tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Fri Jun 14 08:40:57 2002

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Re: subjectless verbs

qon qa'ral:
>  thoughts in response, or our conversation as a whole? I'm being just as
>  vague as the eminent Klingonist who wrote {merlu''a'}. You feel that
>  {mer'a'} would imply a quite specific subject (and I admit to the same
>  feeling), but what makes it different then from {Daj}? You also suggest

Point of order here -- it would help if you could draw up the entire sentence 
in which this "merlu'" occurred. The mailing list is archived on 
/tlhIngan-Hol/ . That is a very valuable tool. A lot of 
people would actually benefit from using the archive rather than referring to 
vague rememberances of what someone said once.

Anyway, I don't know the context in which merlu' occurred, and rather than 
try to manufacture contexts for various verbs with and without -lu', I will 
give my take on it: The decision to use -lu' is a largely pragmatic one. I 
doubt there are particular verbs that warrant it more than others.

Certainly some verbs are special: SIS and peD in particular. According to 
Okrand they take no subject, and they probably take no object either. They 
are unique in that sense. On the other hand, Hurgh, Daj, mer, etc. have 
natural agents. Admittedly they often have very vague agents (e.g. things in 
general are boring/interesting/dangerous), so in that sense they may be 
borderline. If Klingon were a natural human language, I suspect that over 
time certain verbs would develop idiosyncratic uses of -lu'. But it would not 
generally be possible to predict which verbs would develop such 
idiosyncrasies and which would preserve the orthogonal interpretation of -lu'.

As things stand now, we have to use our meta-linguistic intuition on such 

Andrew Strader

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