tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Fri Jun 14 21:57:06 2002

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Re: Headers. Yet again.

This is a lot longer than I want it to be.  Note that it doesn't just
ramble on and on about the same things; there are important points at the
end that I don't want to see ignored just because anyone got tired of

>> 2) A noun with a Type 5 suffix (with exceptions) comes before the object.
>This is a descriptive rule about the grammar which happens to be true whether
>it is in TKD or not. You and SuStel both want to argue that I'm basing this
>descriptive rule upon the rule mentioned in TKD. I'm not. I'm basing it on
>than a decade of observing canon.

Actually, I'm starting to think that this observation doesn't really
deserve to be called a rule.  The exceptions to it make it a lot less
useful than one might think.  There's nothing wrong as such about
descriptive "rules" (except maybe the name "rule" itself).  But this
particular one has one big exception ({-'e'}), a smaller one (verbs of
motion), and at least one more little exception that nobody has yet
mentioned in this thread: ({naDev/pa'/Dat}).  The existence of several
different *kinds* of exceptions weakens this "rule" significantly.

>Okrand alludes to this rule when he states rule #1. He says that these
>nouns "usually" have Type 5 suffixes. In a couple decades with the language,
>he's only introduced the {-'e'} exceptions and the verb-of-motion
>exceptions to
>explain any use of a Type 5 suffixed noun that DOESN'T go before the direct
>object. Read that and watch canon for a few years and you start to realize
>aside from time stamps, pretty much every noun that does something other than
>act as subject or object gets a Type 5 noun suffix.

That's all fine and good, but it's essentially orthogonal to the idea of
calling things "header" nouns, which is what triggered the thread in the
first place.

>From that, it becomes pretty obvious that the role of subject and object are
>defined positionally, time stamps are defined by a combination of position and
>meaning, and all other nouns have their syntax indicated by Type 5 noun

Obvious, yes (with exceptions), but it's neither universally applicable nor
particularly predictive.  And it has little to do with "header nouns".

>There are two exceptions to this...

I count three, actually.  And we have precedent for unexpected revelations
of additional exceptions.

>This is a descriptive rule of the grammar, whether it is explicit in TKD or
>not. Do you really want to argue to say that it is not accurate? Are you
>so afraid to wander beyond the explicit wording in TKD, even when Okrand tells
>us that the rules as stated in TKD are less important than usage in canon?

I'm perfectly happy to derive things from observation, as long as they
simplify things.  This one *sounds* simple, but it's got to be augmented
with several exceptions in order to work, and that makes it at least as
complicated as the *real* rules it ostensibly seeks to combine.  It is less
an observation of regular patterns as it is a reshuffling of ideas from TKD
into a form that's more restrictive than what TKD says.

>But, as I said, it's a free country. If you want to just not notice that
>for {-'e'} and except for special verbs of motion, all Type 5 suffixed
>nouns go
>before the direct object, go for it. Keep your eyes peeled for all those canon
>examples where Okrand puts Type 5 noun suffixes on subjects and objects. I'm
>sure we'll see lots of them any day now.

With the usual exceptions, all Type 5 suffixed nouns are *seen* before the
direct object.  When I think hard about it, I tend to conclude that it's a
result of other underlying factors, rather than a rule in and of itself.

The argument would likely go a lot easier on everyone if we could find the
magic phrase which would make the "header" idea clear to you in a way that
doesn't cause you to misunderstand and think that it claims Type 5 noun
suffixes can go anywhere.  I'll try again:

TKD says that objects come before the verb, subjects come after the verb,
and (here's the relevant part) nouns that are anything other than subject
or object come before the object noun.  Such nouns can be called "header"
nouns, and by definition they come before the object.  TKD also says that
nouns of this sort usually have a Type 5 noun suffix, but it also provides
a number of examples where a non-subject, non-object noun lacks a Type 5

Your focus seems to say that when you put a Type 5 suffix on a noun, that
makes the noun have to go before the object (with exceptions).  That works
(with exceptions), but it doesn't really have anything useful to do with
the meaning behind the words, which is why the suffix is there in the first

A "header noun" focus on semantics would put the non-subject/object verbs
first anyway, without using the suffix as a trigger.  The meaning would
most often simultaneously require an appropriate suffix, but the Type 5
suffix isn't what puts the noun in its place.

A: "nouns with Type 5 suffixes go before the object"
B: "non-subject, non-object nouns go before the object, and usually have a
Type 5 suffix"

Please try to see the difference between A and B without thinking that
someone asserting B is saying *anything* about what suffixes can go on a
subject or object.  B is what TKD says, and it's very productive.  A needs
lots of tweaking before it's a useful rule.

-- gnunchu'wI'

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