tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Jan 27 10:41:15 1999

Back to archive top level

To this year's listing

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]

Re: qID

On Tue, 26 Jan 1999 19:42:35 -0800 (PST) Alan Anderson 
<> wrote:

> mujang charghwI':
> >> jIHagh, 'ach chaq qIDvam rurbogh ghItlhvaD Daq pIm wISamnIS.
> >
> >"I laugh, but perhaps we must find a different place for the
> >benefit of the manuscript which resembles this joke."?
> >
> >moH pab.
> vuDlIj neH 'oHba'.
> >Okay, fine. I'm a prude. Okrand gave us two rather
> >simple examples of relative clauses with only one noun in them
> >that had {-Daq} on the noun. I don't like extending that to
> >relative clauses with two nouns, one of which has {-vaD} tacked
> >on to it.
> bIparchugh SoH, jISaHnIS'a' jIH? 

We need a Klingon word for "attitude". Since I have exhibited 
rather challenging ones quite a few times, obviously, I need to 
be tolerant when I encounter one.

> I don't share your dislike for
> this so-called "extension".  Like the canon examples, it puts the
> syntactic marker on the head noun of the relative clause. 

In the examples, there was no other noun available to be head 
noun, so it is not established that applying the syntactic 
marker marks one of two available head nouns as the head noun 
for the relative clause. If you think it did, then, well, you 
are making that up. There is nothing in canon to back up your 

We know that {-'e'} can mark the head noun. We know that {-Daq} 
can be applied to a noun we already know is the head noun in 
order to make the entire relative clause a locative. That is all 
we know.

We do not know that {-Daq} marks a head noun. We do not know 
that {-vaD} can be applied to a noun we already recognize to be 
the head noun of a relative clause. These are two quite unproven 
extensions of known Klingon grammar and your sentence depends 
upon both of these unproven grammatical constructions, and 
extends even those to posit that {-vaD} can be used on a head 
noun of a relative clause and it marks one of two present nouns 
as the head noun of that relative clause.

So, yes, I rather confidently believe that you have extended 
known Klingon grammar. You have boldly gone where no one has 
gone before. Your confidence does not convince me that you are 

When I saw Okrand's two examples, I winced because even though 
the examples themselves were relatively clear, if relative 
clauses were stretched farther in this direction (as you are now 
stretching it), very quickly we can wind up with sentences that 
are quite impenetrable. I do consider it to be ugly grammar. The 
benefit we get from it is small, and the cost quite a bit 
greater. I think we are better off backing down from this kind 
of brave new grammar.

> There
> is ample precedent for relative clauses with two nouns, and there
> is no reason I can see to forbid marking one of them with a type
> 5 suffix besides {-'e'}.

Recognize that you are making up new grammar when you say that. 
We do not have any examples of Okrand using any Type 5 noun 
suffix except {-'e'} to mark the head noun of a relative clause. 
He often doesn't even mark them at all, but he definitely has 
never marked a head noun with anything but {-'e'}. The two 
examples given do not mark the noun with {-Daq}. The only noun 
available to be head noun in both examples are the nouns that 
happen to have {-Daq} on them.
> >It can be deciphered with great effort,...
> I'm obviously too close to the problem to see it.  From my point
> of view, there's no more effort in "deciphering" {qIDvam rurbogh
> ghItlhvaD} than there is in understanding {meQtaHbogh qachDaq}.
> >...but it seems
> >like an odd looseness with grammar for one who spent a couple
> >years rebelling against the prefix shortcut for indirect
> >objects...
> jIlotlhbe'; vIyajchu'be' neH.  I thought it was a lazy mirroring
> of English at first.  It merely took me a while to see the usage
> in a larger context.

bIlotlhbejpu'. You made more than a few proud pronouncements 
that you did not accept this lazy mirroring, you thought it was 
incorrect and you refused to use it. You advised beginners to 
shun it as well. That is a bit stronger than merely imperfectly 
understanding it.

We each take our honest understanding of this language and try 
to share our views so that we can share a language that we all 
understand well. We hold our torches out toward what we take to 
be the shadows and sometimes we inadvertently ignite tender 
parts of our fellow speakers.

The ensuing battles are sometimes entertaining, sometimes 
frustrating and sometimes, well, just a little silly. Still, it 
is the way we settle the way we'll use the language.

I really don't see any justification for using a relative clause 
as an indirect object, especially if it has multiple nouns 
available to be the head noun. Okrand established that we can 
use relative clauses as locatives. His very simple examples open 
the door to some rather ugly ambiguity, and the benefit is 
limited enough that even he has only found two events which 
tempted him to use them.

It is not so much that I think your specific example is not 
comprehensible. I wish I had the entire sentence instead of just 
the clause to work with...

Okay, your example basically boils down to:

<noun> <verb>bogh <noun>vaD verb.

The first noun is object of the relative clause. The second noun 
is head noun of the relative clause, subject of the relative 
clause and indirect object of the main clause.

But what if you wanted to use the direct object of the relative 
clause as the head noun?

<noun>vaD <verb>bogh noun verb.

The first noun is now either:

1. Indirect object of the main verb


2. Indirect object of the relative clause.

In either case, the second noun is now:

A. Subject of the relative clause.


B. Direct object of the main verb.

If condition 2, then the second noun can also be head noun of 
the relative clause, so conditions A and B would both be true.

And if the first noun were indirect object of the main verb, but 
not part of the relative clause, again, the second noun becomes 
the head noun of the relative clause and both A and B are true.

Let's look at an example.

HoDvaD HoHbogh SuvwI' So'moH Qagh.

This might mean:

1. The mistake caused the captain, for whom the warrior killed, 
   to hide (something).

2. The mistake caused the warrior, who killed for the captain, 
   to hide (himself). 

3. The mistake caused the captain to hide the warrior who kills. 

4. The mistake caused the captain who was killed by the warrior 
   to hide (something).

Grammatical explanations of the translations:

1. "Hide" is transitive, its direct object is implied, "captain" 
   is head noun and main verb's indirect object

2. "Hide" is intransitive, "captain" is indirect object of 
   relative clause, not head noun of relative clause and not 
   indirect object of main verb.

3. Captain is indirect object of main verb and does not 
   participate in the relative clause.

4. "Hide" and "kill" are transitive, "captain" is head noun of 
   relative clause and indirect object of main verb.

Is this confusing enough? It takes no more liberty with the 
grammar than you do. It is quite ugly. This is what I see when I 
see anyone do what you are doing with the grammar. This is why I 
call it an extension and while I will certainly accept it if I 
ever see Okrand pushing us toward this kind of garbage, but 
until he does so, I will resist such wretchedness.
> -- ghunchu'wI'

charghwI' 'utlh

Back to archive top level