tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Nov 25 10:13:22 2009

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Re: The topic marker -'e'

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

André Müller wrote:
> 2009/11/25 ghunchu'wI' 'utlh <>
>> On Tue, Nov 24, 2009 at 9:40 PM, Christopher Doty <>
>> wrote:
>>> Technically, this is an inverse voice construction (syntactically) but
>>> semantically, it is functioning as a passive.
>> I thought we already agreed that it is not the same as passive voice.
>> In many cases, {-lu'} serves the same purpose as does passive voice in
>> other languages. In some, it does not.
>> Try this exercise: take a simple sentence in English and translate it
>> into Klingon. Apply passive voice to the English and try to translate
>> it into Klingon using {-lu'}. Most of the time you will fail.
>> "The feather tickles my ear." {qoghwIj qotlh bo.}
>> "My ear is tickled by the feather." {qoghwIj qotlhlu'...?}
>> Okay, you can add {bomo'} to the front of the Klingon and come very
>> close to the same meaning, but I think it loses the essence of the
>> idea. The feather is performing an action in the English; it is merely
>> a reason for the action in {bomo' qoghwIj qotlhlu'}.
> Cross-linguistically, passive construction don't need to allow the agent to
> be expressed. There are some languages (I think Limbu was among them, but
> I'm not sure), which do have a passive construction but there's no way to
> express the agent in the way English does by saying "by the feather".
> I still wonder, if one has the right to call the {-lu'} a passivizing
> suffix. I doubt so, as the P is not promoted to an S. Maybe I'll ask a
> colleague tomorrow.
> Hmm... there are S (single argument of an intransitive sentence), A
> (agent-like argument of a transitive sentence) and P (patient-like argument
> of a transitive sentence). If a P turns into S and the A vanishes, it's
> called "passive" (cf. English). If an A turns into an S and the P vanishes,
> it's called "antipassive" (cf. Basque, Greenlandic, Caucasian lgs.).
> In Klingon, the A vanishes but the P doesn't turn into an S. It stays a P.

Thanks for explaining this notation. I understand it now.

> Sorry for arguing about terminology again... I know that for Klingon itself
> it doesn't really matter too much.

Sure it does. If "passive" is the linguistic term meaning P turning into 
S and A vanishing, and Klingon doesn't do this, then you have 
demonstrated that Klingon's {-lu'} is not what liguists call "passive." 
Now when you tell someone that Klingon doesn't have a passive, you can 
back it up with linguistic reasoning.

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