tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Dec 02 15:13:22 2009

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Re: Numbers with pronouns

Christopher Doty (

On Wed, Dec 2, 2009 at 13:47, Mark J. Reed <> wrote:
> Funny, maybe, but not accurate.  Many human langauges share this lack
> of a copula in some subset of sentences that would use one in English;
> the Russian present tense is a well-known example:  "Ya russkij" = "I
> (am a) Russian."  I don't think it would be a good idea to tell the
> Russians that they're all talking like Tarzan. :)
> When putting the same sentence in the past, the Russian verb appears:
> "Ya byl Russkij" = "I was (a) Russian". Since there's something you
> can point to and say "that's missing in the present tense", IMO,  the
> Russian example is closer to Tarzan-speak than the Klingon.
> The fact that to put the sentence into the perfective aspect in
> Klingon you say {tlhIngan jIHpu'} implies to me that there's nothing
> missing, no element that you could say was being left out as Tarzan
> leaves out his "to be"s.  That sentence a verb:  {jIH}.

Bravo! My response to this would have been less diplomatic.  Glad you
beat me to it.

> The word {jIH} may not be categorized as a verb in Klingon
> dictionaries, but parts of speech are largely artificial anyway; Latin
> grammarians considered nouns and adjectives to be the same category.
> What's important is that it's functioning as a verb syntactically.

Well, parts of speech can be artificial, but you can also build your
word categories from the syntactic evidence.  Regardless, the label
given to a word in a dictionary is hardly the end-all be-all of word
classes.  We know, for example, that Klingons clearly distinguish
verbs of quality from other verbs, but these aren't so-labeled in the

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