tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Mon Dec 10 06:22:43 2007

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Re: Basic grammar question

QeS 'utlh (

jIghItlhpu', jIja':
>Here I'd say either {QuQ choQapchoH} or {jIHvaD QuQ DaQapchoH}.
>I'd be happy with either one.

mujang Doq, ja':
>I would expect {QuQ chochu'}.

lughqu'ba' mIwvetlh.

>{QuQ choQapchoH} is just grammatically wrong.

DopDaq qul yIchenmoH QobDI' ghu'.

I was having a bad day in my recuperation that day, and wasn't thinking clearly enough about what I was saying (which is also why I resorted to the circumlocution instead of being able to remember the simple verb {chu'}, which would of course be the most usual way of saying this in Klingon). I forgot to add {-moH}, which is clearly grammatically required here. Thanks for pointing this out.

>"I begin to function... the engine." {Qap} is not transitive, and {-choH}
>doesn't make it transitive. {-moH} might, but even then, it sounds
>more like you've repaired the engine than that you've started it.

Aside from its meanings of "to succeed" and "to win", {Qap} also simply means "to function, to work, to be working" (which seems to be the primary meaning from which the other meanings are derived), and has been applied to other sorts of machinery in canon: {QaptaHvIS So'wI' QaplaHbe' nuHmey} "while the cloaking device is functioning, the weapons cannot function" (S33). I wouldn't really get a sense of repairing from anything that didn't include {-qa'} and/or {-laH}: {QuQ choQapqa'moHlaH} "I cause the engine to be able to function again for you" = "I repair the engine for you". Of course, {QuQ chotI'} says that far more efficiently. {{:)

> "You explain it to me." <--> "You explain me it."
>For this one I'd usually use the prefix trick: {choQIj}.

mujang Doq, ja':
>This sounds like, "You explain me." The prefix trick doesn't work unless
>the prefix disagrees with the person of the direct object, and in this
>case, there is no direct object to disagree with. Maybe if you said, {'oH
>choQIj}, it would work.

In the MSN post where Okrand first explicitly discusses the prefix trick, he gives three examples of the prefix trick used on {jatlh} with no explicit direct object to be seen, clearly permitting the use of the prefix trick on verbs without an explicit direct object, and further clarifies:

"Since the object of jatlh is that which is spoken, and since "you" or "I" or "we" cannot be spoken (and therefore cannot be the object of the verb), if the verb is used with a pronominal prefix indicating a first- or second-person object, that first or second person is the indirect object. Which is a not very elegant way of saying that qajatlh means "I speak to you" or, more literally, perhaps "I speak it to you," where "it" is a language or a speech or whatever." (Okrand to MSN newsgroup, 29 June 1997)

This implies that not only is {choQIj} acceptable for "I explain it to you", but that the translation *with* the implied object ("I explain it to you") is probably an even better translation of the Klingon than the one without ("I explain to you"). Obviously the prefix trick implies that {'oH choQIj} is perfectly acceptable as well. However, ni such a sentence I'd be tempted to interpret the pronoun as serving in an emphatic function, in the same way as it would be were the second person pronoun to be moved back to its header position: {SoHvaD 'oH vIQIj} "I explain *it* (and not something else) to you".

>It's only in situations like {Qu'vaD taj qanob} "I gave you the knife for
>the mission" where the interpretation is fairly unambiguous (since
>Okrand has explicitly said that the "indirect object" - by which I
>understand him to mean the dative - is what's promoted to direct
>object position).

mujangtaH Doq, ja':
>So, could you also say that as {SoHDaq Qu'vaD taj vInob} or
>{ghoplIjDaq Qu'vaD ret'aq vInob}?

I wouldn't generally use {-Daq} in either of these, but that doesn't mean it would necessarily be ungrammatical, since the act of giving can be construed as a change in location as well as in possession (to take a verb with a similar sense, I would have no compunction about saying {SoHDaq Qu'vaD taj vIngeH} "I send the knife to you for the mission"). The fact that {-Daq} can have an allative (= motion towards) sense might allow it to serve in this way here. Nonetheless, canon does show that the indirect object of {nob} is usually marked with {-vaD}, so to follow the canon as closely as possible I'd probably say {SoHvaD Qu'vaD taj vInob}, which has some ambiguity but which should readily be resolved by referring to the semantics (who would ever read it as "I gave the knife to the mission for you" except in very limited contexts?).

Your second sentence sounds a bit weird, but mainly because of the use of {nob} where something like {lan} "to place, to put" might make the sentence flow better: {ghoplIjDaq Qu'vaD ret'aq vIlan} "I put the knife in your hand for the mission".

However, I won't come right out and say that either of the sentences you give is invalid, because in this specific instance they might work. I find them unusual, but I'm not sure they're ungrammatical. Other opinions on this would be welcomed.

QeS 'utlh
tlhIngan Hol yejHaD pab po'wI' / Grammarian of the Klingon Language Institute

not nItoj Hemey ngo' juppu' ngo' je
(Old roads and old friends will never deceive you)
- Ubykh Hol vIttlhegh

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