Capable of language

Beings capable of language (only one time referred to as "capable of speech" in TKD on p. 25) are those beings which are able to speak a language(1). Examples are Klingons, Humans, Romulans, etc. This does also include babies, because even if they do not speak, they are capable of using language(2).

This distinction is important in the use of possessive suffixes, plural suffixes and the choice of pronouns.

not capable of language

Not considered as capable of language are:
  • Parrots, as they only imitate sound, they do not speak. (3)
  • Robots and computers, they are not living beings. (4) (5)
  • Groups of people capable of language, like mut (species), qorDu' (family), tuq (house) because these do not speak, only their members do. Although there are canon examples in paq'batlh that shows that at least qorDu' and tuq can take the capable of language suffixes (6).
  • The word Doj mass, big group of something always takes the plural suffix -mey, even when referring to "masses of people".

The plural suffix for birds is usually -mey, the general plural suffix, as would be expected. There is a difference of opinion, however, about which plural suffix to use for a few birds capable of mimicking speech, such as the vIlInHoD and the qaryoq (and the larger qaryoq'a'), with some Klingons using -mey but others preferring -pu', the plural suffix for beings capable of using language. (HolQeD, vol. 10 issue 4, December 2001)

Disputable beings

Whether Lt. Cmdr. Data, an android from Star Trek: The Next Generation, is considered a being or a thing remains a philosophical question which was discussed in the TNG episode "The Measure of a Man". Most Klingonists agree that he is an exception which IS capable of language, although he actually still is a robot.

Okrand has also suggested that it is up to the individual speaker to decide which type of suffix should be used in each individual case. So one speaker could use the capable of language suffixes when talking about a specific thing, while another speaker might not. The choice of suffix used tells the listeners what the speaker believes about the thing. This could be the case when talking about pet animals which may deserve a "he" or "she" in English, while the correct term would be "it".

See also


1 : The Klingon Dictionary

2 : "A child which has not yet developed language would still get -wI'" Email by Roger Cheesbro of 28 May 1998, archived on Klingonska Akademien

3 , 4 : "matlh jupna' mu'mey", HolQeD, vol. 10 issue 4, December 2001, p. 4-5

5 : "They must be a "being", which rules out things like computers." Email by Roger Cheesbro of 28 May 1998, archived on Klingonska Akademien

6 : paq'batlh, paq'yav Canto 3 and 12

Category: Grammar    Latest edit: 21 Feb 2022, by KlingonTeacher    Created: 06 Apr 2015 by RejutkaLupex
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