tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Apr 23 10:49:09 2002

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Re: 'e' vIneH

> > > When saying this aloud, I would pause, to indicate these were separate
> > > thoughts, and saying just {vIneH} after a pause seems to leave the verb 
> > > with no object (that's how it feels to me, anyway).  Although I guess it 
> > > could be interpreted as a simple non-sequitur:
> > >
> > > I'm travelling to Europe next year.  I want it.
> > >
> > > This leaves me thinking, 'Want what?'.
> >
> >Do you want it separate or not? Just make up your mind and express your 
> >intent. If you waffle, then it will sound like you are waffling.
> My intention here was that the second sentence be an afterthought; 
> temporally separate but logically sequential.  The hypothetical 
> counter-example I provided was (as I mentioned) a non-sequitur - NOT 
> logically sequential.  No waffling.

In Klingon, the SAO construction is a pair of sentences. They are grammatically 
distinct. A pause wouldn't matter. Normally, {'e'} is used to link the two 
sentences. This is not necessary for the verb {neH}. If you don't supply an 
explicit direct object for {neH}, in all likelihood people would assume that 
you were referring to the previous sentence. Clearly, this use of {neH} is 
common enough that {'e'} is considered unnecessary. You seem to be trying to 
make a special case out of something that is very much not special.

In my own theory, {neH} is so commonly used in SAO that the only reason it is 
not a verb suffix like {-qang} is that Klingon needs the ability to express a 
subject for {neH} that is independent of the subject of the first verb in the 
SAO. In all cases where someone says, {vIneH}, the most immediate task for a 
mind parsing the sentence is to sweep through recent memory to find the 
previous sentence, even after a pause, and assume that {vIneH} is the second 
sentence in SAO referring back to the first one.

Unless someone is physically pointing to something and saying {vIneH} or 
otherwise making a really big gesture to make it clear that the direct object 
is not the previous sentence, people in general are going to assume that 
{vIneH} is the second sentence of SAO if the person saying {vIneH} was also the 
most recent person speaking.

Our communication disconnection goes something like this:

You: I have a special case with {neH}. There's a pause, you see."

Me: "This is how {neH} works. Don't worry."

You: "But this is a special case. You don't understand. There's a pause."

Me: "I do understand. This is how {neH} works. The pause doesn't matter."

You: "No, you don't understand. I don't mean the way {neH} USUALLY works. I 
mean a special case. There's a pause."

Me: "No, YOU don't understand. This is not a special case. This is how {neH} 
works. The pause doesn't matter."

You: "I don't mean the way you think I mean. I mean a special way."

Me: "You are not listening to me tell you that the condition you think is 
special is actually quite common. There is no special case encompassing your 
description. The normal scope of how {neH} works easily contains the case you 
wish to mark as special."

You: "You really don't understand my special case."

Can we please end this? Please credit me with sufficient intellect to have 
heard your question fully and understood it fully. Please believe that my 
response is honest and clear. I'm not misunderstanding you. You are not 
describing something more special than I can understand. I'm not ignoring your 

This is not a special case. Okay?

> > > Please, no advice that I should just say:
> > >
> > > DIS veb "Europe" vIleng vIneH.
> > >
> > > Sure, when I'm sitting here writing, I could delete the punctuation and
> > > simply add {vIneH}  But if I were speaking, I couldn't delete the pause 
> > > I'd just made.  (Just trying to forestall the inevitable "You're making 
> > > it too complex" response.)
> >
> >It sounds like you are fixating on a problem that a person speaking the
> >language would never worry about. You want there to be a shade of meaning 
> >that people will pay special attention to in a place where conversational 
> >language doesn't worry about such peculiarities.
> >
> >When people talk in any language, they think while talking and much of what
> >they say is grammatically incorrect or imprecise, but since each phrase 
> >exists within a larger context, as each phrase is parsed, it is compared to 
> >that context. If it enhances or extends that context, it is accepted. If it 
> >is at odds with the context and the continuing context continues to be at 
> >odds with it, it is usually ignored. If it is less obviously at odds with 
> >the context, the person talking with you will probably ask you to more 
> >precisely explain what you meant.
> My whole point was: if I got into a situation where I had expressed a 
> complete thought, and after finishing the spoken sentence, and giving enough 
> of a pause that my listeners recognize it was the end of a thought; then I 
> had an afterthought wanted to clarify that this was a desire and not a 
> certainty, how would I do it?  Would it require {'e'}? 

