tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Jul 15 07:51:10 2009

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Re: Questions with law'/puS

Terrence Donnelly ( [KLI Member]

--- On Wed, 7/15/09, ghunchu'wI' <> wrote:

> On Jul 14, 2009, at 11:01 PM, Doq wrote:
> > You are ignoring that {-be'} is a suffix that can be used on verbs
> > used as adjectives, as in {cha' yIH lI'be'}.
> I don't think he's ignoring it.  It's just irrelevant to the point  
> he's making.  I think he's reading Okrand's half-literal translation  
> of the {A Q law'be' B Q puSbe'} as evidence that the {law'} and {puS}  
> can be treated like any other verb in a regular Klingon sentence.

This is mostly correct. In the course of our discussion, I came to realize that many of you interpret the {law'/puS} verbs as purely adjectival, and of course an interrogative on an attributive adjective makes no sense in any language. But I always felt that they functioned more as predicates; probably I half-remembered Okrand's comments from HolQeD. I don't think I have ever been misled by this understanding to use them wrongly. I just wouldn't say that {law'/puS} are like "any other verb" in this case.  The grammar is stylized and fixed, and it has its definite limits, but I believe it is not as completely inexplicable as some would assert.

> I accept that as a valid argument, but I do not find it a convincing  
> one.  Even in this case, the utterance is called a "construction",  
> not a "sentence".  Its grammar is exceptional. We cannot confidently  
> apply to it anything we know about verb suffixes in
> general.

Given the fundamental importance of interrogative discourse in all languages, and considering the fact that we know we can add {-be'}, if Klingon were a natural language, I would assert with about 90% confidence that adding {-'a'} to {law'/puS} constructions would turn out to be legal (as it is, knowing Okrand's enjoyment of confounding expectations...).

I like to speculate that the grammar of {law'/puS} arose from an earlier stage of Klingon, or maybe a different dialect all together, in which its syntax made perfect sense, and that contemporary Klingon has retained the structure of the construction, while replacing the actual words with modern ones (sort of like the English phrase "willy-nilly", which was originally the Old English "will we, nill we").
-- ter'eS

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