tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Sat Nov 21 22:02:22 2009

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The topic marker -'e'

Tracy Canfield (

If the topic is a compound noun phrase, do both nouns take the -'e'
ending?  Or both?  Or neither?  For example, if you had a sentence

taD DeSDu'Daj 'uSDu'Daj je

and you wanted to emphasize "his arms and legs as opposed to anything
else", or anything else that you usually use -'e' for, is the correct

? taD DeSDu'Daj'e' 'uSDu'Daj'e' je
?? taD DeSDu'Daj 'uSDu'Daj'e' je
?? taD DeSDu'Daj'e' 'uSDu'Daj je

Klingon has lots of constructions that take a syntactic ending on the
second noun, but they're usually things like nouns with verbs
functioning adjectivally, or noun-noun constructions.  Which makes the
second one look odd to me, even though "je" would disambiguate it from
a noun-noun construction.  The third one seems even weirder.

And of course constructions with "to be" in English require -'e' on
the topic, so if you'd like a different sentence to contemplate, how

mIchvamDaq bIHtaH yuQvetlh'e' maSvetlh"e' je
?? mIchvamDaq bIHtaH yuQvetlh maSvetlh"e' je
?? mIchvamDaq bIHtaH yuQvetlh'e' maSvetlh je

Aside from that case, in a non-compound clause - that is, a clause
without 'ej "and", qoj "and/or", pagh "either/or", or 'ach "but" - can
more than one noun take the focus marker -'e'?  (It seems like if
there's a rule, it should be at the clause rather than the sentence
level, since there might be one noun with -'e' in the subordinate
clause and one in the main clause.)

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