tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Fri Oct 30 08:06:26 2009

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Ditransitive reflexives - summary

Tracy Canfield (

Just to gather up the main points in one place:
Verbs like "give" have a subject, a direct object, and an indirect object.
In a sentence like "I gave Kahless the toaster", "I" is the subject,
"toaster" is the direct object, and "Kahless" is the indirect object.  (The
English can also be phrased as "I gave the toaster to Kahless", but the same
noun phrases are still the subject, direct object, and indirect object.)

Grammatically, that sentence doesn't present any problems when we translate
it into Klingon.  The problems arise when the subject refers to the same
noun phrase as either the direct or the indirect object.

1.  When the subject and the indirect object are the same, English has a
general solution to the problem - pronouns like "ourselves" or "each
other".  "They bought themselves weapons."

We do not know of a general Klingon grammatical rule that expresses these
relationships; specific English sentences with anaphoric indirect objects
can be translated in various ways, but there isn't a generally equivalent

2.  Normally Klingon has two possible ways to express the direct and the
indirect object.  However, when the subject and the direct object are the
same - "You sold yourselves to the Terran" - only one of them can be used,
so far as we know.

There doesnt' seem to be anything preventing us from using -vaD with the
indirect object, and one of the Type 1 verb suffixes on the verb .
tera'nganvaD Sungev'eghpu' should be fine.

However, there's no known way to use the prefix trick with verbs using the
Type -egh and -chuq suffixes.  TKD says these suffixes can only use the "no
object" prefixes, and there are no exceptions in the canon.  There's nothing
preventing such a rule from appearing someday - but it's equally possible
that Klingon grammar has a "no prefix trick with reflexives" rule that will
appear someday.

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