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  5. "We will leave when you have …

"We will leave when you have used the bathroom."

Translation:mamej puchpa' Dalo'pu'DI'.

October 7, 2018



Why is putting mamej at the end not allowed?


puchpa' Dalo'pu'DI', mamej is grammatically fine.

The course is a little inconsistent about word order in sentences with two clauses such as this one -- some sentences are more lenient about the order of the two sentence parts in Klingon and some just use the same order as the English.

This one is one of those sentences that only accepts versions that have the same order in both languages -- puchpa' Dalo'pu'DI', mamej would then correspond to "When you have used the toilet, we will leave" with the English sentence parts in the other order as well.

I'm not sure which approach (requiring the same order or allowing both) is most beneficial to learners.


Sometimes Klingon requires a specific clause order where English is agnostic about order; in those cases it makes sense to allow the English to go in either order while the Klingon must go in a certain order.

Other times English and Klingon allow clause order to vary in the same way. This sentence is one of those times. In these cases it needs to be decided whether the course allows the same flexibility as the one-sided inflexible versions above. I personally feel that clauses should be allowed in either order going in either direction. It's close enough. It's also what I've encountered doing the Spanish course.


Adverbs in Klingon seem to come first (c.f. {batlh Daqawlu'taH}) so it would make sense for clauses functioning as adverbs like {puchpa' Dalo'pu'DI'} to do likewise.


This is not the case. In Klingon, dependent clauses (with verbs ending in -chugh, -DI', -mo', -vIS, or -pa') may be placed on either side of the main clause.

mamej puchpa' Dalo'pu'DI'
puchpa' Dalo'pu'DI' mamej
We will leave when you have used the bathroom.
When you have used the bathroom, we will leave.

Both are correct and more or less interchangeable.


Your supposition makes logical sense, but Klingon does not always follow the logical path.


Almost all the sentences in this lesson allow either order; and yes, you can say "at fourteen hundred hours, we will eat". So disallowing it for this sentence is just splitting hairs for no reason.


But there are reasons. In both languages a speaker has a rhetorical choice of which clause is presented first. If the speaker chooses a particular order, then the translation should also present the equivalent clauses in the same order. There is an additional benefit to enforcing this policy. Some students will try to translate every Klingon sentence starting from the back and translating everything in reverse order. However, this is a bad habit since it can't be used for spoken Klingon. Thus by asking our users to maintain the order of the clauses, we prevent them from just translating the entire thing in reverse order.


Why not teach that basic sentence order is fixed and subordinate clause order is variable? Why even link these two completely different phenomena? Translating independent clauses backwards has no syntactic link to translating clauses in a variable order.

This is another one of those artificial limitations done in the name of ease of comprehension that I think just confuses people, as evidenced by all the people writing to say they don't understand. I think it's easier for people to figure out the rules of a language that they need to know than it is to figure out the rules imposed by a teacher that they don't need to know elsewhere.

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