tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Mon Nov 30 11:47:15 2009

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Re: Double negatives

ghunchu'wI' 'utlh (

On Mon, Nov 30, 2009 at 1:39 PM, Christopher Doty <> wrote:
> On Mon, Nov 30, 2009 at 06:29, ghunchu'wI' 'utlh <> wrote:
>> Klingon does not employ "negative concord" the way some languages do.
> Whence does this conclusion come?

>From the observation that every time we might expect to see such a
thing, we don't. A number of relevant examples have been posted here,
including the simple {not toj tlhInganpu'}.

>> Double negatives in Klingon appear to act the way they do in Standard
>> English, with one negating the other and yielding an affirmative
>> meaning.
> This doesn't happen in Standard English, and it is stupid to say so.

Did I err in using the name "Standard English" to refer to the strict
grammatical rules taught in school?  Or did my English teachers err in
telling me that double negatives essentially cancel?  For example, "I
never want no pie" means pretty much the same thing as "I always want
pie" (with a subtle difference in contextual implication).  This is
exactly how Klingon works:  {not chab vIneHbe'} and {reH chab vIneH}
carry the same basic meaning.

> in English, "not" negates an entire clause; in
> Klingon, <-be'> negates only what immediately precedes it.

That turns out to be too narrow a view, as a phrase from Power Klingon
demonstrates nicely:

{Hoch DaSopbe'chugh batlh bIHeghbe'}
"Eat everything or you will die without honor."

You might be able to argue that the first half is talking about "not
eating" everything, but the second half makes no sense if you restrict
the scope of {-be'} to less than the entire clause.

There's also {yIH vIHIjbe'} "I'm not transporting tribbles." It
doesn't mean you are doing something to tribbles called "not
transporting". It means you're not "transporting tribbles".

-- ghunchu'wI'

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