tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Oct 06 16:23:01 2009

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Re: The meaning of -moH

Andrà MÃller (

2009/10/7 David Trimboli <>
> > 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.
> We're not "resorting" to anything. The {-vaD} noun of, say, {ghojmoH}
> "cause to learn" is the legitimate beneficiary or recipient of the
> causing to learn. It never would have been a core argument.

Maybe not in Klingon, but in other languages, the causee sure can be marked
as the primary object, in the same way as there are languages where in
ditransitive sentences the recipient is marked as the primary object and the
theme as secondary, while it is the other way round in the (Indo-European)
languages most common to us. Chamorro, for instance, does it that way.
Causative constructions with transitive verbs often work similar to
ditransitive constructions (for the simple reason that causativization is a
valency-raising construction, so monotransitive verbs become ditransitive by
There's a similar construction in English: "I gave you the book.", where the
recipient is arguably the primary object and the book is the secondary one
(although the cases are alike here, see the example "I gave him him.")

So there are always at least these three ways to encode the causee and the
final object (not sure which term is used actually) in the languages of the

Je le lui ferai lire.
I.NOM it.ACC her.DAT make.FUT read.INF
= "I will make her read it."

Here, the argument hierarchy is: causer (NOM) > final object (ACC) > causee
That ACC marks the higher-ranked object can be seen in simple sentences like
"Je le lit." (I read it.).

Ich lasse ihn ihn fragen.
I.NOM let.PRS him.ACC him.ACC ask.INF
= "I let him ask him."

Here, causee and final object are marked both with the dative, which is the
usual case for primary objects. English looks similar but has no obvious
dative case, which can serve to perhaps distinguish the two objects.

... I'm sorry, I hoped to find a nice example for a language that has the
causee argument ranked higher than the "final object", but I can't find any.
It's late here now and I want to go to bed. Maybe I can find an example, as
I'm quite sure there are some languages that behave that way.


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