tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Mon Aug 26 12:28:59 2002

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Re: tlhIngan Hol lujatlhbogh puq'e'

>>>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.)
>and don't forget that also nouns with the type 5 suffix /-'e'/ can be 
>subject or object.

Ah, now you're expanding the definition of "cases" that we so carefully 
constructed earlier in this thread.

>>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.
>the general observation is that nouns with type 5 suffixes are in the 
>header and that nouns without type 5 suffixes are subject or object. the 
>exceptions of this observations are that there are nouns that go into the 
>header without having a type 5 suffix (time-stamps, for example) and that 
>there are nouns that have type 5 suffixes that are subject or object. both 
>sides are general observations and have exceptions.
>>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?
>there is no sence as long as you say that there is a general observation 
>and that there are exceptions.
>my point is: when there are exceptions, what worth is a general 
>in order to fix this mixmax of general observations and exceptions, i like 
>to see it as "cases of nouns" and "slots/roles of a verb" (subject, object) 
>and "slot/role of a sentence" (header).


>and/or maybe i don't understand your (original) question. you talk about 
>the general observation that subjects and objects don't have type 5 
>suffixes? do you think that i think that an object of a verb has an object 
>case without a type 5 suffix? (well, that's not my opinion.)

No.  I thought I had been explicit about my interpretation of your point.

>>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.
>my reason is that i don't like exceptions and general observations. i would 
>have liked to explain sentences with "role" and "case" instead of general 
>observations and exceptions. this isn't well-motivated, you may say, but 
>for me it is.

In general I don't have a problem with this.  If it helps you to think of 
things in terms different from those presented in TKD, go right ahead.  
Whatever works for you is great, so long as it works.

But I do have a problem here, which I'll state below...

>>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 grammatical:
>>(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."
>i don't understand neither a) nor b). sorry. does it mean that "he" thinks 
>that it would be illegal to attack bill?
>and i think that "him" has a case. it's accusative or dative.

Hello, this is not the same thing that we're talking about with Klingon.   I 
explicitly defined what "case" meant in the context of this discussion, and 
it did not include "accusative" or "dative" (or nominative, oblique, etc.)  
I did this on purpose, because I was concerned that you meant something by 
case that we didn't have any evidence for in Klingon, which now it seems you 

>>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?
>the general observation is that subject and object nouns in klingon don't 
>have markings for their cases, i.e. type 5 suffixes (exceptions are object 
>nouns with /-Daq/ and subject nouns with /-'e'/).
>(nota bene that i _don't_ claim that there is a "subject case" nor an 
>"object case" but only nouns in a subject position (subject role) or in an 
>object position (object role). the case they have, is an other story.)
>i think it is more complex to describe and explain a language with "general 
>observations and their exceptions" than with "observations".
>"general observations and their exceptions":
>1. general observations:
>-the subject nouns and object nouns don't have type 5 suffixes.
>-the header nouns have type 5 suffixes.
>(conclusion: type 5 suffixes are header suffixes.)
>2. exceptions:
>-there are subject nouns and object nouns with type 5 suffixes (/-Daq/ or 
>-there are header nouns that don't have type 5 suffixes (time-stamp).
>(confusion: header suffixes can be subject suffixes and object suffixes, 
>and some header nouns don't have header suffixes.)
>-a verb can have two noun phrases: subject noun phrase, object noun phrase
>-a verb together with its subject and object can have several noun phrases: 
>header noun phrase
>-every noun has a case: nominative, accusative, time-stamp, locative, 
>manner and so on

Right here is where I object to your description.  Please note, I don't 
object to your attempt to come up with a description that's different from 
what I use, or what TKD uses, or whatever.

You're adding to our understanding of Klingon grammar an idea that is not 
presented in TKD, and we have no evidence for in Klingon.  You're adding the 
idea that subjects and objects are assigned nominative and accusative case, 
respectively.  You're adding to the grammar the idea that all nouns have 
case.  There is no evidence that Klingon nouns are so marked for case.  
There's no nominative morphology, no accusative morphology.  There's no way 
to see if nouns in Klingon are so marked for case.  So why say this?

(This is what I was afraid of, that you really did mean "nominative," 
"accusative" and so on.  When I defined case for this discussion, I 
explicitly defined it without these meanings, which you accepted.  Now you 
want to go back and change it, making all the effort spent so far in this 
discussion misleading and pointless.)

There's a theory of natural human languages that says that all noun phrases 
must have case (even if you can't see it).  But, as I've tried to argue, 
Klingon is not a natural human language; you can't say that Klingon uses 
case this way because other natural human languages do.  Just because humans 
can speak Klingon, doesn't mean that Klingon grammar must then follow rules 
of natural human languages.

