tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Thu Mar 21 16:48:34 2002

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Re: [KLBC] comparing in tlhIngan Hol

> From: <>
> > While we're at it, we might also consider {retwIj Sov}
> > and {Sov retwIj}, since it can be thought of as "my past's knowledge" as
> easily
> > as it can be thought of as "the past of my knowledge" or any other word
> order
> > arrangement that proves to be most meaningful.
> I don't think that /Sov retwIj/ works quite the same.  The Klingon noun-noun
> is a genitive construction: the first noun modifies the second.  The
> translation of /Sov ret/ would work out as "knowledge's time period ago,"
> which isn't quite right, whereas /ret Sov/ would be "time period ago's
> knowledge," which is the meaning we're after (though certainly an awkward
> translation).

While I would tend to agree, I'll point out that the same logic applied to 
{Hoch} doesn't work because that word acts like a number instead of like a 
normal noun in a noun-noun genitive construction. It's still a noun. It just 
doesn't act like one. I'm not sure that {ret, pIq} are not specialty nouns with 
similar quirks.

Why should {Hogh ret} mean "a week ago"? As a noun-noun genitive, that 
translates to "a week's time period ago" or "a time period ago of a week". 
Meanwhile, that's not really what it means. It doesn't refer to the span of a 
week. It refers to a single point in time a week ago. It is a time stamp, not a 
time span.

The noun-noun genitive translation sounds strange. Meanwhile, if {ret} is 
acting like an adjectival verb (while still being an odd noun), its placement 
makes sense, and if that is the case, then it might similarly follow the nouns 
it modifies in cases other than placing a tense on a time-period-noun, like 

Verbs with {-meH} have no reason to preceed the words they modify, based on any 
rule of grammar except the one that says that verbs with {-meH} preceed the 
words they modify. If we were being newly introduced to this suffix as having a 
verb with {-meH} modifying a verb, we'd have no basis on guessing how it would 
be used on a noun, or vise versa, until we were explicitly introduced to that 
rule. Likely, we'd guess that, like most dependent clauses, it could either 
preceed or follow what it modifies, and there would be no proof in usage that 
it couldn't follow what it modifies. But it can't. We know that, and it is 
completely arbitrary that this is true. It is unrelated to any other grammar.

The same is true for the adverb {neH}. It's a special word with a special 
grammatical rule. Nothing else in the grammar justifies it.

{Hoch} has no reason to preceed the noun it modifies except for the one that 
says {Hoch} preceeds the noun it modifies when it means "all" or "each". It 
behaves like a number (chuvmey), while it remains a noun. I think that you and 
I both guessed that it should follow nouns when we tried to use it before 
Okrand introduced the way it is supposed to be used. That was one of the 
biggest blunders of my history with the language. I was SURE {Hoch} should 
follow the noun it modifies. "All of the weapons" was supposed to be {nuHmey 
Hoch}. Meanwhile, we now know that the right way to say "All of the weapons" is 
{Hoch nuH}.

So, please understand why I'm a little shy about pronouncing extentions to the 
use of words which seem to behave a bit oddly in the canon provided to us. This 
particular blunder happened while I was starting to feel a little cocky about 
some of the things I'd guessed right. It was humbling.

The nouns {ret} and {pIq} really do appear to be sufficiently exceptional in 
their described use that I'm not prepared to use normal noun-noun genitive 
logic on them with any degree of certainty. Maybe you are right. Maybe you 
aren't. I can't tell. I can't come close to telling.

I'm most tempted to use these words as closely as possible to their use in the 
only description of their use we have. In that case, it follows the noun it 
modifies, and there isn't a logical genitive-grammar related reason for it to 
do what it does there. Likely, some other grammatical pattern is at work there 
that has not been sufficiently described or illustrated yet. If so, then this 
undescribed grammatical pattern would likely be more applicable for "past 
knowledge" or "future knowledge" than any noun-noun genitive.

> SuStel
> Stardate 2219.9


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