Maltz's Reward: Part IV

HolQeD article of vol. 13 issue 1, March 2004, 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 explains how to say "A is as Q as B" and how to say "A isn't Q:er than B".


The fourth person who correctly filled in the missing line of Frasier's bar mitzvah speech didn't ask for a word, but instead for a grammatical construction. Or maybe it was for the word "as."

The winner said he would like to know how to express "A is as Q as B," where A and B are the two things being compared and Q is a quality.

Maltz said there were a few ways to say this. (Maltz is answering more and more questions this way these days.)

One way to express the notion of "A is as Q a B" is by attributing the quality in question to A and saying that B is the same, that is, Q A, rap B "A is Q, B is the same" (rap be the same), though the translation into English is usually "H is as Q as A," For example:

ghun 'Iw HIq, rap boqrat chej
the bokrat liver is as warm as the bloodwine

literally, "The bloodwine is warm, the bokrat liver is the same" (ghun be warm, 'Iw HIq bloodwine, boqrat bokrat, chej liver [bokrat liver is typically served hot in a stew]).

'ey ro'qegh'Iwchab, rap qagh
the gagh is as delicious as the rokeg blood pie

literally, "The rokeg blood pie is delicious, the gagh is the same" ('ey be delicious, ro'qegh'Iwchab rokeg blood pie, qagh gagh).

It is also possible to use nIb be identical rather than rap. For example:

'ugh ro'qegh'Iwchab, nIb raHta'
the racht is as heavy as the rokeg blood pie

literally, "The rokeg blood pie is heavy, the racht is identical" ('ugh be heavy,, raHta' racht).

Using nIb carries a connotation of preciseness – the rokeg blood pie and the racht are exactly the same weight. Thus, it might be used when referring to something that can be measured, such as weight, but it is not likely to be used with less quantifiable qualities where the assertion of sameness is more a judgment, such as deliciousness. It is never improper to use rap even in cases where the quality is measurable.

The most common ways to express "A is as Q as B," however, involve constructions which parallel the "law' / puS" construction for comparatives and superlatives.

The normal way to express comparatives (A is Q-er than B) is A Q law', B Q puS (law' be many, puS be few), as in:

tlhIngan qu' law' tera'ngan qu' puS
the Klingon is more fierce than the Terran
(tlhIngan Klingon, qu' be fierce, tera'ngan Terran)

The normal way to express superlatives (A is the Q-est) is to use Hoch all in the B position:

tlhIngan qu' law' Hoch qu' puS
the Klingon is the fiercest (of all)

If the quality being discussed is the same for both A and B, that is, if A and B are the same as far as Q goes, there are a number of options. The most frequently heard, and most neutral, construction is A Q law' B Q rap, as in:

tlhIngan woch law' tera'ngan woch rap
the Klingon is as tall as the Terran (woch be tall)

While, in theory, it is possible to use the same construction with puS instead of law' (that is A Q puS B Q rap), this is seldom done and when it is done, there is a connotation of disparagement.

A variant of this construction uses nIb instead of rap:

tlhIngan woch law' tera'ngan woch nIb
the Klingon is as tall as the Terran

Again, nIb implies precision (the Klingon and the Terran are that exactly as tall as each other) and is not likely to be used unless the quality being discussed is quantifiable or measurable. rap, on the other hand, may be used regardless of whether the quality is quantifiable.

It should be noted that this restriction on nIb applies only in this sort of construction It is perfectly natural to say, for example, nIb va'nuchDu'chaj "their heels are identical" (va'nuch heel, -Du' plural, -chaj their) without suggesting in what way they are identical and without implying that any precise measuring has or has not occurred or could or could not occur.

If the quality being discussed is a positive one, or if having the quality is a positive attribute, another (similar) construction may be used: A Q law' B Q law'. Likewise, if the quality is a negative one, or if having the quality is considered a negative attribute, one may use the construction A Q puS B Q puS.

ro'qegh'Iwchab 'ey law' qagh 'ey law'
the rokeg blood pie is as delicious as the gagh

'Iw HIq bIr puS chuch bIr puS
the bloodwine is as cold as the ice is (or, the bloodwine is as cold as ice) (bIr be cold, chuch ice)

Being delicious is a good thing as applied to food, so using law' twice emphasizes just how delicious the two dishes are. On the other hand, bloodwine is best when served warm. Using puS twice emphasizes how inappropriate the coldness of the bloodwine is. (It is not likely even cold bloodwine is really as cold as ice, but a disgruntled Klingon is not beyond hyperbole.)

Maltz pointed out that although these constructions may be used to form similes, they are generally used only when comparing similar things. Commonly, a simile (where two basically unlike things are compared) is of the form Q A; B rur (rur resemble) (thus, A resembles B with regard to a particular quality, Q, though otherwise A and B would probably not even be compared). For example:

puj verengan; bIQ rur
the Ferengi is as weak as water
(puj be weak, verengan Ferengi bIQ water)

literally, "The Ferengi is weak; he/she resembles water."

When the law' / rap, law' / law' or puS / puS constructions are used to compare unlike things, they generally make reference to (or, better, are recastings of) well-known similes. For example:

SuvwI' ghung law' qagh ghung rap
the warrior is as hungry as gagh
(SuvwI' warrior, ghung be hungry)

ghung; qagh rur
hungry as gagh

tlhIngan HoS law', 'Iw HoS law'
the Klingon is as strong as blood
(HoS be strong, 'Iw blood)

HoS; 'Iw rur
strong as blood

verengan puj puS, bIQ puj puS
the Ferengi is as weak as water

puj; bIQ rur
weak as water

To express the opposite notion, that is "A is not as Q as B," the most common locution is A Q law' B Q pIm (pIm be different), as in:

QuchlIj vIl law' QuchwIj vIl pIm
your forehead is not as ridgy as my forehead (Quch forehead, -lIj your, vIl be ridgy, -wIj my)

Here is an instance where the English translation does not properly capture the Klingon meaning. The English "your forehead is not as ridgy as my forehead" implies (though it does not explicitly state) that my forehead is ridgier than yours. This implication is not in the Klingon. *QuchlIj vIl law' QuchwIj vIl pIm * means only that the ridginess of your forehead and mine is not the same. If the intended meaning is what the English implies, one would use the normal law' */ *puS construction:

QuchwIj vIl law' QuchlIj vIl puS
my forehead is ridgier than your forehead

To disagree with this notion, that is, to assert that your forehead is not ridgier than mine (it may be less ridgy, or the ridginess may be the same), one would use the construction A Q law'be' B Q puSbe' (A's Q is not many, B's Q is not few) (-be' not):

QuchlIj vIl law'be' QuchwIj vIl puSbe'
your forehead isn't ridgier than my forehead

With that, Maltz said jIH Doy' law' SoH Doy' puS (I am more tired than you are) and left the room, muttering something about considering the next Frasier request at another time.

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Category: Canon    Latest edit: 03 Oct 2021, by KlingonTeacher    Created: 03 Oct 2021 by KlingonTeacher
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