tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Fri Feb 22 15:25:36 2002

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Re: agentive -wI'


[Will degenerates into a lower life form]

> 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." 

He doesn't say to remove the null prefix because it was never there. It's 
pretty clear from Okrand's language in TKD and in conversations with him on the 
topic that verbs with {-wI'} never has a reference to any prefix, and sometimes 
this is also the case with {-meH}.

Klingon does not have an infinitive form of a bare verb, but with these two 
suffixes, probably by accident, it acts without subject or object. A {ghojmeH 
taj} is a "knife for the purpose of learning". It is not a "knife in order that 
he learns". A {baHwI'} is a gunner; a "shooter". He is not a "he, who shootser".

Is anybody REALLY making the ludicrous suggestion that you have to change the 
form of {baHwI'} depending on who you are talking about? Look at the silly 
result you get:

jIbaHwI' jIH.
bIbaHwI' SoH.

Or maybe you want there to be a direct object:

vIbaHwI' jIH.
DabaHwI' SoH.

And if it's a really big gun and several people fire it, don't forget the {lu-}:

lubaHwI'pu' chaH.

Will somebody wake up and stop this madness?

Verbs with {-wI'} don't take prefixes. Get used to it. It's simply true.

It sounds like what Lawrence is shooting for is a relative clause with no 
explicit head noun. So long as you only use prefixes to indicate the subject 
and object of the relative clause, you could tag {-wI'} on the verb instead of 
{-bogh} and then you could have relative clauses more like they are in English, 
so you wouldn't have to think like a Klingon anymore, since that apparently 
makes somebody's little head hurt.

That's not what {-wI'} is for. A verb with {-wI'} is not a relative clause's 
little brother. They are not that closely related. Just look at the quote from 
TKD below.

> >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]'."

This is consistent with the description of the suffix elsewhere in TKD. "Thing 
which is or one who does X". Perhaps I earlier overstated the limits of 
appropriate verb suffixes to accompany {-wI'}, but I don't think I overstated 
it by much.

You choose a verb plus a limited range of verb suffixes that clearly describe a 
simple action or state and add {-wI'} to that verb to indicate the thing or 
person which or who habitually does the action or sustains the state in a way 
that defines that person or thing well enough that when one person says it, the 
other person knows what or whom you are talking about.

{baHwI'} is fine. {QomnISlaw'wI'} is not a very good candidate. Say that to a 
Klingon and if you are lucky, you'll get a puzzled look. If you are not lucky, 

It's just not the kind of word you toss into a decent Klingon conversation. The 
{-wI'} is not meant to cover an ephemeral circumstance. You are calling a thing 
or a person this word because in general, this is what the thing or person does 
or (for stative verbs) is.

> 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'."

A verb plus {-wI'} is not a clause. It is a nominalized verb. It is the name 
for the agent of the action of the verb, or for the entity described by the 
adjective implied in a stative verb.

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

Would you follow a lemming off a cliff?

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

No. A {bomwI'} is a singer. Not a song singer. That would be a {bom bomwI'}. 
One who conquers it/him/her/them would be {'oH/ghaH/ghaH/chaH charghwI'}. Just 
like you'd use a Type 4 noun suffix after the {-wI'} to replace most prefixes, 
you'd use a noun-noun possessive construction to replace the REST of them for 
the same reason. You want a simple verbal concept quickly nominalized. You 
don't want to have to sit there and figure out what is going on and then toss 
in the {-wI'} to find out that you are talking about the one who did it.
> 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."

They'll know the difference if you put prefixes on a verb with {-wI'}. Leave 
stuff out and they'll think you are clipping or maybe you are just trying hard, 
but don't quite know the language. Add stuff in and it feels pretensive and 
uppity, which is not a good thing in Klingon culture unless you can face all 
physical challenges resulting from your attitude.

> 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!)
I don't buy it. You aren't walking on thin ice here. You are walking on thin 
> -- 
> Voragh
> Ca'Non Master of the Klingons

Just one of the guys, but I talk to charghwI' a

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