tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Nov 25 04:44:43 2009

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Re: The topic marker -'e'

Andrà MÃller (

Hi, me again...
I wouldn't analyze it as an antipassive construction, although I was
thinking of that as well. A maybe more suitable assumption would be that
some verbs in Klingon are ambivalent or ambitransitive, meaning that they
can be used transitively or intransitively.
I'm not sure if it's alright to speak of an antipassive if it's not
explicitely marked on the verb.
- André

2009/11/25 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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