tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Feb 06 12:37:51 2002

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Re: KLBC: Klingon distress call (updated)

> charghwI', qaS nuq?
> Some years ago when I made a posting suggesting that some of Okrand's canon 
> was not well-thought out and perhaps should be considered an error, you 
> verbally attacked not only the idea, but me, so vehemently that you reduced 
> me to tears, and still make me brace for retaliation when I post.

I've never understood this apparent reputation that I have. I would love to 
change it.

I never intended to attack you, and I'm amazed that you are so easily reduced 
to tears by someone of my insignificance. nuv neH jIH. jIram.

I'm also often perplexed as to how we are supposed to simultaneously speak 
forcefully, yet remain sensitive to everyone's potential feelings in a medium 
that lacks the emotional communication of a tone of voice. I don't think I 
assemble anyone's errors into one message and ask, "What's going on here?" At 
most, I strongly state my opinion about what I consider to be an error in a 
message and I deal with one message at a time.

Here, we seem to make pendulum swings between flame wars (and I've certainly 
been flamed as many times as I've flamed anyone else) and a sort of New Age, 
Politically Correct, Touchy-Feely, Group Therapy-like Etiquette Police.

The reader needs to take some responsibility for the tone perceived in the 
message. I do not wish to disrespect anyone, least of all you. Your talent is 
remarkable and I've often said that.

> Yet in the last few weeks you've ...
> * argued against a rule:
> >chaq ghu' vIDel 'e' vIDubta'. [I know I broke a grammatical rule
> >there by using Type 7 on the second verb of SAO. It's a bad rule
> >and Okrand has broken it enough times that maybe we should stop
> >considering it to be a modern rule. Maybe it is becoming no' Hol.]

In conversation, I've heard Okrand say two things to justify this:

1. He's said that he has often regretted that rule. Many of us know the canon 
example that created it. If he's only broken it twice, then that's twice as 
many examples that should be backfitted by a new exception to the rule that was 
created in the first place to backfit one example.

2. His strongest message when I got to interview him was that the key to 
learning Klingon grammar is to observe usage. That's more important than 
following rules.

I'm often in conflict between following rules and observing usage. There are 
examples of usage in canon that I dislike at least as much as I dislike rules 
like this one banning Type 7 verb suffixes on the second verb of SAO.

Like most speakers of most real languages, I speak while following what I 
believe is the clearest means of expressing myself as I choose between what my 
English teachers told me in school and the usage I see among the people with 
whom I communicate. In my use of Klingon, I parallel this, though anything from 
Okrand gets more weight than anything from anyone else.

I do the best I can, as honestly as I can. I don't claim to be perfect. I'm 
just a guy. My opinion is just one guy's opinion. Others weigh in as well, many 
with as much or more weight than I do.

I don't like feeling like I need to be careful not to express my honest opinion 
because someone might disagree, or someone might be offended by it. What would 
a Klingon think of such restrictions?
> *stated that Okrand meant something other than he said he did:
> > > Canon attests to "give back" as a translation of nobHa'.

If I missed something here, then I've simply made a mistake. My life has 
changed over the past few months and the time I have for this is quite limited. 
I don't see why my mistakes merit a more emotional response than anyone else's, 
particular with the tone "What's going on here?"

> >I'm pretty sure it means "take back", not "give back". To "ungive" is to 
> >take, not to give back.
> The canon, from TKW is Huch nobHa'bogh verenganpu''e' yIvoqQo', which 
> Okrand translates as "Don't trust Ferengi who give back money." 

Okay, who did the original act of giving here? This is a fairly strange 
example. It is not like any other {-Ha'} I've seen.

Looking at it more carefully, I understand it like I did not understand it 
earlier. I still think it is strange, and I wonder why Okrand bothered with {-
Ha'} at all here. It doesn't matter whether the Ferengi are returning it or 
just giving it. Huch nobbogh verenganpu' luvoqbe'nISlu' net Sov. I'd also 
suggest that the {-'e'} is unnecessary, since one should trust neither the 
Ferengi nor the money. I'm surprised if Okrand actually used {-'e'} here, 
because, though he has approved of its use to disambiguate the head noun of a 
relative clause, I've seen many examples of him not using it, and had not noted 
any specific examples of him doing it. I guess this is the exception.

