tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Sun Apr 14 11:57:54 2002

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Re: "be'be'" - double negation

From: "Sean M. Burke" <>
> I would be greatly surprised if Okrand thought the book's target audience
> was monolingual English speakers who'd never been in a foreign language
> class for more than the few weeks necessary to find out that language X
> (where X is anything but English) doesn't have a "negatives cancel" rule.

I'll tell you exactly who Okrand's expected target audience was:
English-speaking, mostly American, Star Trek fans.  Not linguists, not
native Chinese speakers, not fictional Starfleet officers.  Star Trek fans.
Okrand never in his wildest dreams expected Klingon to be scrutinzed to the
degree that it has been.

> His assuming the reader reads English is one thing; his assuming that his
> reader will look at the words, note that they're in English and thus
> suppose "He means me to assume Klingon is like English in all points not
> demonstrated otherwise" is another.
> In my experience, linguists just don't do that.

No, he's not saying this.  Once more, we have someone here presenting
arguments in extremes ("If it's not all of one, then it must be all of
another.")  You must stop thinking in black and white about this.  The
boundary between fictional Klingon and real Klingon is VERY fuzzy; don't try
to precisely define it.  It's very much a matter of personal opinion and

Now, your opinion may be that Klingon is unlike English in its dealings with
double negation, and you're certainly free to discuss the merits of this
idea, but you simply cannot demonstrate the validity of this argument.  This
is okay: we can't demonstrate a lot of things in Klingon.  We have to guess,
and we have to live with that.

Stardate 2285.2

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