tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Fri Feb 19 14:20:39 1999

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Re: ma'veq: It's official

ja' loD Doq:

>  clipped Klingon ... It's blaringly incorrect! The only
>  reason why anyone accepts it is because it makes sense! No one would add
>  prefixes that aren't necessary, when time is not a luxury. Clipped Klingon
>  sacrifices correctness to save time, just like contractions (which, by the
>  way, are also incorrect grammar). 

Certain contractions are correct in English.  If a grammatical description
says they aren't, the grammatical description is wrong.  Other contractions
are not; for example, the following two possibilities have seriously been
tried in order to fill an awkward gap in English subject-and-verb combinations
with negative questions:  

"Aren't I?" and (I swear I'm not making this up) "Amn't I?" 

Nobody I know accepts these any more.  "Aren't" is correct only with subjects
that are plural or "you"; it's incorrect with "I".   "Amn't" is just plain
wrong.  Any true grammatical description of English has to present these facts
right along with the many others.   

Now, there are stylistic variants of English in which "Ain't I?" is perfectly
OK.  There are also variants in which it's low-prestige to use any
contractions at all.  But within any one variant, there is "grammar", meaning
there are systematic usages, which can be observed, summarized, and
generalized as "rules".   People don't break these rules *in order to be
clear*; quite the reverse: it's only the fact that usages are systematic that
makes any utterance clear.  

Redundancy is employed to one degree or another in all variants, sometimes
more, sometimes drastically less, but always systematically.   Redundancy has
costs: time and effort to produce the extra material and make it fit.  It also
has benefits: the message gives you more information, or the information gets
through better.  Often there's enough redundancy so that we can understand an
utterance *in spite of* the rules being broken by noise, utterer's laziness,
or other reasons; but these breaks don't themselves produce the clarity.  

TKD, chapter 7, p. 72: "Clipped Klingon is used quite extensively in all walks
of Klingon life."   It isn't just talking wrong; it's established.  We could
certainly invent any number of contractions that Clipped Klingon (as far as we
know it) would reject as wrong, or at least unclear.   It doesn't consist of
the breaking of rules; it has its own systematic usages.   Yes, they're
different from standard usages; that's why this is a variant.  Okrand has a
lot of good material in KGT about other variants of Klingon, too; it rewards

> As for the correctness of the
> statement one chooses, well... they can't all be gems. If one really wants
> to be clear, then one is going to have to sound like an under-educated
> babbling fool. 

maQochchu'.  What I've usually seen is that if you want to be clear, you may
have to work at it, but the resulting utterances should look problem-free.
And I've seen far too many under-educated babbling fools, but that never made
their output any clearer.  

>  Why is it so unreasonable for someone to sacrifice correctness to gain
>  clarity? And don't just tell me, "because it's wrong."

What's clear to you is not necessarily clear to a speaker of another language,
and  vice versa.   That's part of what makes wrong utterances wrong.   


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