tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Dec 29 09:09:47 1999

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Re: Verbs of Motion

bIQeHbe'law'mo' jIQuch. jup DaDachoH 'e' vItIv. mubelmoH ghu'vam.

On Tue, 28 Dec 1999 21:36:03 -0500 David Trimboli 
<> wrote:

> jatlh charghwI':
> > I accept but dislike the use of {-Daq} on nouns acting as direct
> > objects of verbs. Since I don't need to use them and can get
> > exactly the same meaning without {-Daq}, I just don't use the
> > {-Daq} and I can sleep well with one less thing to worry about.
> As I'm curious about understanding the workings of the language, as well as
> using it, I don't want to ignore problems like this.  I want to see if I or
> anyone else can work them out.  No harm there.

jIQochbe'. bIbeplaw'pu' 'ach jaS ghu' DaDel. maj.

> > > It's unclear whether these two lists should be joined.  Personally, I
> hate
> > > this part of the interview, for reasons which Captain Krankor brings up
> in
> > > HolQeD Vol 8, No 1.  It breaks everything we thought we knew about
> Klingon.
> >
> > That's a blatant exaggeration.
> Damn straight!  Exaggeration is a wonderful tool to use to make a point.  It
> should also have been blindingly clear that it was MEANT as an exaggeration,
> and I'm sorry  I didn't make that clear.  (Besides, it's a sentence I've
> picked up from the writings of Krankor, anyway.)

While I've often fallen to the temptation to exaggerate (and 
may even do so within this very post), I don't feel particularly 
proud of those events. I think it does less to make a point than 
it does to start flame wars and generally jack up the 
testosterone level of a discussion. We lose the substance of the 
observation and instead become involved in determining who can 
piss higher on the tree.

When I exaggerate, I wish people would call me on it and 
influence me to be more reasonable, stating my simple truth and 
trusting it to carry all the merit it deserves. Instead, it is 
more typical for people with opposing opinions to exaggerate in 
the opposite direction so this becomes less fun, friendly banter 
than like some kind of unkind court of law. Who is going to win? 
Never mind the language. Who is going to win? muDoy'moH ghu'vam. 
chay' machoH'eghmoHlaH? chay' machoHchuqmoHlaH? chay' ghu'maj 
wIDublaH? I feel like the post I'm now responding to has that 
positive sense of how things can be. 'ebvam vIvuv.

> > Okrand expanded on what he said about {ghoS} way back in the
> > original TKD. That's all. It did surprise many of us and many of
> > us didn't like it very much, but to say that it breaks
> > everything we knew about the language is pouty and silly. Let go
> > of it. I thought Krankor was a bit overly zealous in his
> > disaproval in his article and I feel comfortable saying the same
> > about you now. You are a good person with a lot of impressive
> > talents and an impressive skill with the language, and you are
> > taking this one point entirely too seriously. You could let go
> > of it and have a happy life. You choose to experience your angst.
> Where o where are you getting this psychoanalysis from?  I sure wish I could
> state a contrary opinion without being laid out on a couch!

You can. This time, you didn't. I apologize. Meanwhile, looking 
at the paragraph you chose to quote, I think you deleted most of 
the unreasonably preachy stuff I said and kept some of the most 
reasonable stuff. I really do think that you are a good person 
with a lot of impressive talents and an impressive skill with 
the language, and I really do think you were taking this point 
with a lot more gravity than it merits. You definitely sounded 
like you were suffering because of this inconsistency and it 
behooved me to point out that the suffering really was your 
choice. It really isn't necessary.

> > > I don't know about everyone else, but I am getting the distinct
> impression
> > > that Okrand doesn't have a strong handle on Klingon (whoever claimed
> that he
> > > does?), and simply cannot maintain consistency.
> >
> > I think that is quite unwarrented. I think Okrand spent a lot of
> > years not memorizing his own vocabulary and not practicing the
> > use of his own language such that it took work for him to make
> > any meaningful sentences. His successes were many, but he also
> > tried sometimes to be especially alien or interesting and came
> > up with some really weird stuff he should appropriately be
> > embarrassed by, like his first translation of "I'm lost. Where
> > am I?". Meanwhile, there are many things he simply has not
> > fleshed out yet and as a particular area of the grammar or a
> > particular area of meaning becomes interesting to him and he
> > develops those areas, he will definitely sometimes make choices
> > we would not have made.
> >
> [...]
> >
> > To be honest, you sound like someone who just wants to be upset.

NOW we are getting into the unreasonably preachy stuff I said. I 
could delete it, but it is probably good therapy for me to be 
humbled by my own words. I can definitely be a jerk at times.

> > Something else is bothering you and you don't want to deal with
> > it, so you pick this to get worked up about. It definitely does
> > not deserve this much attention. Just forget {-Daq}. When other
> > people use it, wince and move on. This works. Trust me.
> >
> > I mean, I was interviewing Okrand for over an hour. As a stream
> > of verbs he was considering, he listed {'el} as one that doesn't
> > use {-Daq} on its direct object, and you caught him in another
> > instance saying that it could use {-Daq} on its direct object.
> > That is really the only inconsistency you have uncovered here,
> > and it is really a rather small thing, considering that you can
> > leave off the {-Daq} and your problem evaporates.
> >
> > I honestly doubt there are many areas in your life where you
> > exhibit the kind of consistency you are now expecting Okrand to
> > hold to. Lighten up on the man. This stuff is fun, remember?
> Ahem.  I was not angry at Okrand for anything. 

