tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Sat Feb 06 05:24:23 1999

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Dreaming in Klingon

I had another dream in Klingon last night. I don't think Kahless was there,
but rather it was probably a result of chatting on the phone with Captain
Krankor for an hour earlier in the evening.

The reason that I mention it is because in the dream a grammatical question
came up. I don't know that there's a right or a wrong answer, but I thought
I'd post it and get input from wiser voices than my own.

We know of course that the rule for when to use -wI'/-wIj hinges on the
question of whether or not the object in question possesses language. I've
always liked this rule because it reminds me of the classic Cartesian
argument that language is a requirement for a soul, and that anything
without language is not human and just an animal at best (the implications
for prelinguistic children and mutes are left as an exercise for the
reader). Now, here's my question:

How would you refer to a person -- say for example, your captain -- if that
person was dead? Would you use -wI' or -wIj?

If you take the position that the captain was capable of speech while
alive, and that such an attribute should be considered permanent once
applied, then you'd go with -wI'.

But if you go with the comment established in TNG that a lifeless body is
just a shell and possesses nothing of the original owner, then I imagine
you'd use -wIj, with no insult implied to your captain, because here's not
there any more, that's just his body.

This has probably been asked and answered before, but I just woke up, and
the Klingon dream is still ringing in my head, so I thought I'd better post.


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