tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Aug 28 08:32:29 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.

i didn't want to destroy anything. but i never excluded /-'e'/ for 
being a case marker.

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

hey! i really tried to understand your question. maybe i don't 
understand your language well enough, but give me a chance, pal.

you said:
if we accept that nouns in subject or object role can have one of 
these cases (we spoke at least about "locative"), but that they (the 
cases) are not marked as such (but a locative is marked as a 
locative), then what is the point of claiming they have cases?

i say:
i don't understand. a locative is marked as a locative: /-Daq/. 
locative is a case, so it's worth making a difference.

>>>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 do.

i didn't know that you were excluding those cases.
maybe we should distinguish between "header" cases and "body" cases. 
the body cases "nominative", "accusative" aren't marked. the header 
cases are marked, and the rest are the exceptions.

>>>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 
>>(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 
>>"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 /-'e'/).
>>-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?

they are distinct because of their position in the ovs-structure. the 
difference exists. hm.

>((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.)

i didn't accept that you excluded those cases. i accepted that you 
included all the other cases. we could call it "body cases" and 
"header cases", and nothing is lost in our discussion. don't be so 

>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 

there is no proof and no disproof.

>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 

your arguments are valid. there is no need to believe in me. it was 
never necessary. you speak klingon.
i just believe that cases exist, even if they are not marked. what 
does that mean? it means that when i read a sentence, i assign 
automatically cases for the nouns in order to understand 
grammatically the sentence, in order to re-build the sentence in my 
for example, does english have cases? the way you talk about klinogn, 
you should say, no, it hasn't. the only exceptions are "i, me", "he, 
him", but nouns don't have cases. is that true?

>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 power.

nouns do get cases, even with markings, for example locative.
the position matters.
no power? ok. for me it has power.

>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.

that's your point.

>>-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.

hm. i just had an idea. your point is that klingon is not a human 
language. well, that's ok and that's all right. more and more i have 
doubts that with my theories i could ever describe klingon to a 
klingon. in fact, what i do has nothing to do with klingons, but with 
humans. that's why i thought, subconsciously, that it would be a good 
trick to describe klingon to humans _as if_ it were a human language. 
and as humans seem to use cases, it would be good to describe klingon 
with cases, for humans only. well, of course this doesn't mean that 
klingon really _has_ cases, it's just that humans like to see cases 
like in all the other languages.

>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 

yeah, that's a nice point. how does klingon work? what is klingon? 
isn't it linked to the speakers? i don't know how the brain of a 
klingon works, but in a human brain it will surely work like all the 
other languages. that's why i prefer a human language description.

>>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 suffixes).
>>-/DaHjaj/ is a time-stamp (i.e. a header noun) used in the subject position.
>>-/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 {-'e'}.

no one excluded anything, you just didn't mention it before.

>>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.

i don't think that they are ungrammatical. they are just senceless. 
is "tomorrow never knows" ungrammatical? is poetry maybe 

>>>(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.

but it's true, isn't it?

>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 

hm, i don't remember when i "lied". but as a human, i don't see any 
other possibility than to describe a language as a human language.
and i don't understand why you believe that mark ocrand succeded to 
create a languguage that is not human. and i don't understand why you 
think that you as a human being could be able to speak an alian 
language with an alian understanding of that language. you are human, 
aren't you? so you speak klingon in a human way.

>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.

see above.

>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.

no one of us knows how klingon really works, as no one of us has a 
klingon brain. sorry, but that's the reality.
i don't think that i'm misleading, but you're right. if i were 
misleading, then it's absolutely wrong what i do. but there is 
nothing wrong yet.


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