other grammatical
> > function in the sentence, placing {-'e'} on it will do that for
> > you, but this is not the same thing as declaring that the topic
> > of the sentence.
> I see no conclusive evidence (or even very much evidence at all) that making
> a noun the topic makes that its exclusive grammatical function in the
> sentence. 

That's because Okrand used the word "topic" and proceeded to 
describe emphasis. He does not distinguish these concepts at all.

> As far as I can see, a noun can be both topic and something else,
> like subject or object.  I like your original idea above because it DOES
> explain {HaqwI''e' DaH yISam}: in this case {HaqwI'} is NOT doing anything
> except being a topic.  But that does not mean that {DaH HaqwI''e' yISam}
> must mean something else.

Clearly, Okrand uses {-'e'} to mark emphasis on nouns which have 
a grammatical function defined by their position as subject or 
object. If there is a single tool for determining whether a noun 
is the topic of the sentence or merely an emphasized noun in the 
sentence, position would be that tool.
> Oops!  There's another problem which I just noticed.  Look here:
> "The adverbial may actually follow the object noun . . . when the object
> noun is topicalized by means of the noun suffix {-'e'}."  This states
> explicitly that {HaqwI'} in the example is the object, not some "oblique"
> noun.  The object is being topicalized.  You yourself have been saying that
> you think {HaqwI''e'} here is being topicalized, and Okrand is saying that
> it's the object.

I honestly think this is very similar to the way Okrand talks 
about how verb prefixes work with {-lu'}. He describes how they 
work with verbs that have direct objects and never addresses how 
they work with verbs that have no direct objects. In the "useful 
phrases" section, he includes an example of how the no-object 
prefixes work with {-lu'}, but there is no explanation for it. 
We have to figure it out from usage.

In this example, he tells us about how a topicalized noun which 
happens to be the direct object works. He doesn't address how we 
would handle a topicalized noun that also functions as the 
subject of the sentence. Meanwhile, if you happen to be 
addressing a direct object that is really the topic and not just 
emphasized, then 6.7 is totally correct. He simply doesn't 
address what happens if the topic is the subject instead of the 

There is no real underlying grammatical concept consistent with 
anything in the language that would explain why you'd move the 
adverb here. There is a very clear underlying grammatical 
concept consistent with the rest of the language to move the 
topic of the sentence in front of the adverb, however. That the 
example addresses how to handle the topic when it is the direct 
object says nothing about what you would do if that topic were 
the subject of the sentence.

> Of course, it's possible that Okrand was trying to avoid talking about
> "oblique" nouns, and just kept on calling it the "object."

That's what I believe. I think he was giving us a clue here and 
writing a very short section that would otherwise have required 
a much longer, more complex explanation that would not be 
accessible to a lot of English speaking fans who are not 
> But hey . . . don't we generally accept that Type 5'd nouns FOLLOW
> adverbials? 

No. Not that I'm aware, anyway.

> Or have sentences like {nom HeDaq yIt puq} ("The child walks
> down the road quickly") been wrong for all of these years?  If this were
> what's going on, wouldn't we STILL expect to see {DaH HaqwI''e' yISam}?
I definitely would expect {HeDaq nom yIt puq} and {HaqwI''e' DaH 
yISam.} As I quoted earlier:

"Any noun in the sentence indicating something other than
subject or object comes first, before the object noun. Such 
nouns usually end in a Type 5 noun suffix (section 3.3.5)."

