Maltz's Reward: Part II

HolQeD article of vol. 12 issue 3, September 2003, page 8-10

Written by Marc Okrand; Originally published in HolQeD, the quarterly journal of the Klingon Language Institute, Flourtown, PA, ISSN 1061-2327.


Maltz talks about the concept of false honor.


His invitation to the qep'a' once again mysteriously lost in transit, Maltz recently had a chance to think about another of the questions posed by a winner of the missing-Frasier-line contest.

This time, the request was for a very specific verb, one meaning "exceed one's authority, commit hubris, be too big for one's britches, demand respect one has yet to earn, claim rank one has yet to have been given."

Maltz said that, yes, there was indeed a word similar to that requested. In fact, there were a few. He had trouble coming up with brief Federation Standard definitions. He tried several, but kept coming back to "false honor."

The verb that is used to describe notions closest to those requested is HoQ. Maltz translated this as "be honored falsely, be falsely honorable" and said it could be used in the same places quv "be honored, be honorable" could be used, but only when the honor was not legitimate. Thus, a delegate to the Klingon Empire could well be described as a Duy quv "honored emissary," but if it turned out that he or she was a spy, the phrase Duy HoQ "falsely honored emissary" would be appropriate.

Note that there is a difference between HoQ and quvHa' be dishonored. A Klingon warrior who reveals signs of cowardice in battle might be described as a SuvwI' quvHa' dishonored warrior. A warrior who exhibits the same behavior but who somehow hides this from his or her cohorts and is awarded accolades for valor might, when this was discovered, be described as having been a SuvwI' HoQ falsely honored warrior.

As one might expect, HoQ has rather bad connotations in Klingon society, so it is not to be used lightly or without the expectation of a challenge from the person to whom it applied or from that person's followers.

A similar verb is Qaq behave falsely honorably, behave in a falsely honorable manner. This would be used of someone who purported to be someone or something he or she was not. It is used in cases where one misrepresents oneself in order to be accorded honor one is not entitled to, and in that way it is different from toj deceive and ghet pretend, neither of which has this kind of connection to honor. Thus Qaq and QaqwI' one who behaves in a falsely honorable manner as well as toj and tojwI' deceiver could be applied so someone in the military or government claiming to be of a rank not actually achieved or to someone who claimed to be a member of a particular house or family but who, in fact, is not. One who makes false claims about a product being offered for sale or who provides misleading military intelligence, on the other hand, while clearly a tojwI', is not a QaqwI' since the person making misleading statements is not making false claims about his or her place in society or asking for respect not due to him or her. (ghet and ghetwI' pretender generally do not imply deception, but simply role-playing.)

Another word that fits in here is mIl be formerly honored. This would be applied to a leader who left office is disgrace, for example, or an ousted ship's captain. It would not be used of a 'utlh, an officer who has stepped down or retired voluntarily and who is still respected.

There three verbs may be followed by the suffix -moH cause, giving rise to, for example, HoQmoH honor falsely and mIlmoH honor formerly. QaqmoH would mean cause to behave in a falsely honorable manner, as in:

muQaqmoHta' veqlargh
Fek'lhr made me behave in a falsely honorable manner

(mu- he/she [does something to] me, -ta' accomplished, veqlargh Fek'lhr).

Maltz mentioned one noun associated with these verbs, DavHam, which he defined simply as false honor, but which really covers the same semantic ground as both HoQ and Qaq (but not really mIl). DavHam is different from quvHa'ghach dishonor (noun) in that the latter does not imply seeming to be honorable or the appearance of honorability, but rather the lack of or loss of honor.

All this talk of pseudohonor and nonhonor logically led to a discussion of honor itself, normally expressed by the nouns quv and batlh, both usually defined as simply honor. When asked to distinguish between the two, Maltz said, "tlhIngan Soj 'oH — not bIyaj," literally, "It is Klingon food — you will not understand," using Soj food in its idiomatic sense of matter, concern, affair. Nevertheless he then went on, though a bit begrudgingly, to say that quv was a sort of personal honor, the kind over which, by one's behavior, one has some control. This sort of honor is earned, can be bestowed on one, and is associated with reputation, dignity, and respect. batlh, on the other hand, is a grander, more general, more philosophical concept, associated with integrity, rectitude, scruples, and principles. Unfortunately, he didn't give examples or elaborate any further. He did add, however, that neither quv nor batlh was the same as pop, usually translated reward but sometimes translated honor in the sense of token of esteem, that is, formal recognition of an accomplishment or accomplishments.

Maltz then changed the subject and said that some of the notions in the requested verb were not quite covered my HoQ, Qaq, or mIl.

The notion of "too big for one's britches" ("be too haughty or arrogant for one's status") as well as that of "commit hubris" ("be presumptuous or arrogant") might best be rendered in Klingon not by HoQ but by nguq be arrogant, haughty, conceited an undesirable trait. To be Hem proud, however, is quite admirable and does not carry any connotations of arrogance as the Federation Standard words "proud" and "pride" sometimes do. The noun 'eDjen refers to a person who is arrogant or haughty.

The idea expressed by "exceed one's authority" might be translated wogh transgress, do more than is acceptable. bIwogh, literally you transgress or you do more than is acceptable, is probably best translated idiomatically as you go too far.

Finally, the person requesting words associated with false honor also asked if there were a word or phrase meaning "Oh, yeah?" (This was a backup request, in case Maltz didn't feel like talking about honor. Fortunately, Maltz was not all that untalkative.) This is an exclamation expressing disbelief or even defiance. In Klingon culture, the requester suggested, this might be the immediate precursor to curse warfare.

Maltz distinguished this phrase from another "Oh, yeah?" meaning simply "Is that so?" (as in "I just heard some interesting news." "Oh, yeah? What is it?"). This would be qar'a', literally is (it) accurate? (qar be accurate, -'a' question).

The defiant "Oh, yeah?" (perhaps better punctuated "Oh, yeah?!?" or the like), Maltz observed, is really more a Federation phenomenon, not a Klingon one. He said that he's observed that among members of the Federation, it is uttered when, in the course of an argument, one can think of nothing better to say to make one's next point. In his mind, it's an expression of exasperation. For Klingons, exasperation is not an admirable characteristic.

There is, however, an expression that serves a similar role, including the defiance but lacking the exasperation. If one were to hear one Klingon say to another, bItaHrup'a'? are you prepared to continue? (bI- you, taH continue, -rup ready, prepared, -'a' question), one should probably either stand back or get closer, depending upon whether one thinks a fight or stimulating round of curse warfare is about to ensue. The expression carries the element of defiance only if the pronominal element is second person (SutaHrup'a' is the form used when addressing a group rather than an individual [Su- you (plural)]). taHrup'a' means merely is he/she (or are they) ready to continue? It's just a question. Even with a second-person pronoun, in a context that is clearly nonconfrontational, the phrase bItaHrup'a' (or SutaHrup'a') could be used to convey its literal meaning, _Are you ready to continue? The defiant sense of the expression, however, is more common.

Maltz felt sure that there was a connection between this expression and the expletive taHqeq, but he couldn't explain exactly what the connection was.

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