tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Nov 25 10:50:42 2009

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Re: The topic marker -'e'

Christopher Doty (

On Wed, Nov 25, 2009 at 08:37, André Müller <> wrote:
> 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.

Yeah, I realized this after I sent the email, so it is a bit odd. But,
a pretty much unrelated side note: Okrand worked quite a bit with PNW
languages, and is this is what passives often look like in them: it's
really an inverse construction, but it ends up also being used for
passives, which might be why this seems weird.

> I agree with you here. The {-lu'} can hardly be called a passive.

*sigh* This is why I said *functionally* a passive: to the extent that
passives are about the demotion of an agent, Klingon has a passive,
because we're kicking out the agent.  I agree that the syntax with it
doesn't look like a passive, and if we were to looked ""historically""
we'd probably see some other source for this system.  But,
functionally, it IS a passive, even if the morpheme -lu' can't be
called a passive.

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