tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Mar 26 11:26:07 2002

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Re: KLBC: {-be'}

I'm not an expert, and I'm not really trying to pick a fight, but...

On Tue, 26 Mar 2002, Sean Healy wrote:
>> Bad grammar is bad grammar. Deal with it. yIvingQo'.

> Much of what you call 'bad grammar' is actually the process of a living 
> language changing over time (there go my descriptivist tendencies again).  

Just because what is bad grammar now may someday become correct grammar
later doesn't change the fact that it IS bad grammar now.  I understand
the whole prescriptive vs descriptive thing, but it's always seemed to
me that prescriptive is the better approach if you're trying to keep the
language "open" to non-native speakers.

It reminds me of a story I read about a crew in Antarctica that had a
bunch of Disney movies & porn movies for entertainment, which they
quickly tired of.  They then started splicing the films together,
gathering vocab etc about it, and by the time the relief crew got there
they could hardly understand the way they spoke.  A descriptive
grammarian would love it, but it obviously weakened communication.
(BTW, does anyone have a source of that story?  A quick search of
Google later, I can't find it online...).

On the other hand, if grammatical rules are falling by the wayside, then
hopefully the language is getting easier to learn and is still "open" in
another sense.  So I've got no beef either way.

> But then again, Klingon is a tightly controlled artificial language, so it 
> probably does have a relatively fixed grammar (as opposed to living 
> languages).  The changes MO comes out with are additions, not alterations.  
> On the other hand, it was designed to look and feel like a natural, living 
> language, which is part of the reason MO came up with some examples of the 
> 'bad grammar' we so often see in such languages.

I think the point is that to us, Klingon should be handled prescriptively,
but MO can be as (fictionally) descriptive as he wants.  He may tell us,
"here's something Maltz hears a lot, but it's bad grammar".  Do we use it?
It's canon, so go ahead.  Prescriptive types may choose not to use it
despite the fact that it's canon, and can't lament the bad grammar too.

> In fact, what is acceptable in terms of Klingon grammar varies according
> to social position and age - exactly the kind of thing we see in English
> with 'you and I'/'you and me'.

To me, that distinction doesn't necessarily have anything to do with age
or social position, except second-hand -- it has to do with whether the
speaker was taught well and/or learned well, and on how lazy vs careful
they are.  I know the difference between the two, and I usually choose
the correct one.  Does everybody?  No.  In some ways it's "dumbing down"
the language, which is regrettable to some extent, but it's not
necessarily bad if it leads to greater communication.
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