tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Nov 25 10:25:06 2009

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Re: The topic marker -'e'

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

ghunchu'wI' 'utlh wrote:
> On Mon, Nov 23, 2009 at 4:10 PM, David Trimboli <> wrote:
>> ...But this is semantics; it all depends on context:
>>> Labels like "agent" and "patient" appear to have as much cultural
>>> relevance as they do grammatical importance.
>> Of course! Welcome to the wonderful world of semantics!
>> ...semantics *is* grammar, just as much as syntax is!
> I agree wholeheartedly with the idea that semantics is
> context-dependent. It is all about meaning, which can vary from
> situation to situation even if the representation is the same. That's
> exactly why I see no utility in trying to pigeonhole subjects into one
> category or another. I am of the opinion that applying
> context-sensitive labels that don't have relevance to the sentence
> structure is an act of naming, not one of understanding. I *firmly*
> believe that such labels are unproductive at best when trying to
> actually use Klingon rather than to analyze it. And I've seen more
> than enough cases where linguists' jargon ends up being
> *counterproductive*, as when someone uses the term "imperfective" to
> describe the verb suffix {-lI'} or claims that "stative" verbs in
> Klingon are always adjectives because they know what "adjective"
> means.

So what makes Klingon linguistically unanalyzable, while every other 
language can be analyzed?

Most of the world's languages are *not* like Latin. Serious linguists no 
longer treat them as if they were. If someone uses inappropriate 
terminology or classifications to describe Klingon, they should be 
corrected, not condemned. No one is claiming that Klingon falls neatly 
into any linguistic categories. But it *can* be analyzed linguistically, 
and doing so is interesting, enlightening, and harmless.

Not everyone is interested in Klingon purely as a mode of communication. 
Most either come to it through Star Trek or through linguistic interest. 
The Trekkies usually find out it's actually hard work, and give up after 
a while. The linguists run into the wall of "You can't analyze Klingon" 
here on this list, mostly coming from you, or those who ape you.

Analyzing the language is a perfectly valid activity to engage in on 
this list, and you're single-handedly trying to quash it, apparently 
because you're afraid of anybody drawing any conclusions that don't 
agree with yours. Why not just let people theorize? Why is that so 
awful? Even if the come up with the wrong answers, why is that so bad?

tlhIngan Hol MUSH

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