tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Mon Nov 23 06:46:24 2009

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Re: The topic marker -'e'

Tracy Canfield (

> On Mon, Nov 23, 2009 at 1:40 AM, Tracy Canfield <> wrote:
> > mIS puq
> >
> > "puq" is the subject, but it isn't an agent.
> Why not?
Because "agent" is specialized linguistic terminology that means
something other than "subject".  It's part of a classification system
called thematic roles - often called theta roles - that's used by
linguists to describe the semantic roles noun phrases play in
sentences and distinguish them from the syntactic roles.  This isn't
an English-specific system; it's used cross-linguistically.

2009/11/23 ghunchu'wI' 'utlh <>

> Oh, and it might be a good idea to stay away from a debate over
> subjects vs. agents. There is no obvious distinction between them in
> Klingon. The subject is *always* the thing performing the action (or
> expressing the state or quality, if "action" is not an appropriate
> concept).
I would say that there's at least one obvious distinction: verbs with
agents can never be used adjectivally, as part of a noun phrase.  TKD
4.4 says the verbs that can occur there express states and qualities.
If someone were explaining which verbs can and can't occur there in a
more formal way, rather than saying "notions expressed as adjectives
in English" as Okrand does, they'd likely rely on an analysis using
ideas like "agent".

> Don't fret over the English gloss of {mIS} as "be confused" with the
> appearance of passive voice. Consider it as a simple verb in Klingon.
> {ghung puq} is exactly analogous to {mIS puq}, and {puq} is doing the
> action / having the quality in both.
Oh for heaven's ... I am considering it a simple verb, a simple verb
of state or quality.  "ghung puq" doesn't have an agent either.

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