tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Nov 24 12:07:13 2009

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Re: The topic marker -'e'

Christopher Doty (

> I see the application of linguistic labels and hear that Klingon has
> different semantic roles for different kinds of subjects. When I ask
> why a particular verb gets its subject labeled in a particular way and
> point out a differing interpretation, I get what looks like circular
> reasoning telling me that the given interpretation is the right one
> because that's what the label means. Nobody has given me a compelling
> explanation of how these labels make any difference whatsoever in our
> usage, in our understanding, or in our construction of Klingon
> sentences.

It's not circular.  Okrand makes it very clear that Klingon has three
types of verbs: quality/condition verbs, which can be used as
adjectives, and other verbs, which cannot.  This is relevant to
understanding how these verbs are used in different ways.  It relates
to the subject in that, with verbs of quality, you can have a pronoun
followed by an adjectival verb (jIH Do' as in the comparative
construction), whereas you presumably can't with active verbs, since
you can't postpose the active verbs.  Thus, the subjects of
quality/condition verbs and active verbs are different.

> That's what's keeping me engaged in the topic -- the labels seem to
> have no bearing on Klingon grammar as we know it from Okrand's
> descriptions.

Just because Okrand doesn't specifically use a term does not mean that
the concept isn't there.  What I've outlined above about the two types
of verbs are referred to in linguistics as "active/stative." Even
though Okrand doesn't use these terms, it is still what he is

> I fear they can only cause confusion among people who
> know the specialized linguistic meaning they have and misapply that
> meaning to something which it does not describe.

Again, you have this backwards.  It is likely that you are the one who
is not understanding, and not the linguists.

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