tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Sun Nov 22 21:07:15 2009

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Re: The topic marker -'e'

ghunchu'wI' (

On Nov 22, 2009, at 11:14 AM, Tracy Canfield wrote:

> As I have said before, and am happy to say on every question of this
> sort if anyone prefers, I'm doing a machine translation project.  That
> means that I need to construct a grammar that maps as well onto the
> underlying language as I can make it.

That sounds a little strange.  You shouldn't be "constructing" a  
grammar, as TKD already provides one.  Verbs, nouns, prefixes,  
suffixes, and chuvmey are all detailed.  Sentence structure is also  
fairly well described, with a few important clarifications given in  
KGT.  Most additions to or differences from what TKD says are  
basically personal preference and not rules of grammar.  Things like  
the odd word order in a ritual toast aren't explained quite well  
enough for us to construct toasts ourselves with full confidence.

Your question about {-'e'} is answered by its being a type 5 noun  
suffix.  It goes on nouns.  It marks the noun as the topic (or the  
focus, the distinction is a little fuzzy) of the sentence.  If you  
want two nouns to be equal partners as the plural subject of a  
sentence, put it on both.  If you want to mark one of the nouns as  
the topic and not the other, put it on that one.

> And *that* means that the
> grammar needs to allow sentences that are grammatical, and disallow
> sentences that aren't.

I will disagree strongly with this requirement.  Nongrammatical  
sentences can still be valid.  KGT even has a section on  
intentionally ungrammatical usage.

-- ghunchu'wI'

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