tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Dec 04 20:27:38 2007

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Re: Basic grammar question

Doq (

On Dec 2, 2007, at 12:15 PM, David Trimboli wrote:

> Qang qu'wI' wrote:
>> I would be interested if you could cite specifically, but just as  
>> a matter
>> of interest. I'm not proposing that anything other than {maleng  
>> qorDu'wIj
>> jIH je} is the correct Klingon.

SuStel wrote:
> It's hard, if not impossible, to prove a negative. Nowhere in the  
> canon
> is there any example of conjoining a noun and a pronoun, but  
> neither is
> there any situation in the canon where doing so would seem to be
> appropriate. My knowledge of the canon is, however, rusty; if  
> anyone can
> cite an example of a noun-pronoun conjunction, or of anything that  
> goes
> out of its way to avoid one, please post it.
> One potential rule against conjoining nouns and pronouns is on TKD p.
> 52: "Pronouns may be used as nouns, but only for emphasis or added
> clarity. They are not required." Using the first person pronoun in  
> {jIH
> qorDu'wIj je} isn't done for emphasis or added clarity. There is  
> thus no
> provision in the stated rules for conjoining nouns and pronouns.

I would have thought it was for clarity. It could easily disambiguate  
the inclusive vs. the exclusive first person plural:

{maleng jIH qorDu'wIj je} vs. {maleng maH qorDu'wIj je'}.

Disambiguation is added clarity, isn't it? I don't think it's clear  
where the first person fits in {maleng qorDu'wIj} and putting {jIH  
je} or {maH je} clarifies where the first person fits.

No weight here. I don't think this is a big deal one way or the other.

> On the other hand, Such an interpretation would also invalidate
> sentences like {ghaHvo' yIt nuch} "The coward walked away from  
> him." And
> pronouns are explicitly allowed to get {-vaD} on TKD p. 180.

Yep. That sounds like the rule was really just a clarification that  
the Klingon prefix represents the subject/object pronouns, and is not  
merely a redundant feature in the language designed to agree with  
explicit pronouns. In other words, if the prefix tells you what the  
pronoun would have been, then you don't need the pronoun. The prefix  
either agrees with explicit nouns that are subjects and objects, or  
it represents pronouns in those positions well enough that the  
pronouns don't need to be explicit.

Meanwhile, any pronoun that the prefix doesn't represent (like any  
Type 5 suffixed pronoun at the beginning of the sentence, or a  
pronoun that expands the membership of a plural subject or object  
beyond the explicit noun or nouns given) should be explicit.

That "clarification" of the rule that I just tried to make is awkward  
and complicated in the kind of way Okrand definitely tried to not be  
in TKD. "A Klingon may be inaccurate, but he is never approximate."  
So the rules are not always absolute or clear.

> Don't forget the warning of TKD Section 2:
>     It is not possible, in a brief guide such as this, to describe the
>     grammar of Klingon completely. What follows is only a sketch or
>     outline of Klingon grammar. Although a good many of the fine  
> points
>     are not covered, the sketch will allow the student of Klingon to
>     figure out what a Klingon is saying and to respond in an
>     intelligible, though somewhat brutish manner. Most Klingons will
>     never know the difference.

Okrand is really good. He stays simple, yet covers enough detail to  
make the language useful, while remaining vague enough to give  
himself wiggle room in the future. I'm glad he made up this language  
and not me.

> I believe that the possibility of a third person plural beyond  
> {maH} was
> simply never considered and never examined. And since the canon has
> never needed it, we don't have any information one way or the  
> other. It
> is, however, a very common device in personal discussions, something
> that the canon has very little of.

I know there are some Native American languages that are very  
explicit about their plural pronouns, as to whether or not they  
include the speaker, the listener and/or others. In English "we" can  
mean "you and me", "you and him and me", "you and them and me", "him  
and me (not you)", or "them and me (not you)". Some languages have  
separate pronouns for each of these, and LOTS of languages have  
separate "you" pronouns for singular and plural.

> Now, before you go taking this as evidence for your theoretical * 
> {maleng
> qorDu'wIj jIH je}, answer this: according to your model, how would you
> translate "The captain gave me and the other officers medals"?  
> Using our
> customary methods, I can think of two distinct ways (not counting
> variations with the prefix trick).

If you don't use the prefix trick, then the prefix doesn't mention  
first person, since the people are not the direct object of the verb.  
The pronoun needs to be explicit.

And you can't use the prefix trick here because the prefix trick only  
works if the indirect object is a pronoun, and this example has an  
explicit noun, "the other officers".

I don't think we are disagreeing here. Several comments have been  
made now to "SuStel's rule" about pronouns by people who missed your  
point about the exceptions to that rule. It sounds like you know the  
boundaries of this rule and you clearly stated them, and people are  
now using extractions from what you said without taking in the whole  
of what you've explained.

> SuStel
> Stardate 7919.8

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