FAQ for the Klingon Mailing List

NOTE:This page is a mirrored and adapted version of the KLI's FAQ, stored in http://higbee.cots.net/Holtej/klingon/faq.htm. The original FAQ was last updated in 2005, whereas this page is updated frequently, including new answers and corrected weblinks.

This is a collection of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for the official mailing list of the Klingon Language Institute, called tlhIngan-Hol. If you have a question about the language or the list, this is the first place to check. This is not intended to discourage discussion of the language on the list; indeed, it's intended to foster such discussion, by making sure that we all have a common background and understanding of the issues before us. This FAQ is not the work of an individual; all our voices are represented here, either through direct quotes, or through an evolution of the understanding (or at least the articulation) of the questions which we consider.

Contents of this page:

1.1 Origins of this FAQ

This FAQ was compiled in 2001 and was maintained until 2005 by d'Armond Speers (Holtej):
I have decided to compile this FAQ, not for my own personal glory and honor, but for the benefit of all those who share an interest in the language of the Klingons. I am not so vain to believe that I have the right or the skill to answer each of these questions, and I do not try to provide the answers to all these questions. The answers presented here are nearly always quoted from members of the tlhIngan-Hol mailing list, who have articulated themselves particularly clearly (in my view), when asked about some feature of the language. Credit is always given. Thus, this FAQ may be seen as a "Greatest Hits" compilation from the annals of the mailing list.

On the other hand, if there are any inaccuracies, misquotes, omissions, etc., these must be considered errors in presentation. As I've taken on the responsibility of presenting this material, so must I take responsibility for presenting it as accurately as possible.

This FAQ is as much about the Klingon language as it is about the tlhIngan-Hol mailing list. If you would like to see something here that isn't, or change something that is, write me. My homepage is a more appropriate forum for the expression of my ego.

1.2. The tlhIngan Hol mailing list

For up-to-the-minute contact with the Klingon community, nothing beats the Klingon-language email list. It's a large mailing list with most of the top-flight Klingon-speakers as regular posters, as well as speakers of all levels, all the way down to rank beginners. The purpose of the tlhIngan-Hol mailing list is to provide a forum for people to exercise their Klingon language skills. No additional purpose is intended or implied.

The topics discussed on the list are essentially unbounded. In fact, the wider the range of discussions, the better it will be for everyone trying to expand their skills. The list's official policy is that you may write about anything, if you write it in Klingon; you may write in English, if you're writing about the Klingon language. It is not appropriate to talk about Klingon costumes, customs, etc., or other Star Trek related items, unless you are doing so in Klingon. Don't send letters to the list about computer viruses, political issues like the CDA or other causes, holiday greetings, or things you want to sell, unless you're doing it in Klingon. Don't write to the list complaining that you can't get unsubscribed to the mailing list (see below), unless you're doing it in Klingon. See a trend here?

To subscribe, use the following URL:

1.2.1 Who are the grammarians? Who's in charge here?

➞ See Main article Beginners' Grammarian

The tlhIngan-Hol mailing list is operated officially by the KLI . Administrative aspects of the list are handled (primarily) by Chris Lipscombe (qurgh). Linguistic aspects of the list are handled by grammarians. The grammarians are here to help, mainly by offering their insight and expertise with Klingon, and to keep discussion on-point. Rarely will a grammarian make a heavy-handed judgement; more often, they will offer advice and direction. The role of the grammarian was created to allow some "official" view of correct use of Klingon on the list.

The granddaddy of all grammarians is the illustrious HoD Qanqor (Captain Krankor). Sadly, the Good Captain rarely graces us with his presence any more, having more pressing duties with the Empire. His foremost appointee is Mark Shoulson, who has for years now served as the list's official grammarian. Mark also goes by Seqram , or ~mark. If you want official, he's it.

In addition to HoD Qanqor and Seqram, there are a number of people who have served as "Beginner's Grammarians" through the years. These individuals each did a tour of duty as the Grammarian of the KLBC, a discussion targeted specifically to the newcomer to the Klingon language and the tlhIngan-Hol mailing list.

