tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Sun Nov 22 17:20:04 2009

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Re: The topic marker -'e'

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

Tracy Canfield wrote:
> 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
> like
> 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
> form
> ? taD DeSDu'Daj'e' 'uSDu'Daj'e' je
> ?? taD DeSDu'Daj 'uSDu'Daj'e' je
> ?? taD DeSDu'Daj'e' 'uSDu'Daj je

Only the first one is correct. "Compound noun phrase" doesn't seem to be 
the right term for this; it implies to me a phrase of compound nouns. 
These are conjoined noun phrases, or just conjoined nouns.

Each noun phrase in a conjunction is separate from and equal to the 
other. Both must take whatever suffixes are appropriate to them. Noun 
suffixes do not operate as clitics, except in the case of Type 5 noun 
suffixes being put on adjectival verbs. Each noun is the head noun of 
its noun phrase.

Of course, if the conjoined nouns are not both to be emphasized with 
{-'e'}, don't put {-'e'} on both of them!

> 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.

I mentioned adjectival verbs above. In the noun–noun construction, the 
first noun is genitive, though unmarked. Only the second nouns is the 
head noun of the noun phrase, and so only the second noun gets the 
suffixes applying to the noun phrase.

(Ooh! Y'know that rule about not putting Type 5 suffixes on the first 
noun of the noun–noun construction? What if there used to be a Type 5 
genitive-case marker, but it eventually dropped out of the language? The 
restriction on using a Type 5 suffix on the first noun may be a leftover 
rule from the days when other Type 5 markers would conflict with the 
required genitive marker.)

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

The first sentence is the only correct one here. The others are 
grammatically incorrect.

> 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.)

I don't see any reason you can't emphasize more than one noun phrase, 
aside from considerations of utility.

tlhIngan Hol MUSH

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