Words on Body movements

In March 2019, David Yonge-Mallo had a Q&A with Marc Okrand on some gymnastics and martial arts terminology. He posted his transcript to the KLI mailing list with some some clarifications. (1) (2)

Words list

word type translation note
ron v. roll, be rolling [generalises ron "roll (aircraft wings tilt, one up, one down)"; we already knew this applied to more than aircraft because it was used for dice in Klingon Monopoly]
Hay v. somersault [a controlled roll, whereas ron applied to a person would mean they were rolling haphazardly]
tetlh v. roll (down a hill like a log)
Dav v. sidestep, sway [generalises Dav "sway (aircraft moves to the side without yawing)"]
ler v. wobble
lav v. lean, incline, slant [this was provided in a second message]
Der v. veer (to the left or right while traveling or moving) [generalises Der "yaw (aircraft nose points left or right)"]
jIm v. shrug [generalises jIm "heave (aircraft rising or falling without pitching)"]
lID v. travel or move a specified or measurable distance or trajectory [used with verbs of movement which don't take distance or trajectory as their object]


Full transcript follows. Fixed a few typos. In one place he wrote "rod" and followed by asking if pendulum was the right term, which it was, so I put it where he was referring to it in brackets.

[De'vID] Can ron be used for people, such as in martial arts or gymnastics?

Yes... IF it means that the person is rolling haphazardly.

If the person is doing a somersault (rolling forwards or backwards in a reasonably controlled manner), the verb is Hay.

If the person is rolling down a hill as if he/she were a log, the verb is tetlh (related to the noun meaning "scroll," though it's not used for scrolls... unless a scroll is rolling down a hill).

[De'vID] What about Dav "sway", Der "yaw", jer "surge", and jIm "heave"? Can these be applied to people or animals, or inanimate objects (e.g., something sways in the wind)?

Dav can be used if it's referring to movement by the whole body (or whole thing, if it's an inanimate object) to the left or right. It's not used if the person's feet stay put but his/her upper body leans left and/or right (like the back-and-forth motion of the rod [inverted pendulum] of a metronome); for that kind of motion, the verb is ler, which can also be translated "wobble."

Der can be used for people (and other things) meaning something like "veer to the left or right while traveling or moving."

Maltz didn't recall ever hearing jer used for anything other than aircraft (or other vehicles), but he said he'd have to think about this some more.

jIm, when applied to people, is generally used for "shrug" (like what many Terrans do with their shoulders to indicate "I don't know"). You could say jIm SuvwI' volchaHDu' "the warrior's shoulders shrug," but most commonly volchaH(Du') is left out (and you'd just say jIm SuvwI' "the warrior shrugs"). You could also say volchaHDu'Daj jImmoH SuvwI' "the warrior shrugs his/her shoulders. (If the context is clear, you can leave out -Du' and/or -Daj.)

[De'vID] Can any of these verbs take an object, such as an angle or a distance (as appropriate to the verb)?

No. To indicate how far the motion was (how far the person/object moved), make use of the verb lID, meaning something like "travel or move a specified or measurable distance or trajectory." The object of lID is the distance moved or range of motion. So you could say ron SuvwI'; chorgh 'uj(mey) lID "the warrior rolled (haphazardly) for eight ujes" (literally, "the warrior rolled; he/she traveled/moved/traversed eight ujes"). It could also be the other way around: chorgh 'uj(mey) lID SuvwI'; ron "the warrior rolled (haphazardly) for eight ujes" (literally, "the warrior traveled/moved/traversed eight ujes; he/she rolled"). Or ron muD Duj; javmaH lawrI'(mey) lID "the airplane rolled 60º." (The semicolons here don't matter. You could also use a period, since, really, they're pairs of sentences.)

[De'vID] Can lol (applied to people) take the name of a martial arts stance? For example, can one give a command such as mIl'oD lol yIlol "strike a sabre bear pose (martial arts stance)" (lol is a noun meaning a martial arts stance)? If not, how would one give the command to strike a specific named martial arts pose?

The noun lol refers to a specific martial arts stance. It's not a general term for "stance" (so you don't say mIl'oD lol "sabre bear pose"). tonSaw' "fighting technique," however, is used as a general term for "stance" when talking about Mok'bara poses and the like, so you could say mIl'oD tonSaw' "sabre bear stance." The verb lol means "be in a stance"; it doesn't take an object. To command someone to strike a specific pose (typically a martial arts pose or stance), use the verb much, usually glossed as "present, perform," with the specific pose as the object: mIl'oD tonSaw' yImuch "strike the sabre bear pose!" If the context is clear – that is, if mIl'oD is known to mean the name of a pose – then you can leave tonSaw' out and just say mIl'oD yImuch "strike the sabre bear (pose)!" (This is like in English when talking about yoga poses: "Do the downward facing dog!") If you were performing in a play and your character was a sabre bear, the director might also say mIl'oD yImuch, meaning something like "perform/present the sabre bear (role)!"

In a second message, a bit more info revealed an additional verb lav.

[De'vID] Can ler be used to mean "oscillate", like for a usual pendulum (with the pivot at the top)? Or is it only used when the pivot is at the bottom? Also, would a regular rhythm like that of a metronome be described as lerchu'?

Yes. ler can be used for "oscillate," and it can be used for a pendulum regardless of whether the pivot is at the top or bottom (or somewhere else). And lerchu' could be used for what a metronome does. Maltz was glad you asked these questions, because they reminded him of another word (and helped clarify the meaning of this one). The other word is lav, which can be translated "lean, incline, slant" and so on. It means something like "move to a slanted or angled position." The starting position is often, but doesn't have to be, upright or perpendicular. If it's a person, the person's feet stay put (as with ler). And, as with ler, the pivot point can be on top (or somewhere else). The difference between ler and lav is that ler is used for continuous swinging, back and forth and back and forth (forward-back-forward-back, etc., or left-right-left-right, etc.), while lav means motion in one direction only, then the motion stops (though the stop can be very brief). Returning to the upright (or earlier) position is lavHa'. For both ler and lav, the direction of motion doesn't matter (left, right, forward, whatever).

[De'vID] Can I assume that much is used not just for commands, but also statements? For example: lol SuvwI'; mIl'oD much.


See also


1 : first message to the list of March 1, 2019

2 : second message to the list of March 2, 2019

Category: Vocabulary    Latest edit: 05 May 2020, by KlingonTeacher    Created: 05 May 2020 by KlingonTeacher
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