tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Aug 21 11:12:20 2002

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Re: tlhIngan Hol lujatlhbogh puq'e'

>lab Holtej 'utlh:
>>>>>A rose by any other name.  Personally, I see "subject," "object," and
>>>>>"header" as the cases of Klingon nouns.
>>>>I don't see these as cases, so much as grammatical roles.  Unless you 
>>>>subscribe to the theory that (a) all nouns are marked for case, even if 
>>>>it's not overt; and (b) Klingon is like human languages in this regard, 
>>>>there's no evidence that Klingon uses case.
>>>i subscribe, i subscribe! :)
>>To which part?  Both?  I'd object to (b) on the grounds that Klingon is, 
>>by definition, non-human; we shouldn't adopt (theoretical) principles of 
>>human languages for Klingon without evidence.  My point was that 
>>distinctions like "subject" and "object" are grammatical roles.  Their 
>>role in the sentence is determined by syntax (word order), not morphology 
>>(case marking).  Furthermore, (overt) case marking isn't even an option 
>>(though we can talk about {-vaD} for indirect objects).
>i see klingon as a human language. if we can learn it, and children can 
>learn it, then it is a human language.

That's like saying that French is a Chinese language because Chinese people 
can learn it.  Klingon is not human.  And my point in saying this is that we 
can't assume Klingon works a certain way simply because human languages do.

There are certain assumptions we make in playing this game of learning 
Klingon.  There's this context, you see, in which, far away, there are these 
aliens called "Klingons."  They're not from Earth, not human.  We're just 
learning their language.  If we don't agree on these simple assumptions, 
we're certain not to agree on conclusions you reach by violating them.

>let me ask this: do i understand it right that "overt" case marking means 
>there is a case, but we don't mark it?

Sorry, I could have chosen a clearer word.  "Overt" means "visible."  
"Non-overt" means "not visible, but present."

>i wanted to subscribe to
>1) klingon is a human language
>2) all nouns have a case, whether marked or not

I reject your (1) outright.  Klingon is a Klingon language, not a Terran 

>>Let me ask it another way.  If you claim a non-overt case system for 
>>Klingon nouns, what does this buy you?
>i don't know the exact meaning of "non-overt".
>maybe i just want to distinguish the case of a noun (i mean the way that a 
>noun is introduced, as a location, as a reason, as a beneficary and so on) 
>from the role that a noun has for a verb. a verb needs subject and object, 
>and this together needs a header.

"Needs" is too strong, but I know what you mean.

>there are no subject-object-header markers, as these rules are determined 
>by the syntax of the language.

But for the "cases" you describe (location, reason, beneficiary), there are 
syntactic markers ({-Daq}, {-mo'}, {-vaD}).

>a noun keeps his case independently from his role in the sentence or in the 
>verb structure.
>there is one sentence role: the header.
>there are two verb rules: subject and object.
>the nouns that are used in the header, in the subject and in the object 
>slot have cases, they are locatives, beneficaries and so on. this 
>difference exists.

I am often easily confused by the use of terms like "case" and "role," 
because I'm a linguist and these words have specific meaning to me.  Rather 
than go down that road, I'm going to assume you're using these words in a 
novel way, and not try to interpret your post based upon their technical 
meanings (which your usage seems inconsistent with).

So, you say verbs have "roles," which are "subject" and "object", and nouns 
can be identified as these roles by their position in the sentence.

A sentence has a "role," which is "header," and nouns can be identified as 
this role by their position in the sentence.

In the header position, nouns have "cases," which include location, reason, 
beneficiary.  These are identified by syntactic markers.

You also want to say that nouns in the "subject" and "object" roles can have 

How am I doing so far?

Now, in this framework [1], my question is this: why do you want to claim 
that nouns in "subject" and "object" roles can have cases?  They're not 
marked for case in the same way that nouns in the header are (by syntactic 
markers).  So if they're not marked for case, what is the benefit of claming 
that they do have case?

[1] I say "in this framework," because we've given special definitions to 
the words "role" and "case" that are specific to Klingon, for the purpose of 
this discussion.  If you say that subject nouns have case because that's the 
way human languages work, now you're using a different definition of case 
that doesn't apply here.


--Holtej 'utlh

d'Armond Speers, Ph.D.

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