tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Jun 19 10:58:36 2002

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Re: comparatives

> >>qatlh nger lughbe' qonbogh HaDwI' DIv law', nger lughbe' pabbogh neH
> >>Ha DwI' DIv puS?
> >Note in an old grammarian's corner that Krankor was very disappointed
> >to hear from Okrand that you can't stretch a comparative sentence that far. 
> >You often ...
> ... What I'm countering is the claim that I have
> stretched the comparative construction too far. I think I have stayed 
> perfectly within the bounds of the grammar.
> >You can't use an adjective on A or B in A Q law' B Q puS.
> Actually, that's not even what I did, and to my knowledge I don't do
> this in general. I don't deny that my sentence is difficult to parse, even 
> syntactically ambiguous due to the -bogh's. But the noun phrases under 
> comparison do not have adjectivals. Rather, they are heads of relative 
> clauses. Here is the parse of my sentence.
> ADV=(qatlh)
> A=(nger lughbe' qonbogh HaDwI')

So, what is the word {lughbe'} doing here? I see it as an adjective applying to 
{nger}, which is exactly what I said you can't do, and exactly what you said 
you didn't do and do not, in general, do. So, if that's not what that word is 
doing, what IS that word doing? You are trying to say that the word {lughbe'} 
is part of the relative clause, so it doesn't count.

Ooohhh. I get it. You wanted {HaDwI'} to be the A, rather than {nger}. Well, 
this is exactly why Okrand says you can't do this.

Okrand has used adverbials and "topics" defined by nouns with {-'e'} as lead-
ins for comparatives, but I'm pretty sure that in the HolQeD article that 
Krankor was so unhappy with, Okrand said you can't do something as complex as a 
relative clause for A or B in A Q law' B Q puS.

You really are extending the grammar farther than it goes. Comparatives are 
extremely simple. They are one trick ponies. You are trying to get them to do 
more tricks than they can handle, according to Klingon norms.

I know that you think this is all a combination of simple grammar, but it is a 
complex combination of simple grammar and the net is that you put more weight 
on a comparative than it is built to carry.

Krankor wishes you were right. I'm sure others do, too, but unfortunately 
Okrand has spoken out against this, specifically and in canon, about the most 
complex thing he's ever done with comparatives was the {qIbDaq SuvwI'e' SoH yoH 
law' Hoch yoH puS!}. I'm paraphrasing from memory, so I probably don't have the 
right verb of quality there.

Oddly, I'm not trying to tell you that you can't do this. I am telling you that 
when you do this, you probably can't justify it with the certainty that you 
believe you can.

Basically, as I understand it, the most complex thing you can do with a 
comparison and know it's okay is:

Header A Q law' B Q puS.

You can use other contrasting adjectives instead of {law'} and {puS} if you 
want to be weird about it and risk being understood, but Okrand says that's 

You can probably also go as far as:

Header A Q law' header B Q puS.

That's a guess. I don't think Okrand has done this and I don't think he's said 
we could do this, but this much of a stretch might be justified.

What you can't do is replace A or B with relative clauses or noun phrases 
including adjectives or other more complex grammar. You can probably use noun-
noun possessives in place of single nouns in A or B, but that's about it.

Unless you want to knowingly use grammar that is more complex than Okrand says 
is appropriate for the Klingon comparative construction.

People skilled with the language often want to take comparatives or relative 
clauses or other grammatical features in Klingon and pile a lot of weight on 
them to make beautifully long, convoluted, showy sentences, but Okrand has 
repeatedly illustrated and described that a Klingon far more commonly uses more 
short, choppy sentences instead of fewer long, complex ones.

That's just how the language is used. You can use it differently, but when you 
do, your speech is very "marked", hence the comments you've gotten from several 

On a parallel topic, I've gotten enough comments from enough people about my 
rudeness lately that it's sinking in. jItlhIj. jIqabbe'qangchoH.

> Q=(DIv)
> (law'),
> B=(nger lughbe' pabbogh neH HaDwI')

I'm more than a little sure this is pushing the A and B too far for the grammar 
as described by Okrand. Besides, a Klingon wouldn't be evasive about this. He'd 
name names.

> Q=(DIv)
> (puS)?
> "Why is a student who formulates an incorrect theory more guilty than a 
> student who merely follows an incorrect theory?"

latlhpu' DevHa'mo', DIv.

> If you think THAT sentence is impossibly complex, I know you have never
> read and comprehended Khamlet! {{:-)

My editorial comments on Hamlet were universally refuted, then ignored. That's 
why, despite my name being on the title page for reasons I don't quite 
understand, there is not a single word in it that is there because I suggested 
it. My ability to comprehend it isn't quite the issue. {{:)>

> Contextually, my sentence is not really ambiguous because guilt is a
> quality applicable to animate nouns (students, in this case) rather than
> inanimate ones (viz. theories).

That is not the point, so much as that you've pumped up A and B in a 
comparative to be relative clauses instead of simple nouns.

> While I don't regard Krankor's personal conversations with Okrand as
> true canon, I do see the justification for forbidding adjectivals in
> comparatives. The Q is occupying what appears to be an adjectival position, 
> so a real adjectival in the noun phrase would kind of get in the way. This
> restriction need not worry us as long as A and B are still allowed to be 
> heads of relative clauses. And I know that they are because of Skybox 7:
> "DujvamDaq tlhIngan nuH tu'lu'bogh pov law' Hoch pov puS."

Nice. I'm surprised by this example. I could go back and delete everything 
above, but this is an honest conversation. I'll own my beliefs, even as I see 
their validity crumble. I didn't remember this example, and when it appeared, I 
didn't note it as exceptional to what we'd earlier been led to believe.

This should make Krankor happy. Now that we see the boundaries moved, we once 
again have to figure out how far. wejpuH.

Maybe my guess earlier was wrong. Maybe the objection Okrand had was to loading 
up the second half of the comparative. If you only load the first half, the 
law' B Q puS part of the comparative would remain close enough together to be 
easily recognizable. Maybe THAT'S what Okrand was after, since the comparisons 
we've seen have had more stuff in the beginning.

But I'm just guessing, and my guesses haven't been that agreeable to many 
people here for a while, so take it with a grain of salt or just ignore it.
> ghuy'Do wa'
> -- 
> Andrew Strader

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