These people have been recognized by the official Grammarian(s) as having a high degree of skill with the language, and in general you should recognize their experience and skills. There are also many others who have high degrees of skills, but who have not served in any official capacity; as you spend more time on the list, it should become clear who these individuals are.

1.2.3 Help! How do I unsubscribe from this list!

When you subscribed, you should have received a welcoming letter with unsubscription instructions, among other things. From now on, be a responsible net citizen and keep those instructional messages you receive when you subscribe to mailing lists.

Manage your subscription using the following URL:

I tried that. It didn't work!

Never, never, never send a message to the mailing list complaining about not being able to unsubscribe. In no case will this result in your getting removed from the list. If you continue to send inappropriate messages to the list, the list will be set to ignore you, which means that you won't be able to send messages to the list, but you'll still be receiving messages from the list. If you send impolite or abusive mail to the list administrator, your address will be added to his kill list, and you'll never be able to get a letter to him, and thus never be able to get yourself removed from the list. Also, your postmaster will be notified of your abusive behavior, which may result in revocation of your e-mail access. This is an unpleasant prospect for all.

You can send a polite e-mail message to the list administrator, asking that your name be removed from the list by hand. Your administrator is d'Armond Speers (Holtej), speersd (at) georgetown (dot) edu . All polite requests will be processed as quickly as possible, which in some cases may be as long as a few days. Please be patient.

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1.2.4 What's this "welcoming letter" I keep hearing about?

➞ See main article Welcome letter.

1.2.5 What are the rules for this list?

The rules are stated in the welcoming letter , but here's a quick summary. Posts to the list can be of two flavors:

  • Written in English, discussing the Klingon language (grammar, vocabulary, etc.).
  • Written in Klingon, about anything.
As long as it's written in Klingon, you can write about anything. If it's not written in Klingon, think hard about sending it. Posts that don't conform to these rules are not appropriate to send to the list. In the worst cases, inappropriate posts will result in your immediate removal from the list. Here are some examples of inappropriate posts which will result in your immediate removal from the list:

  • Posts with vulgar, offending language
  • Virus warnings (such as "Good Times", etc.)
  • Political messages ("Communications Decency Act" (CDA) and so on)
  • Solicitations ("MailCrapper 2000 is the best bulk-mailer on the market!! Buy Now!")
The list's maintainers will be the sole judge of what's appropriate. If you continue to send inappropriate messages to the list (info about Klingon cons, uniforms, fan groups, etc., that don't really have anything to do with the Klingon language), you may be unsubscribed. Just use some common sense, and some demonstrated courtesy.

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1.3 What materials are there for learning Klingon?

1.3.1 Books by Marc Okrand

➞ See main article on Portal Canon

1.3.2 The Klingon Postal Course

➞ See main article Postal Course.

1.3.3 Klingon Educational Virtual Environment

➞ See main article MUSH.

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2. Introduction / Newcomers

You've just signed on to the tlhIngan Hol mailing list, and you're getting your mail. You want to introduce yourself, but where do you begin? Do you start in English or Klingon? Do you choose a name for yourself, or do you have a name in Klingon, but you're not sure if you can use it? Have no fear, the answers to these questions and more are here.

2.1 How do I say "my name is..."?

➞ See main article My name is.

2.2 How do I choose a Klingon name?

➞ See main article klingon name.

2.3 How do I translate "Bubba" (or any name) into Klingon?

➞ See main article klingon name.

2.4 What does KLBC mean? What is the KLBC?

KLBC is a discussion forum on the tlhIngan-Hol mailing list, for newcomers to the language. ➞ See main article KLBC.

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2.5 I've just finished reading TKD and I'm translating the Iliad into Klingon; anyone want to help?

We're delighted you're here! But, slow down, speed racer!

How do you expect to translate something like "Sing, O goddess, the anger of Achilles son of Peleus, that brought countless ills upon the Achaeans", before you've mastered "See spot run"? For some reason, a large number of beginners pick up TKD, and want to dive into the most complicated tasks. Unbelievable.

Here's an idea. Hang around the list for a while. Read everything you see that's written in Klingon. Try some simple, original sentences in tlhIngan Hol, within the KLBC. Write about what's on your mind, what you're doing on a daily basis, tell us about yourself. Work on putting your own thoughts and words into Klingon, before you wrestle with someone else's.

