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Genitive in Klingon?

The discussion on "Joining nouns with and without "and"" almost seems to intentionally avoid using the word genitive. Are two nouns joined without "je" not a genitive construction? torgh Hol is not "the/a language of Torg"?

April 7, 2018



Yes, it's a genitive construction. It's introduced in The Klingon Dictionary as the "noun-noun construction," and some Klingonists are uncomfortable describing the language using terminology that Marc Okrand himself doesn't use. But it's definitely genitive.


Ah! I expect that perspective will come in handy many times in this adventure - and it's time for me to buy "The Klingon Dictionary"...


Klingon doesn't have noun cases -- or only in the sense that English has an instrumental case in "with a knife", an ablative in "from the city", a superessive case in "on the table", etc. And Klingon is not Latin.

If it helps you understand how the Klingon noun–noun construction works by using terms from Latin grammar such as "genitive", then you can do so -- though the usage of the Klingon construction may well not parallel that called "genitive" in Latin or English or any other specific language.


OK, thanks! I am used to using the term "genitive" with other non-Romance languages (slavic, gaelic, northern germanic, indo-aryan) so it is helpful to me.


"Genitive" does not mean exactly the same thing across languages anyway, so Klingon's being specific to Klingon is not a big deal. The basic idea is the same, and any variations from Latin or English can be noticed later.

Klingon does not mark nouns for genitive, but genitive nouns do have a special property that other nouns do not: they cannot be inflected with syntactic suffixes (-Daq, -vo', -mo', -vaD, -'e'). When you want to use a pronoun in a genitive sense that is not possession, you do not inflect the pronoun at all: jIH Dung "my area above; the area above me." But when if that pronoun were to indicate possession, you would use a suffix instead of a pronoun: DujwIj "my ship" (not jIH Duj).

Klingon genitive is a broad application of the term, including pretty much all of the types listed in the Wikipedia article on the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genitive_case#Functions_of_the_genitive_case.

Notice that The Klingon Dictionary does not use the word genitive, but neither does it explain anything but the possessive function of what it calls the "noun-noun construction." But we have many, many examples of canonical Klingon that employ noun-noun constructions that cannot be interpreted as possession. So the concept of genitive in Klingon is a useful one, whether or not it is a marked noun case.

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