tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Thu May 16 11:47:03 2002

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Re: -Ha' (was: RE: help with "Floreat Majestas")

> Thank you Will.  Very interesting.  It does open the mind somewhat.  I'm
> not convinced, however, that this mismatch with English is caused by a
> focus on the direct object.  Rather it seems to me that the focus is on
> the results. 

Meanwhile, the results are more commonly associated with the direct object than 
the subject, when there is a direct object.

> I never before quite got how -Ha' had two meanings that
> seemed so different to me (undo & do wrongly).  Now, suddenly, by
> shifting my focus to the results and their absence, I feel that I have a
> deeper understanding.  I will show you what I mean.

It may very well be that Klingon does not have two different meanings for {-
Ha'}, but instead has only one meaning that English lacks. English speakers try 
to describe this meaning as something between undoing and doing wrongly.
> If I give a book to you, it is {SoHvaD paq vInob.}  Following the
> Ferengi example, {jIHvaD paq DanobHa',} means, "You give the book back
> to me."  Here nobHa' translates as, "give back," but perhaps it could
> also be used to mean, "take back." 

In this case, the action {nob} is revisited and rather than being repeated, it 
is reversed. The direct object remains the same. The subject and indirect 
object switch roles. The action is reversed and the direct object is the same.

> I could say, {SoHvo' paq vInobHa',)
> which would translate into English as, "I take the book back from you."

In this case, the action {nob} is revisited and rather than being repeated, it 
is reversed. The direct object remains the same. The subject remains the same 
and the indirect object now indicates a direction of the action; it becomes the 
source, rather than the benificiary. The action is reversed and the direct 
object is the same.

> The point is that the giving is no longer done.  Will's focus on the
> direct object seems to come from the changes that these verbs cause in
> that direct object (in this case ownership).  It doesn't matter who the
> indirect object or the subject is or what changes have occurred in the
> direct object. 

There were no changes in the identity of the direct object. That's my point.

> It just matters that the result of {nob} is made no
> longer true by {nobHa'}.  Now, here's where it got interesting for me.
> {SoHvaD paq vInobHa'.  ghajlaw' be'nallI'.}  "I mis-gave you the book.
> Your wife must have it." 

I'm definitely not sure this is just a bad way to express what you want. 
{SoHvaD paq vInobta' vIneH 'ach bong be'nallI'vaD vInoblaw'.} That would have 
been clearer. I still see {-Ha'} as a stronger negation than {-be'}, and I 
don't see your example as satisfying that.

Look at Okrand's choices of using {-be'} vs. {-Ha'} in the word list. {parHa'} 
is not to merely not dislike {parbe'}. It is a stronger negation of disliking. 
{yajHa'} is to not merely not understand, but to more strongly negate 
understanding. You do not merely lack the idea. You have an idea that conflicts 
with the idea that you are supposed to have. {QeyHa'moH} is not merely to not 
tighten. It is a stronger negation. You are creating a state which conflicts 
with {QeymoH}. 

{Qochbe'} doesn't need {-Ha'}, since if you don't disagree, that is sufficient. 
The absence of disagreement is agreement. Consensus is easier to muster than 
mutual zeal. The absence of disliking is not sufficient to comprise liking, 
since you can simply be indifferent. A lack of understanding is not sufficient 
to comprise misunderstanding. An absence of tightness is not sufficient to 
comprise looseness. A lack of tightness is merely an intermediate state between 
tightness and looseness.

Let me suggest another example that makes more sense to me:

Soj qanobHa'pu'. tar qanoblaw'.

Of course, this is a counterexample to everything I've argued up to this point, 
since it is the first example anyone has come up with that changes the identity 
of the direct object. Leave it to me to do the best job of nuking my own 
argument. At least, I'm successfully provoking thought.

> The intended result of {nob} (that you would
> have the book) is not true and so instead I use {nobHa'}.  What's
> important isn't who the book is going to or who it is coming from, but
> rather the fact that the result is no longer or never was true.

I like this idea. I think that as we polish these ideas, they fit well together.
> Will's examples with a rope show it even more clearly by removing the
> indirect object.  When I tighten a rope, {tlhegh vIQeymoH,} you could
> then come along and loosen it, {tlhegh DaQeyHa'moH.}  However, I might
> have mis-tightened it, {tlhegh vIQeyHa'moH.} 

I really believe that this interpretation is misguided. It leans heavily upon 
the "wrongly" part of Okrand's gloss for which I don't see usage to back it up. 
I think the "wrongly" gloss works when it points to a stronger negation than {-
be'}, and to "mis-tighten" does not fit that description. It sounds like you 
are really just saying {tlhegh vIQeymoHchu'be'.} You imperfectly tightened it. 
If you want a more intense mistightening to be explained, you need to say that 
you loosened it. Maybe it was accidental, but you loosened it. {bong 

I don't think that a misalignment of intent and result is enough to justify {-
Ha'}. I think it has to be a stronger negation than that. There are other ways 
of expressing "I meant to do X, but I didn't do it quite right" than {-Ha'}, 
but this stronger negation than {-be'} can really only be expressed by {-Ha'}. 
There are no other tools for this, and no examples Okrand offers where {-Ha'} 
is not arguably a stronger negation than {-be'}.

> What is similar about
> these two examples of {QeyHa'moH} is that in both cases the expected
> {QeymoH} became untrue.

