tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Mon Apr 15 14:38:35 2002

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RE: "indefinite subject" and "passive voice"

ghIthlh janSIy:

>Qorwagh ghor Qanqor 'e' vIHar
>I think Krankor broke the window.
>But if my listener did not know that the window was broken, it is a bit
>of a non sequitur.

This leads us nicely into a discussion of the twin pragmatic issues of 
Presupposition and Entailment. Every language deals with these problems, both 
implicitly and explicitly. Sometimes this is accomplished through lexical 
items (e.g., a sentence like "the orphan bought his mother a present" is 
serious problems) or through selection restriction rules (e.g., "the lawn 
broke the window and blamed Krankor" is not well formed because grass cannot 
perform animate or sentient actions). Exceptions exist of course in 
figurative language, but that's not what we're talking about here. 

The bane of much linguistic examples lies in their presentation without 
benefit of context. Jeremy's example above cannot be a "non sequitur" as 
presented because there's no sequence being followed. The sentence appears in 
isolation, making this a non-problem. 

Now, if in the course of discussing the best way to hunt targs or gut Vulcans 
a conversant suddenly interuptted with a comment like 

Qorwagh ghor Qanqor 'e' vIHar

That would be a non sequitur, and an appropriate response might certainly be 

Qorwagh ghorlu''a'?
Someone broke a window?

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