tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Thu Jun 13 16:00:03 2002

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Re: subjectless verbs

qon qa'ral:
>  What 'ISqu' seems to be exploring here is the frontier zone between
>  implicit and indefinite subjects. Sure, if you knock yourself out, you
>  can always come up with an explicit subject for sentences like {qay'be'
>  (ghu'?)} or {SIS ('eng?)}, but the same could be said for verbs with
>  {-lu'}. Does that make {-lu'} expendable? Or does {-lu'} refer to a
>  subject that is relatively vaguer or more generalized? I noticed the
>  phrase {merlu''a'?} in a recent exchange on the list. As the reference
>  was to a specific prior statement, would {mer'a'} have been better? Or
>  perhaps 'ISqu' was on the right track from the start: no rule, just a
>  group of verbs, similar to {qay'be'}, that are used idiomatically in this
>  manner. All we need is the list from Maltz.

The pragmatics which motivate -lu' are the subject being unknown or 
unimportant to the discourse context. So presumably "merlu''a'" was used when 
it was just the situation in general that caused the surprise reaction. 
Personally, if I saw someone write "mer'a'" without a subject it would leave 
me feeling curious as to what the surprising thing was. So my take is that 
you use -lu' when you want to force attention off of the subject.

I have previously considered using -lu' on verbs in the way you are alluding 
to, as follows:

It rains.
It is dark.
It is boring.

But that might be overkill in many cases. I don't think there's anything 
inherently wrong with leaving a subject implicit when it refers to a generic 
situational referent. As DloraH pointed out, SIS is so used by Okrand. For 
clarity, you can always say:

SIS muD.
Hurgh naDev.
Dal ghu'.

Andrew Strader

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