tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Fri Feb 22 11:11:26 2002

Back to archive top level

To this year's listing

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

Re: agentive -wI'

Sean M. Burke wrote:

>And just maybe some shade of meaning could be imparted by pronoun prefixes,
>a` la Iroquois semi-nominals?
>DughojmoHwI' - he/she who teaches you (singlular)

Ironically (or, perhaps not) this topic came up for discussion at the
qepHom I held during the Farpoint convention six days ago. Having quite a
few Grammarians in the room made for some lively discussion.

Not being a Grammarian myself, I had to draw upon more generalized
linguistic theory and example to make my case. Some where won over, some
not, but the discussion was all good.

My position was, and still is, that you can put prefixes on verbs
containing the suffix -wI', or more generally, that prefixes on verbs, and
you can suffixes on verbs, and from time to time, they'll be the same verbs.

ghItlh SuStel:

>This sort of thing only makes semantic sense when the subject of the
>verb-that-isn't is third person.  The following example words would seem to
>be nonsense:

I disagree. I can easily come up with scenarios for these examples. I'll
take the first one, {choHoHwI'}, just to make my point.

Imagine a situation in which someone is dying, and the killer is one of
several people in the room, such as in the final scene of HAMLET. Or think
of the "you're-probably-wondering-why-I-called-you-all-here" scene in a
murder mystery. Now imagine you're the narrater. You're dying, by slow
poison, radiation, a belly wound -- it doesn't matter. You're hanging on
long enough to discover who among the group is the one who killed you. Yes,
you could simply say to the killer {choHoH}. And you could use {-bogh} if
you wanted to draw it out. But likewise, you could refer to this person as
{choHoHwI'}. Maybe you want a nice dying speech like:

tagha' bI'ang'egh choHoHwI'wI'. jIHeghlI' 'a HIvje'lIj tar vIlanta'. ghIq
qaHoHwI'lI' jIH.

Finally the "you-kill-me"-er reveals himself. I am dying, but I put poison
in your glass. Thus, I am your "I-kill-you"-er.

Yes, the English rendering is bulky, awkward, and we can even quibble about
whether I should have used the {bI-} prefix on {'ang'egh} (and I have no
doubt some will), but all of that is beside the point. There are going to
be times when this kind of construction is desireable because of the focus
and emphasis it creates (not unlike the emphasis created by the redundant
use of pronouns in a sentence where a prefix already provides that

Is it commonplace? Obviously not. There's no example of Okrand using {-wI'}
on a verb bearing a prefix. But, as Voragh has already pointed out, there
is similarly no example of the use of {-wI'} in conjunction with many other
verb suffixes.

This might sound like a dangerous argument, the
"If-there's-no-rule-against-it-then-we-can-do-it" argument, and please
don't mistake me, that's not the position I'm taking, nor has it ever been.

Rather, my position is simply that you can put a prefix on a verb with
{-wI'} because we actually *do* have examples of it. It's simply that those
examples have all been verbs with the null (0) suffix associated with third
person singular or plural.

That's the premise I work from. That a simple construction like {HoH-wI'}
"killer" is really {0-HoH-wI'}.

When we look at a verb in a Klingon sentence, we don't say "oh, there's no
prefix, I wonder what  person it is." We *know* that a verb without a
prefix is third person, that it actually carries the null prefix.

When we add the Type-9 suffix {-wI'} to a verb in the typical fashion, we
don't first stop and say "wait, I must remove the null prefix." Nor does
Okrand say that we do. No special provision is made for {-wI'} to even hint
that it operates differently than its fellow Type-9 suffixes.


Back to archive top level