tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Thu Jan 03 14:20:30 2002

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Re: QAO?! question as antecedent of 'e'!!

On Questions As Objects, SuStel (I think) said:

> >... I can say "I don't know if you
> >abandoned your duty station" in English, so people desperately a parallel
> >construction in Klingon.  Why can't there just not be one?
> >
> >I get the feeling that this whole thing is being argued about once again
> >simply because people feel like arguing about it.  Everyone denies actually
> >WANTING to use questions as objects, but then they see there's no written
> >rule against it, and they dance and caper around, point, and chuckle, "Ha
> >ha!  Lookie, lookie!  I can use a question as object and you can't say I'm
> >wrong!  Hoo hoo!"
> >
> >Would everyone who wants the believe questions as objects are legitimate
> >please raise their hands?

I lost track of who then replied:

> I believe that, in the absence of specific prohibition, they are legitimate. 
>   I don't use them because of the contention they engender.

I honestly believe that saying "In the absence of specific prohibition, they 
are legitimate," could be equally well applied to anti-gravity boots. They 
aren't specifically prohibited, but can you find a pair that works? If so, try 
them out at a precipice near you.

I personally doubt that you can. Similarly, I very much doubt that you can 
present a single example of Question As Object to Marc Okrand, developer of the 
language, that wouldn't make him wince, or at least backpeddle and avoid 
answering whether he thinks it is valid or not. The only reason it is not 
prohibited is that Marc wants to reserve the right to use QAO if it ever occurs 
to him that he wants to. Maybe someday he will want to express a thought that 
for some reason inspires him to want to use QAO. It probably will never happen, 
but if it did, he would not want to be limited by his own prohibition before it 
occurred to him that he'd want to use it.

So far, that hasn't happened. If it does happen, then it will suddenly become 
right to use QAO, and we'll know a lot more about how to use it correctly than 
we know right now.

The word {'I'}, which Seqram made up jokingly, was not a word until Okrand 
magically turned it into one, extending the joke. QAO is a joke Okrand has not 
laughed at yet.

> The difference between QAO and the type 5 suffix examples you gave is that 
> those examples make no sense. 

At this point, nobody has presented me with an example of QAO that makes sense. 
They appear to make sense, looking at them from an English speaking 
perspective, but from a Klingon perspective, they all sound twisted, based upon 
the assumption that the {'e'} is standing in the place of the ANSWER to the 
question, and not the question itself. Okrand has never said this is okay.

He has turned down all specific suggestions so far of posited examples of QAO 
that have been offered to him. He dodged an opportunity to use QAO when he used 
the verb {SIv} "wonder" in a Sentence-As-Object construction. Seeing him do 
that convinced me that he really doesn't like the idea, though he very rarely 
prohibits anything because when he does, he finds himself breaking his own rule 
(as he has so often broken the "don't use a Type 7 verb suffix on the second 
verb of SAO" rule). He also forgets {lu-} a lot. He doesn't like to set traps 
for himself.

We are beyond beating a dead horse here. Now, we are beating on the bottom of a 
hole in the ground where the last fur used to be of the horse corpse that used 
to be here way back when.

The truth is, if Okrand ever uses QAO or explains to us how it could be used, 
we can use it. Until then, we can't. There are too many counter-examples for 
this to be a simple matter of "Well, it's okay to do it; Okrand just hasn't 
gotten around to it yet."

> Someone earlier quoted Chomsky's 'colorless 
> green ideas' example.  That's a perfectly grammatical usage, but it makes no 
> sense.  It's a question of semantics, not grammar.

Why not start arguing about how many angels can dance on a pin?

Wouldn't it be better if we just learned how to speak Klingon better? If that 
task were achieved already, we wouldn't be writing about Klingon at all. We'd 
be writing IN Klingon. We are so far from that goal that now, whenever someone 
DOES write something in Klingon, people complain because they can't understand 

pejatlh neH. majatlhchuqtaHvIS manaptaHchugh jIbeltaH. not Holmaj 
Dalo'chugh 'ej reH bIghoHchugh neH vaj jIbelHa'.
> The idea that staments should be allowed but questions and orders should not 
> is like saying that verbs which express volition or desire should not use 
> {'e'} when other verbs that take SAO do. 

I fail to see that logic. The verb {neH} is a single, stated exception. The 
problem with QAO has been fully explored many times. The only people who get 
really stubborn about claims of its validity are typically people who rarely 
use the language successfully. They are more interested in academic arguments 
than they are in actually learning to use the language. They seek recognition 
for their authority instead of actually wanting the language to be useful.

I want the language to be useful. I enjoy speaking it. I don't want it polluted 
by interesting ideas that have no functionality toward making the language able 
to clearly express real ideas.

You talk a lot about this rule, but you don't write anything in Klingon with 
occasional examples of things so obviously superior when stated as QAO than 
with some other grammatical construction.

It's not that I'm conservative and I don't want change. I pushed for years to 
get the word {'arlogh} into the vocabulary. I didn't seek that change until I 
did a LOT of soul searching for some other way to express the concept of asking 
someone how many times something happened. I couldn't find any other way to 
express that idea, and it seemed like a weakness in the language to not have 
the ability to express that concept.

And it wasn't an ego thing. {'arlogh} is not my word. I don't even remember who 
came up with the idea. It definitely was not me. I fought for the word when I 
realized that we needed it.

We don't need QAO.

That's the billboard-sized fact you ignore.

We don't need it.

Gaining it would not improve the language.

There are no examples of it in canon. Okrand has had the issue raised to him 
and he has steadfastly refused to give us any advice on how to use it. Instead, 
he has stated that, while maybe there is a reason that we will need to use it 
in the future, he can't think of any examples yet.

Let that be enough. Let it hang in the future and speak today's Klingon today.

> In the absence of specific rule 
> stating that such words are an exception to the {'e'} rule, it would be 
> folly to assume that the rule applies to certain kinds of verbs but not to 
> others.  However, we do have such a specific example in the case of {neH}.  
> In the absence of a specific rule stating that certain kinds of sentences 
> (i.e, statements) are valid in SAO, and other kinds (i.e, questions and 
> orders) are not, I think it's invalid to assume such a distinction.  The 
> grammatical rule is Sentence As Object, not Statement As Object.

We have lots of examples of SAO. We have no examples of the use of anything but 
statements represented by {'e'}.

> My stand on QAO is this:
> 1) There's no grammatical reason not to.
> 2) There's no semantic reason no to.


> 3) There's a pretty big social reason not to (it bothers some people in the 
> Klingon-speaking community A LOT).


And there's a pretty good reason for that. It distracts us from the mission and 
fragments the community for no reason whatsoever. Nothing is gained by it for 

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