tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Fri May 29 18:37:48 2009

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Re: -vaD

Doq (

One of the thorniest things about alien languages is the use of  
prepositions (or postpositions, in languages that use them). The issue  
is that this is a higher level of grammar, later to develop than lower  
level ideas like "noun", "verb", "subject" and "object". For the most  
part, prepositions are arbitrary in any language.

I approach the store. It's the direct object. I go to the store. Now,  
there's the preposition "to". I arrive at the store. Now, there's the  
preposition "at". All three are verbs that, in this usage, mean that I  
start somewhere else and end up at the store. The prepositions used  
are arbitrary and memorized as we learn each verb and its usage.

The Moon goes around the Earth. It circles the Earth. It orbits the  

I shoot the criminal. That means I hit him. I shoot at the criminal.  
You don't know whether I hit him or not. Prepositions give finer  
meaning to verbs, but again, it is arbitrary. You learn what the  
conventions are for each usage and memorize and repeat them. You can  
come up with original ones, and sometimes they work for everybody, and  
sometimes they don't.

You hang a criminal, but you hang up a picture. You don't hang up a  
criminal, though you might hang a picture, though you do hang up a  
phone and you never hang a phone, unless you are mounting a wall  
phone, and that's completely different.

We can't expect Klingon to rigidly follow any system of Type 5 suffix  
use. Any time Okrand wants to throw us a curve, all he has to do is  
create canon that is different from what we expect, since those Type 5  
suffixes are as close as we get to prepositions in Klingon. I guess  
they must be postpositions, since by being suffixes, they sort of  
follow the word they modify. That's probably the only Japanese  
parallel to Klingon.

Anyway, there's no canon that I've seen supporting your idea that {- 
vaD} means "to". Okrand explains to us that it marks the beneficiary  
of an action. In English, many indirect objects happen to be  
beneficiaries, so often you can mark indirect objects with {-vaD}, but  
that's a lot like noticing that many English sentences in the passive  
voice can be translated by using {-lu'} and making the mistake of  
suggesting that {-lu'} is the same thing as the English passive voice.

It's not.

I don't recommend that you continue to hold the minority opinion that  
{-vaD} means "to". It won't give you many Klingon speakers to talk to  
if you use it that way.

It's really easy to mistakenly decide that you have a unique  
understanding of some granular element of the Klingon language that  
differs from everybody else and you are the one who is right. I've  
done this too many times and it has not served me well. I regret every  
instance of this error.


On May 28, 2009, at 2:14 AM, wrote:

> I've always been of the (minority) opinion that the three suffixes - 
> Daq,
> -vaD, and -vo' mean simply "at", "to", and "from".
> I follow established usage (as much as I can), but I think such  
> usage is
> wrong, particularly in the case of -Daq and -vaD.
> lay'tel SIvten

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