tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Nov 24 18:34:59 2009

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Re: The topic marker -'e'

Christopher Doty (

> Yes, there's a problem there, because "intransitive" verbs in Klingon
> may indicate general objects instead of no object. I don't really
> understand the S and A and O stuff though...

Well, interestingly (and perhaps getting myself into trouble again
with some folks), this is related to the discussion of passives.  This
construction here, with "intransitives" is, in linguistics, called an
anti-passive, because instead of demoting a subject, it demotes an
object, getting rid of it entirely.  And I think, in Klingon, this is
what's happening with transitive verbs when they take an intransitive
prefix: the verb becomes an intransitive, because the object is
unimportant and goes away.  Although one could translate a sort of
"general" object in some cases ("They eat something") a more correct
translation is likely simply "They eat."  There isn't any object at
all (Okrand says specifically that if anything is actually mentioned,
you can't use this construction).  In English translations, we
sometimes HAVE to use a "someX" because English doesn't have an
intransitive equivalent (e.g., with "accuse"), but it's still the same
thing: there isn't actually an object present.

So, there you go! Passives and anti-passives in Klingon.

BTW, ghunchu'wI', this is exactly the kind of thing I was talking
about when I said that, even when Okrand doesn't use a specific term,
it is usually very clear what he is doing.  This second of the grammar
is clearly, 100% describing an anti-passive, even though he doesn't
call it that.

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