tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Sep 25 17:10:33 2002

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The ol' transitivity thing again

The most likely situation (to me) is that Klingon does not have an absolute
set of transitivity rules.  A word might be used transitively or not.  Some
words may not be able to be used transitively.  I don't think the choice of
transitivity is inherent in the word.

/Qong/ "sleep" is pretty clearly used only intransitively.

/HoH/ "kill" can be used transitively (e.g., /yaS vIHoH/ "I killed the
officer").  It can be used intransitively: /jIHoH/ "I kill."  This
"intransitive" use can also be considered transitive: /jIHoH/ "I kill people
in general" (c.f. THE KLINGON DICTIONARY, pp. 33-34).

Whether or not /HoH/ "is" transitive seems to be irrelevant.  It can be used
that way or not, and it's not always clear which way it has been used when
it IS used.  It probably doesn't even matter.

/chenmoH/ "cause to take form"
What's the deal with transitivity here?  Some might claim it's an
intransitive verb + /-moH/.  I would prefer to say that /chenmoH/ is a
concept that can be viewed as transitive or intransitive as you like.  /paq
vIchenmoH/ "I cause the book to take form," "I make the book."

Can you say /bIchenmoH/?  Sure!  "You cause things in general to take form."
Does this REQUIRE the concept of a general object?  I don't think so: "You

I suspect that appropriate or allowed combinations and meanings are known to
Klingons on a case-by-case basis; without specific guidance on given words,
we can only guess.  We can state that */puq vIQong/ is wrong with a fair
amount of certainty, but other sentences might not be so certain.

Also, the ol' /HIQoymoH/ "Let me hear!" example shows up.  Some ask the
question, "What happens if I take a transitive verb and add /-moH/ to it?
Personally, I don't think you start with a transitive verb and add /-moH/; I
think you start with a word whose transitivity is not set in stone; and that
that transitivity may not work the same way for a similar word that happens
to contain /-moH/.

/wab vIQoy/ "I heard the noise."

"What if I add /-moH/?  You don't "add" /-moH/ to a pre-existing sentence.
You say /muQoymoH yaS/ "The officer made me hear," and talk about the /wab/
elsewhere.  Alternatively, since /wab/ isn't a subject or object of
/QoymoH/, you put it in the "header" space, as per TKD p. 60.  However, some
may balk at /wab muQoymoH yaS/, because /wab/ is a "header" noun without
anything to indicate what it's doing there; it's not a time element and it
has not Type 5 marker on it.  (Curiously, this can lead to the irritating
/Ha'quj/ example, which has /ghaHvaD quHDaj qawmoH/ "It reminds him of his
heritage," by applying the "prefix trick" in reverse: /wab muQoymoH yaS/
would be a shortening of /jIHvaD wab QoymoH yaS/ which, unfortunately, also
looks like "The officer made the sound hear for me," but which also meets
the format of the /Ha'quj/ example.)

Another alternative would be to topicalize the extra noun that you want to
put in the header: /wab'e' muQoymoH yaS/ "As for the sound, the officer made
me hear."

vay' vIlIjpu''a'?

Stardate 2734.9

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