tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Jul 13 08:55:59 1999

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Re: RE: KLBC: Subordinated Phrases

This is just a pet peeve of mine. Don't take it too seriously.

On Mon, 12 Jul 1999 01:54:02 -0400 Eric Andeen 
<> wrote:
> If a <-bogh> clause has two nouns (like <puq qIpbogh yaS>), then you have to 
> decide which one is the "head noun" - the noun which is modified by the 
> clause. You can usually tell from context. Also, if either noun is marked 
> with the suffix <-'e'> or another type five suffix, then it is the head 
> noun. 

I'm fairly certain that while some of us choose to make this 
perhaps overreaching generality, and while Okrand has 
specifically approved the use of {-'e'} to mark the head noun in 
this kind of circumstance (an idea Krankor came up with and 
everybody liked), there have never been any examples or 
explanations from Okrand approving this idea for any other Type 
5 suffix. There are two examples of relative clauses using 
{-Daq} on the head noun, but in these cases, there were no other 
nouns in the relative clause, so the {-Daq} was in no way 
"marking" the head noun of the relative clause. It was merely 
establishing that the head noun was being used as a locative for 
the main clause.

People on this list lept at this to assume that because {-Daq} 
is a Type 5 suffix and because you can't use both {-Daq} and 
{-'e'} on the same word, and because {-'e'} can be added to one 
of two explicit nouns in a relative clause in order to mark the 
head noun, then likely you could use {-Daq} to mark the head 
noun of an ambiguous relative clause. I think that's reaching a 
bit far, myself. If I see Okrand do it or say that it is okay, 
fine. My understanding of the language will stretch to include 
that. So far, however, I don't see it that way.

If there are any examples in canon that I've missed, please let 
me know. I don't want to run around in ignorance. Meanwhile, any 
explicit or even casual claim for things to work this way should 
always have a disclaimer attached.

I mostly don't want this to become a common idea of proper 
grammar simply because it encourages really ugly, convoluted 
relative clauses that would most likely be better handled by 
separate, smaller sentences. Klingon really was not built to 
handle long, complex, convoluted sentences. It is not the 
character of the language. It is weird enough to have a relative 
clause built on a head noun that is a locative. Adding a 
separate, second noun to the relative clause just overburdens 

I already don't like the use of relative clauses used as 
locatives just because it already makes things often laughingly 
ambiguous, but this new proposed rule makes things much worse.

It becomes difficult to tell whether an object of a relative 
clause with {-Daq} tagged on to a relative clause that already 
has a subject is:

1. A relative clause with subject as head noun and a locative 
applying to the relative clause itself.

2. A relative clause with object as head noun, which is also 
serving as locative for the main verb.

3. A relative clause with subject as head noun, all preceeded by 
a locative that applies to the main clause and has nothing to do 
with the relative clause.


juHwIjDaq chopbogh targh vInej.

Possible meanings if your rule is false:

"At my house -- I looked for a targ which bites."

"I looked for a targ -- which bites at my house."

"I looked for a targ -- at my house which is bitten."

If your rule is true, then add the meaning:

"I looked for it at my house which is bitten by the targ."


The first two meanings match the ambiguity of the same sentence 
in most English translations:

"I looked for a targ that bites at my house."

What happens at the house? Seeking or biting?

Meanwhile, we ought to be able to tell whether we are looking 
for the targ or not. We can't if this so-called rule proves to 
be accurate. Our solid information is reduced to knowing that 
I'm looking for something and something is happening at my house 
and there is a targ and biting involved, but everything else is 
vague and confusing.


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