And, if you're still itching to translate, check out the translation projects which are sponsored by the KLI . These are coordinated efforts by skilled Klingon speakers, and there's always room for new, energetic folks to join in.

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2.6 I keep seeing words that I can't find in TKD, how am I supposed to know what they mean?

There are many sources for "canonical" Klingon, in addition to TKD. What is the student of tlhIngan Hol to do? Must one buy all the books, both tapes, get all the back issues of HolQeD, buy the CD-ROM, collect all the SkyBox trading cards, and scour all the episodes of TNG, DS9 and Voyager, just to follow a simple conversation? va!

Fear not. The gracious William Martin started a comprehensive, annotated list of all vocabulary that is not immediately contained in TKD. This list is maintained for public consumption on the KLI's website(1). It is currently maintainedby Alan Anderson and Chris Lipscombe.

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2.7 How do I use words like "asparagus" when writing Klingon? Should I write it phonetically in Klingon?

➞ See main article Transliteration.

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2.8 Why do so many Klingons seem to have names that don't even fit into Klingon phonology?

(2)Now, here's a new little tidbit of info. I have to write up a proper report (someday) about the Star Trek 30th anniversary celebration I just came back from, but Marc Okrand did mention something relevant to this discussion in a panel he was holding. Why do so many Klingons seem to have names that don't even fit into Klingon phonology? It's because Klingons are a people (like some Terran cultures) that sometimes take "outsider" names. These are names that are for use with people outside the culture or social unit; names for the offworlders to call them. (I've heard there are some cultures on Earth where it is sensible to say "I don't know what my name is." People there have a private name, known to few or none, a name that's used in his presence, and a name that's used to refer to him when he's not there, which may or may not be the same as any other... and may or may not be complimentary. And may also vary by locale, so I might know what one group of friends calls me, but not another). A fair answer. And these names need not be Klingon in pronunciation, because they're not Klingon names, they're names for Klingons intended for off-worlders.

➞ See also: Names

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2.9 What's the big deal with capitalization when writing Klingon? Is it important?

Short answer: yes. Get it right.

Some people argue that it's hard to tell the difference between a capital I ("eye") and lower case l ("ell") in a sans serif font, and it's easier to see the difference if you use a lower case i ("eye"). While this may be true, it is inconsistent with Klingon orthography. The Klingon writing system is a convention, and it's that way for a reason. With the capital I ("eye"), the capitalization is meant to be a reminder that the vowel is lax, not tense, consistent with a convention that linguists use, called the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet). But with other letters, there's a more compelling reason: the letter q is not the same as the letter Q. They are symbols which represent different phonemes in Klingon, as demonstrated by the minimal pair qub be rare and Qub think. If you get it wrong, you will be misunderstood, and you will be waving a large flag over your head which reads, "I'm a beginner, and I don't really care if I learn this language!"

(3)You know, when you go to France, you don't tell them it's silly to write a c with a thingy on it to make an s sound ("why not just use s ? I always confuse the cedilla with a normal c , and besides, s is so much easier to type!"). Indeed, in a standard ASCII font, there is no way to distinguish a cedilla-d c from a normal one, but, remarkably, nobody tries to change the way we write French on the net. Nobody tries to do sa m'est egal instead of ça m'est egal. Similarly, when you join a tlhIngan Hol group, you don't change the writing either. As far as I'm concerned, it is simple arrogance to come into a group and say "Hey, you know that language you guys have been reading and writing just fine? I'm changing it!"

And, for the record, I personally tend to not read posts that conspicuously do the I wrong. They simply are harder for me to read, and I'm unwilling to put in the extra effort to read it wrong because somebody refused to write it right.

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2.10 I just heard Worf say ooga-booga to Dax. What does that mean?

(4)Short Answer:

  1. Unless the context of the show makes it clear, we don't know.
  2. Unless Marc Okrand explains or defines it in terms of tlhIngan Hol, most Klingonists will not use it.