I think you have a point, but, similar to what I've been accused of in this 
thread, you are thinking a little too much, putting a little too much weight on 
a feature which is often, but not always true. There is a truer target to be 
> To continue to narrow the confounding factors even more, let's remove
> the direct object (of which Will also shows an example).  When I sit,
> {jIba'}.  Then when I stand I could say, {jIba'Ha'}.  My "sitting" is no
> longer true.  I might also say, {jIba'Ha',} if I were laying across a
> chair, since "sitting" would be inaccurate.

I still think that to use {-Ha'} well, you need to consider what you would be 
saying if you used {-be'} instead, and only use {-Ha'} if {-be'} is 
insufficient to express the negativity of the action. You are not speaking of 
merely having an absence of action. You are describing an action that is more 
contrary to the original action than merely not doing the action.

If you were laying across the chair, I think {bIba'be'} is sufficient. 
Meanwhile, I'm realizing that we really need to understand {ba'} better to go 
much farther in this argument. Is {ba'} an action or is it a state? I argue 
that it is a state, since if it were an action, when I ask {quSvamDaq 
ba'lu''a'?}, I'm not asking the glossed "Is this seat taken?" I'm asking "Is 
this a chair?" In other words, "Is this 'chair' something on which one takes 
the action of sitting?" That's quite different from what I believe is being 
asked here: "Is someone in the state of sitting in this chair?"

Of course, I guess you could argue that the question is really, "Is someone 
other than me intending to take the action of sitting in this chair?" It would 
help if Okrand just explained {ba'} a little better. While he's at it, he could 
work on {Qam} and other apparently stative verbs that don't have the word "be" 
in their definitions.

I'll begrudgingly accept it if he decides that it's just like English and can 
refer to either the action or the state, with {-choH} clarifying that you mean 
the action and {-lI', -taH} clarifying that you mean the state, and no, you 
can't use them as adjectives.

Anyway, if you lay in the chair, bIba'be'. If you go to sit in the chair and 
miss and pratfall, sprawling across the floor, spilling documents, food, 
beverage and weapons all over the place at an important meeting of your 
superiors, then bIba'Ha'ba'. Similarly, it's probably better to say 
bIba'be'choH than bIba'Ha' when you merely get up out of your chair.

Note that we couldn't use {-be'} in any of our {nob} examples to express the 
meanings we've sought. We can use {-be'} for most of the {ba'} examples.

> Please don't get caught up in my action/reaction type examples.  There
> doesn't need to be an original action for -Ha' to mean that the action
> is untrue.  However, there does seem to be an expectation that the
> original verb was a possibility and instead is lacking.  For example
> {naDHa'} means that whatever praise and approval one might have expected
> is lacking. 

I disagree. The praise is not merely lacking. There exists an action which is 
contrary to praise, not merely lacking in praise. It is a stronger negation 
than {naDbe'}.

> {Do'Ha'} means whatever one might have considered lucky or
> fortunate is not there.

Again, I disagree. There is a difference between {Do'be'}, which excellently 
expresses your described meaning, and {Do'Ha'} which means that you are not 
merely not lucky, you are UNlucky. Krankor flips a coin and wins every time. 
Do'. I flip a coin and win about half the time. jIDo'be'. You flip a coin and 
lose every time. bIDo'Ha'.
> Now, what about -qa'?  I see this in much the same way.  I would think
> that it can be used whether it is the subject repeating/resuming the
> action or whether the action is instead repeated/resumed on the object.
> {tlhIngan HoD HIv 'ej HoH verengan.  lop verengan ghIq tlhIngan yaSpu'
> HIvqa'.  luHoHpu'DI' HIvqa' verengan latlh.}

I don't quite buy this. I started to dig into the particulars and then I wish 
you'd translated it into English to make sure you really meant:

"A Ferengi attacked a Klingon captain. The Ferengi celebrated, then [sic] he 
again attacked Klingon officers. When they killed him, other Ferengi attacked 

I put the [sic] in there just to remind you that while English uses "then, 
subsequently" as a conjunction, Klingon uses {ghIq} as an adverb, so you need a 
conjunction or a period. It's not important to correct you. It's just important 
to stop impressionable people looking at our examples from thinking this is the 
way to use {ghIq}. I'm definitely not interested in belittling you. I make this 
kind of mistake and worse all the time.

Anyway, when both the subject and object of {HIv} are changed, I don't see it 
as the same attack. I'd replace the first {HIvqa'} with just {HIv}. As for the 
second one, if anything, given our examples with {nob}, I'd use {-Ha'} here 
instead of {-qa'} because the other Ferengi are not attacking "again". They are 
attacking "back". Actually, I'd prefer {bortaSmo' HIv} to either {HIvqa'} or 

It is worth thought, though. If I have three enemies taking turns attacking me, 
I'd definitely say {vIHIvqa'lu'}. Meanwhile, if I attack three different 
enemies, each in turn, it feels weird to say {vIHIvqa'}. I honestly do see a 
connection between {HIv} and its direct object in order for me to consider the 
action to be repeated. You repeat the action on the direct object. That's what 
makes it repetitive.

Think about the way you'd count attacks. I made three attacks on Fred. I made 
attacks on Fred, John and Jim. Am I in the minority on this? What constitutes 

> So what do y'all think of that?
> Jeremy
> qamQel
> P.S. while writing examples with paq I just happened to realize that it
> sounds just like the first syllable of POCKet BOOKs (the publisher of
> TKD).  Hmm.  J.C.

Definitely cool.


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