tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Mon Oct 26 17:30:14 2009

Back to archive top level

To this year's listing

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

Re: Ditransitive reflexives

Doq (

Computer translation is extremely difficult because one language is  
not a code for another language. At essence, each expression begins  
with a thought, and the language guides how any given thought will be  
expressed. Translation requires us to go from expression back to  
thought and then to a new expression with different grammars guiding  
us to a new form of that expression. Unfortunately, to whatever extent  
that you can get a computer to speak English or Klingon, you can't get  
it it speak "thought". People can't even speak "thought". They  
certainly can't teach computers how to speak it.

Taking the "simple" example of "They gave chocolate to each other,"  
with a lot of experience using the language, I don't have a simple  
formula that I know for expressing it. I can express it, but I have to  
think about it first.

While Klingon grammar has less redundancy than most languages,  
redundant use of nouns is more common in it than most languages. I'd  
say something like {ghomvamvaD yuch nob ghomvam.} I'm choosing {-vam}  
instead of {-vetlh} simply because there could be two different groups  
referred to as {ghomvetlh}, but there can typically be only one group  
referred to as {ghomvam}.

I could also identify the "same" group in other ways, like {yuch  
nobwI'pu'vaD yuch lunob}. I'm sure there are other ways, as well.

Meanwhile, I think you and others have fallen into the tempting trap  
of trying to use {-chuq} and {-'egh} simply because the phrase "each  
other" is right there staring at us and that's how we say it in  
English. I know of no way to apply these suffixes to anything but the  
subject. It doesn't work with the Klingon equivalent of a  
prepositional phrase. If the noun you want to point it to has a type 5  
noun suffix on it, you can't get there from here. Reflexive verb  
suffixes are only to be applied to nouns that are acting as subject  
and direct object.

In My Humble Opinion.


On Oct 26, 2009, at 5:04 PM, Tracy Canfield wrote:

> Dear distinguished Klingonists:
> I'm putting together a machine translation project in Klingon, and  
> have some
> grammar questions that TKD doesn't seem to cover.  I'm not trying to
> translate any particular phrase - I just want to make sure my  
> grammar has
> the fullest possible coverage.
> In English, we can combine a ditransitive verb like "give" with  
> either a
> direct object or an indirect object anaphor.  It doesn't seem  
> obvious to me
> how to do this for certain cases in Klingon.  (I've Googled the  
> archives,
> but didn't find anything.)
> First, the reflexive indirect object - "They give each other  
> chocolate."
> To make a long-form sentence, we need something that can take the  
> dative
> ending -vaD.
> ???-vaD yuch nob
> If we just put "chaH" here, we have a legal sentence:
> chaHvaD yuch nob
> but it's indistinguishable from "They give them chocolate", where  
> "they" and
> "them" refer to different people*.  There isn't a stand-alone  
> pronoun that
> carries the sense of "themselves" or "each other".  For all I know  
> this is
> fine in Klingon, but it does seem odd to me.
> Alternatively we could make a short-form sentence, where the verb  
> prefix
> indicates the indirect object agreement:
> yuch nob
> I don't see anything to prevent this, but it's even more ambiguous  
> than the
> long form.  Is there a way to make the "each other"/"themselves"  
> meaning
> explicit?
> Normally -'egh and -chuq are used to indicate reflexive direct  
> objects.
> Since they're the only reflexive markers we have, is there any way  
> to use
> them to indicate that indirect objects are reflexives?  Or, for that  
> matter,
> is there some other known way to unambiguously indicate reflexive  
> indirect
> objects?
> Given the Type 1 suffixes, reflexive direct objects should be
> straightforward - and the long form seems to be.  "They sold  
> themselves to
> the Emperor."
> ta'vaD ngev'eghpu'
> Or, if you would like a miniature O. Henry story implied in your  
> grammar
> examples:
> ta'vaD ngevchuqpu'
> The short form is a problem, though.
> ??? lungev'egh'pu'
> The short form requires a prefix agreeing with the direct object -  
> but the
> rules for reflexive endings in 4.2.1 of TKD indicate that the type 1  
> endings
> occur with the "no object" prefixes.  Which rule takes precedence?   
> Does the
> 4.2.1 rule prevent the formation of a short-form ditransitive with a
> reflexive direct object?  Or does the short-form rule override the  
> 4.2.1
> rule, allowing verbs with -'egh and -chuq to take other prefixes in  
> this
> context?
> If anyone has examples of correct usage that I can generalize from,  
> or can
> point me to a rule I've overlooked, I would greatly appreciate it.   
> Thank
> you!
> * Or "are not co-indexed", if you prefer.

Back to archive top level