tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Dec 02 15:36:58 2009

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Re: Numbers with pronouns

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

Christopher Doty wrote:
> 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.

Uh, you guys don't seem to realize that I meant "funny" as in "makes me 
smile in the way it works" rather than "ha ha, you're stupid." It's the 
difference between laughing for delight and laughing for humor.

I'll try to explain it once more, and if you still don't get it I'm done.

The Klingon method for these sorts of sentences is to say "This word X" 
equals "That word Y," by sticking X and Y next to each other. X is a 
noun; Y is a pronoun. {tlhIngan} on this hand and {jIH} on that hand. By 
saying one and then the other you're verbally pointing to yourself and 
naming the thing which you are: a Klingon.

Adding various suffixes into the mix doesn't change this basic statement 
of equivalence. The pronoun is always referring to a THING, never to an 
action or quality—never to a verbal concept. We have it from Okrand 
straight out: there is no "to be" in Klingon. Instead, we have the 
identification of a pronoun with another noun, and the optional use of 
some verbal features to give the identity special characteristics, like 
continuation or negation.

In {tlhIngan jIH}, I am never saying that I am "be"ing anything; I am 
identifying "me" with "Klingon." This is what pronouns do. The fact that 
you can add some verbal features to it does not make it a verb, and it 
certainly doesn't make it a verb meaning "I am"; the utterance simply 
has some verb-like qualities. You're still dealing with sentences with 
no verbs.

So with {jIQub vaj jIH}, the grammaticality (or lack) of which I will 
not defend, the idea is to take the conclusion you get from the act of 
thinking and point out, "me!" Recognizing the act of thinking is what 
distinguishes you from the mindless universe and allows you to identify 
yourself: {jIH}. Without this self-awareness, you couldn't place this 
identifier on yourself. To label yourself "me," you must be able to 
think about the concept of "me, as opposed to anything else." "Me," or 
{jIH}, is the verbal expression of this concept. So: jIQub. vaj... jIH!

It's not meant to be grammatical. It's not meant to be intentionally 
grammatical. Whether it is grammatical or not is completely beside the 
point. It expresses the concept. I don't offer it as an example to 
follow; I don't claim Okrand or Klingons would approve of it as a 
concept or in its grammar. It's just an amusing concept. To me.

tlhIngan Hol MUSH

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