tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Fri Aug 23 13:01:12 2002

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Re: tlhIngan Hol lujatlhbogh puq'e'

Clipped for brevity.


>>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).
>if i were a klingon linguist, i wouldn't ask all these stupid questions.
>sorry for having confused you.

You don't have to apologize, this is one of the stated purposes for this 
discussion group.  And the questions aren't stupid.  If it furthers your 
interest in and understanding of Klingon, then it's worth it.  And hey, I 
can always learn something new too.

>>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.
>yes, but not always. time-stamps go into the header, but they don't have 
>syntactic markers.

Got it.

>>You also want to say that nouns in the "subject" and "object" roles can 
>>have cases.
>>How am I doing so far?
>really cool! you understand me. i'm really glad. :)
>>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.
>[1] i stick to this framework. i don't think that there are cases just 
>because human languages work this way. (although i think that klingon _is_ 
>a human language, but, that is really not important right now.)

I must accept that you and I mean different things by "human" languages.  
You seem to be using this term to mean that a human can speak it.  I've made 
my point about what a "natural human" language is in other posts, so I won't 
repeat it here.  I am concerned that using the term in this way is 
misleading.  You seem aware of the danger of making assumptions about how 
Klingon works on this basis, and I can only hope that others that were not a 
part of this discussion do not fall into that trap if they hear you describe 
Klingon this way.

>you see, in this framework, in the header position, nouns have cases which 
>include location, so nouns with /-Daq/. but such a noun can be the object 
>of a verb. so the object of a verb has a case, or can have one.
>how am i doing so far? :)

Okay, you're right: there's a special circumstance with verbs of motion 
where they take an object marked for location with {-Daq}.  So far, we've 
identified the following cases: location, reason, beneficiary, and 
time-stamp.  One of these occurs as an object in a special circumstance.  
The other three, as far as we know, cannot occur in the object role, and 
none of them, as far as we know, can occur in the subject role.  (There's 
one counter-example with {-Daq} that I can't remember right now.)

So, if we accept that they can occur in these positions, the conditions 
under which they can are extremely circumscribed.  The general observation 
is that they cannot.

So, now back to my original question.  If we accept that nouns in subject or 
object role can have one of these cases, but that they are not marked as 
such, then what is the point of claiming they have case?

You might say something like {rIn DaHjaj}, in which a noun that identifies a 
time is in the subject role.  I would assert that this is not a time-stamp.  
It doesn't identify the time at which the action of the sentence occurs.  I 
could extend this to say {wa'leS rIn DaHjaj}, and now the explicit (overt) 
time-stamp is different than the subject.  The subject isn't a time-stamp, 
it's just a regular noun.  This seems to me to argue against your claim that 
the subject is marked for one of your cases.

Let me be a little more explicit about what I'm asking and why I'm asking 
it.  We're talking here about the rules of how this language works.  We 
don't have to add "case" and "role" to the list if rules in order to 
understand or describe Klingon grammar.  These are additional concepts.  If 
you're going to add additional concepts to the grammar, there has to be a 
well-motivated reason for it.

For example, in a field of linguistic inquiry called "case theory," there's 
a rule called the Case Filter: "Every NP must be assigned case."  This is 
used to explain why sentence such as (a) are ungrammatical and (b) are 

(a) * Him to attack Bill would be illegal.
(b)   For him to attack Bill would be illegal.

(The asterisk * indicates the sentence is ungrammatical.)  In (a), the 
pronoun "him" does not get case, because the verb lacks tense.  In (b), the 
pronoun "him" gets case from the preposition "for."

Now, switching back to Klingon.  You're proposing a new rule, that says that 
all nouns have a case (noting, with apologies, that this is different that 
the example from case theory above).  In the subject and (usually) object 
positions, this is unmarked (non-overt).  My question is, how does this 
expand the explanatory power of our Klingon grammar?  What is it about how 
Klingon works that you can explain better now, in terms of case as we've 
defined it, that you couldn't explain before?

Now, here's my argument on the other side of the discussion.  The types of 
case that you've identified (location, reason, beneficiary, and time-stamps) 
always occur in the "header" role (with the exception of location for verbs 
of motion).  It doesn't seem to me that this exception is a powerful enough 
example to expand the possible occurrences of case to subject and object 
positions in general.  And in fact, if you try to construct Klingon 
sentences this way, they are ungrammatical:

* tlheD DujDaq
* tlheD Dujmo'
* tlheD DujvaD
* tlheD Dujvo'
* tlheD wa'Hu'

(For the {-mo'} example, this is grammatical if you understand it to mean 
{tlheD ghaH, Dujmo'}, but not if you assume that {Duj} is the subject of 
{tlheD}.  For the {wa'Hu'} example, {wa'Hu'} cannot act as a time-stamp, as 
I showed above.)

So, the evidence seems to suggest that the cases as you've defined them are 
restricted to the "header" role.  And, though MO didn't use the words 
"header," "case" or "role," this is how TKD describes this.  If you take the 
syntactic markers off, you're left with {tlheD Duj}, which does not include 
the connotations of location, reason, or beneficiary that you're arguing 
for.  It doesn't seem likely to me that these are indeed assigned a case, 
but not marked a such.

Based on this, I do not understand the justification for describing case in 
the way that you do.  Show me where I went wrong.  :)



d'Armond Speers, Ph.D.

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