tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Mar 26 13:47:52 2002

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Re: KLBC: Prefix Trick ( was {-be'})

While the description of the prefix trick was great, the commentary on the 
difference between N-N possession and apposition could probably benefit from 
some clarification.

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Jeff Dahl" <>
> Commentary: The difference between N-N possession and apposition is that in
> the former, the more general term comes last, preceded by the more specific,
> while in the latter, the more general term comes first.

I don't believe this is generally true, since I can say both "Carolyn, my 
sister" and I can say "My sister, Carolyn" and both are equally appositional. 
There has been no indication that I know of in Klingon that the same 
reversability is not acceptable.

More to the point, in English, we use the possessive form of the first noun or 
reverse the two nouns and use the word "of" to mark a possessive or genitive 
construction, while we use a comma or verbal pause to indicate apposition:

Mary's sister
the sister of Mary
my wife, Mary
Mary, my wife

We can combine these with relative clarity in English:

Laura, my wife, Mary's sister

Klingon, however, makes no syntactical difference at all between the 
genitive/possessive construction and apposition:

charghwI' HoD

That can mean any of the following:

Victor, the captain [Victor as proper name]

Victor's captain [Victor as proper name]

Captain Victor [Victor as proper name, captain as his title]

The victor's captain

The victor, Captain [Captain as proper name]

Victor, captain [Victor as proper name, captain as person being addressed]

The victor, captain [captain being person addressed]

.. and more, if you continue interpreting Captain to be a proper name of the 
person being addressed, etc.

Let's face it, when you pile nouns together in Klingon, it can be very 
confusing. Klingon is always very clear about how multiple verbs relate to one 
another in a well-formed sentence, but it is quite often quite ambiguous about 
the grammatical function of nouns.

I'll be bold enough to say that in the vast majority of cases of ambiguity in 
the Klingon language, nouns are the source of that ambiguity. Sometimes an 
apparent direct object of one verb might instead be the subject of a preceeding 
verb. It is legal to omit the {-'e'} marking the head noun of a relative 
clause, leaving what is often a very ambiguous result. Three or more nouns 
followed by a conjunction might be a list of independent nouns joined by the 
conjunction, or any pair of them might be linked by a genitive relationship or 
by apposition.

Fortunately, in many Klingon sentences, nouns are quite optional. Do without 
them when you can.

> Also, in the former,
> the two nouns combine to form a new concept, while in the latter, the two
> nouns (or phrases) both refer to different aspects of the same concept (that
> is, "Duras's sisters" and "Betor and Lursa" both refer to the same persons).

I had always heard them referred to as "The Duras sisters", as in "Be'tor 
Duras" and "Lursa Duras". Yet another ambiguity.
> > Hergh Suy
> qe'San


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