tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Nov 24 17:53:00 2009

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Re: The topic marker -'e'

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

ghunchu'wI' wrote:

> But we've switched from talking about nouns to talking about verbs.   
> That doesn't help me with the troubling issue of giving different  
> labels to nouns which don't act differently.

They don't act differently syntactically, but they do act differently 
semantically. TKD gives us a lot of the syntax of words, but little of 
the semantics. Thus, we must figure these things out ourselves to use 
the language properly.

For instance, an example you yourself mentioned. There's no *syntactic* 
reason why {Qong} can't take an object, but it doesn't. Now there may be 
a class of verbs distinct from "verbs of action" and "verbs of quality" 
(and we've never had any kind of confirmation that Klingon grammarians 
actually make *this* distinction, either) that is called, say, "verbs of 
general action," containing verbs like {Qong} and {Qom}, and that there 
aren't really any such things as "just verbs." This would make a 
syntactic difference. But the far more simple explanation, one requiring 
much less invention on our parts, is to simply analyze the usages in 
different examples and classify them according to their semantics.

We're not stuffing Klingon words into ill-fitting categories designed 
for English. We're taking the ideas of language analysis and examining 
how Klingon works by using these ideas. This certainly isn't some kind 
of prescriptivist plot; it's a purely descriptivist endeavor. In cases 
where Klingon doesn't clearly fall under those ideas, *that's* where the 
interesting discussion takes place.

We all know the difference between active and passive sentences in 
English. This difference is purely a semantic one. If we analyze the 
syntax only, we seem to have two completely different sentences. "I 
throw the ball" and "The ball is thrown by me." The subject of the first 
is "I," the subject of the second is "the ball." The action is the same 
both times ("throw"), but the first sentence performs the action on an 
object ("the ball") while the second does not perform its action on 
anything. The second has a preposition; the first does not. Two totally 
different sentences.

But when we examine those sentences semantically, we find two identical 
situations. Agent: "I/me." Action: "throw." Patient: "the ball." When we 
understand the semantic underpinnings of these two sentences, we 
understand how two very different sentences can mean the same thing, and 
we can actually *define* passive voice.

Klingon doesn't have a passive voice, but it *does* have plenty of 
situations where semantic analysis like this is valuable. I've mentioned 
some already in this conversation. Figuring out the objects allowed on 
action verbs and quality verbs is a biggie. You *know* that *{rav 
vIQong} is wrong, buy *why* is it wrong? Finding the semantic 
relationships of nouns with {Qong} will tell you that.

tlhIngan Hol MUSH

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