tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Sat Jan 26 18:00:11 2002

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Re: I Object!

ghItlh SuStel:

>Of course, this doesn't make the use of the terms "direct
>object" or "indirect object" any more useful or correct;

Those are two very different things. "Useful," well, if it helps people to
discuss an aspect of the grammar, or even just to argue about it it <g>
then I'd say it's useful.

As for being "correct," that's more complicated. I don't think you're
asking if the term is being used *correctly*, but rather you're asking for
a value judgment on the use of this kind of term at all. Is this really the
place for questions of good and bad? I think it comes back to utility or
pragmatics. Does this kind of label get the job done? Does it advance
discussion, promote debate, enhance understanding, sway opinion? Well, gee,
I don't know, we sure seem to be talking about it lot, and we have been for
years (Krankor has railed against the whole "direct/indirect" questions as
long as I've known him.

>it just means that
>when something occurs in Klingon which could be called an indirect object in
>English, you might just as well use the same term to describe the equivalent
>part of the sentence in Klingon, because it fits in your English-shaped box
>and feels comfortable.  But does it fit the pattern suggested by the use of
>the English-describing term?

Your last sentence is always the case. But, how do you want us to talk
about things, if not in a language (such as English)? Should we first
invent a complete meta-language before we have any kind of meta-linguistic
discussion? That's not going to work. Technically speaking, terms like
"indirect object," "noun," "preposition," (or even DIp wot chuvmey je, if
you prefer) are *all* metalinguistic from the beginning. They exist to
allow us to talk about the language itself.

As for speaking of Klingon from an English framework, why not? Approaching
any language from the perspective of another is often quite useful. Most
speakers of Klingon (especially those for whom it is their first "foreign"
language) find that the experience of studying another language gives them
all kinds of insights into their native tongue. And that's not surprising
at all. As one obvious example, look at the difficulties English speakers
have grappling with the very non-English concept of Aspect, which is second
nature to Klingon.

The issue isn't whether portions of Klingon fit my "English-shaped box," or
any of the other box shapes I might possess. The issue is more, can some of
the things I understand about language (in the larger sense), as observed
to occur in language(s) X (Y, and Z) be applied to Klingon? I doubt we'd be
having this discussion if the comparison had been made to Japanese instead
of Klingon. It's the sort of compare-and-contrast approach that is
fundamental to the way human beings make sense of their world from earliest


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