Long Answer:

From time to time, Star Trek shows use language identified as "Klingon", but apparently don't care to refer to the well known language delineated by Marc Okrand. Practically speaking, the constraints of doing a weekly show are tremendous (any weekly show). It shouldn't be surprising that the producers don't worry too much about getting the language right.

Since Okrand himself does refer to other dialects and tongues within the empire, this is not unacceptable, we may pass it off as some other language of the Warrior race. On rare occassions Okrand has backfit terms from the Trek shows into his work.

So, generally the "odd" Klingon words heard on Trek shows (or used in occasonal Trek novels) are:

  1. From Klingon tongues we don't know
  2. Slang or colloquial usage not yet catalogued in TKD et al tlhIngan Hol sources.
  3. Random noise used by artistic license to stand in for real Klingon.

Since the KLI concentrates its focus on the language as defined by Marc Okrand, most Klingonists assume option 3 and ignore them, unless such oddities are approved by Okrand.

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2.11 Can we use punctuation when writing Klingon?

Short answer: Yes. ➞ See main article on punctuation

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2.12 Can someone give me a list of all the Klingon words?

This is an understandable question, considering the (increasingly) large number of canon sources for Klingon. But the problem is, the Klingon language belongs to Paramount; it's copyrighted. If someone started distributing lists of Klingon words (or descriptions of grammar, etc.), then Paramount might view this as competition for the legitimate sale of their own products, which would be A Bad Thing .

Besides, the very act of compiling your own list, even if it's just from TKD, can be extremely educational. TKD contains errors, such as words from one side of the dictionary missing from the other. When you go through the exercise of copying the dictionary, you can correct for these glitches. And, you get a good feel for what words are in the Klingon language. Even if you can't remember the exact word you're looking for, you'll have a better chance of remembering that the word exists. It's an important step on your path to learning Klingon.

What about all those other sources for canon beyond TKD? The KLI keeps a list of words post-TKD(5). Isn't this in violation of Paramount's copyrights? Well, the KLI has a license from Paramount, as an "Authorized User" of Klingon. But don't ask them for a complete list.

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2.13 What is pIqaD ? Does the Klingon writing I see on TV mean anything? Where can I learn how to read/write pIqaD ?

➞ See main article on pIqaD

pIqaD characters

(6)Okuda as artistic director of various Star Trek related ventures, creates fake written text on alien displays for some of their sets. Among those, he created a set of shapes he uses to represent written Klingon, although he arranges these characters by his own whim with no actual relationship between what is written and what it might mean. These shapes are often referred to as pIqaD characters because in TKD pIqaD is the word meaning "Klingon writing system"(7).


As defined by TKD, this is "Klingon writing system (n)". Dr. Lawrence M. Schoen, creator and editor of HolQeD and participant on this list has assigned painstakingly beautiful images of Okuda's characters to letters of Okrand's romanized Klingon alphabet (so that tlh is a single character, for example) and created a computer font useful for anyone with a system that uses either PostScript or TrueType fonts. When someone speaks of something written "in pIqaD ", they usually mean that it is written using Lawrence's font. When they say it "appears to be written in pIqaD ", they usually mean it was written using BitStream's Paramont-endorsed TEN, count 'em, TEN useless shapes assigned arbitrarily to a ten letters of the English alphabet with no explanation whatsoever.

Zrajm C Akfohg, of the Klingonska Akademien, Uppsala, maintains a page about "pIqaD, And How to Read It."(8)

tlhIngan Hol

This is the language of Klingons, written or spoken. If written, it can be written "in pIqaD ", or using Okrand's romanized alphabet. We use that [romanized alphabet] here because most computer terminals that access this mailing list cannot represent pIqaD .

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2.14 When is The Klingon Encyclopedia coming out? Where can I get it?

➞ See main article The Klingon Encyclopedia.

2.15 Where can I get the words to the Warrior's Anthem?

➞ See main article Warriors Anthem.

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2.16 Where can I go to learn about general grammar terminology?

A good, general guide to grammar terminology is maintained by the Summer Institute of Linguistics.

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2.17 Is Klingon included in Unicode?

(9)Not exactly. Klingon is not officially part of Unicode, but there is a recognized unofficial Unicode mapping.

