tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Dec 04 17:28:46 2007

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Re: Basic grammar question

Alan Anderson (aranders@insightbb.com) [KLI Member] [Hol po'wI']



ja' Qang qu'wI':

> One of the things that originally attracted me to tlhIngan Hol was  
> the idea
> that MO drew upon knowledge of a variety of different languages,  
> and (I
> believe it's been stated somewhere) had the specific goal of making  
> tlhIngan
> Hol to be 'un-English'.

I think it would be more fair to say that he tried not to take too  
much from any one language.  I remember his saying that whenever he  
found that happening, he'd pick something completely different for  
the next choice he needed to make.  That said, for the first few  
choices -- word order and core word-forming rules, for example -- he  
obviously did intentionally go for the least English-like structures.

> What spontaneously occurred to me in the case that I originally  
> posted was
> the feeling that I really construct {maleng qorDu'wIj jIH je} using  
> English
> grammar, save for the re-ordering that comes from Klingon grammar.

Is that really the case?  I wonder how and when you feel the {ma-}  
gets added.  When I say something like that, I'm undeniably using  
Klingon grammar.  The verb is {maleng} from the beginning of my  
turning the thought into words.

> There are really two avenues that Klingon could have had stronger
> distinctions from English in the above.
>
> 1)
> It could possibly have worked that when the prefix {ma-} is used,  
> since that
> automatically indicates that the speaker is included in the  
> subject, {jIH
> je} could be inferred and added to whatever the subject was (if  
> needed):
>
> **bad Klingon: ** {maleng targh}  "the targh and I travel"

Ecch.  Just my personal reaction.  :-)  This avenue has a major "just  
because I said so" feel to it.  Why {jIH je} and not {maH je}, for  
instance?

I'd actually interpret this to mean "we targs travel".

> 2)
>
> For nouns that indicate a group, it could have been possible for  
> Klingons to
> consider the group first person in some cases (or as desired by the  
> speaker)
> when the possessive is used.
>
> **bad Klingon: **{tuqwIj juquvmoH} "you honor my house (us)"
>
> Which would be different than the way we would normally think using  
> English
> grammar, where we speak of the group we belong to in 3rd person.

Why should the possessive make any difference?  If you're going to  
try to force the otherwise third-person noun to accommodate the  
prefix's first-person mold, it shouldn't matter whether that noun has  
a type 4 suffix or not.

However, we already have a customary interpretation for the mismatch  
of verb prefix with a third-person object.  The prefix-implied object  
instead takes on the role normally marked by the suffix {-vaD}.  It's  
been dubbed the "prefix trick", but it's perfectly valid and  
officially sanctioned grammar.

There's no similar reinterpretation for a mismatched subject.  My  
immediate near-automatic internalization of Klingon grammar settles  
comfortably into treating the third-person subject as either first or  
second person when that's what the verb prefix indicates.  I think it  
works that way for me because the prefix comes first, and my mental  
translation from words to idea is thus primed to accept whatever  
follows as an appropriately-"personed" word.

-- ghunchu'wI'





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