tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Mon Nov 30 13:53:11 2009

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Re: Double negatives

Christopher Doty (

On Mon, Nov 30, 2009 at 13:29, ghunchu'wI' 'utlh <> wrote:
> I would also expect to have them marked incorrect on an English test,
> since they are not grammatically proper English.

Well, we're in the realm of prescriptive versus descriptive, and I
don't really think debating this point is really going to enlighten
the discussion.

> (Note that I carefully didn't call them "ungrammatical". I called them
> "not grammatically proper". Please don't let that particular tangent
> lead you off the topic here. Do you have a copy of Klingon for the
> Galactic Traveler? You might find the section on intentional
> ungrammaticality to be helpful in understanding the vocabulary in
> common use on this forum.)
> Similarly, {not vIleghbe'} "I never didn't see him" might perhaps be
> something an uneducated or careless speaker of Klingon would say when
> he meant {not vIlegh} "I never saw him." But it would be considered an
> error nonetheless.
>> Fair enough, we can say that "negative concord" isn't required in
>> Klingon.
> Every example we have tells us it is "not required" in exactly the
> same way putting the object after the verb is "not required". In other
> words, doing it is wrong.
> The Klingon Dictionary was written for people who speak English.
> Generally, it doesn't explicitly point out things that Klingon doesn't
> do if English doesn't do them either.

Negative evidence isn't evidence.  If a Klingon speaker did say this,
that doesn't mean (based on what we know) that they are wrong; it only
means they've said something that isn't shown to occur in the
materials we have, but which isn't forbidden.  Note that OVS word
order is, in fact, implicitly forbidden.

>> This isn't the same, though, as saying that such a thing is
>> ungrammatical in Klingon as in English.  One might still be able to
>> get two negatives, even if it isn't required.
> It's easy enough to have two negatives in a Klingon sentence:
> {matambe'qangbe'} "We are unwilling to not be silent", for example.
> However, you won't get two negatives both meaning the same thing.

Whoa! I dunno about two <-be'>s in the same word.  That seems *really*
weird to me without seeing something in canon to demonstrate its

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