tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Feb 19 23:07:47 2002

Back to archive top level

To this year's listing

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]

Re: A -moH suggestion

From: "Alan Anderson" <>
> >When you think of /Sop/ and /SopmoH/ as different verbs, which in a
> >practical sense they are, then it doesn't matter whether you're not
> >mentioning the food eaten when you use /SopmoH/.
> *I* don't see them as different verbs.

Ah, but notice I was talking about how a *KLINGON* would see them!  By your
own frequent admission, you are not a Klingon.

> {-moH} is a verb suffix.  It adds
> the idea of causation to the verb.  It does not change the verb to mean
> something else.

No, it doesn't.  My way of looking at it (for a less mechanical
understanding, NOT for the here's-how-it-is-and-that's-all stuff) is that it
IS a different verb.  It's a word with a different meaning.

Yes, mechanically /-moH/ is just a suffix that adds a meaning to the verb.
But minds do not always think mechanically, and I believe this is one of
those instances where "verb+suffix" is not as natural as "new-verb."  This
isn't a rule, this isn't a formula about how it works, this is a FEELING
about how it FLOWS.

> >/SopmoH/ isn't ABOUT the
> >food eaten.  It's about one person /SopmoH/ing another person (or thing,
> >etc.).
> Why do you presume that?

I'm not "presuming."  As I said multiple times in the original post, this is
a possible way to SEE the situation.  I am not explaining the mechanics of

> I agree that the typical usage would be that way,
> but we're discussing "advanced" usage here.

WE are doing nothing of the kind.  *I* was trying to get AWAY from advanced
usage, and go back to basics.  You keep dragging in absolutes.

> >Now, I'm not saying that /SopmoH/ CAN'T have specially defined direct and
> >indirect objects (as the heritage problem would suggest); I'm saying that
> >take a single example, written by a fallible, non-Klingon-native Terran
> >(whose many other errors are well-documented and usually accepted as
> >errors), and apply English grammar to it in an attempt to understand it
> >smacks of native language bias.
> But it isn't just a single example, and it isn't English grammar.  On the
> contrary, it is a splendid case of a verb suffix simply adding an extra
> idea to the sentence.  The similar "ditransitivity problem" with the verb
> {pong} was resolved in exactly the same way.
> There is also the apparently
> exceptional definition of {tuQmoH} to consider.  The {Ha'quj} example
> meshes *extremely* well with the way {pong} works and the way {tuQmoH} is
> defined in the dictionary.  It works so well, in fact, that I have a very
> hard time believing that it wasn't designed that way.

I don't have a hard time believing that at all.  I DON'T think it was
designed that way.  I think Okrand waffled when he did /tuQ/ and /tuQmoH/,
and couldn't quite figure out what he wanted; I think /pong/ works just fine
without any backflips of logic (it has an established object: the name); and
I think he couldn't figure out what to do with the heritage problem and just
followed suit from /pong/.

Okrand backfitting his own grammar has little to do with how -moH flows

> I've looked at {-moH} very closely.

Exactly my point.  You're looking at it with a magnifying lens, and taking
it apart, analyzing it one piece at a time.  I'm trying to get a
touchy-feely sense of the whole thing, as a Klingon would feel it.  The
average native English speaker doesn't understand the principals by which
his language works, but he may have a better understanding of it and feel
for it than a non-native linguist who's been studying it for years.  When
the linguist comes upon a strange point of grammar, and he asks the native
speaker why he said that and not some other thing, the native will probably
reply that what he said "felt" right.  I've heard it often enough from
native English speakers trying to explain a point of grammar to non-native

> If you'd like me to elaborate again on my theory about verb prefixes and
> beneficiaries and the larger application of what we call the "prefix
> trick", I'd be happy to do so,

No, I wouldn't.  That is entirely beside MY point, which you have
commandeered away from me while missing the point entirely.

Besides, the "prefix trick" is so named because *I* was annoyed with it (it
being a backfit for English-bias errors) and kept calling it that after it
was codified, until it caught on.  It's not meant to be a nice name.  I do
NOT accept that Okrand intended it all along.

Again, I'm trying to FEEL -moH, not whip it into the shape I want.  I'm not
saying anything about the finer points of Klingon grammar, or trying to
extend an analysis to special cases.  I feel that a lot of the questions
about its use, and people's sometime difficulty in using it normally, are
due to a mental leap-frog around the root verb, and that a Klingon would see
it a more obvious way: as a different verb.  I do not insist; I made a "-moH

Stardate 2138.7

Back to archive top level