The Klingon pIqaD script was on the Roadmap for inclusion in Unicode for several years before it was rejected. There were many debates on its appropriateness, with one camp maintaining that fictional scripts in general, and Klingon in particular, didn't belong in Unicode. That view was eventually defeated, with the relevant criteria ending up being whether a script is used by a large enough body of users who need to exchange data, and whether it is historically important enough with respect to existing recorded data. Klingon was rejected, but it failed because its potential users don't use it. The fact is that Klingon language publications, by and large, use the Romanized transcription presented in The Klingon Dictionary. This is arguably a chicken-and-egg situation, but nobody argued that point successfully to the relevant Unicode committees.

However, being rejected doesn't mean that Klingon is not compatible with Unicode today. Some years ago, Klingon was one of the supported languages in a popular distribution of the Linux operating system, with a pIqaD-style metafont character set mapped to a specific region of the Unicode Private Use Area. That mapping has been made somewhat more "public" in the CSUR, a published list of constructed scripts: http://home.ccil.org/~cowan/csur/index.html

"The purpose of the ConScript Unicode Registry (CSUR) is to coordinate the assignment of blocks out of the Unicode Private Use Area (E000-F8FF and 000F0000-0010FFFF) to constructed/artificial scripts, including scripts for constructed/artificial languages."

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3. Language Issues

3.1 What's the difference between TENSE and ASPECT? How I do indicate past tense in Klingon?


Let's try to clarify the differences between "tense" and "aspect" as they relate to grammar. Many students of tlhIngan Hol confuse the two concepts, and it is very important to understand how they differ.

TENSE tells when the events in a sentence occur. In English, the distinction between past, present, and future is made explicit in the sentence. For example:

Past: "I was hungry. I ate."
Present: "I am thirsty. I drink."
Future: "I will be tired. I will rest."

In these sentences, the verbs change form to match the tense, and show when the action is happening relative to "now". However, in tlhIngan Hol there is no explicit marking of tense. The relative time when the events occur is identified by other context, like a time word such as DaHjaj "today" or vaghben "five years ago". For example:

Past: wa'Hu' jIghung. jISop.
Present: DaHjaj jI'oj. jItlhutlh.
Future: wa'leS jIDoy'. jIleS.

Notice that the form of the verb does not change. By itself, the word jIghung can translate as "I was hungry," "I am hungry," or "I will be hungry." Only when the time of the sentence is stated in another way can the appropriate translation be determined. If one tells a story in English, the story is usally presented as if it happened in the past, and past tense is used. "A thousand and one years ago, two families fought one another." But see it as a movie, and it is usually told in a theoretical present tense of the actions portrayed. The time setting is established, and then the events unfold. tlhIngan Hol reads a lot like a movie script: wa'SaD wa'ben Suvchuq cha' qorDu' . There is no tense used, for tlhIngan Hol does not have tense.

ASPECT tells the degree of completion of an action in a sentence. English distinguishes between a simple "I drink" and a continuous "I am drinking." The ongoing nature is an example of aspect. In tlhIngan Hol , such an ongoing or continuous process is shown with the Type 7 verb suffixes: -taH and -lI' . -lI' also implies that there is a definite goal or stopping point for the action, a concept that English does not show simply. For example:

Neutral: jItlhutlh "I drink."
Continuous: jItlhutlhtaH "I am drinking."
Progressing: jItlhutlhlI' "I am drinking."

The "progressing" example might apply to someone in the middle of downing a glass of beer, while the "continuous" example says only that one is actively engaged in drinking. Remember also that the tense is not indicated here. The "neutral" example could also be translated as "I drank" or "I will drink."

Another type of aspect is referred to as "perfective" and says an action is already complete when the events in the sentence occur. In English, this is often done with the word "had". For example:

Neutral: "I sleep."
Perfective: "I have slept."

