tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Sun Jun 28 05:37:16 2009

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Re: Klingon translation

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

Doq wrote:

> If English calls "I know who stole the money" a sentence with an  
> interrogative content clause, and it calls "I know the man who stole  
> the money" a sentence with a relative clause, and the thing called a  
> relative clause in Klingon lacks an equivalent of the word "who"  
> completely, then how do we know that what Klingon calls a relative  
> clause isn't really just an interrogative content clause that replaces  
> the interrogative pronoun with a head noun, marking the verb with {- 
> bogh} just to let us know it happened?

I think you're trying to apply English grammar terminology to Klingon in 
ways that Klingon simply doesn't work. An interrogative content clause 
corresponds with interrogative sentences. That correspondence is more 
than just an arbitrary "because I said so." In English, it includes the 
interrogative pronoun, and the clause has not been rearranged for 

If you try to make an interrogative content clause simply by adding 
{'Iv}, it will really be acting as a relative pronoun, which Okrand said 
he didn't know about. At the very least that makes it nontrivial.

In any case, simply adding {'Iv} would make the sentence *{Huch nIHbogh 
'Iv vISov}, which looks to me like an unholy alliance of relative and 
interrogative pronoun. I'm not sure I've ever seen a proposal like that. 
I would probably be able to divine its meaning, but only by translating 
it into English first. (Why doesn't it mean "Whom do I know who stole 
the money?")

> Klingon relative clauses give one noun grammatical roles in two  
> clauses. English interrogative content clauses give one pronoun  
> grammatical roles in two clauses. The pronoun {'e'} links two verbs.  
> That's why I don't understand how {'e'} can work with an indirect  
> question or an interrogative content clause.

Most people say it can't. But to correct what you say, the pronoun in an 
English interrogative content clause does not have grammatical roles in 
two clauses. In "I know who stole the money," the entire interrogative 
content clause, "who stole the money," is the direct object of the main 
clause, "I know." It isn't this:
	NOT THIS!	(I know [who) stole the money]
It's this:
	THIS!		(I know [who stole the money])

A relative pronoun is called "relative" because it serves a grammatical 
in two different clauses. In Klingon, the head noun of a relative clause 
could also be called a "relative noun" for precisely this reason. (I 
kind of like that!) This is a totally different relationship to a main 
clause than that of a content clause. In Klingon, the first sentence of 
the sentence-as-object construct is a content clause. The second 
sentence is the main clause. The pronouns {'e'} and {net} always stand 
in the main clause for the content clause.

	(Huch nIH) ['e' vISov]
	( [main cl. ]

	[I know [that]] (he stole the money)

The English is similar to the Klingon, except the order of the clauses 
is reversed, and the pronoun "that" is optional.

The example above uses a declarative content clause. The ONLY part of 
all this that is controversial is, does Klingon allow *interrogative* 
content clauses? There has never been an example of one.

> Splitting the hair between "I know the man" and "I don't know the man,  
> I just know his identity," doesn't answer this for me. "I know the  
> carrot my rabbit prefers," doesn't require lengthy conversations with  
> the carrot.

It's not splitting hairs. "I know who stole the money" and "I know the 
person who stole the money" mean two completely different things. The 
former means "I know the identity of the person who stole the money"; 
the latter means "I know the person (y'know, the person who stole the 
money); yeah, he and I go way back." (Example embellished for 
illustrative purposes!) In the latter, the identity of the person is 
never an issue.

And, lucky us, English has two different grammars for these. The former 
uses an interrogative content clause (the controversy in Klingon); the 
latter uses a relative clause (done in Klingon with {-bogh}).

> What do either of you think of translating "I know who stole the  
> money," as {Huch nIHbogh ghaH'e' vISov,}? It's a head pronoun. It  
> should do everything "who" does in an interrogative content clause, so  
> far as I can tell. Am I missing something?

With my explanation above that "who" doesn't have a grammatical role in 
the main clause when it is in an interrogative content clause, your 
example doesn't work. In any case, {ghaH'e'} isn't an interrogative pronoun.

> You certainly wouldn't suggest *{Huch nIHbogh 'Iv'e' vISov,}* would  
> you? For me, this is extremely similar to *{Huch nIH 'Iv 'e' vISov.}*  
> They confuse me in a similar way.

Right. I have now mentioned both, and where the controversy lies. The 
first gives Klingon relative pronouns, while the second gives Klingon 
interrogative content clauses. I wouldn't suggest either one, although 
there are some who would accept the second. Maybe they'd accept the 
first, too.

tlhIngan Hol MUSH

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