Newsgroup message of June 18, 1997

Subject: [unknown]


The problem of having verbs as part of a canon compound noun.


Newsgroup: Microsoft Network expert forum
Date: Wed, 18 Jun 1997


You raise a lot of interesting issues in this posting! To comment on everything you talk about would take me a while, so, for the sake of writing back sooner rather than later, I figured I'd comment on a few of the ideas you bring up and leave the others for another time.

Ken Traft wrote:

>In The Klingon Dictionary (TKD), Dr. Okrand seems to indicate that TKD is
>only a beginning and would serve as a guideline for using the language.

I think that's fair. The Klingon Dictionary was always intended to be an introduction to the language, not the last word. At the very least, it's hardly unabridged! Even with the addition of the other books and the tapes, there is still a great deal about the language that is not yet described adequately. But we (all of us!) are working toward that end.

> There seems to be more questions than answers sometimes.

I guess that's to be expected in any introductory work.

[ some hypothesis deleted...]

> QongDaq would seems to be a "compound" noun-noun construction, but in The
> Klingon Dictionary, Qong is a verb and is not listed as a noun. I would
> say we should go with the positive. Consider these "compound words".
> They seem to use a verb-noun construction, e.g., lupDuj (shuttlecraft -
> transport ship), vutpa' (galley - cooking room), QongDaq (bed - sleeping
> place), HIvDuj (attack fighter), etc. These words are a small sampling
> of the many "two-syllable" words that make sense to both their "single
> syllable" components.
> ...
> According to the rules of grammar, QongDaq could be a normal compound
> noun equation and it MAKES sense to interpret Qong as a noun in a noun-noun
> construction for "bed". Also using pa' (room) we have vutpa'. vut is a
> verb in TKD, but it would make sense to interpret vut as a noun in the
> noun-noun construction vutpa'.

You're right: QongDaq "could be a normal compound noun" – but the important word there is "could": It could be a compound noun IF both Qong and Daq are nouns. We know that Daq "place" is a noun; we know that Qong is a verb ("sleep"); we don't know that Qong (presumably "sleep" or "sleeping") is a noun. Maybe it is – but until we see it as a noun in its own right (that is, in a place in a sentence where nouns occur and in a construction where it's not attached to Daq) will we know for sure. Until that time, it's a good hypothesis, but not a done deal.

> We know verbs can be used as nouns (not necessarily all...)

I think we'll have to agree to disagree about this one. While you are right that there are a number of noun-verb pairs (that is, nouns and verbs with similar or related meanings that are phonetically identical), such as HoS "strength"/"be strong" and poj "analysis"/"analyze," I don't think it's necessarily the case that, for example, the verb HoS "be strong" is being used as a noun (meaning "strength"). By the same token, I don't think it's the case that the noun HoS "strength" is being used as a verb (meaning "be strong"). This may be what happened historically (that is, in an older stage of the Klingon language, there may have been a verb HoS which people started using as a noun, or there may have been a noun HoS which people started using as a verb), but, right now, all we can say is that there is a pair of words. We don't know which developed from which (or if either or both developed form something else). Though the pairs exist and cry out for explanation, until there is more study on the matter, I don't think one can argue that Klingon verbs (even if we're only talking about a small set of verbs) can be used as nouns (or vice versa). (English is different. I think it is fair to say that in English virtually any noun can be used as a verb. There are so many instances of words that were once nouns being used as verbs that if someone uses a noun as a verb for the first time, people will probably make sense out of it. "Is it better to Kirk the enemy or to Picard them?" If you ask that question, I suspect you'll get people's opinions about dealing with foes as much as or more than you'll get puzzled expressions. Some folks will reject such a construction. But they haven't been impacted by Star Trek yet.)

> and Dr. Okrand continues to give us nouns that were once verbs (wov was
> clearly used in the Hallmark commercial as a noun).

I haven't seen the commercial in a while, but I don't think wov was used as a noun there. Though the Klingons in the ad may have ad libbed a bit, the phrase the one Klingon was supposed to say regarding the little lights in the Bird of Prey ornament was:

wovmoHbogh janHommey

That is, "little devices that cause (something) to be light or bright" or "little devices that brighten (something)" or "little devices that light (something) up" or the like. wov is a verb "be light, bright" followed by the suffix -moH "cause" (thus, "cause to be light").

> I'm not making Qong or vut a noun on my own but taking Dr. Okrand's
> words and TKD to make a valid logical inference.

Again, you're right. You are making a logical inference. I think I'd argue, however, that the inference is historical. That is, a word like QongDaq is evidence that at an earlier stage in the language, there may have been a noun Qong (meaning "sleep" or something similar). Or maybe there was a verb suffix -Daq meaning "place where one does X." On the other hand, you may have uncovered evidence that there is currently a noun Qong – it just hasn't been attested anywhere else yet, so we should keep our eyes peeled. But without further evidence, it's a guess.

> Personally, I'd like to see a special rule allowing -Daq and -pa' to be
> added to verbs like -wI'. It would definitely allow a larger use of
> existing words without having to add new ones. Verb suffix -Daq would mean
> "a localized place or location" giving us: QongDaq for sleeping place or
> bed, Qongpa' for sleeping room or bedroom, SuvDaq for fighting place or
> rink or mat, Suvpa' for fighting room or gym, vutDaq for cooking place or
> stove or hearth, tamDaq for quite place or meditation area, tampa' for
> quite room or sound proof room, qetDaq for running place or track, *qetpa'*
> for running room or indoor track, SopDaq for eating place or dining room
> table or kitchen table, Soppa' for eating room or dining room or food
> court, yItDaq for walking place or sidewalk or walking track or path,
> yItpa' for walking room or indoors walking track, DIlDaq for pay for place
> or sales counter or cash register location, DIlpa' for pay for room or
> toll booth, etc.

Indeed, if -Daq and -pa' were verb suffixes (following the "special rule" you refer to), there could be a lot more nouns. On the other hand, even without these new suffixes, you can use existing vocabulary and grammar to say (with phrases rather than single words) the same thing: SopmeH pa' (literally "room in order to eat" or "room for eating," from Sop "eat" plus -meH "in order to") is a reasonable way to say "eating room" or "dining room." I also don't think Klingons, not being prone to stand on ceremony where eating is concerned, would object to eating breakfast in something called a 'uQ pa' "dinner room," a common-type noun-noun construction.

>Dr. Okrand says he doesn't have all the answers (but heaven know he can
>"make them up"). From the feel of his comments on this list, I believe he
>wants us to take Klingon and run with it a bit. He seems to be sitting
>back waiting for this. I think that if we just sit around "waiting for Dr.
>Okrand" to say "yeah or nay" we are doing him a disservice and stifling
>the growth of the language. I would hope it helps him in seeing what will
>make Klingon a "popular" language and I hope that is what he wants.

I do hope people "take Klingon and run with it a bit" and I do want to see people's ideas. There's a still a lot about Klingon that we don't know, and it's through conversations like this one that we can learn more.

Thanks for some stimulating thoughts. Keep the comments coming!

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