tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Jul 02 15:16:03 2002

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Re: Headers. Yet again.

>Also, it is not the case that the rules change and then subsequent canon
>changes to follow the new rules. Instead, the canon changes (like the
>examples with {-Daq} on the head noun of a relative clause, or the odd word
>order with verbs with {-jaj}, or the use of {-moH} on verbs that already
>had direct objects) and then we have to figure out what kind of rule can
>describe this newly discovered grammatical pattern in the language.
>This new rule becomes part of the "canon" of grammatical rules and will
>help us write and speak better Klingon until new patterns in canon prompt
>us to review the rules once again.
>Is this really all that difficult to grasp? Do people really consider this
>model of the relationship between canon and the rules of grammar to be


> > Any deviation from what normally appears is
> > considered  highly marked.  If a native speaker used it, other native
> > speakers would  understand, but they would also know it broke the
> > rules.
>Well, they would just know that it sounded weird. There are a lot of
>English speakers who would know that "I is speaking English" sounds wrong,
>even if they are not specifically aware of the "rule" that makes it wrong.
>It is not wrong because it breaks the rules. It is wrong because it sounds
>weird. There is a rule that it breaks, but that rule only exists to help
>beginners and outsiders figure out what is normal. Those who speak the
>language well don't need the rules at all.
>It's not that they've internalized the rules. It is that they have learned
>the language that the rules imperfectly attempt to describe. The language
>comes before the rules. Canon is more important than rules because it shows
>us the language instead of just describing it.
>Meanwhile, if a new rule can accurately describe what patterns exist in
>canon, that rule is useful to us because we don't speak the language all
>that well yet. We can use all the guidelines we can get, so long as they
>are accurate in describing patterns we see in canon.

Actually, I do not think usage comes first.  I think there are internal 
rules come first.  Consider how children learn the language; they use it, 
are corrected by their parents, and change their internal model.  Children 
overapply rules, saying 'foots' instead of 'feet'.  If they learned simply 
by copying their parents' usage, they would never say 'foots', because their 
parents never do.  Since they do, they musthave formulated some internal 
rule.  Yes, a child's rule is based on its parents' usage, but a child's own 
usage is based on internal rules.  That is, a correct internal formulation 
of the rules comes before a correct external application of those rules.  Of 
course, the passage of these rules from parents to children is not 100% 
accurate, things change little by little, which is why our English differs 
somewhat from Shakespeare's, and even more from Chaucer's (and Beowulf is 
hardly recognizable).

However, external rules, grammar as it is taught in schools, is an 
approximation of those internal rules, an approximation arrived at by 
studying usage.  I agree that something breaks the external rules because it 
sounds weird, simply because those external rules are based on what sounds 
right.  However, the reason it sounds weird in the first place is because it 
breaks the internal rules native speakers carry around inside their brains.

I realize that this is an opinion, and therefore subjective, but you did ask 
if anyone considered your model to be inaccurate.  'Inaccurate' is perhaps 
not the right word; I consider it incomplete, because it starts with the 
canon (which takes the place of native speech) but canon comes from the 
brain of Okrand (just as native speech is produced by the brains of native 

I snipped some stuff from your post; if you feel that the result 
misrepresents your position, please clarify.

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