tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Thu Oct 08 08:49:08 2009

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Re: The meaning of -moH

David Trimboli ( [KLI Member] [Hol po'wI'] wrote:
> In a message dated 10/8/2009 08:14:55 Eastern Daylight Time, 
> writes:
>>  When introducing verb prefixes, the example  
>> verb is {Qong} "sleep" and only the no-object prefixes are listed.   
>> The text then goes on to say that those prefixes are also used when  
>> an object is possible but not stated.  I infer from the wording that  
>> such prefixes are *not* used with {Qong}. 
> mumISmoH mu'tlheghmeylIj. 
> First you say only no-object prefixes are used with {Qong}, then you say 
> such prefixes are *not* used with {Qong}.

I think he means that the no-object prefixes on {Qong} cannot refer to 
general or vague objects the way they can on verbs like, say, {Sop}. 
However, this is a semantic difference, not a syntactic one.

Overall, I agree with the point: there is some evidence that syntactic 
differences exist among verbs, though the evidence is not conclusive, or 
even necessarily convincing. If true, verbs may fall into one of three 
classes: verbs of action that can take objects; verbs of action that 
cannot take objects; and verbs of quality, which cannot take objects. In 
this case, it is possible that the use of {-moH} may depend on the class 
of verb: for those two classes that cannot take objects, {-moH} changes 
the verb to the class of action verbs that take objects (with the 
"cause-ee" as the object); for the class of action verbs that take 
objects, our sole example suggests that {-moH} does NOT change the 
verb's class, or even the object.

Thinking about it further, I realize that the example in TKD, 
{maghoSchoHmoHneS'a'}, would be an example of a verb of action that can 
take an object (but does not do so here), yet it does not follow the 
rule I stated above.

It's this exceptional behavior that I wonder about. If there *is* no 
syntactic difference between verbs, if the only reason a verb of quality 
doesn't take an object is because none makes any sense, then the only 
thing the addition of {-moH} does is to change the meaning of the verb 
into one that lets an object make sense. No verbal class-changing is 
required to explain it; all verbs are simply verbs. That we do not know 
the appropriate object—or lack thereof—of every verb is due to our lack 
of knowledge, not a flaw in the argument.

In the semantic scheme, a verb of quality of a subject changes meaning 
to a verb about the application of a quality to an object. A verb of 
action without an object changes meaning to a verb about the compulsion 
of action by an object. A verb of action that affects an object changes 
meaning to a verb about compulsion of an action that affects that object 
(according to our only example). We cannot learn these rules through the 
syntax stated in the grammar; we must learn them by observation of what 
existing sentences mean.

tlhIngan Hol MUSH

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