tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Sun Dec 23 14:30:18 2007

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Re: "to-be" + <<-bogh>>

David Trimboli ( [KLI Member] [Hol po'wI']

Alan Anderson wrote:
> ja' qa'vaj:
>> ...
>> chom ghaHbogh.
>> There are three possibilities.
>> 1.a) The same ambiguity of A) applies.  This could either mean "The
>> bartender, who he/she is" or "He/she, who is the bartender".
>> ...
> It looks to me like your post is based on a flawed understanding of {- 
> bogh} relative clauses in Klingon.  You consistently give English  
> translations as "nonessential" phrases, which can be deleted from the  
> sentence without losing the meaning.  But I'm pretty sure every  
> example of Klingon relative clauses makes them "essential", where the  
> clause serves to restrict a nonspecific noun to a particular group or  
> individual.

These are called restrictive and non-restrictive relative clauses. As 
far as I know you're right about the canon: Klingon apparently only uses 
restrictive clauses. However, most human languages do not mark 
restrictiveness as explicitly as English does its relative clauses, so 
it may simply require special intonation to achieve a non-restrictive 
clause. The only reason we are deciding that Klingon relative clauses 
are restrictive is because the English translations come out that way.

> Essential:  Buy the chair that I touched.  (My touch is important.  
> Don't buy a chair that I did not touch.)
> Nonessential:  Buy the chair, which I touched.  (My touch doesn't  
> matter. Don't buy the table, which I might or might not have touched.)
> The difference is in the punctuation, not merely in the choice of  
> relative pronoun.

In most languages (English is an exception to the general rule:, the difference would be made through prosody:

    quS vIHotbogh yIje'
    Buy the chair that I touched. (restrictive)

    quS, vIHotbogh, yIje'
    Buy the chair, which I touched. (non-restrictive)

I don't think we can say for certain that this doesn't happen in Klingon.

Note also that it's only formal American English that requires "that" 
for restrictive clauses and "which" for non-restrictive clauses; British 
English can use either "that" or "which" for restrictive clauses.

A good summary of used terms is found here:

Stardate 7977.9

Practice the Klingon language on the tlhIngan Hol MUSH.

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