tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Mon Dec 17 20:02:15 2007

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Re: jIHtaHbogh naDev vISovbe'

qa'vaj (

On Dec 16, 2007 12:30 PM, Alan Anderson <> wrote:
> I wrote an article about this for HolQeD many years ago.  It was
> rejected by at least one of my peers, partly for extrapolating far
> beyond what I've written here.  So I'm going to leave this for you
> all to ponder, and I'm not going to explore any hypothetical
> implications of the "ship in which I fled" issue.
Does "rejected by at least one of my peers" mean that the article was not
published in HolQeD?

I think that I stumbled onto something like the idea that you describe, but
I like your reasoning better than what I posted earlier.  I've given it some
more thought, and I no longer like some of the reasoning that I used.  I'm
not sure now if I'm agreeing with yours or SuStel's view, or maybe both (or
maybe they're the same).  I do think that there is a sound - admittedly
speculative - line of reasoning that results in <<jIHtaHbogh naDev
vISovbe'>> having a sensible - maybe even expected - word order.

Take as given that <<jIHtaHbogh naDev vISovbe'>> isn't a mistake.

Then we know that <<jIHtaHbogh naDev vISovbe'>> means "I'm lost" in
Klingon.  The semantics help us a lot to decode the structure.

We know that the sentence contains a relative clause.  Generally,  a
relative clause qualifies a head noun.  Usually we can create a simpler
sentence by eliding the extra qualification of the relative clause and just
keeping the head noun.  In this case, the only grammatical and semantic
possibility for such a simplified sentence is (IMHO):

naDev vISovbe'
"I don't know here"

Which, as ghunchu'wI' said, almost works by itself.  <<naDev>> is the direct
object of vISovbe'.  The other option, <<jIH vISovbe'>> is less viable due
to the semantics as well as conflict with the verb prefix.  The result is
that we know that <<naDev>> is the head noun of the relative clause.  The
relative clause is <<jIHtaHbogh naDev>>.  Since <<naDev>> must be the head
noun, we can interpret the relative clause as "here, where I am."

Putting it all together:

jIHtaHbogh naDev vISovbe'
lit. "I don't know the here where I am"

 As you further discuss with SuStel, the 'where' comes from the locative
sense of <<naDev>>.  It doesn't result in any automatic way from <<-bogh>>.
The literal interpretation is in good semantic agreement with "I'm lost."
To a certain degree, the sentence has been analyzed.

The *real* difficulty arises because we want to further analyze the roles of
words in the relative clause <<jIHtaHbogh naDev>>.  Specifically, we're
interested in the relationship between <<nadDev>> and the pronoun-as-verb
<<jIH>>.  I think it may be useful to explicitly state our analysis method
here.  We want to construct a precursor standalone "to-be" sentence using
<<jIH>> and <<naDev>>.  Then from that, we intend to add <<-bogh>> to the
pronoun-as-verb.  We want the result to be <<jIHtaHbogh naDev>>, and our
analysis procedure is to then take whatever relationship <<naDev>> had with
<jIH>> in the precursor sentence, and assert that it has the same
relationship in the relative clause.  We want to use this procedure because
we use it all the time for regular verbs. :)

But the whole idea implicitly rests on the assumption that nothing at all
special happens when we use <<-bogh>> on a pronoun in "to-be".  Maybe we
shouldn't be so hasty.  The sentence that we are analyzing gives us a strong
hint that something special might be happening, because our analysis process
doesn't work!

(I know this is obvious, but bear with me, I'm heading somewhere)

If we start with

naDev jIHtaH
"I am here"

We get <<naDev jIHtaHbogh>> when we add <<-bogh>>, which has the <<naDev>>
in the wrong place.

if we start with

jIHtaH naDev'e'
"as for here, I am"

We get <<jIHtaHbogh naDev'e'>>, which has a marking on <<naDev>> that isn't
present in the canon sentence.

So what's up?


I think that the whole issue is specifying the head noun.  Order works for
specifying the head noun in the "to-be" relative clauses:

"I am the captain"

HoD jIHbogh

"I, who am the captain"

"the captain"

jIHbogh HoD
"the caption, who is me"

naDev jIHtaHbogh
"I, who am here"

jIHtaHbogh naDev
"Here, where I am"

Qe'Daq jIHtaHbogh
"I, who am at the restaurant"

jIHtaHbogh Qe'Daq
"The restaurant-place, where I am"

For cases like the latter, one has to be very careful about the English
gloss.  "The restaurant, where I am" works in English but might lead to the
wrong thinking about the meaning of a Klingon sentence constructed using a
"to-be" relative clause (entirely in my opinion):

mubelmoH jIHtaHbogh Qe'Daq

Would not mean "the restaurant where I am at pleases me" in the sense of the
food or the service being good, but rather something more like: "the place
where the restaurant is (the place that I'm at) pleases me."  The key is to
examine what sentence results from eliding the extra qualification of the
relative clause:

mubelmoH jIHtaHbogh Qe'Daq


mubelmoH Qe'Daq

Using these rules, the Klingon sentence for

"I don't know here where I am"
would be:

jIHtaHbogh naDev vISovbe'

The alternate order:

naDev jIHtaHbogh vISovbe'

would mean "I don't know I, who am here" (not even trying to think about the
verb prefix, that may be a can of worms for this idea).

qo'lIj DachenmoHtaH

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