tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Mon Nov 23 05:42:47 2009

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Re: The topic marker -'e'

ghunchu'wI' 'utlh (

On Sun, Nov 22, 2009 at 4:07 PM, Christopher Doty <> wrote:
> "mapum" might not be ungrammatical, but what is "mapum Sor"??  If we
> translate literally into English, we get
> "(A/the) tree we fall."
> What does that mean?  How can you write a computer program to provide
> a translation of something that doesn't really mean anything?

It depends on what priority you give various rules. If you make the
rule of accord extremely strong, you are compelled to treat {Sor} as a
first-person plural and it has a clear meaning (except for the dual
meaning of {pum}). If you treat "person-ness" as an inherent feature
of a noun and consider {Sor} as always third person, you have a
contradiction in the verb prefix. We already deal well with
contradictory objects (the "prefix trick"), so that's not
automatically a deal-breaker. The only real problem is that we've
never seen a sentence that looks like this, so we don't know whether
or not it actually does mean something.

> I also disagree with "mapum" being ambiguous.  The verb "fall" is
> intransitive, and the verb "accuse" is transitive.  If we see a "ma-"
> prefixed to "pum," then that "pum" is the verb "fall" and not the verb
> "accuse," which needs an object, and so ought to have different
> prefixes.

That's not the case. Verbs never need explicit objects. The example in
TKD of {jISov} shows that even normally transitive verbs may be used
with prefixes indicating no object.

-- ghunchu'wI'

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