tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue May 19 06:52:47 2009

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RE: Question problem

Steven Boozer (

Doq wrote:
>> I wanted to ask, "Why are you starting slowly?"
>> Suddenly, I realized that I had one grammatical slot to put two words
>> in. I don't think we've been given any license to use two adverbials
>> with a single verb, since adverbials don't have conjunctions like
>> nouns and verbs do. Meanwhile, the question word for "why" is
>> grammatically treated as an adverbial, so I'm stuck.

FYI: We only have one example of the adverbial {QIt} "slowly" in canon:

  cha'maHvagh vatlhvI' Hong.  QIt yIghoS! 
  Slow to one quarter impulse power.  ST5 
  ["Twenty-five percent impulse power. Proceed slowly!")

David Trimboli:
>Is it?  TKD 6.4 simply says the question words /nuqDaq/, /ghorgh/,
>/qatlh/, and /chay'/ occur "at the beginning of the sentence." It says
>nothing about them taking an "adverbial slot."
>In fact, we don't know anything about "adverbial slots." TKD 5.4 simply
>says that most adverbials occur "at the beginning of a sentence." We've
>never SEEN two adverbials in a single sentence (not counting /neH/,
>which works differently), but that doesn't automatically deny us the
>Basic Klingon sentence structure seems to be very amorphous. I picture
>it this way:
>	<header> <object> <verb> <subject>
>where <header> is a nebulous blob containing all the bits that aren't
>the object, the verb, or the subject. Timestamps tend to come first,
>adverbials tend to come before nouns, question words tend to come before
>everything else. Of those tendencies, I think only the one about
>timestamps is explicit (TKD p. 179); the others probably come about due
>to our native language instincts. Strictly speaking, according to the
>book, timestamps tend to come first, adverbials tend to come last, and
>everything else appears between the two.
>This general structure has, of course, many exceptions. This is not an
>all-inclusive formula.

Doq is quite correct that we've never seen two true adverbials used together, but as even Doq recognizes, {qatlh} is not an "adverbial" but a "question word" (which IIRC is how Okrand always refers to it).  What can be confusing for English speakers is that adverbs in English can also correspond to Klingon verb suffixes ({-qu'}, {-chu'}, {-bej}, etc.) or even nouns:  i.e. "place stamps" like "here", "there", "everywhere" or "time stamps" like "today", "tomorrow", "yesterday", etc.  

These "adverbial nouns" (to coin a phrase) can appear in the "header" slot along with a true adverbial:

  DaHjaj nom Soppu' 
  Today they ate quickly. TKD 

or with a question word:

  qatlh pa' ghoS 
  What's she doing?  ST6
  ["Why is she [the ship] going there?"] 

  qatlh Dat DI tu'lu', tlhIngan? 
  Why is there rubble everywhere, Klingon? CK

So I see no reason why a question word can't be used with an adverbial:

  qatlh nom Soppu'
  Why did they eat (so) quickly?

>  qatlh QIt bItaghlI'?

I agree with Sustel:  This is exactly how I would say it.

    QIt bItaghlI'.
    You are starting slowly. 
    qatlh QIt bItaghlI'?
    Why are you starting slowly?

You could even throw an "adverbial noun" (time stamp) into the mix:

    DaHjaj QIt bItaghlI'.
    You're starting slowly today. 
    qatlh DaHjaj QIt bItaghlI'?
    DaHjaj qatlh QIt bItaghlI'?
    Why are you starting slowly today?

Canon Master of the Klingons

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