Both of these sentences are in present tense, but the second says that as of right now, the sleeping has already finished. The use of perfective aspect in tlhIngan Hol is shown by using the Type 7 verb suffixes -pu' and -ta' . They both say that something is finished in the context of the sentence, but -ta' has the extra implication that the action was intentional and successful, which is another concept not simply shown in English. For example:

Neutral: jIQong. "I sleep."
Perfective: jIQongpu'. "I have slept."
Accomplished: jIQongta'. "I have slept [intentionally]."

Again, remember that the perfective examples can also mean "I had slept" or "I will have slept."

See also ➞ Tense

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3.2 Hey! 'IwlIj jachjaj has the wrong word order! What gives?

'IwlIj jachjaj is a toast in Klingon, first presented by Okrand in CK. HoD Qanqor pointed this out in HolQeD 2:1, in an article identifying mistakes in canon. Dr. Okrand responded, indirectly, by commenting on the word order in Power Klingon. Mark Shoulson discussed this on the mailing list, and his comments are presented below.

(Mark Shoulson, Tue, 12 Oct 93)

Remember the problems we had with 'IwlIj jachjaj ? Well, Okrand must have gotten some flak about it, because he seemed to go out of his way to rub our noses in it and say it was right. His -jaj phrases in toasts and proverbs consistently have the subject before the verb. I imagine it's a poetic structure, formalized by familiarity (kind of like "Until death parts us" sounds wrong, even though it's far more normal in structure [by modern colloquial standards] than "till death do us part"). So 'IwlIj jachjaj reappears, along with reH tlhInganpu' taHjaj , reH tlhIngan wo' taHjaj , and SoHDaq qeylIS qa' yInjaj (may the spirit of Kahless live in you). Moreover, Michael Dorn says that the toasts have a grammatical structure of their own, and that there was a recent incident of a tourist reversing two words of the toast (jachjaj 'IwlIj) and inadvertently insulting all prior and several subsequent generations of the families of those present, and the tourist's pieces were still being collected. I guess Okrand wants to remind us who's still in charge.

This has been explained in Klingon for the Galactic Traveler.

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3.3 How do I quote someone in Klingon. (The guard said, "Stop!")

The following is a discussion between Will Martin (WM) and Mark Shoulson (MS) on the mailing list, which describes the problem (and what we know about it) very clearly.

(Mark Shoulson, Mon, 8 Aug 1994)

MS: Okrand told us that Klingon doesn't have indirect quotes, especially if (as you are) you're treating Har like a verb of saying (which I do not contest; it makes sense). So these sentences should be recast in first-person.

WM: Thanks. I was confused on this. I thought Klingon didn't have DIRECT quotes, and since most of the examples I've seen could be interpreted either way, I had no way of knowing. The example in TKD 6.2.5 has the speaker in the first person directed to a listener in the second person, which results in a sentence that would be the same as either a direct or indirect quote. The person of the subject of the second verb doesn't change:

I told you, "Don't you interrupt me."
I told you that you are not to interrupt me.

Had the object been other than second person, then I could have better known this. The person of the subject of the second verb changes:

I told him, "Don't you interrupt me."
I told him that he should not interrupt me.

I'm curious as to where you learned that Klingon doesn't have indirect quotes.

MS: Hmm! I derived that from the same place you quoted; it never occurred to me that it could be read to imply that Klingon had no direct quotes. We've generally taken it to mean that indirect quotation did not exist in Klingon (I know that's how I always used it, and Nick, and I seem to recall Krankor also on this side.) I suppose one could find support from Okrand's translation of his examples by using direct quotes rather than reported speech, to imply that it should be treated as such. Also, it makes more sense to consider things as quotes and not objects (i.e. "I told you: 'don't interrupt me'" with a sort of colon between the sentences) because they can come in either order and are not restricted to quote-first. This raises the question of how you say "I said, 'hello'" with no addressee. If you don't consider the quote an object, it should be jIja' "nuqneH" or "nuqneH" jIja' , otherwise it should be vIja' "nuqneH" / "nuqneH" vIja' (though vIja' "nuqneH" really looks icky to me). Maybe the second can only mean "I said 'hello' to him". This may be another Okrand-question.

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3.4 How do I indicate an indirect object ("give the knife to me")? Is there such a thing as an IO in Klingon?

