tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Thu Jan 03 15:49:18 2002

Back to archive top level

To this year's listing

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

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

I had not yet gotten to this earlier message that had specific examples of 
attempts at QAO. In my earlier response, I argued against talking about it 
without examples, so now I feel obliged to address the specific examples.

> qatlh per "QAO" lo'lu'? mujbej pervam.
> Hey, isn't the label "question-as-object" a misnomer?

No. The pronoun {'e'} represents the previous sentence, and through that 
representation, the sentence becomes the direct object of the following 
sentence. If that earlier sentence is a question, then the {'e'} essentially 
becomes a question because it represents a question.

The nit you pick here has no significance. It is not a revellation.

> In fact, it seems that even the label "statement-as-object"
> is often misused. In the following examples only sentence (1)
> contains a statement, i.e. {yaHlIj Dalon} that functions as
> the object of the verb {luneH}.
> (1) yaHlIj Dalon luneH
>     literally: You abandon your station;
>                They want that.
> (2) yaHlIj Dalon 'e' luSov
>     literally: You abandon(ed) your station;
>                They know that.
> (3) qatlh yaHlIj Dalon 'e' luSovbe'
>     literally: Why did/do you abandon your station?;
>                They don't know that.

Better would be:

yaHlIj DalonmeH meqlIj luSovbe'.

Literally, that is, "They don't know your 'in-order-that-you-abandon-your-duty-
station reason." It sounds awkward in English, but in Klingon, it is very 
natural, since {-meH} clauses can modify nouns as well as verbs. What is the 
purpose of your reason? It is that you abandon your duty station. 
Whoever "they" are, they don't know your reason.

This is much more direct than the more vague QAO. In your example, what is it 
that they don't know? They don't know the ANSWER to the question stated. You 
can't know a question. You can only know the answer to a question. You can ask 
a question, but you can't KNOW a question. See the problem here?

> In (2) we have a complex sentence consisting of two *complete*
> sentences (clauses): {yaHlIj Dalon}  and  {'e' luSov}.
> The object of the latter is the pronoun 'e', not
> the preceding sentence. Semantically {yaHlIj Dalon} is
> coreferential with 'e' but in terms of grammar it is
> merely a preceding sentence.

I think you are misinterpreting the grammar here. The link is stronger than you 
suggest. The pronoun {'e'} is meaningless if it doesn't represent what preceeds 
it. It essentially enables an otherwise impossible grammar, allowing an entire 
sentence to function as the direct object of a verb. We have no direct 
equivalent in English, so in English, we translate these two sentences as if 
they were one.

Also note that Okrand likely never expected anyone to stretch this as far as 
this, and also likely never expected us to use SAO as much as we have. 
Originally, he only expected it to be used for an extremely small set of second 
verbs. I think he's been surprised by how widely we've expanded the vocabulary 
of acceptable verbs for the second part of SAO. Read TKD again on this topic 
with this in mind.

> Likewise, in (3), whose grammaticality is often disputed,
> we have a grammatically complete question {qatlh yaHlIj Dalon}, followed by 
> another *complete* sentence {'e' luSovbe'}.
> The object of that sentence is the pronoun 'e'.

You can't separate these like you are attempting to separate them. {'e'} is 
meaningless without a specific reference. When Okrand wrote this, it's pretty 
clear from all his examples and discussions that he intended it to be used with 
statements, but he never considered that the term "sentence" included other 
kinds of sentences than statements. He just didn't think about it. The 
word "sentence" is a little more accessible to the general public for which TKD 
was intended than is the word "statement". Most likely, that's why he chose 
that word. Meanwhile, since we've brought up this idea, he likes to see how 
we've twisted that idea around. It is all interesting to him. Maybe he'll use 
this extention to his original idea someday. Maybe not. So far, he hasn't.

> Although {qatlh yaHlIj Dalon} is the antecedent of 'e',
> it is not part of {'e' luSovbe'}.

You misunderstand the grammar. You think you have a new, useful insight into 
this. You don't. The pronoun {'e'} represents the previous sentence. If that 
sentence is a question, then {'e'} is a question. You can't dodge this by just 
referring to it as a pronoun.

Other pronouns can be used as verbs. While they are used as verbs, they take 
verb suffixes. They are still called pronouns, but they act grammatically as 
verbs and you can't have them act as verbs and nouns at the same time, even 
while you continue to call them pronouns.

{'e'} is a special pronoun that requires something to represent. That 
something, so far as we now understand it, needs to be a statement. Okrand used 
the word "sentence" instead of "statement", but by all evidence and 
conversations on this topic up to this time, it really needs to be a specific 
subset of "sentence" known as a statement. Until he explains some instance of 
it being valid to expand that to include questions, we have no basis for using 
a question as the sentence represented by {'e'}.

> What could it be?
> It is not an adverb, it is not a header noun and
> most emphatically it is NOT an object. The object is {'e'}.
> So, the problem is not whether questions can be used
> as objects of sentences: they cannot.
> The problem is what kind of construct can the pronoun 'e'
> refer to: only to statements or to other sentence types
> as well, i.e. to questions and orders.

You are jumping back and forth on what {'e'} is, just as someone might jump 
back and forth on what a pronoun is while it is used as a verb. This is not a 
useful argument.

> I realize that many may object to my next example, but
> couldn't (4) be used to call a reluctant crewman to order?
> (4) yaHlIj yIlon 'e' vIra' jIH'e', HoDlI'.
>     literally: Abandon your station!
>                I, your captain, order that.
SuStel gave a great example of a better way to say this. It would be much more 
of Klingon character to say what he said, or other things similar to:

yaHlIj yIlon! HoDlI' jIH 'ej qara'!
> 'ISqu'
> PS  batlh DIS chu' botagh 'e' vItul.

qaStaHvIS Hogh vebHa' Dunqu'taH yInwIj.


Back to archive top level