tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Fri Dec 21 12:03:47 2007

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Re: Apology and continued search

Doq (

On Dec 21, 2007, at 10:19 AM, David Trimboli wrote:

> Doq wrote:
>> Basically, ghunchu'wI' is right that he does speak of the relative
>> pronoun "where" in reference to the Klingon relative clause and not  
>> as
>> part of an explanation of the relative pronouns of English, which
>> include "where".
> I still disagree with this as a description of what the book says.  
> What
> I see is "A relative clause is blah, blah, blah. In Klingon, blah,  
> blah,
> blah."

No, more accurately it says, "Relative clauses are translated into  
English as blah, blah, blah. In Klingon, blah, blah, blah."

I had remembered it like you describe it, but was dismayed to see that  
my memory was incorrect. He doesn't say that in English, we use  
relative pronouns for the grammatical construction Klingon gets by  
suffixing a verb with {-bogh}. What he actually says sounds like that  
the relative clause he is describing is a Klingon relative clause.  
Otherwise, why did he use the word "translate"?

Note that English relative clauses don't have head nouns, unless they  
have a noun in the main clause acting in apposition to the relative  
pronoun. That's what makes the constructions so different in English  
and Klingon.

> Note that I am NOT against the idea of "where" being included in the
> meanings of the Klingon relative clause. I just don't think this
> paragraph does as much to support the notion as ghunchu'wI' claims.  
> The
> argument is, I think, too great a leap to make without stronger
> confirmation from Okrand (either through explanation or clear  
> example).

That's where I'm half-way between you and ghunchu'wI'. I think it DOES  
suggest that there is a way to translate "the restaurant where we  
ate", but he doesn't bother telling us how and has not give us any  
useful tools to figure it out.

I suspect that it's a matter of carelessness on his part. If he had  
thought about it more, he probably would not have mentioned "where" or  
"the restaurant where we ate" so he wouldn't have to come up with  
grammar to accomplish the translation.
>> Looking at the archives, I see that sometimes people ask Okrand for
>> new words. I think that the next opportunity someone comes up with to
>> do that, they should instead ask for a grammatical explanation of how
>> to say, "The captain bought the restaurant where we ate."
> Okrand HAS been asked for the solution to the "ship in which I fled"
> problem. His answer was that he couldn't make the relative clause work
> for anything other than the relative subject or object as head noun. I
> presume he said he "couldn't make it work" to leave open the  
> possibility
> that he could later come up with something that DOES work, and claim  
> to
> have "discovered" it.

Likely, you are onto something here.

> If Okrand were asked how to say "The captain bought the restaurant  
> where
> we ate," he might come up with {Qe'Daq maSoppu'; Qe' je' HoD}, in  
> which
> case we haven't learned anything about relative clauses and "where."  
> It
> wouldn't mean that it can't be done; it just means that's not how he
> chose to translate that PARTICULAR sentence. You have to be very  
> careful
> how you word your questions to him; the yes/no balance is lopsided.  
> It's
> a lot harder to prove a negative.
>> Anyway, we can see that the question version of the headless relative
>> clause can use {'Iv}, while the version with a head noun has to use
>> the command version of the question: {HoD qIppu'bogh puq'e' yIngu'.}
>> This, by necessity, abandons any relationship between the English
>> relative pronoun and its question word, since the question word has  
>> to
>> stand in for the noun and not act in apposition to it. This question
>> also requires the relative clause in it, so if you didn't know how to
>> form the relative clause, you wouldn't know how to form the question.
> This asymmetry has plagued Klingonists for years.
>> {nuQDaq} is a noun, though so far as we can tell, it only works as a
>> locative. That makes it different from the other question words with
>> equivalent English relative pronouns. In order to answer {nuqDaq
>> maSoppu'?} we'd say {Qe'Daq maSoppu'.}
> When you say {nuqDaq}, as a locative, is different from other question
> words, I think you mean that its being a locative makes it  
> ineligible to
> be a subject or object. If that's what you mean, it's incorrect.  
> {nuqDaq
> wIghoS} is a perfectly valid sentence, for example.

Quite true. Then again, you are pointing to one of those rather  
idiomatic features of locative nouns and that small set of verbs that  
can take locative nouns as direct objects. The point I realize I made  
poorly was that when you answer an {'Iv} question, you replace {'Iv}  
with the noun. When you answer a {nuq} question, the noun replaces  
{nuq}. When you answer a {nuqDaq} question, you answer with the noun  
plus {-Daq}.

In other words, {nuqDaq} is not really a question word. It fully  
functions as the noun {nuq} with the suffix {-Daq}. For example, if I  
ask {nuqDaq maSop?} your answer might be {Qe'Daq maSop.} Your answer  
would not be {Qe' maSop} or {Qe' wISop}. In other words, {nuqDaq} more  
accurately translates to {at the location of what?} instead of  
{where?}. While it is semantically equivalent, it is not syntactically  
equivalent. The answer to a Klingon question is supposed to replace  
the question word in the original question to form the fully stated  
answer. That's not what happens with {nuqDaq}.

