Beginners' Grammarian

The Beginners' Grammarian, abbreviated BG, is a position in the tlhIngan-Hol Email Discussion Forum, held by a competent Klingonist whose job it was to answer questions posed by beginners.


It was felt that it was overwhelming for a beginner to have his question answered a dozen times by a horde of well-intentioned veterans. So one noble soul was chosen to have the right of first strike, as it were, and so any post labeled "KLBC" (or obviously from a complete newcomer) must be left unanswered until after the Beginners' Grammarian has had his say.

The length of the BG's tenure was not formally fixed, but soon a term of approximately one year became the de facto norm (though some terms have been shorter or longer according to individual circumstances). After around 2006, the position of BG gradually fell into disuse due to a gradual decrease in activity on the KLI mailing list. For instance, there was only one KLBC-request in 2007, which has been answered by Terrence Donnelly as a BG (1). After some years of the position lying dormant, John Harness was appointed as the new BG in late 2015. He did his job for about a year, but when the number of requests constantly went down to zero, the actions as BG also stoppped, but never with a set date.

Klingon name

There is a word used on the mailing list, which is not canon, but nearly everyone uses and understands: pabpo', meaning "Grammarian".

It's origin is not 100% sure, but there is one note by Holtej of July 26, 2005:

Krankor confided to me at the Las Vegas qep'a' (1999) that he (Krankor) made it up, in the early days of the old mailing list (run by Elias Israel). He said that, back in those days, there wasn't as much awareness or concern about not making stuff up, and that this is one usage/convention that has persisted through to this day.

Captain Krankor explained its incorrect use(2)
po' is definitely in TKD. pabpo' is a constructed compound. In retrospect, it is not the grammatically best compound, as it relies on the somewhat tenuous assumption that po' could also be used as a noun. One could argue that pabpo'wI' would be better, but we've been using pabpo' for so long on this list that as far as I'm concerned, it has passed into common usage. If nothing else, it is an interesting historic marker of how much my own tlhIngan Hol skills have improved since Eli and I started this list; it is doubtful I would let that slip by today.

➞ Read more on KLI words.

List of Beginners' Grammarians

no Name Klingon name Began Period Feature
1 Barbara Dobelbower HoD trI'Qal 3 March 1994 95 Inaugural BG
2 d'Armond Speers Holtej 6 June 1994 70
3 William Martin charghwI' 15 August 1994 227
4 Randall Franklin yoDtargh 30 March 1995 297
5 Alan Anderson ghunchu'wI' 21 January 1996 212
6 Barbara Dobelbower HoD trI'Qal 20 August 1996 71 Only BG to serve a second term
7 David Trimboli SuStel 30 October 1996 299
8 Robyn Stewart Qov 25 August 1997 365 First BG outside the US
9 Eric Andeen pagh 25 August 1998 732 Longest-serving BG (2 years, 1 day)
10 Tad Stauffer taD 26 August 2000 395 Youngest BG (20 years, 11 months)
11 Roger Cheesbro DloraH 25 September 2001 380
12 Lieven Litaer Quvar 10 October 2002 426 First European, first non-native English-speaking BG
13 Scott Willis ngabwI' 10 December 2003 373
14 Rhona Fenwick QeS la' 17 December 2004 379 First Southern Hemisphere BG
15 Terrence Donnelly ter'eS 31 December 2005 518 *
16 John Harness 'arHa 11 November 2015 460 Stepped down on 13 February 2017

* Due to an absence of beginner-level list participants at the time, the role of BG fell largely into disuse during 2006, so it is difficult to define the exact number of days served in this term. It is therefore defined as ending with Terry's last known posting to the list in the role of BG, which was on 1 June 2007. (3)

Job description

This is not an official guide, but describes the main aspects of the Beginners' Grammarian:

  • A Beginners Grammarian's job is not only about grammar. He or she has to welcome each apparent newbie and tell him where to start. That's why it's very important that the BG has enough time to answer emails almost daily. If students have to wait for answers for one week, they may lose interest in learning.

  • A BG should have access to almost all canon sources, which has become much easier because of the Internet.

  • The BG must NOT know everything, but should at least be able to know where to look for something when a student asks (which is a good practice for the BG as well).

  • As a level of knowledge, the BG should be able to pass KLCP Level 1 with ease, and should not be afraid to attempt Level 2 certification. This is not mandatory, however, and demonstrated Klingon ability may stand in lieu of formal certification.

  • A BG should be able to write comprehensive sentences and be able to explain things.

  • The BG must be patient, answering each question, however simple (or "stupid") it may sound. Be ready to answer the same question over and over.

  • The BG should take his duty at least for several months, ideally for one year, so that he has the time get to know his students and accompany them during their learning process.

See also


1 , 3 : Re: KLBC: Some more clueless questions Message to the mailing list, 1 Jun 2007

2 : Message to the list by Krankor, 16 July 1993

The first version of this page
originated in the old KLI wiki. ➞ see list
Category: KLI    Latest edit: 05 Jan 2022, by De7vID    Created: 02 Mar 2014 by LieVen
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