tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Oct 07 08:24:08 2009

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tlhob/ghel (was Re: The meaning of -moH)

Rohan F (

ghItlhpu' lay'tel SIvten, ja':
> {ghaH} ghel {ghaH}

ghItlhpu' Doq, ja':
>mu'tlheghlIjvaD, mu' {tlhob} nIv law', mu' {ghel} nIv puS. nuv
>tlhoblu'. qech ghellu'.

Where did you get that dichotomy? I'm unfamiliar with it. Okrand
talks about the distinction:

"[W]hat I wanted to do with {tlhob} and {ghel} is to distinguish
between two different meanings for the English verb "ask". There
are two "ask's". There's the "ask" where you ask a question and
there's "ask" where you make a request. I wanted it to be two
different verbs, although apparently there are times when the
"request" verb is used to ask a question as well. [PK: {lutlhob
<naDevvo' vaS'a'Daq majaHlaH'a'?>}] So maybe the way it works is
that {ghel} can ask a question and only a question and the other
one can mean that and is also used to request or plead or
something like that." (HQ 7:4)

He doesn't say anything at all about what the object of the verb
should be. On this basis, I don't see any problem with saying:

mughel <qama' DajonHa''a'?> jatlh
He asked me, "Are you going to release the prisoner?"

with the connotation that it's not actually a request to release
the prisoner, but merely an enquiry as to what will happen.

The problem is that, AFAIK, we have no instances of {ghel} and
only one instance of {tlhob} in connected text, and even that's
in a context where Okrand implies that {ghel} would be more
usual. But I have no problem with saying {mughel} "he asked me
[a question]", and in fact, the more I think about it, the more
I'm starting to think I've overused {tlhob} all these years.

{tlhob} works in an SAO construction where {ghel} doesn't really
(at least for me), but in simple sentences and with quotes, I
think I would mainly use {ghel} even with a person as the object,
since "requests" are usually phrased in Klingon as imperatives,
not questions. The presence of {tlhob} with a question in PK is
anomalous, in my opinion; it's completely correct (since the
Terrans who ask the question <naDevvo' vaS'a'Daq majaHlaH'a'>
are indeed making a request, albeit in a Terran rather than a
Klingon way), but I don't think that you would normally see
{tlhob} accompanying a grammatical question in "native" Klingon 
text. Outside of SAOs (such as {jonHa' 'e' tlhob qama'} "the
prisoner requested that he be released"), I imagine a normal
usage might be like this:

tlhob qama' <chojonHa'> jatlh
The prisoner requested to be released

since a prisoner isn't really in a position to {ra'} "command"
his gaoler. I'm not sure where others stand on this (and I'm
sure I'll cop it from some for my decision to refuse the PK
instance of {tlhob} in this way!), but that's the way I make
sense of it in my own mind. I'll gladly listen to alternate
opinions, though.


QeS 'utlh

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