Would the imperative phrase "HIqem" mean 'bring (something/someone) to me' or 'bring me (to something/someone)'?

March 13, 2019


Yes, it seems so. Normally the object of qem would be the thing being brought: jIHvaD paq yIqem! "Bring the book to me."

However, when there is a stated object, and the prefix refers to a first or second person object that is not the stated object, then we can interpret it as referring to the indirect object. This is often referred to as "the prefix trick". So we can say: paq HIqem! "Bring me the book."

I believe there is still some doubt as to whether you can use this without a stated object. The wording Dr. Okrand used to explain this is: "When the indirect object (in this case, the hearer) is first or second person, the pronominal prefix which normally indicates first or second person object may be used." Which makes it sound as all you need is a first or second person indirect object. However, all the examples from canon, including the examples he used when explaining this, have a stated object. Additionally, he did also say: "when there's already an object" ... "the "object" of the prefix is interpreted as the indirect object." To play it safe, I recommend to students to only use this when there is a stated object to make it clear that the prefix is referring to an indirect object.

Not all the examples. Where he explains qajatlh, he points out that you don't speak a person, so this cannot be interpreted as I speak you, so it can only mean I speak to you.

Whether you can do this generally for any verb based on context alone is not clear. In HIqem, you'd probably usually expect the prefix to be referring to an indirect object (bring [something] to me), but it's not impossible to refer to a direct object (bring me [someplace]). Maybe you're sitting in a sedan chair telling your bearers where to go. When there's uncertainty like this, playing it safe and using an explicit indirect object marked by -vaD, and keeping the verb prefix referring to any direct object, is best.

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