I'm seeing this as the root of the problem of translating the relative  
pronoun "where". There is no real equivalent question word in Klingon  
because of the way that locative nouns are marked, and in this case,  
we have a marked question word and no fully functional mechanism for  
marking the head noun of a relative clause in the same way without  
making a royal mess of the result.

Apparently Okrand cannot untangle his own knot.
>> So, in order to link the restaurant to the relative clause, we'd have
>> to say {Qe'Daq maSoppu'bogh} in order to say "At the restaurant where
>> we ate". The problem then becomes, how to we peel {-Daq} off of the
>> {Qe'} for it to function as a subject or object in the main clause,  
>> as
>> we can with any other relative clause's head noun?
> To put it more specifically, you need to remove the {-Daq} so that the
> subject or object of the main clause means "the restaurant" instead of
> "the at-the-restaurant."

Exactly, but if you do that, you've broken the link between the head  
noun and its relative clause. It's relationship with the {-bogh}  
appended verb is defined by {-Daq}, and without it, the relative  
clause no longer describes the head noun. It becomes meaningless.

>> If we only used it as a locative in both the relative clause and main
>> clause, it might work, like "Meet me at the restaurant where we ate."
>> Qe'Daq maSoppu'bogh HIghom.
>> The problem comes when we want to say something like, "The restaurant
>> where we ate is all gone." We might say:
>> loj Qe'Daq maSoppu'bogh.
> This is the sort of phrase Okrand said didn't work. The head noun is  
> not
> acting as the subject or object of the relative clause. That there's a
> locative in the subject doesn't bother me.

While I don't have a prescribed grammatical rule to say that a  
locative can't be a subject, I just can't come up with any examples  
where it does. It doesn't seem productive to cling to the idea until I  
see an example that works.

The problem I see here is that Okrand has laid out rules for nouns  
that define their function in a main clause or a separate dependent  
clause either by position or by Type 5 suffix. He does not give us any  
rules for using anything but position to define the grammatical  
function of nouns within relative clauses or purpose clauses applied  
to nouns. That means that {Qe'Daq maSoppu'bogh} has already broken the  
rules before we try to place it in any main clause.

>> "The restaurant where Krankor met SuStel is all gone."
>> I'm not even going there. Yes, I could stuff words into a translation
>> into Klingon, but nobody would be able to extract the intended  
>> meaning
>> from it. You can mark a subject or object as the head noun with  
>> {-'e'}
>> to make a relative clause less ambiguous, but you can't do that to a
>> noun that already has a Type 5 suffix on it, like {Qe'Daq}. It's  
>> ugly.
> Exactly. The trouble with all these "where" interpretations is that
> there's no indication that that's what you're doing.


> (You'd have to use {ghom} with that sentence. I {qIH}'d Krankor in a
> hotel. No, I've never kissed or kicked him, so don't go there.)

Go there? No. I'd prefer to get one of my Ferengi friends to charge  
others for tickets to watch and split the profits.

>> I do continue to object to the idea that a head noun is somehow
>> functionally independent of its relative clause. Everything Okrand
>> describes has the head noun functioning as subject or object of the
>> relative clause. When he speaks of the relative clause and its head
>> noun, it is like speaking of a noun phrase and its noun.
> I disagree. Okrand is pretty explicit in describing the relative  
> clause
> as the verb alone (which, presumably, includes any non-head-nouns
> attached to it) and the head noun as a distinct entity. The  
> combination
> of relative clause plus head noun act as a noun in the main sentence.
> This is clearly spelled out for us.

If, as you have said, the head noun must be the subject or object of  
the relative clause, I fail to see the utility of insisting on a head  
noun as being grammatically separate from the relative clause. The  
closest thing I can come to understanding this is in the case where  
the head noun is suffixed with a type 5 noun suffix that is meaningful  
in the main clause, but not in the relative clause.

In that case, the form of the head noun is distinct from the relative  
clause (since it has a type 5 suffix grammatically linking it to the  
main clause), but it is positionally linked to the relative clause.  
That position is, like it or not, a grammatical link.

We're not really saying that the grammar of the head noun and the  
relative clause are separate or independent. What we are saying is  
that positional grammar counts in a relative clause, but Type 5 noun  
suffixes don't. This limit on the grammar of the relative clause is  
not full blown independence.

> One would not include a relative clause without a head noun, of  
> course,
> and a noun would not be a head noun without its relative clause.  
> They're
> not independent; one requires the other.

I think we are actually agreeing in substance, though continuing to  
argue about terms. We may very well have been doing so for some time  

> David
> Stardate 7971.6


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