So, are you saying that if I give you something, and I later arrive and take it 
back, that {nobHa'} is the wrong word for my action?

And then, let's get back to the original message to which I was responding. The 
writer was suggesting to the recipient of the message something like {bortaS 
yInobHa'}. Are you really interested in defending that use of {nobHa'}? Does 
the person issuing the message really want some passerby to "give back revenge"?

> If Okrand 
> really meant nobHa' to mean "take back" money, it wouldn't be the only 
> apparent error in the sentence, but the translation would not be a slight 
> slip, because it's translated again in the text below as "return money." 

All that aside, looking again, I see that in KGT, {nobHa'} is defined as "give 
back". I was completely wrong here. I see how I made this mistake, but it was a 

Meanwhile, once again, I'll point out that the original message wasn't really a 
good choice for {nobHa'}, no matter which way you define it, and nobody is 
making as big a deal of THAT mistake as you are now making of mine. I didn't 
stack that mistake next to several others that the same writer had made in 
other messages and other forums. I wasn't trying to make it personal. I was 
just trying to point out what I still consider to be an error so the writer can 
learn how to express ideas like that better, instead of blithely continuing 
under the false notion that he had expressed this idea well in this example.

> I 
> don't care that you don't have this bit of canon memorized, but I do care 
> that you dismissed it as not meaning what Okrand said it meant, without 
> even looking it up.

I doubt that many of us look up every verb-suffix combination we encounter, 
just to see if it has a special listing all its own, like this one. I suspect 
that Okrand's explicit listing of it in KGT may very well have been a backfit 
for what he considered to be an error he made in TKW. At least, it shows that 
he recognizes that the TKW definition of {nobHa'} is less than obvious, even if 

It's pretty obvious that there are words that you use or comment on without 
looking them up. Why this attack? What gives me a special responsibility to be 
better at this than you are?

> * And you made a statement on another list, about vogh, which caused 
> someone to invoke a name that did give you pause.

You are being both cryptic and accusing. While I don't remember the invoked 
name that caused me pause, this is clearly a personal attack.

Fine. I'll have more time now for other things in my life, since I don't see a 
purpose in participating in groups where I am apparently not welcome.

pagh, you now have room for another roomate at Farpoint. I won't be there.
> When I first started posting to this list, that same person contacted me by 
> private e-mail, and used some constructions I questioned.  He defended them 
> by saying that this was an oversight by MO, that that was obviously what MO 
> intended, and that that other rule was unnecessarily restrictive.  I was 
> probably a less impressionable beginner than most, having AVOIDED the KLI 
> specifically because I thought "they" must be making up their own variant 
> of the language.

That's an interesting conclusion.
> Nothing wrong with changing your mind.  I'm not going to claim that I never 
> get lazy nor misremember canon, nor get my only little pet theories about 
> how the world of Klingon should be.   But if we're going to speak our own 
> dialects, we can't attack others for speaking theirs.

chaq tlhIngan Hol vIjatlhchoHQo'. From here on, everything I say will be in 
English, and in other forums. I was looking for more space on my bookshelves, 
anyway. Maybe yoDtargh figured this out years before I did. I quit.
> >That's {Sotlaw'}. Everyone has been misspelling it up to this point.
> DopDaq qul yIchenmoH QobDI' ghu'.  It's SeHlaw that doesn't have the ', not 
> Sotlaw'.

When someone makes a mistake, it's fine to correct it. That's one of the good 
functions of this list. If you have a personal problem with someone, it is 
better to go off list than to embarrass them in public. When you assemble a 
collection of what you consider to be errors from different sources and dump 
the pile into one message posted to the list, that is a personal attack, and I 
do NOT see that as a good use of this list.

It's abuse.

Given my personal background, I'm a wee bit sensitive about abuse. I tend not 
to welcome it or allow it to be sustained. This particular public exchange 
between you and me just ended. If others choose to continue the thread, I don't 
care. I will not participate.



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