tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Oct 26 17:24:03 1999

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Re: nID cha' attn:KLBG

>From: "Andeen, Eric" <>
>Date: Mon, 25 Oct 1999 18:18:48 -0700
>DraQoSvaD jIjang:
>> There is no way, in English nor ta' Hol, to distinguish
>> between the concept of life and a particular concrete
>> example of (a) life. So if it pleases the court, I request 
>> a few moments to defend my choice of words. 

English uses various tricks of grammar to handle this; Klingon either
doesn't do it or has special vocabulary.  We say "life is pain" for the
general concept and "a life is a pain" for an instance (though perhaps a
general instance).  Klingon has "noH" for an instance of war and "veS" for
warfare in general (here's an case of English using special vocabulary:
warfare vs. war).

>> A concept is a mental abstraction. The basis of all 
>> mental abstractions are -several- specific concrete 
>> examples. You have a life, as do I and most people on 
>> this list. We all have lives, but we also all have 
>> life. So if you use life (yIn) to refer to the concept, 
>> the noun is plural. The concept covers many different 
>> concrete examples, and is therefore plural.
>DaH jIQochnIS. Klingon does not treat abstract concepts like "life" or
>"honor" or "warfare" as plural. They are singular. That's just the way
>Klingon works.

Actually, in English they're singular too.  "Life is pain." "War is hell."
"Work makes free." Even "Man is a hairless ape."  I suppose English can do
it with plurals also; "Plurals are used for certain effects," "People are
strange," "Computers are a pain in the butt."  But certainly you can't rule
out singulars for them, in English or in Klingon (as evidenced by words
like veS, vaj).

>> veS instead of noH: All life is warfare. It is not a
>> specific concrete war. It is many different wars, 
>> fought on many different fronts, with many different 
>> weapons, requiring many different tactics and skills. 
>> As well as other non combat elements of warfare such 
>> as intelligence gathering, logistics, strategic 
>> thinking, alliance formation, etc. just to name a few.

Yeah, but you used a singular verb, didn't you?


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