tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Fri Dec 17 11:41:01 1999

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RE: KLBC, Comparatives & Superlatives

Welcome to the mailing list. I am pagh, the current Beginners' Grammarian,
and I can see you've seen the rules about KLBC, so let's get to it.

jatlh ghaHbe'wI':

>    I'm Nicolau, but you can name me {ghaHbe'wI'}, and this is 
> my first mail to you, so I would be pleased if you correct me 
> any mistake I do in Klingon or English (I'm Catalan, so it's 
> not my native language).
>    On page 70 and 71 of TKD are explained the comparatives 
> and superlatives in {tlhIngan Hol}, but I think it's a very 
> restricted way to do them, and every language has different 
> ways to express anything, and its speakers chooses them 
> depending on the context or their point of emphasis. 
>    So I've reconstructed all the Comparatives and 
> Superlatives ways, I've used the same sentence to make easier 
> to see the differencies:
> Comparatives:
>    1) betleHwIj jej law', betleHraj jej puS.
>       My sword is sharper than yours.    
>         This is the standard one.    

Correct. Note, though, that the possesive suffix <-raj> is second person
*plural*, so you're comparing your betleH to the betleH or betleHmey of more
than one person. You can't tell the difference in English, but you can in

>    2) betleHwIj jej lawbe', betleHjaj jej puS.
>       My sword isn't sharper than yours.
>         I suppose the negative {-be'} must go added 
>         to main verb {law'}
>    3) betleHwIj jej puS, betleHraj jej law'.
>       My sword is less sharper than yours.
>         If 1) is "more than", this is "less than"
>    4) betleHwIj jej puSbe', betleHraj jej law'.
>       My sword isn't less sharper than yours.
>         Same as 2)

The comparitive form in Klingon is a special case, and it's not very
flexible. The <law'> must always come first, and the <puS> afterwards. It is
also impossible to put a <-be'> or any other suffix on the <law'> or the

This means that your second and fourth examples don't work. Think about them
a bit, though. If 1 is essentially (A > B), then 2 is (A <= B), which is
equivalent to ((B > A) OR (B = A)). The possibility that they might be equal
is often not important, in which case you can just say the equivalent of (B
> A) and be done with it. If the possibility that they might be equal is
important, then you can say <betleHlIj jej law' betleHwIj jej puS, pagh

The one thing you can do differently with <law'/puS> is kind of strange. In
informal speech, other verb pairs are sometimes substitued for the <law'>
and <puS>. The verb pairs must be opposites. If one of the two verbs is
considered a positive quality (by Klingon standards, of course) and the
other negative, then the positive one is put in the <law'> position while
the negative one replaces <puS>. If both verbs are neutral, they can go in
either order. This is described in another Marc Okrand book - Klingon for
the Galactic Traveller - on pages 178-179.

> Superlatives:
>    5) betleHwIj jej law', Hoch jej puS.    
>       My sword is sharpest of all
>         The standard.
>    6) betleHwIj jej lawbe', Hoch jej puS.
>       My sword isn't sharpest of all.
>         Same as 2) and 4)
>    7) betleHwIj jej puS, Hoch jej law'.
>       My sword is the less sharpest of all.
>    8) betleHwIj jej puSbe', Hoch jej law'.
>       My sword isn't the less sharpest of all. 
>         I must say that at sentences 7) and 8) I was on doubt 
> to write {pagh} instead of {Hoch}, perhaps influence of Catalan...

Again, only number 5 works completely. Number 7 brings up an interesting
question. In all of his examples, Okrand always puts <Hoch> in the second
position in superlative constructions. We don't know for certain whether
<Hoch Q law' X Q puS> is possible. I suspect it is, but I could certainly be
wrong. It's also possible that <pagh> gets used in this situation - <X Q
law' pagh Q puS>. Either one seems to make sense, but we don't know whether
a native Klingon speaker would think so or not.

>    Of course, this is just an hypothesis of mine, perhaps 
> another ways has been explained elsewhere, but I just have 
> TKD & TKW and I don't know them. 
>    Also, you can think they are very repetitive, but when 
> there are different choices one can choose whatever one wants.
>    Waiting for your responses, good bye.

Beginners' Grammarian

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