tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Sat Jun 27 18:24:36 2009

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Re: Klingon translation

ghunchu'wI' (

On Jun 27, 2009, at 8:20 PM, Doq wrote:

> "Who stole the money" isn't really a question here.


> This is semantically identical to "I know the person who stole the  
> money".

Please consider it a little more closely.  "I know who stole the  
money" is *not* the same idea as "I know the person who stole the  
money."  That's what makes this an open question in my mind.

> The
> thing you know is not the question "who stole the money?" The thing
> you know is the identity of the thief.

Right, you know the *identity of the person*.  Not the *person*.   
This phrase is not a question, but it's not a relative clause  
either.  Coming up with a way to express it directly is a legitimate  
grammatical problem.  A native speaker of English likely won't even  
notice the difference unless carefully led to it, and often not even  
then.  It's like the simple "see Spot run" -- the grammar is actually  
far from simple.  If you know anyone who studied Lojban, ask them  
about similar sentences.

You can certainly recast this sentence to explicitly say something  
like "I can identify the person who stole the money" using a  
different verb and a relative clause.  You can similarly recast any  
similar idea.  But I can't convince myself one way or the other about  
the potential for expressing it more directly in Klingon.  (Even if  
there is such a potential, I will of course leave it  
unrealized...unless it gets officially explained as working that way.)

> That's why {'e'} doesn't work
> here to represent the thing you know.

This isn't an easy subject for me to discuss clearly, because I don't  
have serious training in linguistics.  I agree completely with the  
prohibition on using actual questions as objects, and I agree  
completely with the statement that relative clauses in Klingon use {- 
bogh} and not relative pronouns that happen to look like question  
words.  What I'm trying to do here is find a good way to get across  
the idea that the use of "who" in things like "I know who stole the  
money" fits a third class of sentences, and that such sentences do  
not have an obvious way to translate them into Klingon without adding  
ideas that are not explicit in the English.

-- ghunchu'wI'

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