No. The pause does not imply a break in the SAO construction. Think of SAO as 
two sentences in a mini-paragraph. They are not two clauses in a single 
sentence, though that is how they are translated in English. It is okay to put 
in a pause. If you pause so long that people may have forgotten the first 
sentence, you might choose to repeat it. Otherwise, you can stop fixating on 
this. It's really not a big deal.

The only time we've seen {'e'} used with {neH} was when one person was 
referring to a different person's sentence. This is a usage observation with no 
backing from any explanation from Okrand. There was not a major pause between 
the statement made and the {'e' neHbe' vavoywI'} response, so it makes more 
sense that the {'e'} is to link sentences from two different people and not 
because of any pause between the first and second sentence.

You can use {'e'} if you really want to, but you'll probably be simply 
understood to be someone who doesn't speak Klingon very well.

> When I said it out 
> loud to myself, the {vIneH} part sounded like a completely separate, 
> non-sequential thought, and not a logical continuation. 

If you think your pause was so long that this kind of misunderstanding would 
ensue, I suggest that you repeat your first sentence. I honestly believe this 
would be preferable to using {'e'} with {neH} when referring to what you have, 
yourself, just said.

> You say such a 
> thought would be ignored.  What if I don't want it to be ignored?  What if I 
> want to make sure people realize it is an afterthought and not a 
> non-sequitur?

Repeat the first thought or just say {vIneH} and credit your audience with the 
ability to link the two separate sentences, since SAO is ALWAYS a two sentence 

I mean what is a "complete thought" anyway? Philosophers spend their entire 
lives trying to achieve a complete thought and typically die having failed to 
do so. You put too much emphasis on this artificial boundary.
> In my experience, a non-sequitur is not ignored unless a relatively large 
> number of people are involved in the conversation (and even then, it is 
> generally only ignored by part of the group). 

Okay, let's back up. Here you are in conversation. You say, {veng wa'DIch 
vIleng... ...  ...  ...  ... vIneH.}

I will do one of two things. I will either stitch these together and realize 
you meant {veng wa'DIch vIleng vIneH} or I will turn to you and say, {nuq 
DaneH?} Then you can reply {veng wa'DIch vIleng vIneH} and we can be done with 
it. You don't have to stay up nights worrying about whether or not you've been 
understood. In conversation, people interreact. People misunderstand each other 
quite often. They check in with each other and straighten out most of the 
misunderstandings, and most of the rest of them are soon forgotten. A very few 
of them become problems that lead to divorce, murder, war and intrigue, but 
this really is uncommon. Trust me on this.

Just this morning, my wife said to me, "I think it was the kiwi fruit." She 
looked at me as if I understood what she meant. I replied, "Could I have some 
context here?" She then explained that she thought the kiwi fruit had made the 
smoothie she made for our breakfast taste so good. This was at least 10 minutes 
after we'd left the room from having eaten breakfast and cleaned up.

You want a pause? That was a pause. Furthermore, the question she was 
answering, "What made the smoothie taste so good?" was never stated anywhere 
but in her mind. Still, she said the answer to me, as if I'd asked the question 
in the first place.

This sort of contextual displacement occurs in conversation all the time. Don't 
worry about it. People work it out.

> The flow of the conversation 
> stops while people try to figure out what is going on.  I didn't want that 
> to be the outcome of my hypothetical situation.  But maybe it's different 
> when speaking Klingon.  Someday I'll have to save up enough money for a 
> {qep'a'} (or convince some other people around here to take up Klingon so I 
> can have a {qepHom}) so I can get a handle on the dynamics of conversation 
> in Klingon.

Good idea.


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