tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Apr 16 16:39:11 2002

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Re: "be'be'" - double negation

> At 07:29 2002-04-15 -0500, Alan Anderson wrote:
> >ja' "Sean M. Burke" <>:
> > >Was it?  Because except for its overly uniform syllable structure and
> > >simple syntax, Klingon looks like a pretty run-of-the-mill American Indian
> > >language.
> >Look both closer and further, and you'll see that the similarity is not
> >significant.  Yes, there are some non-Indo-European features of Klingon
> >which mirror features in Athabaskan, but there are also features of Klingon
> >which have counterparts in Hungarian, Chinese, Hebrew, and just about any
> >other non-IE language you care to mention.
> I'm thinking mainly of the potentially high morpheme count on verbs, the 
> marking of evidentiality, and especially the fused subject/object marking, 
> and the (apparent?) lack of non-finite verb forms (like how you say "I-sing 
> I-want" instead of "singing I-want").

Infinitives seem to exist in Klingon in both the nominative form of a verb with 
{-wI'} (we've never seen one with a prefix) and sometimes with {-meH}. The 
pattern is not obviously consistent, but I've come to believe that when a {-
meH} verb modifies a noun, it most typically is infinitive, but when it 
modifies another verb, it most typically involves a whole clause including a 

I find it a weak argument to suggest that there is a null prefix on {ghojmeH 
taj} or any of the other {-meH}-verb noun phrases we are given in the word 
list. It is a "learning" knife, not a "in-order-that-he-learns" knife. I can't 
see a boy yelling, "Yo! Keep your hands off my in-order-that-he-learns knife!" 
I also can't see him yelling {jIghojmeH tajwIj yIHotQo'!}

Meanwhile, others have said it's just like Chinese because it lacks tense, or 
it is just like Arabic because of some of the phonemes... Okrand definitely was 
influenced by his familiarity with Native American languages, but he has very 
consistently refuted any claim that Klingon was "based" on anything. He went to 
a great deal of intentional focus to avoid just that.
> > >It's certainly not shockingly nonhuman like, say, Lojban is.
> >"Nonhuman?"  Like Klingon, Loglan/Lojban was devised by humans, to be
> >spoken by humans.  Perhaps "non-natural" would be a better term.
> It was designed to be spoken my humans, but frankly it came out REALLY 
> weird.  It was apparently designed by people whose main language experience 
> was with predicate logic.  For example, the role-marking is totally unlike 
> anything I've seen in any existing human language.  So yeah, non-natural.
> I think of Klingon as the sort of brilliant inverse of that.

That was quite intentional. In fact, Okrand revels in some of the contortions 
the language has had to go through to handle backfits for mistakes made in the 
movies. It makes the language less regular and more "natural". As an example, 
Klingon originally had tense, but a screwup in a movie line forced him to come 
up with a different reason for one verb to have what had been the past tense 
marker, while a different one didn't, even though they were both past tense. He 
came up with aspect markers and now, Klingon lacks tense.

The language is a mix of careful planning and slapdash backfits. The word 
{qama'pu'} used to mean "I told you". Now, it means "I have accommodated you." 
I'm convinced it is a message to the movie's director, since it now also has to 
mean "prisoners" and what had been the past tense {-pu'} is now the plural for 
beings capable of using language.

The language really is not based on anything human. Trust us on this.

> --
> Sean M. Burke


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