I wanted prisoners

The sentence qama'pu' jonta' neH "I wanted prisoners" is spoken by Kruge in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. It is the most consequential sentence in the creation of the Klingon language. While Marc Okrand has had to retrofit other sentences due to the film editing process, no other sentence comes close to the impact that this sentence has had.

Originally, qama'pu' jonta' neH was supposed to mean "I told you, engines only" (qa- I-you, ma' tell, -pu' past tense, jonta' engine, neH only). The director decided to use the already filmed line for a scene where Kruge instead says "I wanted prisoners". Consequently, Marc Okrand had to alter many parts of the nascent Klingon language to make this fit:

  • make qama' the word for "prisoner"
    • ma' was changed to mean "accommodate" as an inside joke (qama'pu' I have accommodated you)
    • ja' was added to replace the original intended meaning of ma'
  • turn -pu' into a plural suffix for beings
    • the verb suffix -pu', originally indicating past tense, was changed to indicate aspect
    • indirectly, this led to the creation of -Du' as previously -mey was the only plural suffix for everything
  • split the original word for "engine" into the verb jon capture and the suffix -ta' (with a similar meaning to -pu')
    • make up a new word for engine, QuQ
  • turn neH into a verb meaning "want"
  • invent Clipped Klingon to explain away the lack of the expected verb prefixes

Side-to-side comparison

Original meaning I-you tell [perfective] engine only
qa' ma' pu' jon ta' neH
New meaning prisoner [plural] capture [perfective] want

See also

Category: Grammar    Latest edit: 15 Nov 2021, by De7vID    Created: 11 Nov 2021 by De7vID
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