tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Oct 06 14:06:55 2009

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Re: The meaning of -moH

Brent Kesler ( [KLI Member]

Once more unto the breach...

Reading this debate reminds me of valency, the number of arguments a
verb can have. There are two types of arguments: core arguments, such
as the object and the subject, and peripheral arguments, which are
usually marked by a preposition or affix. In Klingon, peripheral
arguments are marked by -Daq, -vaD, and maybe -'e' (but that's a
different debate).

Some verbs are monovalent (one argument):
1. tuH yaS
- The officer is ashamed.

Other verbs are divalent (two arguments):
2. yaS qIp puq
- The child hits the officer.

English has some trivalent verbs:
3. The child gives the officer a weapon.

Languages have valency changing constructions. Some constructions are
valency reducing. Examples in Klingon are {-'egh} and {-chuq}. They
make a divalent verb monovalent.

4. qIp'egh puq.
- The child hits himself.

5. qIpchuq yaS puq je.
- The officer and the child hit each other.

Some constructions are valency increasing. They make a monovalent verb
divalent. {-moH} is valency increasing. It seems to follow the cross
linguistic pattern for a causative constuction:

a. Causative applies to an underlying intransitive clause and forms a
derived transitive.
b. The argument in underlying S function (the causee) goes into O
function in the causative.
c. A new argument (the causer) is introduced, in A function.
d. There is some explicit formal marking of the causative construction.

(S being the subject of an intransitive, monovalent verb, O the object
of a transitive, divalent verb, and A the subject of a transitive,
divalent verb)

6. tuH yaS.
- The officer is ashamed

In sentence 6, {yas} is the S argument of {tuH}. Now let's apply {-moH}:

7. yaS tuHmoH puq.
- The child shames the officer. The child causes the officer to be ashamed.

We've applied the causative to an underlying intransitive to derive a
transitive (condition a). The underlying S function {yaS} has become
the O function of the causative (b). The causer has been introduced as
a new argument in the A function (c). And the causative construction
is explicitly marked (d).

The place where we seem to be getting confused are when we try to
apply {-moH} to a verb that's already divalent. Applying the causative
construction to a transitive verb is rare cross-linguistically. A
transitive verb already has A and O arguments; in sentence 8, {wo'rIv}
is the A argument and {quHDaj} is the O argument:

8. quHDaj qaw wo'rIv.
- Worf remembers his heritage.

Applying the causative increases the valency by one. So what do we do
with the original A and O arguments? There are five possibilities:

(i) New causer becomes the new A, the original A is specially marked,
and the original O remains the O.
(ii) New causer becomes the new A, the original A is also marked as
the A argument in the same way as the new A, and the original O
remains the O.
(iii) New causer becomes the new A, the original A is marked as the O,
and the original O is also marked as the O.
(iv) New causer becomes the new A, the original A becomes the new O,
and the original O becomes a peripheral (non-core) argument.
(v) New causer becomes the new A, the original A becomes a non-core
argument, and the original O remains the O.

In sentence 9, Klingon uses option (v).

9. wo'rIvvaD quHDaj qawmoH Ha'quj.
- The sash causes Worf to remember his heritage.

The new causer {Ha'quj} takes the A slot. {wo'rIv}, the original A,
has become the non-core {wo'rIvvaD}. The original O {quHDaj} remains
in the O slot.

Now let's consider {ghojmoH}. It seems like it can also follow pattern (v):

10. puqvaD QeD vIghojmoH.
- I teach science to the child (I cause the learning of science for the child).

However, let's say we want to drop one of these arguments. Maybe I
teach the child something, it doesn't matter what:

11. puq vIghojmoH.
- I teach the child (I cause the child to learn).

Or I teach science to somebody, it doesn't matter whom:

12. QeD vIghojmoH.
- I teach science (I cause the learning of science).

The problem with applying the causative to transitive verbs is that we
end up with three arguments with only two core slots to put them in,
so we have to resort to a non-core marking, {-vaD}, for one of them.
But if one of those arguments is unstated, perhaps we can apply either
pattern (iv), as in sentence 11, or pattern (v), as in sentence 12,
with the implied {-vaD} argument left unspoken.


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