tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Thu Oct 01 11:36:45 2009

Back to archive top level

To this year's listing

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]

Re: Articles

David Trimboli ( [KLI Member] [Hol po'wI']

Steven Boozer wrote:
> Doq:
>>> English has definite (the) and indefinite (a, an) articles. Many 
>>> languages don't. Of the polyglots out there that speak other
>>> languages that lack articles, is there any common way to
>>> differentiate between "I see an enemy," and "I see the enemy"
>>> besides the ubiquitous linguistic band-aid of "context"?
>>> Anything more brief than {wa' jagh neH wIghaj. vIlegh,} for "I
>>> see the enemy."? Or {jaghmey law' wIghaj net Sov. wa' vIlegh.}?
> bI'reng:
>> I might feel like using {jaghvetlh vIlegh} if I were changing the 
>> subject and {jaghvam vIlegh} if we'd been talking about the enemy
>> all along. Other people might have different intuitions; I see
>> physical distance as a metaphor for "distance" from the context.
>> "That enemy of mine" appeared while we talking about something
>> else; alternatively, "this enemy" showed up while we were talking
>> him.
>> Or you could also condense the sentences you suggested: {jaghwI' 
>> vIlegh}, {jaghwI' neH vIlegh}.
> A simple way that *sometimes* works is just to tag the noun with
> {-'e'}.  E.g.:
> jagh'e' vIlegh. As for the enemy, I see him. I see the enemy (the one
> we were talking about earlier). It is the enemy I see (and not
> something else).
> Note that I am NOT saying this is how to translate definite articles
> in all contexts, but it is a good, simple way to stress a particular
> noun or make it the topic (or perhaps re-making it the topic; e.g.
> going back to a topic mentioned earlier in the conversation after the
> topic has changed several times) in some sentences, depending on the
> context and intent of the speaker.  It also feels more a feature of
> colloquial, informal or emotional speech to me BTW.

The trouble with this is that neither topic nor emphasis is the same 
thing as a definite article; you're looking too much at the English 
translations and the definite articles therein. A definite article marks 
a noun that is a particular member of a group. A topic marks a noun as 
the major theme of a sentence. Emphasis makes a noun more important. 
These are all very different roles, and the English translations in TKD 
do not do them justice (indeed, Okrand completely mixed up "topic" and 

{jagh'e' vIlegh} can mean two different things. It can have emphasis: "I 
have a topic: "Let's talk about 'enemy': I see him." (Semantically 
equivalent to jagh'e' ghaH vIlegh; it just has an elided {ghaH}.}

As a topic, it can equally mean "an enemy" or "the enemy." Okrand uses 
"the enemy" in his translations, but this is exactly what is misleading 
you. There's no "the" implied in it at all. There is nothing that makes 
{jagh} a particular member of a group. {jagh'e' [ghaH] vIlegh} could 
just as easily mean "Let's talk about an enemy; I see him!" The object 
pronoun probably refers to the enemy, but this is not required. Context 
may say otherwise.

TKD itself points out that Klingon has no articles; it says context 
determines all that. (Section 3.3.4)

tlhIngan Hol MUSH

Back to archive top level