So, if you're going to add this notion to your description of Klingon 
grammar, you have to justify it.  I could also say that Klingon is a 
classifier language, and that all nouns must be marked for size-and-shape 
characteristics of that noun, and further that the verb must change 
depending on the size-and-shape characteristics of the subject and object 
noun.  Oh, these markings are non-overt though, so you don't actually SEE 
them, but believe you me, they're there.

This is what you want to do for Klingon and case.  You want to say that all 
subjects are in the nominative case, and all objects are in the accusative 
case.  Never mind that these ideas are not presented in TKD; nevermind that 
there's no way to see whether nouns get any kind of case at all, no matter 
what position they're in; nevermind that adding a grammatical notion of 
"case" to our description of Klingon adds no descriptive or explanatory 

My point here is that we can't say this, and it doesn't contribute in any 
meaningful way to our understanding of the language to do so.

>-there are no case-marks for nominative, accusative, manner or time-stamp. 
>so we don't know a priori, for instance, what case has /batlh/ or /DaHjaj/, 
>only the context (the position to the verb) gives us this information.
>my explanation doesn't have exceptions, as far as i see. and after all: i 
>like it the best! :)

Your description adds unjustified grammatical baggage to the language.  And 
it's a dangerous way to build an understanding of Klingon: based on the way 
human languages work, not on the way that Klingon actually works.  The 
danger, of course, is that you will reach conclusions about how Klingon 
should work because of that extra grammatical baggage.

I don't really care if you come up with your own descriptions about how 
Klingon works, whether explanation/exception is better than your 
observations.  But if you are going to make observations, make them based 
upon how Klingon works, not based upon how human languages work.

>applied to you example /wa'leS rIn DaHjaj/ we have:
>"general observations and their exceptions:
>-/wa'leS/ is a noun. it appears in the header without having a type 5 
>suffix (exception of the general observation that header nouns have type 5 
>-/DaHjaj/ is a time-stamp (i.e. a header noun) used in the subject 
>-/wa'leS/ appears in the header position. it is a time-stamp. there are no 
>time-stamp type 5 suffixes.
>-/DaHjaj/ appears in the subject position. it is a nominative. there are no 
>nominative type 5 suffixes.
>>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'
>hm. first: don't forget about the type 5 suffix /-'e'/.

As I indicated above, we defined "case" for this discussion to exclude 

>then, why should someone say all your *-sentences?
>*the to the ship departs
>*the because of the ship departs
>*the for ship departs
>*the from the ship departs
>the only sentence that makes sence is "the yesterday departs".

That's the point.  These sentences are ungrammatical.

>>(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.)
>when you say /tlheD ghaH, Dujmo'/ then /Dujmo'/ isn't in the subject 
>position. /ghaH/ is in the subject position. /Dujmo'/ is outside the 
>ovs-structure. this makes me think: how do you call the zone outside the 
>ovs-struture? "header" is in front of the ovs-structure. and what comes 
>after it?
>>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.  :)
>1. /-Daq/ nouns are not the only nouns that can be in the ovs-structure. 
>also nouns with /-'e'/ can be there.
>2. not all cases make sence in the subject/object position.
>3. /tlheD wa'Hu'/ is ok.
>4. an observation is better than a general observation with exceptions.
>5. i say that subject, object and header are positions in the sentence; 
>they are not cases.

I have to point out, your (1) here is itself an exception.

Okay, summary time.  I do not object to your attempt to describe Klingon 
grammar in a way other than that presented in TKD.

I do object to your description of Klingon as a "human" language, because it 
will be tempting to assume that Klingon uses certain grammatical devices of 
natural human languages that it may not actually use.  You said you wouldn't 
do that, but you did it in this post.

I do object to your assumption that Klingon has a case system similar to 
that of natural human languages, including nominative for subjects and 
accusative for objects.  There's no evidence that Klingon works this way, 
your assumption is based only upon your knowledge that natural human 
languages work this way.

The real point here isn't whether Klingon has case or not; the matter seems 
extremely trivial to me.  The point is that if you adopt assumptions of how 
Klingon works based upon observations of human languages, you will at least 
fail to observe how Klingon *does* work, and at worst, come to an incorrect 
conclusion about how Klingon works.  And at the very worst, mislead others 
who are trying to speak/learn this language into thinking it behaves in some 
way other than our current grammar or observations warrant.


d'Armond Speers, Ph.D.

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