There are a number of ways to be polite (or impolite) in the Klingon language. In a language where so much depends upon rank, it is useful to know exactly how to show the proper deference to other Klingon speakers.

Using insults

The most basic (and base) way to inform someone of their status is by means of simple insults. Klingon insults may be simple one-word invectives as short as va or petaQ. However, these tend to be a bit pithy (and worn-out; petaQ is a favourite of DS9 writers in particular, and it seems to have lost some of its curse value as a result). It's also possible to be more witty (and venomous) by using more complex insults. Like any good insult in any language, a knowledge of Klingon culture is useful; Hab SoSlI' Quch Your mother has a smooth forehead. is one of the most terrible insults to a Klingon, whose forehead is a symbol of his very lineage. yIH ngaghwI' one who mates with tribbles is another favourite.

Honorific suffix

More subtle ways of expressing politeness exist, woven into Klingon's grammar. While rare, the way to express great respect to another person is to use the Type 8 verb suffix -neS, the so-called honorific suffix. It is basically used in verbs when you want to show deference to the person to whom you are speaking. To be spoken to in this mode is an honour, but it's not a very common suffix; on the tlhIngan Hol mailing list, you might see it used once or twice in a month's worth of messages.

Other suffixes

Similarly, saying that someone has performed an action batlh honourably is to say that they have done it well; since honour means so much to Klingons, the adverb has become almost synonymous with performing an action in the best way possible. The Type 6 verb suffix -chu' perfectly, clearly may also be used: lupDujHom Da'orchu' you pilot the shuttlecraft perfectly. An extra nuance of accomplishment may be added with the aspect suffix -ta'. If you said to a Klingon pilot batlh lupDujHom Da'orchu'ta'neS, they might very well blush at the honour they are being paid.

Intentionally ingrammatical

To be extremely impolite, you might consider referring to someone with noun suffixes normally reserved for beings incapable of using language. Saying something like Dujvam 'orlaHbe'chu' HoDmaj our captain is clearly incapable of flying this ship would be a grave breach of decorum, particularly if said captain were to overhear the sentence. The possessive suffix here should be -ma', not -maj. Similarly, referring to the phaser crew as pu'DaH SeHchu'be'bogh yaSmey the officers who do not perfectly control the phaser banks is not the way to endear oneself to those officers. In both cases, it is likely that the offending speaker would be paying a one-way visit to the nearest air lock.


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