Okrand's Notes

HolQeD article of vol. 2 issue 4, December 1993, page 17-18

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


Okrand reveals words for "weather", "ear", "winning" and "losing", "writing", some musical terminology, and a suggestion on how to express "with" (in the sense of "accompanied by").


Much of our knowledge of Klingon stems from a single informant, the prisoner Maltz. It was through his cooperation that The Klingon Dictionary was made possible. In the time since its publication, we are pleased to report that Marc Okrand has found and deciphered some notes not previously known to exist. While brief and fragmentary, they are invaluable, and provide hope that still other materials exist somewhere, awaiting discovery. Here then are the new lexical items as provided by Dr. Okrand:

1. weather -- The Klingon word for "weather," meaning the state of the atmosphere, is the same as the word for "atmosphere" itself, muD. When inquiring about specific weather conditions at a specific time and/or place, the expression muD Dotlh (literally, "atmosphere status") is used.

2. musical terminology -- There is some kind of relationship between Klingon and Terran music, but it's rather like two circles which only partially overlap. As a result, there is much, both musically and terminologically, which we do not yet understand. Nevertheless, here's a start:

"music," meaning musical sound, whether or not a Klingon voice is participating in producing this sound, is QoQ.

"sing" is bom. But a better translation might be "chant."

"song" is likewise bom, And the noun "chant" might likewise be somewhat closer to the mark as a translation.

"lyric(s)" is bom mu'.

"compose" is qon. Actually, this is the word translated in TKD as the verb "record," meaning to make a record of something (whether this record be written or a digital recording or an old-fashioned wax cylinder or anything). Apparently Klingon songs are not composed by anybody -- they're just out there, waiting to be hunted down, trapped, and logged (that is, written down and/or taught to others).

3. ear -- Actually, there are two words for "ear":

qogh refers to the flap of skin or cartilage or whatever it is that sticks out on either side of the head.

teS refers to the organ of hearing, inside the head.

qogh "ear," of course is homophonous with qogh, "belt." When used in context, there is seldom confusion; less so when the plural is used (qoghDu' can only be "ears" while qoghmey generally means "belts"). This homophony explains why the Klingon slang expression *qogh tuQmoHHa'*, literally "take off one's belt" is used to mean "to not hear," for example, qogh vItuQmoHHa'pu' "I've taken off my belt; your secret is safe with me."

4. win/lose -- "To win" a competition is Qap. (If it's a decisive or particularly gratifying victory, they'd say Qapchu', even though that's a bit redundant.) In TKD, Qap is translated as "succeed, work, function." To a Klingon, to win is to function perfectly. The opposite notion, "lose," is commonly luj, also meaning "fail."

5. mark (upon) -- "To mark (upon)" something is ghItlh. This isn't just writing; it's any kind of marking. (Note that ghItlh, "to write," refers to the physical act of writing. It doesn't mean "to create a composition.")

6. with -- In the sense of "accompanied by," "with" is usually translated by a phrase employing the verb tlhej, "accompany." (there's a typo in the English-Klingon section of TKD: tlhej is erroneously tagged as a noun.) Thus, "I drink tea with Torg and Maltz" would be:

Dargh vItlhutlhDI' mutlhej torgh matlh je. (literally, "when I drink tea, Torg and Maltz accompany me.") or

Dargh vItlhutlh. mutlhej torgh matlh je. ("I drink tea. Torg and Maltz accompany me.") or

Dargh vItlhutlh 'ej mutlhej torgh matlh je. ("I drink tea, and Torg and Maltz accompany me.")

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