tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Mon Nov 30 15:03:03 2009

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Re: Double negatives

Christopher Doty (

On Mon, Nov 30, 2009 at 14:38, ghunchu'wI' 'utlh <> wrote:
> qIt Hoch wIleghbe'bogh 'e' wIwuqqangchugh, chenbej chatlh taQ. That
> way lies chaos. Since one of the tenets of this group is that we don't
> invent Klingon grammar, I object to proposals for which there is an
> abundant lack :) of evidence.

No, chaos does not that way lie.  I did not say that we should start
producing sentences with double negatives all over the place.  What I
did say was:

"***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."

I use "Klingon speaker" who to refer to a Klingon, on screen, speaking
Klingon as coached by Okrand.  I think I really meant to say just

If we suddenly get a canon sentence with a double negative, you're
going to have to reteach yourself that bit of grammar because you
assumed, based on paltry evidence, that such constructions were
ungrammatical, rather than simply unrepresented in the corpus we
currently have.  I don't think you should be telling people that
"Klingon does not employ 'negative concord'," but rather that we
haven't seen it happen.  It's likely best to be avoided, given the
current lack of evidence, but not explicitly forbidden.

> My answer to Blake should be uncontroversial: Klingon as we see it
> used does not "do" double negatives. Whether or not it might be able
> to in some hypothetical dialect is unimportant to the fact that it
> *doesn't* in the dialect we study.

This is incorrect.  You can't say that the dialect we study doesn't do
it.  You can only say that, in the corpus we have, it hasn't been seen
to do it. This doesn't mean it never does nor that it can't,
especially as we view TKD as being a sketch to be filled in later: we
might well see an example of a double negative in the future, from a
canon source.

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