tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Nov 25 10:59:28 2009

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Re: The topic marker -'e'

ghunchu'wI' 'utlh (

On Wed, Nov 25, 2009 at 1:23 PM, David Trimboli <> wrote:
> So what makes Klingon linguistically unanalyzable, while every other
> language can be analyzed?

Klingon can of course be analyzed without causing problems. The
problems occur when someone begins to analyze it and comes to a
premature conclusion, based on loaded terminology, leading them to
later misanalyze things.

We saw that most recently with Christopher's statement that {-lu'}
turns a verb's patient into the subject. That statement was carefully
explained so that everyone could follow his reasoning, so I don't
think it was a typo. He started by positing that {-lu'} acts like
passive voice (which it undeniably does to some extent), so I think
it's clear that his error was caused by his understanding of the
linguistic term "passive".

> 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.

That's what I tried to do with my initial warning not to interpret
TKD's terminology past what it is explained as meaning within the
confines of the book. As I understand it, what is an "A" and what is
an "S" depends on context, and the choice of label can change based on
the verb suffix alone. As Klingon is a language in which there is no
distinction made between the two linguistic concepts, I see no reason
to consider such terminology appropriate.

> 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.

It's harmless when the person doing such analysis already understands
how to use Klingon grammar and can recognize when the analysis is
deviating from known usage. It is often interesting to see how other
languages do things in different ways syntactically while carrying the
same semantic underpinnings. It can be enlightening, as when the
noun-noun "possessive" structure in Klingon was demonstrated to match
the wider linguistic concept of "genitive".

On the other hand, it can be harmFUL when the person doing it doesn't
yet recognize the difference between the pronoun {'e'} and the noun
suffix {-'e'}, or thinks {vIlamHa' choHmoH} has a valid meaning.

It is only when someone tries to say something about Klingon that
contradicts The Klingon Dictionary (as amended) that I go into full
defensive mode.

-- ghunchu'wI'

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