tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Aug 21 12:33:43 2002

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Deconstructing {law'/puS}

  reH latlh qabDaq qul tuj law' Hoch tuj puS.
  The fire is always hotter on someone else's face. PK

> > ...the whole sentence means "there is nothing hotter than
> > fire on someone elses face", which implies that on the own face there
> > can be something hotter than fire. this is not the meaning of the
> > translation "the fire is always hotter on someone else's face".

>Trying to decompose a {law'/puS} comparative as if it were a regular
>sentence isn't going to work.  It follows its own rules of grammar, which
>aren't as well-documented as they might be.  Perhaps the {latlh qabDaq} is
>attached only to the first part of the phrase.

There's another example of this sort of thing from SkyBox S7, which 
contains two comparisons:

   DujvamDaq tlhIngan nuH tu'lu'bogh pov law' Hoch pov puS 'ej DujvamDaq 'op
    SuvwI' tu'lu'bogh po' law' tlhIngan yo' SuvwI' law' po' puS
   It [IKV Pagh] has the best weapons and some of the finest warriors in the
    Klingon fleet.

where {DujvamDaq tlhIngan nuH tu'lu'bogh} "the Klingon weapons located on 
this ship" and {DujvamDaq 'op SuvwI' tu'lu'bogh} "some of the warriors on 
this ship" are the A element in the formula {A Q law' B Q puS}.

>                                                Perhaps there's something
>special about syntactic markers and superlatives that yields an unusual

My own interpretation is that {reH latlh qabDaq} is an introductory phrase 
for the *entire* law'/puS formula, not just the first element.  We've seen 
other examples (I'm making the law'/puS formula per se in angle 
brackets).  The clearest of these is:

   tlhutlhmeH <HIq ngeb qaq law' bIQ qaq puS>
   Drinking fake ale is better than drinking water. TKW
   ("for drinking, fake ale is better than water")

{tlhutlhmeH} applies here to both A and B elements as Okrand has actually 
repeated "drinking" in the translation for each.

Other examples:

   jonlu'meH <wo'maj pop tIn law' Hoch tIn puS>
   Our Empire's highest bounty has been placed on his head. (ST5 notes)
   ("in order to capture him, our Empire's reward is the biggest")

   qIbDaq SuvwI''e' <SoH Dun law' Hoch Dun puS>
   You would be the greatest warrior in the galaxy. ST5
   ("as for warrior(s) in the galaxy, you are the greatest")

   noH ghoblu'DI' <yay quv law' Hoch quv puS>
   In war there is nothing more honorable than victory. TKW
   ("when/as soon as one wages war, victory is the most honorable")

   tlhIngan wo' yuQmey chovlu'chugh <Qo'noS potlh law' Hoch potlh puS>
   The principal planet of the Klingon Empire, Qo'noS... S27
   ("if one assesses Klingon Empire planets, Qo'noS is the most important")

I admit that you could analyze some of these differently, but viewing all 
that "header" verbiage as an introductory phrase seems to be the easiest 
way to understand some of the more complicated examples of {law'/puS}.

>Or perhaps the translation is just misleading, which happens often with
>such proverbs.

Since {law'/puS} is such an odd method of making comparisons, I've always 
wondered whether Okrand didn't borrow the basic idea from one of the 
Amerindian languages he studied in graduate school.  Does anybody recognize it?

Ca'Non Master of the Klingons

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