I don't think I was accusing you of anger. I was accusing you of 
unreasonable criticism. Let's go back to your words:

"I don't know about everyone else, but I am getting the 
distinct impression that Okrand doesn't have a strong handle on 
Klingon (whoever claimed that he does?), and simply cannot 
maintain consistency."

You ask who claims that Okrand has a strong handle on the 
language. I believe that he does. I believe that there was a 
time when he didn't, but I think around the time that he put 
together "The Klingon Way" he began to actually invest enough 
thought into the language to satisfy the criteria of what I 
consider a strong handle on the language. I doubt he has the 
active vocabulary that many of us have, but in terms of other 
measures of "grasp of the language", he has the distinct 
advantage of knowing what he had in mind when he did things in 
ways that he has not yet fully explained. I think that if you 
believe yourself to have a more firm grasp of the language than 
he does, you are deluding yourself.

I'm trying to not exaggerate here.

I honestly think that each of us have our strong areas. There 
are probably several among us who each have things we can do 
better with the language than Okrand can. Qov and pagh have a 
better vocabulary. voragh can do a better job of pulling up 
canon text. Several of us are better at conversation.

But when it comes to the concepts behind the language, we are 
guessing and Okrand is the source and to say that he doesn't 
have a strong handle on the language is probably an ignorant 
statement. I know that there are some who WANT Okrand to fail to 
have a strong handle on the language so they can leap in and 
take over. I've seen people, especially new people with a 
linguistic background, suggest that we dump Okrand and take over 
the language.

I do not accuse YOU of that. loQ bIvIng neH.

> I am stating an opinion.  I
> think that many of the inconsistencies and unexpected bits we find in
> Klingon canon (and we do find a lot of them)
> occur because Okrand simply goofed. 

He certainly does goof. We all do.

> I don't have a problem with this, I
> simply think it is. 

Speaking of consistency, that almost qualifies as an English 
sentence. As I said, we all goof. I do think I know what you 
meant, however.

> It causes a number of headaches for people not content
> to ignore the problem.

I think this is the crux. reH Holvam wItIv vIneH. qech chu' 
DIqel vIneH. lut chu' DIjatlh vIneH. ta'maj DatIv vIneH. 
QaghHom lubuSlu'DI' mamoghchoH. malop vIneH. mamoghtaH vIneHbe'. 
vaj maghoH 'ej maghob.
> Sometimes, Okrand's mistakes lead to more interesting bits.  We winced when
> we heard {wa' tera'ngan je wa' romuluSngan} come out of Vixis' lips, but now
> we know that it's a common grammatical error perpetrated by Klingon youths
> to put the conjunction in the wrong place.  Okrand realized his mistake
> (either on his own or through a Klingonist) and made it "correct."

During the interview for HolQeD and the preparation for it, I 
got the strong impression that the main reason Okrand is as 
reclusive as he is and as cautious about speaking more about the 
language is that he is quite aware of the army of nit pickers 
waiting to descend upon him for any inconsistency. The language 
is supposed to be fun, but it is not really fun for him to be 
slandered every time he goofs. He even gets slandered when he 
DOESN'T goof, if the decisions he makes about things don't quite 
fit someone's model of how things are supposed to work.

In particular, there are times when he honestly changes his mind 
about things and believes that the language would be more 
interesting if it worked a certain way, and people HATE that. 
Look at how Krankor erupted when Okrand reversed himself on 
using {-Daq} on a direct object. A decade or so ago, he told 
Krankor in conversation that you never use {-Daq} on a direct 
object. Okrand later developed the idea of how this works in the 
{ghoS} exception and the expanded explanation of that and 
Krankor subsequently published statements about how this "breaks 
everything we know about the language". Do you really think 
Okrand enjoyed reading that? Do you expect him to be rewarded 
enough by it to want to open up to the community and discuss 
details about the language?

Instead, this provides incentive for him to just disappear, 
remain private and reclusive and just publish something he'll be 
paid for. I want this language to be fun for us AND for him. If 
it were more fun for him, I think it would become more fun for 
us because he'd be more interactive. I think we lose out for our 
tendency to focus on gripes. We endulge in an easy temptation 
and lose out on possibilities as a more positive community.

I wish I heard more stories and poems from you (which take a lot 
of work and are wonderfully positive contributions) and less 
complaints about which list a verb belongs to when we can just 
drop the {-Daq} and not worry about it. Your positive works are 
among the best things that have ever been done with the language.
> The questions do not evaporate if you ignore them.  They linger, and remain
> questions, and I will always wonder about them.  I don't see how your
> analysis of my psyche relates to the functioning of Klingon noun suffixes.
> (Shucks, I wish there was the equivalent of the {-neS} suffix in English.)

