tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Nov 25 17:26:17 2009

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Re: The topic marker -'e'

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

Christopher Doty wrote:

>> As I mentioned before, there are several examples of noun–noun
>> constructions with {-vaD} on the first noun. I believe they all occur in
>> isolated noun phrases (that is, not in verbal clauses). The rules tell
>> us this is not allowed, but there they are. They *are* noun-nouns.
> *Why* are they noun-nouns?  I see nothing in TKD that says that any
> two nouns next to each other are always and only in a N-N
> relationship.  In <yaSvaD taj nobpu' qama'>, you wouldn't say that the
> two nouns are in a N-N construction, I assume.

No, because {yaSvaD} relates to the verb as a beneficiary. The prisoner 
didn't give a "knife for the officer," he gave a knife, and the officer 
was the recipient of that action.

> It seems to me, based on the rule that you can't have suffixes on the
> first noun, your reasoning is backwards here.  If you see "N-vaD N,"
> those nouns CANNOT be in a N-N construction, because it would be
> ungrammatical, so they must be considered something else (two nouns
> that just happened to end up next to each other).

You're assuming the sentence is known to be correct. When analyzing a 
sentence one of *us* comes up with, there is no such guarantee. That's 
what I was doing when this subject came up.

>> The BoP poster, plus this one, have enough of them that I can't complain
>> *too* strongly if someone uses them, but as you now see, they will be
>> really ambiguous if you try to use them: are they modifying the object
>> or the verb? Personally, I will not use them without confirmation from
>> Okrand.
> I just don't see this as ambiguous.  As I outlined above, "N-vaD N"
> cannot be ambiguous, because it can't be a N-N construction.

What is it? Is it a noun phrase of any kind? Is it really just part of 
"N-vaD N V N," and can't be analyzed separately?

And how does {yIHvaD may' 'oH may' quvHa''e'} mean anything other than 
"A dishonorable battle is a battle; a tribble is the recipient of this 
being a battle"?

> If you translate it straight across into English, you get "A
> dishonorable battle is a battle for tribbles."  Now, I'm willing to
> acknowledge that I've basically just translated a somewhat idiomatic
> construction into Klingon, and one might have objects for that reason,
> but I still don't see

I see this translation as having a noun phrase, "battle for tribbles." 
(And that doesn't mean someone is battling for possession of tribbles, 
but that it's a battle that tribbles undertake.) I don't see how this 
can possibly be anything other than a noun phrase. It's the same in 
Klingon: what you're trying to do is use a noun phrase *{yIHvaD may'}. 
But the {-vaD} noun applies to the verb, not the object.

>> I am also convinced that Okrand simply forgot that the rules in TKD
>> forbid this sort of thing.
> Can you tell me what rule this is?  I'm still not following.  I know
> that there is a rule that suffixes can't go on the first noun in a N-N
> construction, but I haven't seen a rule that says all noun-noun
> sequences are automatically noun-noun constructions...

If a sequence of nouns is not a noun-noun construction, what is it? What 
roles do those nouns play in the sentence? The earlier nouns can't be 
modifying the later nouns, because that's a noun-noun construction. 
Nouns with syntactic markers or timestamp nouns might sit next to each 
other, but all of those apply to the *verb*, not the other nouns.

    DaHjaj juHwIjDaq yaSvaD baS taj nobta' puq
    Today, in my home, the child gave the officer a metal knife.

There is only one noun-noun in this sentence: {baS taj}. This noun 
phrase is the object of the verb. The other nouns {DaHjaj juHwIjDaq 
yaSvaD} are not part of any noun-noun construction, but neither are they 
part of any noun phrases (aside from each one being its own, single-word 
noun phrase). Each word has a role to play in the sentence that relates 
to the verb, not the other nouns. {DaHjaj} tells when the action occurs 
(timestamps are unmarked and come at the beginning of the sentence). 
{juHwIjDaq} tells where the action occurs. {yaSvaD} tells who receives 
the result of the action. {DaHjaj} does not in any way modify or clarify 
{juHwIjDaq} or {yaSvaD}, and so on.

So if you want {yIHvaD may' 'oH may' quvHa''e'} to mean anything other 
than "A dishonorable battle is a battle, and this being a battle is 
intended for tribbles," you have to explain how {yIHvaD} can relate to 
{may'} without it being a noun-noun construction.

tlhIngan Hol MUSH

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