He doesn't specifically address whether adverbials preceed or 
follow Type 5 marked nouns. Same for time stamps. They all go at 
the beginning of the sentence. Meanwhile, for usage, well, this 
is a tall order, even for voragh, and I'm less well equipped 
than he is to give lots of examples. I'll try to remember to do 
more research on this later. I tend to write:

Time Stamp, Type 5 nouns, adverbs, object, verb, subject

First, set the stage for the action, then adverbially describe 
the action, then identify the recipient of the action, then give 
the action and then tell who did it.
> jatlh charghwI':
> > This is the difference between the following two examples:
> >
> > Haq'e' DaH yISam!
> >
> > DaH Haq'e' yISam!
> >
> > I honestly believe that in the first example, it is not that the
> > adverb (DaH) was moved for some mysterious reason to position
> > following the direct object. I think that {DaH} is in its normal
> > position. The direct object is merely implied in the verb prefix
> > and is not explicitly stated. Given Klingon's lack of revulsion
> > to repeated nouns, I think it would be as valid to say:
> >
> > Haq'e' DaH Haq yISam!
> >
> > In fact, to go to an extreme, it would be okay to say:
> >
> > Haq'e' DaH Haq'e' yISam!
> >
> > The first {Haq'e'} is functioning as the topic of the sentence.
> > The second {Haq'e'} is functioning as an emphasized direct
> > object.
> This was a really cool theory, but I don't think it's quite right.  I've
> pointed out why above.

I'm willing to accept that it doesn't work. I definitely believe 
that it SHOULD work and that the langauge would be better off if 
it DID work, but then, it's not my language. I study it. I don't 
create it. Arguably, there are times when I might stretch it a 
little using the rules and examples that already exist, but I 
generally tend to lean towards more conservative interpretations 
of what can be done with it.

The times that I make leaps in new directions tend to be ways to 
expand the expressive capacity of the language or to 
disambiguate unnecessary areas of confusion, still very much 
respecting everything else we know about the language. I know 
that ambiguity is a mark of a real language and Okrand and 
others like having ambiguity in Klingon. I accept it when it 
simply has to be that way. Meanwhile, I actually try to say 
things using this langauge and I tend to be happier when the 
tools I'm given allow me to be clearer when I'm speaking 
Klingon. My interest in this is sincere.
> jIjatlh:
> > > 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)."
> jatlh charghwI':
> > I'd argue that what you are talking about is emphasis or focus
> > and not topic. There is a meaningful difference between saying,
> > "*I* (and not someone else) saw the child," and saying, "As for
> > me, I saw the child."
> Fine.  I'll translate it differently.  {puq vIlegh jIH'e'}  "I am talking
> about me.  I did something.  Want to hear about me?  This is all about me.
> Get ready to hear about me.  I'm going to tell you about me.  About me, I
> wanted to say: I saw the child."

I still see a fundamental difference in meaning between having a 
file folder marked "me" and having "I saw the child" in it vs. 
having a piece of paper not in any folder with the sentence "I 
saw the child," on it with the word "I" highlighted with a 
yellow marker. When a noun's grammatical function is indicated 
by its position as subject or object, the {-'e'} typically acts 
as a highligher. It does not classify the sentence as one 
dealing with any particular topic.

When a noun is placed at the beginning of a sentence, consistent 
with Type 5 suffixed nouns, the {-'e'} suffix then tells you 
that this sentence falls under the topic of this noun. In 
essence, you have labeled the file folder into which you will 
place the rest of the sentence, regardless of whether or not 
this noun even participates in the rest of the sentence. It may 
have no grammatical function within the rest of the sentence at 
all, or it may exist in apposition with any noun in the sentence.
> {puq vIlegh jIH} "I saw the child."
> jatlh charghwI':
> > In the latter case, I am the topic of the
> > sentence. And what does the topic do? The topic saw the child
> > (as opposed to doing something else). The topic is so core to
> > the meaning of the sentence that you being with the topic and
> > then consider what else is going on in the sentence.
> Done.
I don't really think so. You still have not shown any 
recognition of the difference between a topic and an emphasized 
noun. They really are not the same thing.
> jIjatlh:
> > > 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.
> jatlh charghwI':
> > Meanwhile, near the end of the interview I had with Okrand, he
> > said that usage is more important than description or
> > definition. I believe that it is better to view the usage and
> > use that to polish the understanding of the description than to
> > cling too fixedly to the description, especially when the
> > description is this vague and flawed.
> Well, then, let us view the usage!  To do all of this theorizing, and then
> to say what matters most is usage, you need to bring out some examples of
> usage!  To theorize in a vacuum is not to analyze usage!
TKD Appendix 6.7:

HaqwI''e' DaH yISam.

