tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Fri Apr 05 12:12:47 2002

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apposition, possession, and clarity (was Re: KLBC: Prefix Trick)

>Mary's sister
>the sister of Mary
>my wife, Mary
>Mary, my wife
>We can combine these with relative clarity in English:
>Laura, my wife, Mary's sister

"Relative clarity" is not a good description of this example.  I'm sure
that this would be much more clear if I heard the spoken emphasis, but the
written punctuation leads me to interpret it as saying that Laura, your
wife, and Mary's sister are all the same person.  I believe you mean that
Laura is Mary's sister and Mary is your wife, and I assume you'd actually
speak it without a pause between "wife" and "Mary".

I know there are conventions for commas in English appositives, but in this
case the way I'd write it is this:

  Janice, my wife Carol's sister

I wonder if there are explicit rules for such "nested" appositive usage.

>Klingon, however, makes no syntactical difference at all between the
>genitive/possessive construction and apposition:
>charghwI' HoD

I'm pretty sure ranks aren't really appositive, making this example
slightly less useful than it might otherwise be.  I think {mara QeDpIn}
works to show the ambiguity without extra complication.

  ba'taH mara QeDpIn

Without context or spoken inflection, is that talking about Mara's science
officer, or is it identifying Mara as the science officer?  For the latter
appositive meaning, when saying it out loud, I'd pause briefly between
{mara} and {QeDpIn}, and intone the two words in approximately the same
way.  For simple possession, I'd run them more together without special
pause, and have more of a rising tone on {mara}, but that's just an
observation on what would come out of my mouth.  I wouldn't quite do it

>Let's face it, when you pile nouns together in Klingon, it can be very
>confusing. Klingon is always very clear about how multiple verbs relate to one
>another in a well-formed sentence, but it is quite often quite ambiguous about
>the grammatical function of nouns.

[I agree that strings of nouns are syntactially messy.  However, verbs are
still quite capable of semantic ambiguity, especially when trying to pin
down the scope of certain suffixes.]

>Fortunately, in many Klingon sentences, nouns are quite optional. Do without
>them when you can.

bIqeSchu'.  Case in point -- I could have said {QaQ qeSlIj}, but there's
always the chance that someone will get confused about whether I'm talking
about the advice you *give* or the advice you *get*. :-)  Turning the
praise into a single verb avoids that very nicely.

-- ghunchu'wI'

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