tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Feb 17 10:53:46 1999

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RE: jatlh

: jatlh qonwI':
: >>{pagh bIjatlh}
: >>"You say PAGH." (= You said our BG's name)
: >>"You say NOTHING" (= You say the word "nothing")
: > We have the same problem in Terran languages, too. ;-) But, I don't 
: > see how you can use a null-object prefix here, because there IS an 
: > object - what is being said! 
: The quotation is *NOT* the object of the verb <jatlh>. It's just not. We
: have known this for a long time, and got very specific confirmation of it
: recently. I don't remember whether it was charghwI''s interview with Marc
: Okrand in the last HolQeD or a post to startrek.klingon, but Okrand has
: *specifically* described how quotes work, and has said that the quotation is
: *NOT* the object of the verb. The verb can have an object (e.g. <matlh vIja'
: <jIghung>> - "I told matlh "I am hungry"".), and the quote can go before or
: after the main part of the sentence.

This trips up many beginners, for whom TKD is usually the only resource they have.  Okrand deliberately made this feature counter-intuitive, or at least different, from the way quoted speech works in many Terran languages.  You expect the quotation to be the direct object of {jatlh}, so he decided that it wouldn't be, by Kahless!  It's one of the "alien" non-Human features that he built into Klingon.

: > Just my humble opinion... I'm not a grammarian or anything. ;-)
: When the grammar we know about something is vague or undefined, it is a
: matter of opinion. When the grammar we know is well defined, as it is here,
: it becomes a matter of fact.
: pagh
: Beginners' Grammarian

Well, it's "well defined" NOW for the veteran Klingonists, but remember, it was initially mentioned only in passing in TKD's the discussion of {'e'} and {net}:

	Similarly, with verbs of saying (say, tell, ask, etc.), {'e'} and 
	{net} are not used. The two phrases simply follow one another, in 
	either order: {qaja'pu' HIqaghQo'} or {HIqaghQo' qaja'pu'} "I told 
	you not to interrupt me." This is literally, "I told you, 'Don't 
	interrupt me!'" or "'Don't interrupt me!' I told you."  (p.67)

... but it wasn't glaringly obvious at first reading that he used the verb prefix {qa-} "I [do something to] you" and not {Da-} "you [do something to] it" - at least not to me (I noticed it only on my third or fourth rereading).  Thus the need for later clarification, first on the Star Trek: Continuum newsgroup startrek.klingon (June 1997) and later in a source unavailable to most beginners, the Klingon Language Institute's quarterly journal *HolQeD* ("linguistics").  Contact Lawrence to see which back issues are still available for purchase.

Ca'Non Master of the Klingons

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