tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Thu Jan 31 17:06:05 2002

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Re: subjects in complex sentences

From: <>
> Yes, I noticed after I'd sent the message that all your
> examples were SAO.  I would agree that the SAO
> construction seems to require the noun coming
> last.  Maybe because the V 'e' V phrase feels like
> a single unit (even though I know it isn't):
> {chargh 'e' ngIl SuvwI'} The warrior _dares to conquer_.
> And of course, canon seems to indicate this is the
> way MO does it, too.

I suspect he has done this because of the very trap that others have fallen
into: he starts with the English, translates it into Klingon keeping nouns
and pronouns in the equivalent places of the Klingon sentences, regardless
of whether that's where they belong.

In other words, Okrand wasn't paying attention to the positions of the
pronouns when he wrote them.

As for SAO feeling like a single unit, that goes out the door the minute you
have something other than /ghaH/ for a subject or object.

> In fact, {chargh SuvwI' 'e' ngIl} would to me imply
> a different subject for {ngIl}: "He dares that (some
> other) warrior conquer."

Only because of your English biases, and because of exactly the same effect
in reverse.  You explained it by translating it, not by understanding it in
the original Klingon.  "He dares that . . . ."  You've just set up a
tautology by using a pronoun without stating a reference noun for it, and in
English sentences like that want the noun to come first.  When you come to a
noun, you expect it to be first, and so only the pronouns that come after it
will seem like they refer to it.

If I said in English, "The warrior said that he conquered," you have no
problem accepting that "he" refers to "the warrior."  But if I said, "He
said that the warrior conquered," you're going to think that "he" is
different than "warrior."  Again, it's because "he" doesn't have a noun
previous to it to reference.  It's not important which noun is an object or
subject or whatever.  The brain cares which noun comes FIRST, not which
grammatical structure it's a part of.

In the sentence /chargh SuvwI' 'e' ngIl/, I agree that there is the
potential to not be sure what the subject of /ngIl/ is, especially if
/chargh/ has an object as well (e.g., /mangghom chargh SuvwI' 'e' ngIl/).
This is when you'd want to use /SuvwI'/ twice.  /chargh SuvwI' 'e' ngIl
SuvwI'/.  This is, in my opinion, the best way to handle nouns and pronouns
in this example.

However, we have the sentences which Okrand has produced, which would
support /chargh 'e' ngIl SuvwI'/.  I won't argue against using that, but I
won't be using it often myself unless he downright tells us that's how it's
done.  (I also didn't use the "prefix trick" until he actually explained it,
because let's face it: he created it to explain away all the bad grammar he
produced while trying to translate things like "Give me the ro'keg blood
pie."  It's really just an excuse to copy English grammar.

If there is a justification that Okrand could come up with, it is probably
going to be this: the sentence structure of SAO represents (but isn't
actually) Sentence-V-Subject, and so if the subject of Sentence is the same
as Subject, it is elided in favor of Subject, which is with the main verb.

Stardate 2086.0

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