tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Fri Feb 22 14:20:43 2002

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Re: agentive -wI'

Lawrence wrote:

>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.

Interesting idea.  In TKD (p.20) Okrand analyzed {baHwI'} "gunner":

   "which consists of the verb {baH} 'fire (a torpedo)' plus {-wI'} 'one
    who does'. Thus, {baHwI'} is literally 'one who fires [a torpedo]'."

Similarly for {So'wI'} "cloaking device" on the same page:

   "[{So'wI'}] comes from the verb {So'} 'cloak' plus {-wI'} 'thing which
    does. {So'wI'} is a 'thing which cloaks'."

Following Lawrence's explanation, it's actually a "thing which cloaks 
(something)" with the null object prefix: "it/he/she [DOES SOMETHING TO] 

Thus, a {bomwI'} "singer" is "one who sings (a song), {charghwI'} "victor, 
conqueror" is "one who conquers (it/him/her/them)", etc.

Remember, TKD is only a -sketch- of Klingon grammar; it was never meant to 
be exhaustive.  As Okrand writes in the introduction:

   "Although a good many of the fine points are not covered, the sketch will
    allow the student of Klingon to figure out what a Klingon is saying and
    to respond in an intelligible, though somewhat brutish, manner.  Most
    Klingons will never know the difference."

The fact that we haven't seen Okrand do the "prefix + {-wI'} trick" with 
any other prefixes may just be due to the nature of the corpus which, 
except for the SkyBox cards, is relatively simple Klingon prose after 
all.  As I mentioned earlier, you're probably more likely to see this done 
in song and poetry, of which we only have one complete short {van bom} 
({Qoy qeylIS puqloD}) and a couple of stray lines from one or two others 
IIRC.  For all we know, this may even be an archaic feature that - except 
for the null prefix - has gone out of modern fashion but may be preserved 
in some songs, poetry and ritual speech.  (Members of the Klingon 
Shakespeare Restoration Project take note!)

Ca'Non Master of the Klingons

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