tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Mon Dec 10 14:12:55 2007

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Re: Prefix and noun agreement (was: usage of type-7 aspect suffix {-pu})

Alan Anderson ( [KLI Member] [Hol po'wI']

ja' Doq:
> This idea of somehow indicating that a group can be identified as
> including a first or second person by using an explicit group noun
> (third person, since explicit nouns tend to be third person, unless
> they are proper nouns naming someone who happens to be first or
> second person) and then using a verb prefix that disagrees with that
> third person... That's not merely an unusual idea. It's just, well,
> wrong.

It's completely wrong if you do consider such nouns to be third  
person. You seem to agree, if only parenthetically, that the "person"  
of a noun can be somewhat dependent on context.  My observation is  
that a verb prefix indicating a first-person subject often seems  
sufficient to get me to accept a regular noun as a first-person  
reference without having to think about it.

> There's nothing in TKD that says you can do it. There's nothing in
> canon that says you can do it. So far as I know, Okrand has never
> suggested that you could do it. Maltz never said you could do it. It
> just looks like someone grabbed a thread from the fabric of the
> prefix trick and took off running with it, unravelling the sweater,
> so to speak.

You're apparently looking less closely at the original observation  
that it "works" for me, and more at the theoretical discussion of  
exactly why it doesn't get rejected out of hand.

> That's my opinion, and I'm sticking to it. There's no wiggle room
> here. It crosses the line where wrong is just wrong... unless, of
> course, Okrand says otherwise, revealing some previously unknown  
> truth.

My son is taking a philosophy class in college this year, and came up  
with a definition of truth which that makes him very happy: truth is  
that which is not contradicted by reality.

Okrand's published description of the Klingon language is consistent  
with all nouns being third person, but it doesn't quite address the  
issue raised here.  My internalized grammar rules apparently don't  
*need* typical nouns to be third person, as my mind doesn't seem to  
automatically reject an incoming sentence using one with a first  
person subject prefix.  As I pointed out earlier, though, it fails in  
the other direction.  My mind does balk at such a usage when I'm the  
one about to use it.  It only seems to be a potential tool when I'm  
actively analyzing grammar.  I'm sure it wouldn't even occur to me to  
try it when I'm in full-immersion conversational mode.

The "rule of {rom}" governs verb prefix agreement.  We have a  
"natural" interpretation for when they disagree about the object.   
But when they disagree about the subject, there's no guidance outside  
our own individual experience.  Which is stronger, the verb prefix,  
or the explicit subject?  My experience is that the prefix can  
influence how the noun is received and thus satisfy the agreement.   
If others view the subject noun as incontrovertably third person, the  
mismatch makes the sentence nongrammatical to them.  I now think this  
concept is not amenable to debate, and really needs to be tested as a  
matter of primary language acquisition.  Anyone have a preverbal  
Klingon child handy for us to watch over the next few years? :-/

-- ghunchu'wI'

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