tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Fri Nov 27 09:43:05 2009

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Re: {-lu'} on intransitive verbs [WAS Re: The topic marker -'e']

ghunchu'wI' 'utlh (

On Fri, Nov 27, 2009 at 11:23 AM, Christopher Doty <> wrote:
> On Fri, Nov 27, 2009 at 08:10, ghunchu'wI' <> wrote:
>> When you say "also" and "beyond", do you mean 1) it's always a
>> passive and sometimes has another function at the same time, or 2)
>> it's sometimes a passive and sometimes has another function instead?
>> I hesitate to respond before I know just what I'm responding to.
> I mean exactly what I said: it functions as a passive, and it
> functions in other ways, too.

If you won't resolve the ambiguity, I cannot reply appropriately.

>> If by "fourth person" you mean an indefinite or nonspecific or even
>> completely absent subject...then yes, that's exactly what {-lu'}
>> means.  It *always* means that.  Whether or not an appropriate
>> English translation uses passive voice isn't important.  (I think the
>> phrase "zeroth person" would fit the idea better.)
> Oh you of hating terminology, did you make up a terrible, terrible word?

I merely parenthetically mentioned an alternative phrase to the one
you used, one which I believe carries a connotation closer to the
actual definition of "indefinite subject". Without studying
linguistics for ten years, I get an impression from "fourth person" of
a general collective reference rather than a general *lack* of
reference. But neither label is important; we can simply call it
"indefinite subject" and know that anyone who reads TKD can recognize
what we are saying.

>> I can't be sure what you're really thinking, but it looks like your
>> specific comments are all based on the English phrasing.  Try not to
>> put too much importance on the translation; in many of these cases,
>> the English came first and the Klingon was crafted to carry a similar
>> meaning.  For instance:
> You can't be sure what I'm thinking because I have 10+ years of
> studying linguistics under my belt, and I can hardly impart all of
> that knowledge to you in a couple weeks over email.

If I don't know why you said something, I cannot adequately explain
why I don't think what you said is correct. I do not wish to assume
your reasoning; that would be likely to end up with me attempting to
address points that are not relevant to your current understanding of
the Klingon examples presented.

>> I can see no way to call {Suvlu'taHvIS} transitive.
> Are you serious?  It would be hard to not fight something or someone.
> You'll note that I said "semantically" transitive, which 'fight' is.

Would you say the same thing about {tlhutlhlu'taHvIS} "while one is
drinking" or {loSlu'taHvIS} "while one is waiting"? There is no object
in the phrases, either stated or implied. I think that's enough to
call them intransitive.

Marc Okrand consistently declines to comment on the inherent
transitivity or intransitivity of Klingon verbs, suggesting instead
that we consider how they are used. The usage of {Suvlu'taHvIS} here
is clearly not transitive.

-- ghunchu'wI'

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