tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Thu Feb 07 11:22:30 2002

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Re: subjects in complex sentences

ghItlh ter'eS:
>In fact, {chargh SuvwI' 'e' ngIl} would to me imply
>a different subject for {ngIl}: "He dares that (some
>other) warrior conquer."

This is cool, Teresh. My interpretation of such sentences is the same as 
yours, but I don't know whether it's because it's truly more natural, or 
because of my English bias. It's a very interesting problem in any language.

1) chargh 'e' maS SuvwI'.
2) chargh SuvwI' 'e' maS.

My guess is that verbs with like arguments tend to be formally closer 
together, that is to say, verbs with the same subject will occur near each 
other as one verb-conglomerate unit, and the subject will just be in its 
"normal" position in relation to that unit. This is how most languages seem 
to work, and Klingon canon follows suit, just as you pointed out.

So I presume it's generally believed that Klingon is not just 
English-in-reverse. I always wondered how we should treat sentences of the 
following type:

0) The child saw his mother.

If Klingon were just English-in-reverse, you'd say:

1a) SoSDaj leghpu' puq.

But then -Daj would refer to something that hasn't been mentioned yet. The 
knee-jerk response is that it's just cataphoric, cf. the literary "Before 
his death, the boy crossed the prarie." But my contention was, "Oh come 
on,Klingon is not English-in-reverse; the cataphora explanation is just 
kludge here," in which case it would be much more natural to say:

1b) SoS leghpu' puqDaj.
lit. "A/The-mother : he-saw-her : her-child.

Many European languages use a different set of pronouns for 
differently-scoped references, cf. Icelandic:

2a) Barniđ sá móđir hans.
child-the saw mother his
"The child saw his (someone else's) mother."

2b) Barniđ sá móđir sín.
child-the saw mother his
"The child saw his (own) mother."

The pronoun "sín" in 2b is reflexive and necessarily refers right back to the 
subject, whereas "hans" in 2a is non-reflexive and necessarily DOESN'T refer 
back to the subject.

Other languages (presumably) have various ways of expressing this 
distinction, while some like English leave it ambiguous. What does Klingon 
do? If Teresh and company are right, then -Daj in 1a would generally have a 
non-reflexive interpretation, as in the Icelandic example 2a. Then reflexives 
would only be possible in the object-subject direction anyway, except maybe 
where pragmatics forced cataphoric interpretation, as in pu'Daj chu' HoD.

(Btw, forgive my weird numeration scheme; I'd make it better for HolQeD, I 

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