tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Mon Nov 30 06:55:37 2009

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RE: Double negatives

Steven Boozer (

>> Is there a canon stance regarding the use of double negatives in
>tlhIngan Hol? I haven't been able to find any references to this in TKD
>or elsewhere. (But if cursing is a fine art, then I can't imagine many
>tlhInganpu' would be adverse to the theatricality of adding as many as a
>sentence could bear.)
>> For example:
>> {not batlhHa' bIHeghbe'jaj} "May you never die dishonorably."
>> {not bong jIjatlhbe'jaj} "May I never speak by accident."
>> Does this usage of {not} render the {-be'-} redundant or is this suffix
>>still necessary? {not batlhHa' bIHeghjaj} somehow sounds incomplete to

Tracy Canfield:
>I don't think your sample sentences are incomplete, since not "never"
>shows up without -be' in some sentences Okrand wrote:
>'oy'naQ Dalo'be'chugh not nenghep lop puq (TKW)
>If you don't use the painstik, the child will never celebrate his Age
>of Ascension.
>not toj tlhInganpu' (TKW)
>Klingons never bluff.
>not lay'Ha' tlhIngan (TKW)
>No Klingon ever breaks his word.  (The English translation moves the
>negation to the determiner, but the Klingon source text just uses
>wej ("not yet") seems to show a similar behavior, where the idea of
>negation is carried by the adjective but not the verb:
>wej vIlegh (TKD)
>I don't see him/her yet
>I do wonder if the rule is "negation at only one point" or "negation
>in several places, but not on the verb if there's negation elsewhere",
>but that is a question for another place and time.

>Klingon does not employ "negative concord" the way some languages do.
>Double negatives in Klingon appear to act the way they do in Standard 
>English, with one negating the other and yielding an affirmative meaning.
> {not qaleghpu'} "I've never seen you."
> {not qaleghbe'pu'} "I've never not seen you." (i.e. "I've always noticed you.")

I only found two examples of two negatives in the same sentence:

  'oy'naQ Dalo'be'chugh not nenghep lop puq 
  If you don't use the painstik, the child will never celebrate
  his Age of Ascension. TKW

  Huch nobHa'bogh verenganpu''e' yIvoqQo' 
  Don't trust Ferengi who give back money. TKW 

... and note that these occur in different clauses.  

Interestingly, I could find no examples of {-Ha'} and {-be'} used on the same verb.  They're both Rovers, of course, but we've seen two Rovers used together, e.g. {-qu'} and {-be'} (see TKD 48f.).

FYI, Okrand on the negative suffixes:

TKD 47f.:  "This negative suffix [i.e. {-Ha'} implies not merely that something is not done (as does {-be'}), but that there is a change of state: something that was previously done is now undone. For convenience, it will here be translated as "undo", but is closer to the English prefixes "mis-", "de-", "dis-" (as in misunderstand, demystify, disentangle). It is also used if something is done wrongly. Unlike {-be'}, {-Ha'} can be used in imperatives. [...]
  if you say the wrong thing. 
This shows how {-Ha'} can be used in the sense of wrongly. The word might be translated as "if you misspeak". Using {-be'} (that is, {bIjatlhbe'chugh}) would mean "if you don't speak".
The suffix {-be'} cannot be used with imperative verbs. For imperatives, [{-Qo'}] is required. This negative suffix is used in imperatives and to denote refusal. ... Unlike {-be'}, the position of {-Qo'} does not change: it occurs last, unless followed by a Type 9 suffix. Nevertheless, it is considered a Rover because it is the imperative counterpart to {-be'}.

st.k 11/1997:  The absence of a verb + {-moH} entry in the Dictionary lists does not mean that that particular formation cannot be made. The same goes for the negative suffixes {-Ha'} and {-be'} which, along with {-moH}, are the most common verb suffixes found in the Dictionary lists... Since the negative suffixes are Rovers, they follow different rules. 

Canon Master of the Klingons

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