tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Oct 27 06:57:59 2009

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Re: Ditransitive reflexives

Tracy Canfield (

Thanks!  I appreciate the information.
The lack of anaphora (pronouns like "themselves" or "each other") in Klingon
is especially striking because the linguistic structures which control where
they can appear in human languages are part of universal grammar, which is
generally agreed to be hardwired in the brain.  At the very least, it raises
interesting questions for further research on government and binding in

I do disagree with your characterization of English "each other" as a dummy
object.  Dummy subjects in sentences like "It is unlikely that he will come
back in time" don't refer to anything; the sentence is equivalent to "That
he will come back in time is unlikely."  If you move the clause out of the
subject position, English requires you to put _something_ there, and the
dummy subject is the otherwise meaningless placeholder that does the job.
"Each other", in contrast, does refer to something - it has the same
reference as its antecedent.

2009/10/26 Terrence Donnelly <>

> --- On Mon, 10/26/09, Tracy Canfield <> wrote:
> > My original post discusses *why* the
> > prefix trick seems to be a problem in
> > these cases.  With examples.  So I really am more
> > than a little frustrated
> > to have two people immediately tell me to use it, without
> > addressing the
> > original question.
> You have found a lacuna in Klingon grammar. As far as I know, there is no
> easy way to express a reciprocal relationship between the subjects and
> beneficiaries of a verb phrase.  You were posing the possibility of treating
> such a relationship as if it were a reciprocal subject-object relationship
> by using the "prefix trick" in some way, but the fact is that the verb in a
> (-chuq) phrase has no object, as shown by the use of the "no-object" verb
> prefixes. We say, for example, "We hit each other",  using a "dummy" object
> to express the mutual action, but Klingons say {mamupchuq}, or something
> like "We reciprocally and mutually hit". As Doq noted, don't be influenced
> by the "each other" in the English, since the Klingon phrase is object-less,
> and thus the prefix trick is irrelevant.
> -- ter'eS

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