tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Thu Feb 04 07:20:20 1999

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Re: Klingon pleasantries

On Wed, 3 Feb 1999 14:36:19 -0800 (PST) David Trimboli 
<[email protected]> wrote:

> From: Steven Boozer <[email protected]>
> >: can {chegh} be used as a transitive?
> >
> >No.  {chegh} seems to be a verb of motion:

That's a presumption. Remember that in the context of typical 
language, a rule is a formalized algorythm to explain observed 
effects in the language. That's why rules have so many 
exceptions in real languages. It is not that someone made the 
rules and then the language has to follow them. It is that the 
language did certain things and the rule is created to to 
explain those things, and since the rule doesn't perfectly fit 
all examples, the rule has exceptions. Language is not a totally 
logical system. It is not always logically consistent.

Saying that {chegh} is a verb of motion and concluding that it 
has to follow the new "rule of motion verbs" is missing the 
point. The point is that there is a certain arbitrary set of 
verbs that have this kind of relationship with locatives as 
direct objects.

One part of this point is not that all verbs implying motion 
follow this new rule. {vIH} is, after all, a verb of motion and 
there is no indication in the interview that {vIH} can take any 
object at all. Okrand rather explicitly said that it didn't. 
More accurately, he said that the thing which is in motion is 
the subject of {vIH} and not its object. He didn't say if the 
location something was moved to could be the object of {vIH}. I 
would be VERY hesitant to conclude that this was the case until 
I saw an example in canon to confirm this.

I don't think {chegh} is a verb which has the same relationship 
to a direct object that {ghoS} or {jaH} has. I could be wrong, 
but I DEFINITELY think that anyone concluding that {chegh} DOES 
have that kind of relationship to a set of nouns indicating 
destination would have a rather weak case.

This is why I asked Okrand about every verb of this type that I 
could think of. I recognized that membership in the group of 
{ghoS}-like verbs is arbitrary. I wasn't looking for a generic 
rule that would explain which verbs fit this pattern. I was 
looking for a literal list of such verbs.

I knew I would not be able to think of all of them, but I don't 
feel too bad. I think I covered a useful collection of them and 
got them nailed down enough to help us use the language.

> And as such one would expect it to follow the rules given in Okrand's
> interview.  Nope.

You are trying to reduce the Klingon language to Vulcan-like 
logical constructions where every peg has a hole for it and 
everything neatly fits into a set of rules which have no 
exceptions. I suggest that is not how it works. Okrand never 
wanted it to work that way. If he did, he'd be less flexible to 
take in all the Paramountisms and other inconsistencies. He 
knows that natural languages have arbitrary inconsistencies and 
he intentionally adopts some of these to make Klingon more like 
a natural language. He doesn't go to an extreme and make 
everything so chaotic that it becomes impenetrable, but he also 
doesn't make this a language computers can translate very easily.

You are more than a computer likely ever will be, so you should 
be able to handle these arbitrary points when they arise.
> > ghorgh pa'wIjDaq jIchegh?
> > When can I return to my room? CK
> Note that this SHOULD be (according to the interview) {ghorgh pa'wIj
> vIchegh} or {ghorgh pa'wIjDaq vIchegh}.

Yep. It does look like that using the logic appropriate to verbs 
like {ghoS}, his example says that the returning is an action 
that occurs in the room, instead of it being the destination of 
the action, which is what you want it to say.

Meanwhile, consider that {chegh} could have a meaning closer to 
{paw} than to {ghoS}. Until you arrive in the place you are 
returning to, the action of returning doesn't happen, if this is 
true. You don't arrive until you arrive. You don't return until 
you return. So, where do you return? You return in your room.

All this means is that {chegh} may have a different typical 
relationship with a locative than {ghoS} does. It may instead be 
grouped with {paw}. Does that make it easier to swallow? I know 
this may come as a shock to you, but just maybe Okrand is not 
wrong in this example. {{:0>
> I'm really not liking this particular new rule, as it seems to violate one
> of the primary structures of the language upon which much canon was based.
> Perhaps we should pester Okrand to explain the inconsistency?

I don't see it as being inconsistant. Instead, I just see two 
likely things:

1. There is an arbitrary set of verbs that has this kind of 
relationship with direct objects. These direct objects relate to 
locative concepts. The initial description of the behavior of 
these verbs is in TKD describing the verb {ghoS} and it was 
intentionally left open as to which other verbs fit this pattern.

2. The interview with Okrand clarified both which verbs belong 
to this group, and more fully how these verbs are to be used. 
The list of these verbs is not complete yet, but it now has been 
expanded from a list of one verb to one of a dozen or so. That's 
an improvement. Also, the usage is probably not cast in stone 
and may be further expanded in the future, but the description 
we have now is a lot clearer and more comprehensive than it was 
in TKD.

Likely {jaH} has changed state over the years from being an 
intransitive verb that doesn't act like {ghoS} to being a 
transitive one that does, judging from an Email exchange I had 
with Krankor over this. He said that he had confirmed with 
Okrand years ago that {jaH} did not behave like {ghoS}, relating 
to a specific example Krankor suggested. I can only suggest that 
Okrand doesn't always, in every conversation, remember 
everything he has ever said and remain consistent in all his 
statements. He tries.

When I did the interview, I wanted to NOT trap him into any 
inconsistencies. Instead, I wanted to give him lots of chances 
to review his statements in the interview so whatever went into 
the published work would have lots of opportunities for review 
by him. So, he got the questions before we met and had a couple 
months to think about it before the interview. Even a busy man 
can use that much time well. We then had the interview. I taped 
it and transcribed it. The tape ran out and I wrote the end from 
memory. I sent him a copy and gave him a few weeks to review it. 
He made suggested changes. I adopted them and sent him the 
updated version for another review. He accepted them and they 
got published. This reduces the likelyhood that a careless 
comment would mislead people on what Okrand wants done with the 

If you think this "new rule" (which I see as a minor 
clarification of something he described in TKD) is inconsistent, 
I can only say that you and I have different opinions on this. 
It is somewhat different than I expected, but seeing the old 
description of {ghoS} from the perspective of the description 
Okrand gave in the interview, I see it less that there has been 
any fundamental change in the language than it is that a small 
sidenote in TKD has now been clarified. That sidenote was easy 
to overlook or misunderstand, but given the new description, 
that sidenote explains something very useful to us now.
> SuStel
> Stardate 99090.8

charghwI' 'utlh

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