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HolQeD article of vol. 8 issue 1, March 1999, page 7-12

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


reprint of some messages from the Usenet group, with minor changes in formatting:


  flag   This topic has been added to the todo-list. Reason: requires formatting and interlinking.

Marc Okrand continues to bring commentary and insight from his discussions with Maltz to the internet's bulletin boards and electronic mailing lists. The following selections are reprinted with his permission. – LMS

From Newsgroup message of February 21, 1998
What we call "brown" would be described in Klingon by using the verb Doq be red, orange. If the context is dear (such as contrasting a brown thing with a thing that cannot be described as Doq, such as something that's SuD blue, green, yellow), Doq alone is good enough. Thus, if there are two drinking cups, one brown and one blue, one might say:

HIvje' Doq vIneH
I want the Doq cup.

Only the brown cup could be described as Doq; the blue cup is definitely not Doq since it is SuD.

On the other hand, to be more precise when talking about the color (when, for example, there's a brown cup and a red cup), Klingons would typically use the phrase:

Doq 'ej wovbe'
be orange, red and not be bright

To get even more specific (to be able to refer to different kinds of browns) would involve comparisons. For example:

Doq 'ej Qaj wuS rur
be orange, red and resemble kradge lips

The lips of the kradge are presumably a particular shade of brown.

From Newsgroup message of February 21, 1998
In English, the preposition "in" is sometimes locative (that is, referring to location) in meaning (e.g., "in the house," "on the table") but sometimes not ("trust in God," "believe in magic"). In fact, in English, "in" frequently doesn't have a literally locative sense. We use it all over the place: "in debt," "work in television," "in preparing this report," "speaking in Klingon," and so on. Likewise, in addition to the locative uses of the English preposition "from" ("run from the burning house," "traveled from Paris"), there are non-locative uses ("know right from wrong," "stop me from eating"). The story's the same for other English prepositions (for example, locative "on the table," non-locative "go on with your story;" locative "under the table," non-locative "under discussion").

In Klingon, however, the noun suffixes -Daq (the general locative) and -vo' from express only notions related to space ("to a place," "in a place," "from a place," and so on). They are thus not the same as English prepositions, which have a wider range of usage.

From Newsgroup message of February 21, 1998
As far as I know, 'ej means "and" in the sense of "in addition," "also," "as well as," and the like. It does not have any temporal or sequential implications, That is, it does not (by itself) mean "and then." For example, Klingon jISop 'ej jItlhutlh I eat and I drink means "I eat and also I drink." It could refer to events that occur in alternating fashion (eat some, drink some, eat some, drink some more) or, especially in the case of some Klingons, events that occur pretty much simultaneously. It could also [p.8] mean "I eat and then I drink," but it does not necessarily mean that. If that is the intended meaning (and if being a little vague or ambiguous or unclear will cause misunderstanding and hence discomfort), additional stuff must be added or the whole thing must be rephrased to make the meaning explicit (such as jItlhutlhpa' jISop before I drink, I eat).

Similarly, the most likely interpretation of jItlhutlh 'ej jIQong I drink and I sleep is not that I drink in my sleep (though it could be used for that if I really did it), but rather simply "I drink and also I sleep," a listing of two things I do, presumably (but not explicitly) not at the same time.

Then there's qaDuQ 'ej bIregh I stab you and you bleed. It probably would be used when the stabbing precedes (and is the direct cause of) the bleeding. But it doesn't explicitly say that; it only says "I stab you" and it also says "you bleed." The sequential interpretation (and/or the cause-and-effect interpretation) is due to the way the world works. Or some worlds.

Since it is possible to say either jISop, jItlhutlh I eat, I drink or jISop 'ej jItlhutlh I eat and I drink to refer to the same thing, it might seem as though 'ej is optional. Grammatically, that's fair to say. In terms of meaning, however, when 'ej is used, it adds something; it emphasizes or points out some sort of connection between the two events – though not necessarily a temporal one.

Finally, although I've been referring to "events," the same holds for states and conditions and the like. Thus, jIghung 'ej jIQeH I'm hungry and I'm angry could be used if first I'm hungry and then (whether as a result of the pangs or not) I get angry, or if I'm hungry and angry at the same time, or if I waver between the two.

In short, 'ej is neutral as to time.

The verb for "write" in the sense of "compose" is qon, literally record. This is used for songs and also for literary works (poems, plays, romance novels, and so on). As has been pointed out, it's as if the song or story is somehow out there and the "writer" comes into contact with it, extracts it, and records it.

