tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Thu Jun 13 13:44:14 2002

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Re: subjectless verbs (was: matlhHa'ghach)

> qon SuStel:
> >But does the sentence mean what you want it to mean?  You were
> >apparently trying for "It had been a little difficult to tell the whole 
> >story." But what you wrote, /lut naQ vIja'meH loQ Qatlhpu' [Qu']/, says to 
> >me, "For the purpose of telling the whole story, the task had been a little
> >difficult> ."

This is a classic problem with {-meH} modifying a verb with a sense of 
negativity relating to whatever purpose the {-meH} clause is modifying. I'm not 
positive that Klingon doesn't just allow context to straighten these things 
out, but since it feels messy, I personally tend to want to straighten out the 
wording, most often by making the {-meH} clause modify the subject instead of 
the verb.

In this specific case, though, there's another problem. Despite the definition 
gloss "tell", we know that <lut ja'be'lu'. lut jatlhlu'. nuv ja'lu'.>

> >That is, some task had been difficult, and the purpose of this
> >difficulty was for you to tell the whole story.  But the difficulty didn't 
> >have a purpose!
> That's quite sensible. Thus considering, I guess it would be clearer to
> say "Qatlhpu' lut naQ vIja'meH Qu'."

Try <Qatlhpu' lut naQ vIjatlhmeH Qu'.> I think it works better.
> Oh yeah, and forget what I said about using -'e' for disambiguating -meH 
> clauses. Doing so would be fairly pointless, since the head of a -meH
> clause is always postposed. (TKD 6.2.4)

True. It would be nice if we could more dependably indicate what a {-meH} 
clause is modifying. We know that the clause always preceeds what it modifies 
(as you say, "postposed"), but we can't always tell if it is modifying the main 
verb's direct object, or the main verb itself. There can also be confusion over 
whether a noun following a {-meH} appended verb is that verb's subject, the 
noun that verb is modifying, or just a noun placed there because of the larger 
context of the sentence with no relationship to the {-meH} verb.

qopmeH yaS vIra'.

"I ordered the officer to arrest him."
"I ordered the arresting officer [to go get the doughnuts]."
"I ordered him[, the criminal, to leave via the window] in order that the 
officer would arrest him."

Without context, you really can't tell what {yaS} is doing in this sentence. We 
have no tools, to my knowledge, to make this clearer without providing more 
context. It's a small quirk in the grammar, where the noun is explained by 
position, yet the position can be arrived at from different vectors.

qopmeH yaS<-vIra'.

qopmeH<-yaS vIra'.

qopmeH yaS<-vIra'.
> -- 
> Andrew Strader


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