tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Nov 25 10:45:44 2009

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Re: The topic marker -'e'

Christopher Doty (

> 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.

I'm not sure it ever does something that isn't a passive.

> 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'...?}

As André points out, when we examine passives cross-linguistically,
it's actually the case that most languages CAN'T add back in the A;
English and many European languages are a bit weird in this respect.

> 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'}.
> Now take any verb of quality in Klingon and put {-lu'} on it. Try to
> translate it into English using passive voice. Most of the time you
> will fail.
> {bIr} "he is cold"
> {bIrlu'} "...?"

Yeah, but you can't do this in English either, as you note with your
lack of translation. "He is colded (by the wind)" is nonsensical.

>>> I suspect that your
>>> understanding of the situation is being misinformed by your trying to
>>> apply terms from your linguistic training.
>> Dude, stop saying this.  Just because you don't understand something
>> doesn't mean that anyone else who says anything about it is
>> automatically wrong.  I am not misinformed, and I am not misapplying
>> terms.
> It is clear that you have read the relevant section of The Klingon
> Dictionary. It seems evident that you have read it carefully. However,
> you obviously have not gotten from it a proper understanding of what
> it says; otherwise you would not have said that {-lu'} turns the
> sentence's object into its subject. The easiest way for me to explain
> this error is for me to note that the object *does* become the subject
> in passive voice constructions, and that someone who knows all about
> passive voice might be led astray by its superficial similarity to
> what {-lu'} does.

I'm going to respond to this below in André's email.

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