tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Fri Feb 22 19:54:38 2002

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Re: agentive -wI'

ghItlh Voragh:

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

Not necessarily. The null prefix also applies to the third person subject
without an object, which seems to match up nicely with Okrand's
descriptions that you cite from TKD p. 20.

I *think* you realized this, but one could read your post in such a way as
to assume I was implying that there was always an object invoked, which was
never my intention.


In response to my remark that the -wI' suffix should be treated like the
other Type-9 suffix, pagh correctly points out:

>But two of its fellow Type-9 suffixes *do* operate differently. I believe
>I am remembering correctly that Okrand has said that verbs with <-ghach>
>can never take a prefix. The suffix <-meH> is also a bit weird.

In response I can only suggest out that Okrand has gone out of his way to
point out these exceptions to us among the Type-9 suffixes, which to my
mind makes the lack of such commentary on -wI' an indication that it's not
at all marked or exceptional.

That is an interpretation, certainly. I'm not insisting that it be
considered as anything more.


Will then wades in with:

>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.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm not making this ludicrous
suggestion. But then, I think you've missed my point.

A {baHwI'} is not a "he, who shootser", on this we agree. But I think we
agree for the wrong reason. I'd reject that translation because it's
repetative. I think we'd all agree that {baHwI'} could be understood to
mean "shooter" or "one who shoots" or "he/she who shoots." But it's not
unreasonable at all (I would contend) to translate the familiar

baHwI' jIH

as "I am he who shoots."

Does this sound like dialog from a bad cowboy movie? Not surprising. You
get that sort of thing quite often when moving from a language that uses
verbs to a language that wants everything to be nouns.


Later, Will adds:

>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.

I think I'm in agreement here, but with the following additions.

First, the limitation is presumably merely cultural and reflects the
Klingon preference for brevity. Just as we know that we *can* in theory
pile on the suffixes and still be grammatical, we also know that it doesn't
happen in common usage. That's fine.

Second, I'd simply slip in the use of prefixes to Will's first line above. ;)


Still later, Will adds:

>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.

And I'd agree. A verb plus {-wI'} operates in Klingon like a noun. net Sov.

The confusion of thinking of it as a clause only enters in when we try to
translate the thing *out* of Klingon. That's a completely different beast.


A bit later Will adds:

>Would you follow a lemming off a cliff?

Tsk tsk. Minus two points for unconstructive implications. However, for the
record I will state that I am not now, nor have I ever been a lemming. Nor
have I ever walked, jumped, sailed, tripped, or otherwise knowingly
launched myself off a cliff.

I suspect that had charghwI' been proofing Will's post, this bit of
snarkery would have been excised, and I'd have received a replacement
proverb by private email. I'll assume such a thing is now en route and not
spend further time on it.


Most amusingly (and presumably not intended to make my point), charghwI'
responds to my example of a prefix+verb+wI' with the following:

>nuqjatlh? qayajwI' jIHbe'.

I hope this doesn't turn out like the word for "armpit" and provide
circular reference which will later embarass charghwI' (or even, possibly
his good friend Will). But here we an example of a Grammarian and fluent
Klingon speaker using this unlikely construction.



In another post, Will writes:

>Can we PLEASE get back to the language?

We never left it. We've been engaged in some discussion of the language.
Your opinion as to whether or not it's been healthy discussion is another
matter, but it's been fairly free of rancor or abuse thus far.

And, you know me, Will. You know that in ten years of such discussions I
have invariably taken the conservative view. I have always tended to steer
clear of that "slipperly slope." And yet, here I am, taking what you
presumably view as an extreme perspective.

Rather than simply condemn my position, consider my history on such things
as well and ask yourself what it is about this issue which puts me where I


The whole discussion started (as I remember it) last Saturday night at the
qepHom. My position then and now was based on the flexibility of concepts
that Klingon readily allows which don't translate easily into English.
That's one of the things that I especially like about Klingon, and I've
commented on it before with respect to the incredible things which can be
expressed with the -Ha' suffix.

It should be noted though that I haven't gone overboard in my use of the
-Ha' suffix, and I see no reason to do so with regard to using prefixs on
verbs that have -wI'. But I can imagine situations where that option would
come in very handy, however infrequent they might be. And as charghwI'
himself has demonstrated, the meaning would be understood.


:: Dr Lawrence M Schoen, Director   :: The KLI is a nonprofit ::
:: The Klingon Language Institute   :: tax exempt corporation ::
:: POB 634, Flourtown, PA 19031 USA :: DaH HuchlIj'e' ghonob  ::
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