tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Fri Mar 01 12:30:55 2002

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Re: agentive -wI'


>Words are not built and thrown away the way sentences are. The worst parts of
>modern English do build and throw away words, especially in the marketing
>industry, but in most languages, and I believe Klingon fits this description,
>words are slowly and carefully crafted to last for a long time. If it is not
>likely to acquire lasting, frequent use, it likely will not become a word.
>Clauses are custom built to fit this moment's expression and then tossed away,
>perhaps never to be used again. This is commonplace and appropriate.

I really don't see much merit in this line of argument.  Klingon words,
both nouns and verbs, have a wide variety of suffixes which can be applied
in order to "build" specific meanings.  Aside from specific prohibitions
against aspect suffixes in a couple of cases, there is no restriction I see
on tossing suffixes onto a word, using it, and then "throwing away" the
word when its purpose has been fulfilled.

>You can argue that adding {-wI'} to a word is a grammatical function and not a
>means to expand the vocabulary, and THAT is where the crux of our disagreement
>lies. I say that {-wI'} is a tool for word building and you say that it is a
>grammatical construction for building what would be a phrase into a single
>As evidence to my point, I have 85 words in the vocabulary using {-wI'}.

Evidence you have.  Compelling evidence you have not.  With the notable
exceptions of {De'wI'}, {DeghwI'} and {chamwI'}, each of those words means
exactly what the grammatical function of {-wI'} makes it mean, and would be
completely understandable without a separate entry in the dictionary.

>Of course, there are also 40 vocabulary entries with {-moH} and five with {-
>meH}, five with {-ghach}, four with {-laH} and probably some with some other
>suffixes as well. The {-moH} examples clearly are there to help you look
>up in the English side of the dictionary. The crux of our disagreement is on
>whether or not the {-wI'} examples are merely there to help English-Klingon
>lookup, or whether they really are considered to be nouns in their own right.
>While Okrand has stated that the {-moH} examples are there just to help with
>lookup, he has never addressed the issue of whether the {-wI'} words are there
>to aid in lookup, or whether they are there the way that waiter, butler,
>builder, contracter, etc. are in an English dictionary.

I'll accept the general proposition that some of the complex words are in
the dictionary not simply for convenience, but because they have certain
"lexified" meanings.  I'll not accept the specific claim that {-wI'} does
that lexification as a matter of course.  Other verb suffixes act similarly
on occasion, notably {-meH} in constructions like {ghojmeH taj}, as well as
{-neS} and the connotations of suicide missions in {HIvneS} and {HubneS}.
There is also {nga'chuq}; perhaps {ja'chuq} fits the pattern too.

>I think from looking at the specific examples and their definitions, it really
>is the case that these are words in their own right. {rachwI'} was built as a
>word because a word was needed and the person did this function, so it made
>sense to name the noun after the verb using {-wI'}.

[It's pretty obvious that the real-world reason for building {rachwI'} was
to make a pun.]

>I don't think that nurses
>have a lot of different names for them for all the different verbs they do.

Sure they do.  QInteS kindly provided a list from one of Okrand's notes
before I could get around to answering this.

>{-wI'} is a tool for word building, not phrase or clause building, and words
>are not casually built. That is frustrating for a lot of people here who are
>always seeking ways of building new words, but that's not how this language

It's my position that words *are* often casually built and then tossed
aside.  That's what all the suffixes are for.  That *is* how this language

>A Klingon speaks up when he has something to say, and when he does so, he
>speaks plainly in clear, short sentences using proper grammar and the common
>vocabulary. He doesn't build flowery, new words when they are not needed.

A beginning student of Klingon should probably consciously restrict hirself
to clear, short sentences using proper grammar and the common vocabulary.
A continuing student of Klingon shouldn't feel quite as many restrictions.
Sometimes uncommon vocabulary and/or long sentences are an appropriate way
to express an idea, and even proper grammar can lead to exceptionally
convoluted short sentences.

I'm going to treat your preference for restricting {-wI'} as a matter of
style, and I'm going to agree that concise words and sentences are
generally good style, but I'm not going to go so far as to codify that
style guideline into a universally applicable rule of grammar.

>Well spoken Klingon doesn't need more ephemeral nouns.

I believe that a cleverly-constructed verb-suffix-wI' can express an idea
concisely, without calling undue attention to itself.

-- ghunchu'wI' u'tlh

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