tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Mon Apr 15 14:55:13 2002

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RE: "indefinite subject" and "passive voice"

> >From: [] 
> >In other words in Klingon, I can say {Qorwagh ghorlu'} and
> >I can translate that into the English passive-voiced
> >sentence, "The window is broken," but if I start out with
> >the English passive voice sentence, "The window was broken
> >by Krankor," there is no way to translate that meaning
> >into a Klingon sentence using {-lu'}. I can think of ways
> >that people who "encode" English into Klingon might THINK
> >they can translate that sentence using {-lu'}, but they'd
> >be wrong.
> Just to make my intent clear, I am not trying to translate the English
> phrase that Will has said was untranslatable. 

Well, I just meant that you can't use {-lu'} on a verb with an explicit 
subject. It's not that you can't install a nail. It's just that you can't 
install a nail with a screwdriver as if it were a screw, given the absence of a 
slotted head or threaded shaft. You can definitely translate the English 
passive voice with a subject. You just can't do it in a single sentence with {-
lu'} on the verb.

> This is a related issue.
> I want to see how strongly he and others feel the "indefiniteness"
> applies.  BTW, feel free to comment on my grammar and style, as well.
> Don't mind my liberal translations.
> Qorwagh ghorlu'.  ghor Qanqor 'e' vIHar.
> The window is broken.  I think Krankor broke it.

Unless you are really trying to accentuate that you alone believe that Krankor 
broke it, I think it is much more stylistic to the language to say {Qorwagh 
ghorlaw' Qanqor} than to say {Qorwagh ghor Qanqor 'e' vIHar.} Whose opinion are 
you stating, if not your own? When you speak English, there is a tendency to be 
polite and act as if your opinion was somehow less significant than the more 
profound general opinion, so we say {'e' vIHar} instead of {-law'}. I doubt 
that cultural preference should generally be carried through most translations.
If you want to disambiguate the {-law'} to make sure people know you mean that 
it was apparently Krankor and not someone else who broke the window, instead of 
saying that Krankor apparently broke and not merely struck the window without 
damaging it, then perhaps it would be clearer as {Qorwagh ghorlaw' Qanqor'e'.} 
That would also make it clear that you did not mean that Krankor apparently 
broke the window rather than the mirror.

> So, in actual fact, the "breaker" is unknown, but in my mind the
> "breaker" is known.  I could just say,
> Qorwagh ghor Qanqor 'e' vIHar
> I think Krankor broke the window.

Qorwagh ghorlu'bejpu'. ghorlaw' Qanqor. Wanna make something of it? It's MY 
opinion, so I'm SAYIN' it! None of this namby-pampby {'e' vIHar} stuff.

> But if my listener did not know that the window was broken, it is a bit
> of a non sequitur.  So, then how strongly does the "-lu'" imply
> indefiniteness?  Can I use it to introduce an action that was taken and
> then announce the "do-er".  Much like someone's suggestion for the
> ending of a mystery (I don't have the original message any more)...
> HoD chotlu' net Sov.  chotta'bogh nuv'e' vIngu'laH.  HoD chot ...
> la'na''e'!
> You know that the captain was murdered.  I can tell you who had murdered
> him.  The captain was murdered by ... THE COMMANDER!
> I know who did it and I'm going to reveal it in just a second, but I
> want to build some suspense first, so I leave it unspecified as I begin.
> Seems like a good use for "-lu'".  What do you guys think?

Of course, in a murder mystery, the snitch would say {HoD chot...} and then a 
disruptor beam would flash from the shadows, vaporizing the snitch, leaving our 
hero with only the sound of footsteps sprinting off into the distance and 
echoes of maniacal laughter down the hallway.
> janSIy


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