tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Fri Jan 29 17:20:51 1999

Back to archive top level

To this year's listing

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

Re: qID

[jIHagh, 'ach chaq qIDvam rurbogh ghItlhvaD Daq pIm wISamnIS.]

mujang charghwI':
>> ...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

You're either misunderstanding or misrepresenting what I meant.
I'm not trying to claim that the type 5 suffix is being used to
*identify* whether the subject or object is the head noun.  I'm
just pointing out that it has been observed to be placed there.

>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.

I don't know why we would have to "already know" what the head
noun is in order to put {-Daq} on it, or why it would even be
an issue.  The person writing or speaking the phrase certainly
knows which one is the head noun, and that's who is applying a
type 5 noun suffix to it.

Klingon permits undisambiguated (!) relative clauses, so there
doesn't seem to be any reason to have to identify the head noun
*before* tacking a syntactic marker on it.

>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.

I can't see *any* reason to treat {-Daq} and {-vaD} differently.
Without further information, they are both syntactic markers
that identify a noun or noun phrase (e.g., a noun followed by a
verb used adjectivally) as having a particular grammatical role
in a larger clause.  We happen to have examples of {-Daq} being
used to mark the subject and object of relative clauses, and I
don't think there are any relevant distinctions between any of
the type 5 suffixes except {-'e'}.

>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.

We haven't observed Okrand doing this, so I agree that they are
unproven extensions.  But I believe that they are extensions in
a direction the language points.

>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

Your ability to translate the sentence correctly and unambiguously
says something about how "correct" the grammar I used is.  Whether
or not it is ugly should be merely a value judgement.

>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.

For what it's worth, I too think that it is ugly.  I was in a hurry.
People write ugly sentences in *any* language on occasion.  That's
not a good excuse for having written it, but it's also not a good
excuse for attacking its grammar at the core.

>> 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.

When I used the word "marking" above, I didn't mean "indicating".
I meant "applying a syntactic marker to".  The marking is being
done for the main sentence, not the relative clause.

>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.

Are any other interpretations possible?  Perhaps the first
<noun> <verb>bogh is a standalone relative clause acting as
the first noun in a noun-noun phrase, and the <noun>vaD is
the second noun.  That would yield the following translation:

"We must find a different location for the benefit of the
manuscript of this joke which is resembled."

This is not likely, but it's marginally possible.  I think the
interpretation I intended (and which you understood) is very
obvious, and it doesn't require that you go back and reassess
what what things mean after encountering later words.

>But what if you wanted to use the direct object of the relative
>clause as the head noun?
><noun>vaD <verb>bogh noun verb.

If I wanted to do that, I would quickly realize that I had made
a word salad and I would discard the sentence forthrightly and
without embarrassment.

There's nothing grammatically wrong with "the stick the dog the
cat scratched fetched broke" either, and it isn't even ambiguous.
It's just too hard for anyone to understand without analyzing it
intensely.  There are reasons not to use certain constructions
other than because they are ungrammatical, and I think that's
the case with this particular phrasing:

>HoDvaD HoHbogh SuvwI' So'moH Qagh.
>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.

I agree with your assessment of its ugliness, and if I encounter
it in someone's writing I will probably ignore it rather than go
to a great deal of trouble to figure out which of the possible
meanings is appropriate.  But I don't think that it violates any
essential rules of grammar.

-- ghunchu'wI'

Back to archive top level