Somehow I doubt you'd use it very often.

This is my entire point. It comes down to respect. I respect 
this gift Okrand has given us too much to see what honestly 
feels like very disrespectful criticism. It is so easy to say 
that Okrand lacks a strong handle on the language and suggests 
that everyone agrees with that. Meanwhile, that is quite 
disrespectful. It is not fun to be on the receiving end of that 
statement. It is not fun to watch it from the sidelines.

It's just not fun. Could we just have more fun? I'd like to 
figure out how to help us all just have more fun. It gets really 
frustrating sometimes.
> So please reread my statement (quoted above) and take the assumption that
> I'm not trying to be negative in any way. 

"I don't know about everyone else, but I am getting the 
distinct impression that Okrand doesn't have a strong handle on 
Klingon (whoever claimed that he does?), and simply cannot 
maintain consistency."

I don't know. It sure doesn't sound very positive. It is hard to 
feel warm and fuzzy about that statement. There is a nugget in 
there that is perhaps of value, but it definitely seems wrapped 
in disrespect, especially with the "whoever claimed that he 
does?" tossed into the middle of it.

He wrote KGT. Could you write KGT? I know I couldn't have 
written KGT. I know that writing KGT involved a rather strong 
handle on the language. I disagree with the statement that he 
lacks a strong handle on the language. He does have a few minor 
inconsistencies here and there and it doesn't bother me all that 
much. It does bother me dealing with any volume of criticism 
that focuses on those inconsistencies, exaggerates their 
significance and disrespects the creative genius of the man who 
gave us this language to play with.

I do think your post focused on those inconsistencies. I believe 
that it exaggerated their signficance and I believe that it 
disrespected the creative genius of the man who gave us this 
language to play with. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say 

> Take it as a simple opinion,
> which is as it was meant. 

Tossing in "whoever claimed that he does?" seems to suggest that 
it is not merely your opinion, but a generally known fact. If 
you had stated it more clearly as your opinion, perhaps it would 
not have seemed so disrespectful.

> I have no illusions that Okrand is some kind of
> language-god.  He's just a linguist who's come up with a fun pastime for us.
> When I see errors in Klingon, I don't automatically assume they were
> intentional.  (For instance, I am not at all convinced that mislabeling
> {bachHa'} as a noun in KGT was intentional.  I think it was an ironic
> coincidence.  I could be wrong, of course.  I also think that annotating it
> as a likely Okrand joke is akin to assuming that Okrand can do no wrong.)
That seems really odd. Okrand does wrong and he knows it. That's 
why, in this one instance, I suspected so strongly that is was 
an intentional error. Why?

1. It is the first word in the word list. It is not buried. It 
is right there, easy for him or his editors to catch. This is 
different from all the errors in TKD, especially among those "w" 
words that are missing from one side.

2. The word means "err, make a mistake".

3. The word list also includes an inside joke I'd have to do 
research to find again. The story:

At an early qep'a' I brought copies of my own Annotated Klingon 
Dictionary. It was just an MS Word file that I'd painstakingly 
built, compiling all the words from TKD and its Addendum and the 
Skybox cards and a few other sources. I had pulled them all into 
one alphabetized list, both English-Klingon and Klingon-English 
with all the Klingon words spelled out both in Okrand's 
Romanized form and in Lawrence's pIqaD form. I had printed it 
as a booklet (letter-sized paper folded in half with a staple 
binding). I brought copies for KLI friends.

Okrand saw it and was impressed. He asked for a copy. He said 
that he had never compiled a single word list for himself. 
Instead, he had words scribbled on lots of separate pieces of 
paper with no particular tendency toward organization. He 
appreciated the AKD. I was quite honored.

In particular, my AKD noted a lot of errors in TKD. I never 
imagined that my own word list would not have errors, but I 
worked really hard at having as few as possible.

As it so happens, I did eventually discover a mistake. I copied 
one English definition from an adjacent Klingon word so the word 
and its definition were wrongly associated. I can't remember now 
which word it is that I screwed up on, but Okrand apparently 
discovered my error, since my wrongly defined word is now in KGT 
with my wrong definition on it. So, it is now not wrong.

So, Okrand is definitely willing to screw around with the words 
in his dictionaries in order to play a joke. As it happens, I 
have not been able to find errors in the KGT word list like I 
found them in TKD, except for bachHa', of course. The word list 
is smaller and more manageable, but he definitely has done a 
better job of keeping that word list straight.

I definitely believe that he can do wrong. This particular error 
was so much in our faces, it honestly did seem to deserve the 
annotation I gave it. I think he put that there specifically for 
those who work so hard to find errors. It was a little gift, 
like a mint on the pillow of your motel room. Like {'I'} and 
{nughI'}, Okrand likes having fun with us.

I hope we can continue to have fun with him.

That's my goal. I screw up often and fail at furthering this 
goal many times. Still, if I keep consciously referring to it, 
perhaps eventually I'll get up the momentum to actually improve 
> SuStel
> Stardate 99992.1


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