The verb usually translated "write," ghItlh, refers to the physical activity of writing (moving the pencil around, chiseling, etc.)

The question is, if you can ghItlh it, must you also qon it? That is, is everything that is written down the result of composition (in the sense described above)?

The answer is "not necessarily." There's another verb, gher, which doesn't have a straightforward equivalent in English, but which has sometimes been translated (not entirely satisfactorily) as "formulate" or "compile" or "pull together." The idea seems to be that of bringing thoughts together into some kind of reasonably coherent form so that they can be conveyed to someone else.

Thus, one would usually say naD tetlh gher he/she compiles the Commendation List or he/she writes the Commendation list. (Maltz laughed at, but accepted, *Soj tetlh gher* for he/she writes the grocery list.)

One would probably gher, rather than qon, a suggested list of [p.9] readings, a gazetteer, a simple menu, or the instructions for assembling a toy (assuming the latter is not really an exercise in creative writing).

One might also say QIn gher he/she formulates a message or, more colloquially, he/she writes a message. But now it begins to get tricky. Using gher here implies that the writer of the message was passing along some information he or she got elsewhere, such as scribbling down a telephone message. Saying QIn qon he/she composes a message or he/she writes a message (literally he/she records a message) suggests that the writer is presenting some new information as opposed to merely passing something along. It may also imply that the written message has some sort of literary merit, and thus be a compliment.

But not always. HIDjolev qon he/she composes the menu suggests that the speaker thinks the list of available fare is written with a certain literary flair. This is not likely to be said of menus in Klingon restaurants (whose menus, if posted at all, tend to be rather pithy), and thus could easily be taken as an insult.

Similarly, something like bom gher he/she formulates the song would be taken as a disparaging comment about the song or its composer (and is, in fact, sometimes heard when the song in question is of non-Klingon origin).

From Newsgroup message of December 7, 1998
Actually, there are several words referring to wall:

An interior wall (such as a wall separating your living room from your kitchen) is a tlhoy'.

An exterior wall (that is, a wall which separates the inside of a building from the outside) is a reD.

For the interior side of an exterior wall, it is quite common to use tlhoy', but the phrase pa' reD, literally room's exterior wall (pa' room) is also heard, referring to the wall in a room which faces outside (as opposed to the other walls in the room whose other sides are still indoors).

The wall around a city is a yergho, which is apparently derived from yer domain, holdings, territory, plus gho circle.

A wall which divides a territory into parts (such as the Berlin Wall) is also called a tlhoy', even though neither side of it is the interior of a structure. On occasion, for clarity, such a wall is termed a chevwI' tlhoy' separator wall (chev separate, -wI' that which does [something]) or a pIn tlhoy', literally boss wall, presumably dating back to a time when each subterritory had a specific person in charge.

The phrase pa' tlhoy' room's interior wall is also heard from time to time, but usually only when it is necessary to distinguish the interior wall sense of tlhoy' from the separator wall sense.

A tlhoy' interior wall need not be vertical. In a multistory structure, the stories are separated by what Klingon architects and builders call a tlhoy' SaS horizontal wall (tlhoy' interior wall, SaS be horizontal). The side of this "wall" which is the bottom of the upper story is the rav floor; the side which is the top of the lower story is the rav'eq ceiling (based on rav floor plus 'eq, an element otherwise unknown [there is no evidence it is connected to 'eq _be early_]). [p.10]

rav floor is also used for the floor of a room on ground level (or a basement floor, for that matter), even though there is no corresponding rav'eq and no tlhoy' SaS.

Similarly, though in general rav'eq ceiling refers to the ceiling of a room that has a room above it, it may also be used for the ceiling of a room on the top floor, even though there is no corresponding rav and no tlhoy' SaS. On occasion, though, the ceiling of the top floor is called pa' beb, literally room's roof (from pa' room plus beb roof). The term beb refers to the covering on top of a structure.

From Newsgroup message of February 02, 1999
Actually, there are several ways to ask "What time is it?" in Klingon. Here are a couple.

In dealing with time in interplanetary communication, Klingons have come to use the 24-hour system favored by the Federation. There are 24 hours in a day (meaning 24 Earth hours in an Earth day), numbered one through 24. For example:

tera' rep wa'
Earth hour one or one o'clock

tera' rep cha'maH
Earth hour 20 or 20 o'clock
or eight o'clock p.m.

tera' rep loS wejmaH
Earth hour 4:30

If the context is clear, the word tera' Earth may be left out:

rep cha'maH
20 o'clock, eight o'clock p.m.

