"HuchwIj nIH loDvetlh!"

Translation:That man stole my money!

July 5, 2019

7 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/puyjaq

so, I've seen comments all over the Klingon course about perfective tense, and how it's not quite taught properly, but I'm curious about what the implications might be on this sentence, where it isn't used. With my understanding, I would certainly want to use the perfective tense (as the English sentence implies.)

Essentially, it seems to me, as an English speaker, that I should be using -pu' and -ta' a lot more than is represented in the course, as well as KLI chat rooms. Why is this not the case for those who are fluent in Klingon?

July 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DavidTrimb3

Historically, here's what happened. Members of the KLI taught for years and years that Klingon perfective meant "prior to the current time context." So if you were talking about wa'Hu' yesterday and you wanted to describe a robbery that happened yesterday, you'd say wa'Hu' HuchwIj nIH loDvetlh because the robbery happened yesterday, not prior to yesterday.

Except that's not how Klingon perfective is described in the text, that's not how the example perfective sentences work, and that's not what perfective means. Perfective is an aspect, which describes how an action occurs over time; "prior to the current time context" tells you WHEN something happens, and telling you when something happens is a tense, which Klingon explicitly doesn't have. TKD describes Klingon perfective as describing an action as completed, not as occurring prior. It just so happens that completed actions often occur prior to the stated time context, but that's not exclusively true. Okrand once used loSmaH ben jIboghpu' I was born forty years ago, but the birth doesn't take place PRIOR to forty years ago.

I had problems with Klingonists' explanations of perfective for a long time, and finally figured out why it was wrong. I went on a crusade to fix the misinformation. It's been a long battle, with many a vicious fight as people refuse to acknowledge the meaning of perfective or that Okrand's examples show clear perfective. I think much progress has been made, but as this course shows we still have a long way to go.

So regarding this sentence: HuchwIj nIH loDvetlh. This sentence is expressing either the experience of the moment of the theft (That man is stealing my money, it's happening right now, or you're establishing a viewpoint in the past or future when it's happening) or describing a general or habitual tendency or general fact (That's the man who commonly steals my money; that man steals my money, he doesn't do something else with it).

But if you really want to translate Yesterday that man stole my money, you'd say wa'Hu' HuchwIj nIHpu' loDvetlh. You're looking back on an event and describing it as a completed whole. You're not describing being in the moment of the theft.

July 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/puyjaq

I feel like I've gotten a lot of mixed messages about what the Klingon perfective means, from a lot of different sources. In a lot of ways, I think it matches the English perfect tense quite closely, but I also understand that it would sometimes be appropriate to translate an imperfect English sentence into perfective Klingon, as in your last paragraph. By comparison, English seems like kind of a wishy-washy mess.

July 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DavidTrimb3

It's not that English is wishy-washy; it's that the boundaries of English tenses fall in different places than the boundaries of Klingon aspects. There isn't a one-to-one map when translating from one to the other. English tenses are much more complicated than Klingon aspects.

Some examples of English simple past being translated to Klingon perfective in The Klingon Dictionary:

vIneHpu' I wanted them
qaja'pu' I told you
Qaw''eghpu' he/she destroyed himself/herself
vItlhapnISpu' I needed to take him/her
HeghqangmoHlu'pu' it made him/her willing to die
SutlhtaHvIS chaH DIHIvpu' While they were negotiating we attacked them
qIppu'bogh yaS officer who him him/her
yaS qIppu'bogh officer whom he/she hit
qIppu'bogh yaS vIlegh I see the officer who hit him/her
qaja'pu' HIqaghQo' I told you not to interrupt me
qama'pu' vIjonta' I captured prisoners

But TKD also translates Klingon perfective into English present perfect. Okrand simply chooses whichever is the most natural-sounding translation for the concept.

July 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Krausemank

I'd like to thank you for your crusade. I've been on Duolingo for a year learning Klingon, my first second language, and it's slow going. Even though I haven't learned much of the language, I love learning about the nuts and bolts of languages. I went all through school without even hearing about Aspect, and I loved learning about all the nuances it can bring to a language. So, to see Klingon learners, and even the KLI (for shame!), not paying proper attention to the Aspect of a language created by a guy that wrote a doctoral dissertation on the grammar of an near-extinct language... kinda upsets me.

July 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jdmcowan

My own discussions with Dr. Okrand lead me to different conclusions than David. The KLI is not failing to pay proper attention to "the Aspect of the language", but rather has come to different conclusions in it's study of "the Aspect of the language". I think David is wrong in some of his certainties and there is no shame for the KLI or any of the top Klingon speakers who disagree with David. To be clear, I respect that David has also had discussions with Dr. Okrand and there are many reasons and ways that I respect David's contributions. I welcome his alternative viewpoints and appreciate his assistance in explaining things to the users here on these forums.

However, the creators of this course do recognize that this course has simplified the presentation of Klingon aspect for English speakers and hopes that all the users will continue their studies and practices outside of this course with an open mind.

July 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DavidTrimb3

They aren't not paying attention to aspect; they've just come up with a different understanding of it. They say that Klingon perfective means "prior to the stated time context." This was the standard explanation for a very long time.

The reason for this misunderstanding is, I believe, a line in TKD which states that TKD will translate Klingon perfective into English present perfect tense for simplicity. So early Klingon students often equated Klingon perfective with English perfect tenses. The book then goes on to translate half of the perfective sentences in the book into English simple past tense, but this is rarely noticed. The fact that perfective and perfect are so easy to confuse is, I believe, a contributing factor. The fact that English doesn't have a distinct "perfective tense" is another. It's not a concept that comes easily to the native English brain.

"Prior to the time context" is a tense. Tenses tell you WHEN something happens. Aspects tell you HOW they happen and how you look at them. Klingon perfective aspect tells you that, from the viewpoint assumed by the sentence, an action is completed. The viewpoint can be in the past, the present, or the future equally, but no matter where it is it's talking about an action that is completed.

July 9, 2019
Learn Klingon in just 5 minutes a day. For free.