tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Nov 25 17:41:20 2009

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Re: The topic marker -'e'

Christopher Doty (

On Wed, Nov 25, 2009 at 17:25, David Trimboli <> wrote:
> 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.

Actions aren't received, things are.  One could just as easily argue
that in "yaSvaD taj" is "a knife to an officer", and stands apart from
the rest of the phrase.  I don't think this is right, but it would
make all of the other examples we have correct, and not assume that
Okrand made a mistake or forgot something.

> You're assuming the sentence is known to be correct.

Not quite, I'm assuming that

Qugh la'vaD QIn pav
[Urgent message for Commander Kruge.] (ST3 DVD case)

is known to be correct, rather than assuming that Okrand made a mistake.

Consider also

Qu'vaD lI' net tu'bej
You will find it useful. ST3

If -vaD is really about the verb, then this doesn't work either, since
translating as you did below, this would be

"You will find it useful, a mission is the recipient of this interest."

> 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.

Ah ha! I finally see what you are saying, I think.  Namely, that in
<yIHvaD may'>, <yIHvaD> must modify <may'> to get the reading I
intend, but it also can't if it's in a n-n phrase, because then the
first word doesn't take a suffix.  Is this the issue you're seeing?
If so, let me know and I'll address it specifically instead of going
into detail about all of the other stuff in this email.  I think we've
been talking past each other a bit if this is the issue.

>    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.
> --
> SuStel
> tlhIngan Hol MUSH

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