When working within this system, one doesn't inquire as to the time; one demands that the number of the current hour be specified. Thus, the equivalent expression to 'What time is it?" is a command:

rep yIper!
Ascertain the hour! Specify the hour!

This is literally "Label the hour! Though the verb per label is usually used in the sense of attach or assign a name to, it can also be used for such notions as ascertain, specify, pin down. This is not considered slang or idiomatic.

When giving the time using this system, hours are numbered, not counted. That is, one says rep cha' hour two, hour number two, two o'clock, not cha' rep or cha' repmey two hours (here -mey, is not needed when a number modifies a noun, but it is sometimes used anyway). Accordingly, it is not customary to ask for the time by saying rep tItogh or repmey tItogh Count the hours!

In nonmilitary contexts (rare as these may be) and situations where interplanetary communication is not a concern, the most common way of asking "What time is it?" in Klingon is quite different. It is based on the way the question was asked long ago, in a time before Klingons traveled around the galaxy and before there was any significant amount of interaction between Klingons and residents of other planets:

'arlogh Qoylu'pu'?

This is literally How many times has (someone) heard (it)? or How many times has it been heard?

What is not clear from this locution is what it is that has supposedly been heard. In modern [p.11] Klingon, the "what" in this phrase is never expressed.

It appears as though, long ago, at least some Klingons were notified of the time by some audible signal (though what means were used to calculate the time in the first place remain to be discovered). Perhaps this signal was a specific sound (a person shouting? a beat on a drum? A gong? the growl of an animal?) and that word was originally part of the expression, for example, 'arlogh bey Qoylu'pu'? How many times has someone heard the howl? How many times has the howl been heard? Or maybe the expression contained a more general word such as ghum alarm or wab sound, noise: 'arlogh wab Qoylu'pu'? How many times has someone heard the sound? How many times has the sound been heard?

It has also been speculated that there was once a bit more to this expression, namely an element stating the time period the questioner was concerned about. For example, maybe people said:

DaHjaj 'arlogh Qoylu'pu'?

That is, Today, how many times has someone heard it? suggesting that the questioner is concerned about how much time has gone by today (as opposed to, say, this week).

Or maybe the fuller expression was a little less specific:

qen 'arlogh Qoylu'pu'?
Recently, how many times has someone heard it?

Regardless of its original full form, the expression comes down to us now as simply 'arlogh Qoylu'pu'?. The phrase is considered an idiom because what it means (What time is it?) cannot be understood on the basis of the meanings of its components (How many times has someone heard it?).

The answer to the question 'arlogh How many times? is, as might be expected, X*-logh*, where X is some number. For example:

cha'logh Qoylu'pu'.

This is literally Someone has heard it twice or It has been heard twice. This is the Klingon equivalent to "It's two o'clock." Originally, this was a statement of time in the traditional Klingon system, but it is now also used for the 24-hour system.

The idiomatic 'arlogh Qoylu'pu' also shows up in such questions as "What time do we leave?":

mamejDI' 'arlogh Qoylu'pu'?

This is literally When we leave, how many times will someone have heard (it)? or When we leave, how many times will it have been heard?

An answer might be "We (will) leave at eight o'clock":

mamejDI' chorghlogh Qoylu'pu'

Literally, When we leave, someone will have heard (it) eight times.

Since subordinate clauses such as mamejDI' when we leave can come before or after the main clause, it's also possible to say:

'arlogh Qoylu'pu' mamejDI'?
chorghlogh Qoylu'pu' mamejDI'.

Literally, How many times will someone have heard (it) when we leave? Someone will have heard (it) eight times when we leave. [p.12]

In actual conversation, of course, it's usually not so repetitive. You'd probably hear:

'arlogh Qoylu'pu' mamejDI'?
chorghlogh Qoylu'pu'.
How many times will someone have heard (it) when we leave? Someone will have heard (it) eight times.

Or even:

'arlogh Qoylu'pu' mamejDI'?

How many times will someone have heard (it) when we leave? Eight times.

See also

External links

Category: Canon    Latest edit: 16 Feb 2022, by KlingonTeacher    Created: 13 Feb 2022 by KlingonTeacher
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