(Will Martin, Sat, 10 Dec 94)

One point of confusion for beginners is that Klingon does not seem to always distinguish between direct objects and indirect objects. For those not currently studying grammar in any language, in the sentence, "I give the ball to you,", "I" is the subject, "give" is the verb, "ball" is the direct object and "you" is the indirect object. You can recognize the indirect object because of the preposition "to" in front of it.

But then, in English, we similarly confuse things by recasting the same sentence as, "I give you the ball". Now, there is no preposition. We just know from convention by the position of the nouns "you" and "ball" that the ball is the thing we are giving and "you" is the indirect object. We are not giving "you". We are giving TO "you".

This is why when you read people on this list saying, qajatlh , you should know that they mean "I'm talking to you," instead of "I speak you." Also, recognize that the real English equivalent would be, "Hey! I'm talking to YOU!" and implies a friendly shove to get your attention.

So, in Klingon, we can offer the clear version of the sentence as SoHvaD moQ vInob . Literally, this means, "For your benefit, I give the ball," or more smoothly, "I give the ball for you," and you can understand that we would more idiomatically call it "to you" instead of "for you".

We could state the same thing with SoHDaq to more literally mean "to you", but you should understand that in Klingon, this really means "to the space that you occupy", so while it would work fine to convey that you are moving the ball towards the person, it slightly less conveys the sense that you are giving the ball to the person SO THEY CAN HAVE IT. [This is only my opinion, but] it is more like saying, "I give the ball toward you."

But I digress...

In Klingon, you could also say, moQ qanob . Notice that this seems to be a mistake. The prefix qa- means that the suject is "I" and the object is "you". Meanwhile, the explicit noun "ball" is in the position that belongs to the object of the verb.

Well, you can do that in Klingon and the result is just as sensible as "I give you the ball," is in English. It usually works out best that the prefix indicates the subject and indirect object while the explicit noun indicates the direct object.

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3.5 How do I mark the head noun of a relative clause?

[See the discussion under 3.6 ]

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3.6 What's this "ship in which I fled" issue? (How do I say, "the ship in which I fled"?)

(Mark Shoulson, Thu, 18 Nov 1993)

I ran into the "ship in which I fled" problem several times. For those just tuning in, this is Yet Another relative clause problem. Quick summary: the relative clause, as we all know, is made by tacking -bogh onto the verb. Okrand talks about yaS vIleghbogh being "the officer whom I see" and muleghbogh yaS being "the officer who sees me." This led us early on to wonder about how to say "the officer whom the child hit" as opposed to "the child who hit the officer." The method we use, which I believe is one of the only extensions we know to be sanctioned by Okrand himself, is to flag the "head" noun with -'e' , yielding yaS'e' qIppu'bogh puq and yaS qIppu'bogh puq'e'. Late development: in Power Klingon, we have a proverb Hov ghajbe'bogh ram rur pegh ghajbe'bogh jaj (A day without secrets is like a night without stars), indicating that this flagging is at least optional.

Anyway, this makes for trouble when we have phrases with nouns that already have type 5 suffixes. And it also makes for trouble when the noun is being used differently in the relative clause and the main clause (e.g. "Because of the ship in which I fled"). You can cook up your own hairy examples.

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3.7 Can I use a relative clause without an explicit head noun?

(Will Martin, Thu, 15 Feb 1996)

Okay, lets pull out our TKD s. 6.2.3, page 63:

"... Like adjectives, they describe nouns... The noun modified by a relative clause is the head noun... The whole construction (relative clause plus head noun), as a unit, is used in a sentence as a noun..."

If you were to have what you might call a relative clause with no head noun [a "headless relative"], you would have no basis for using it in any sentence, since the only rule we have for using relative clause says that the whole construction, which includes a head noun, is used as a noun in a sentence. If you have no head noun, then you don't have a whole construction and you can't use it as a noun in a sentence, and if you can't do THAT, what CAN you do with it? I suggest that you can't do ANYTHING with it. A relative clause with no head noun is a word; a sentence fragment which is meaningless without context. In particular, the context that you need is a head noun to which you may apply it. Without that, there is no socket in a Klingon sentence into which you may plug it.

