tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Dec 19 06:37:24 2007

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Re: {-Daq} in complex sentences (was Re: jIHtaHbogh naDev vISovbe')

Doq (

Please offer me the patience to read this whole message, if you are  
still interested in this topic. The most important part is toward the  
end, but I didn't know that while writing it, and I don't think  
there's stuff in the middle I can edit much. I probably need an  

On Dec 19, 2007, at 12:34 AM, Alan Anderson wrote:

> ja' qa'vaj:
>> ... Is it part of your idea that anytime that a relative clause
>> modifies a head noun that isn't the subject (or object), <<-bogh>>
>> can only mean where/at/on (locative sense)?
> I believe it's a lot less specific than that.  What {-bogh} *means*
> is merely that its verb is part of a relative clause.  When a head
> noun plays the part of subject or object of the relative clause, the
> English relative pronoun in its translation is often "which",
> although "that" is usually as good a choice,...

To be more specific here, in English, there are two different kinds of  
relative clauses. One type identifies the head noun as somehow  
exceptional to others of its type ("I want the apple that is  
biggest"), and for that you use "that" and not "which" and you do not  
mark the relative clause with any punctuation. If the relative clause  
merely adds an interesting, parenthetical comment about the head noun,  
("I want an apple, which many Christians believe is the fruit that got  
Adam and Eve kicked out of the Garden of Eden"), then the relative  
clause is set apart from the main clause by commas and you use  
"which". If the head noun is human, you use "who" for either type of  
clause. Thank you, Strunk and White.

Klingon does not distinguish between these two types of relative clause.

> and "who" is obviously
> the right word when the head noun is a person.  In order to account
> for the {jIHtaHbogh naDev vISovbe'} example, I'm convinced that
> "where" is okay when the head noun isn't part of the relative clause.

That's where I hit a wall when I try to follow you. I very honestly  
don't think the grammar allows you to have a head noun that is not  
part of the relative clause. Okrand has not described any grammar that  
way that anyone has shown in this rather lengthy thread, and none of  
the canon used so far is unambiguous in its interpretation.

The relative clause does seem grammatically more restricted than other  
dependent clauses defined by other Type 9 verb suffix. Other dependent  
clauses are essentially whole sentences with their verbs losing their  
independence through the Type 9 suffix. These clauses are locationally  
set apart from the main clause in such a way that they can  
unambiguously have a subject, and object and a sprinkling of Type 5  
marked nouns, all to themselves. A relative clause, however, has a  
special relationship with a noun that itself has a grammatical  
function within the main clause. No other dependent clause lives  
within the main clause like this, except for {-meH} clauses when they,  
like the relative clause, attach themselves to a noun, instead of to  
the verb of the main clause.

So, when {-meH} or {-bogh} clauses append themselves to a noun in the  
main clause, by necessity, they require a level of simplicity so that  
they do not make the whole sentence impenetrable. Just as these  
embedded clauses cannot, themselves, have other clauses dependent upon  
them, they also cannot have nouns functioning within the dependent  
clause with any function other than subject or object.

This is true because, even as subject or object of the dependent  
clause, a noun may have a Type 5 marked grammatical function within  
the main clause. We can still understand the function of the noun for  
the dependent clause by its position relative to the dependent verb,  
even as the noun has the Type 5 suffix on it to define its role in the  
main clause. Meanwhile, if the {-meH} or {-bogh} clause were to,  
itself, have a noun attach to it, grammatically marked by a Type 5  
suffix, you now have no way to know whether that Type 5 noun  
relationship is attaching itself to the dependent clause or the main  
clause. That's where things fall apart.

There is no positional clue to clarify which clause a Type 5 defined  
noun applies itself to if it could be applied to either an embedded {- 
meH} or {-bogh} clause or to the main clause. The simplest way to stop  
this mess is to never use nouns linked to embedded dependent clauses  
by a Type 5 noun suffix. That's where Okrand's comment about "I don't  
think I can go quite that far," comes from.

And that disallows us from falling to the temptation of extending  
Klingon relative clauses to cover the "where" relative pronoun in  
English. That section of TKD can be interpreted two different ways.  
One is, as you are choosing, to say that Klingon relative clauses can  
do anything that English relative pronouns can do, and since "where"  
is a relative pronoun, Klingon relative clauses can do that, too. We  
just have to figure out how.

The other interpretation of that section of TKD that I prefer is that  
Okrand was first describing what a relative pronoun is in English,  
without explicitly restricting it to what Klingon relative clauses can  
do. This includes "where". He then proceeds to describe what a Klingon  
relative clause can do, and he doesn't mention "where" because Klingon  
relative clauses can't do "where", much in the same way that Klingon  
question words can't do "which", even though English does have that  
question word. If we want to convey the meaning of the English  
relative pronoun "where", then we need something other than a Klingon  
relative clause to do it, because that tool isn't in that toolbox.

> To answer your question directly, I see no reason to exclude the
> possibility of other pronouns as appropriate in the translation of a
> relative clause.  For example, "when" might work for the hypothetical
> phrase {bIHeghbogh jaj} "the day when you die".

The ONLY justification I can see for that is if you desperately need  
to interpret Okrand's description of English relative pronouns clearly  
intended for the masses who know little about English grammar as  
describing what a Klingon relative clause can do. I don't have that  
need, and so I see nothing in TKD to justify your suggestion that  
{bIHeghbogh jaj} to mean "they day when I die." The closest thing I  
can make of it would be "the I who dies day", and I could see that as  
an idiom, but making up idioms for a language by a non-native speaker  
is presumptuous at best. It is definitely not something I see any way  
to generalize as a useful grammatical construction.

>  Other unattested
> possibilities are {chonay'ta'bogh meq} "the reason why you married
> me"

What you are doing here is generalizing to say that you can use a  
headless relative clause (already something on the fringe of described  
grammar) to act in a noun-noun construction where the second noun is a  
"special" noun defined by your own reasoning and not by anything  
Okrand ever described, such that {jaj} or some other time noun stands  
in for the English relative pronoun "when", and {meq} stands in for  
the English relative pronoun "why" and {mIw} stands in for the English  
relative pronoun "how" (in your next example).

> and {jImI'nISbogh mIw yI'ang} "show me how I must dance".  But in
> treating these as possible, I am still not proposing them as models
> of acceptable style.  They are far removed from the one example we
> have, which I must admit might be exceptional.

You have not climbed out on a limb. You've climbed out on leaves. I  
deeply respect your expertise and I am very disappointed that you have  
stretched your valuable credibility this far. Better that it were  
spent elsewhere more easily justified. It's like watching a great  
warrior engage in a foolish battle. Your reputation deserves better  
maintenance than this, and those who learn from you deserve better  

Obviously, that is merely my opinion.

> -- ghunchu'wI'


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