That is the only example where previous models of the grammar do 
not explain why {HaqwI''e'} is placed where it is. It makes a 
lot of sense if {HaqwI'} has its function indicated by the 
suffix instead of by its position in the sentence, such that the 
suffix indicates its function instead of the simple property of 
emphasis as is the case with all other uses of {-'e'} besides 
"to be" sentences and disambiguated relative clauses.
> jatlh charghwI':
> > I hope the examples I suggested above would actually be more
> > useful, but I'm sure voragh can come up with something in canon
> > that shows emphasis and not topic. I haven't really seen Okrand
> > use {-'e'} all that much, except for "to be" constructions and a
> > small minority of relative clauses.
> Precisely.  I don't think usage really does deny that {-'e'} indicates
> topic.
Perhaps that is because you don't understand the difference 
between emphasis and topic. Either that, or you do understand 
the difference and you simply have not managed to show me your 
understanding. Maybe it is all my fault and I simply have not 
been able to understand your explanations of this difference. 
Whatever the case, I definitely do not see you successfully 
distinguishing the difference between topic and emphasis.

Please don't take this as a sign of disrespect. You are my peer 
here. I simply believe that I see a difference between topic and 
emphasis that I don't see you recognize yet.
> jatlh charghwI':
> > If you've never considered this before, consider it now before
> > steaming ahead based upon previous beliefs. It really does make
> > sense. Why else would {-'e'} be Type 5? And like a locative or
> > purpose-marked noun or indirect object, there can be only one
> > topic. Established as topic, it doesn't need another grammatical
> > function in the sentence, so it doesn't have to go after the
> > verb if it is an appositive for the subject. It can stand on its
> > own at the beginning of the sentence.
> I certainly do like the idea, and it does make sense.  And I am certainly
> inclined to accept any sentences I see with {-'e'} nouns hanging out at the
> beginning as being topicalized.  But I do NOT see any reason to assume that
> a noun with {-'e'} in the subject or object position cannot be the topic.


I wish we could connect here. I'd prefer to lose the argument 
and make a connection than to win the argument and have us 
continue to miscommunicate. I honestly believe that either the 
Type 5 noun needs to come first, establishing itself as topic of 
the sentence, or we should scrap the whole idea of topic and 
conclude that Okrand used the word "topic", but he really meant 

> jIjatlh:
> > >  It would be clear in speech; your voice would indicate the
> > > emphasis
> > > > > and topic you're looking for.
> jatlh charghwI':
> > You use the words "emphasis and topic" together, showing what I
> > believe is an honest confusion about the difference between
> > these concepts.
> No, let me rephrase.  "It would be clear in speech: your voice would
> indicate the emphasis, and your voice would indicate the topic you're
> looking for."
I suspect that you would neither express nor hear any difference 
between verbalizing topic or emphasis because you don't really 
see a difference between topic and emphasis because what you are 
identifying as topic is really emphasis. This is the root of the 
whole problem. Okrand definitely describes emphasis and not 
topic, though he uses the word "topic" to describe it. He later 
gives the 6.7 example which begins to look like a way that 
{-'e'} could actually mean topic instead of just emphasis, but 
there is not enough material there to hang much weight on.

I'm on the verge of giving up on the whole idea. I'll just get 
back in line and use {-'e'} for emphasis just like anybody else 
and when someone mislabels it as "topic", I'll hold my tongue 
and let it slide. No sense getting into an argument that can't 
be won.
> SuStel
> Stardate 99953.2


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