(SuStel, Sun, 20 Oct 1996)

Listen to the Star Trek: Klingon CD-Rom, Disk 3 (Language Lab), "\wav\3k.wav". For those of you without this CD-Rom, I'll transcribe what Marc Okrand says in the file: Dajatlhbogh vIyajbe'. yIjatlhqa'.

Here, Okrand has very specifically used Dajatlhbogh as a relative clause without a head noun! He did not say something like Doch Dajatlhbogh vIyajbe' .

NOTE: This evidence is considered somewhat controversial, since the sound file in question is apparently not used in the language lab. It's still probably a good idea to avoid headless relative clauses, at least until we have more solid evidence one way or the other.

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(Mark Shoulson; Wed, 20 Oct 93)

As I mentioned, we now finally have some evidence of double-objects in the canon , in the new tape. We have sentences in the tape like ghIchwIj DabochmoHchugh, ghIchlIj qanob, ro'qegh 'Iwchab HInob, jagh lucharghlu'ta'bogh HuH ghopDu'lIj lungaSjaj. Note that it's not a function of causatives (in the sense that there has to be a -moH on the verb), it's a function of meaning (Don't tell me that ghojmoH doesn't mean "to teach", but rather "to cause to learn"; for one thing I don't see the difference, aside from the fact that English chooses to have an unrelated word, and for another would you then tell me that Klingon, or Hebrew for that matter, has no word for "to teach"? The only words that I know for it are derived from its causative moods). I mentioned some months back that for some reason it made sense to me to translate "They call the wind Mariah" as "Maria" SuS lupong, or perhaps "Mariah" 'e'. It looks like there's some support for such things now.

I don't see that mughojmoHwI' is necessarily best for "my teacher"; it's certainly okay, but then again so is ghojmoHwI'wI'. The first means "the one who teaches me", the second "my one who teaches". Granted, mughojmoHwI' is more accurate and unambiguous, as ghojmoHwI'wI' could mean "the teacher I hired", but the context will usually disambiguate. For lojbanists out there, it's the difference between "le ctuca be mi" vs. "le ctuca pe mi". This came up once before, in Nick Nicholas' translation of the Lord's Prayer, where he he translated "those who transgressed against us" as nuQu'maghwI'pu' (lets ignore the Qu' element for now). I thought that maghwI'pu'ma' would be better, now I'm not sure. I think you could do either.

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3.9 What does transitive / intransitive mean?

Transitive verbs can have an object, intransitive verbs do not. ➞ See main article Transitivity

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3.10 What is "canon"?

For a definition of the word canon, ➞ see Canon.

To find canon sources, ➞ see Portal Canon.

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3.11 What is the "prefix trick"?

➞ See main article prefix trick

3.12 Where can I find out about new grammar rules?

Terrence Donnelly used to maintain a website with Klingon Grammar Addenda. This is an excellent place to read about what we've learned about Klingon that's not in other published works.

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External links


1 : https://www.kli.org/about-klingon/new-klingon-words/ New Canonical Words at the KLI homepage

2 : by Mark Shoulson, Tue 10 Sep 1996, imported from the Mailing list's FAQ, with kind permission of its compiler d'Armond Speers

3 : by Captain Krankor, Tue 12 Oct 1993, imported from the Mailing list's FAQ, with kind permission of its compiler d'Armond Speers

4 : by Joel Peter Anderson, imported from the Mailing list's FAQ, with kind permission of its compiler d'Armond Speers

5 : http://www.kli.org/about-klingon/new-klingon-words/ New Canonical Words at the KLI homepage

6 : by William Martin, Thu, 18 Aug 1994, imported from the Mailing list's FAQ, with kind permission of its compiler d'Armond Speers

7 : The Klingon Dictionary, p. 11

8 : http://klingonska.org/piqad/ Klingonska Akademien: pIqaD and how to read it, retrieved 08 Jun 2014

9 : by Alan Anderson, imported from the Mailing list's FAQ, with kind permission of its compiler d'Armond Speers

10 : by Alan Anderson, Fri, 25 Oct 1996, imported from the Mailing list's FAQ, with kind permission of its compiler d'Armond Speers

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