Newsgroup message of March 2, 1998 (2 of 3)

Subject: Re: -be', -Ha'


the difference between Qochbe' and QochHa'


Newsgroup: Klingon Usenet Forum
Date: Mon, 2 Mar 1998 22:53:45 -0500


The short answer is that we *can* have QochHa', it's just not listed in the Dictionary. As I wrote elsewhere (in the old MSN newsgroup, but repeated in another thread in this newsgroup), for the most part, words in The Klingon Dictionary consisting of verb + suffix are there as a matter of convenience. That is, if you want to look up how to say misinterpret, it's there — yajHa'. yajHa' consists of yaj understand plus the negative suffix -Ha' undo, and, even though yajHa' is an entry in the Dictionary, there is nothing to prevent other suffixes, including the other negative suffix -be', from following yaj. Thus yajbe' is a perfectly well-formed word meaning not understand.

Because there is a meaning difference between the two negative suffixes (for sake of brevity, -Ha' suggests doing or being something in the wrong way or undoing something; -be' suggests simply not doing or not being something), there is a meaning difference between yajbe' and yajHa'. The first word implies the absence of understanding (not understand); the second implies that any understanding that there may have been was imprecise or askew or not properly done (misunderstand, misinterpret).

Which brings us to Qochbe' and QochHa'. Both consist of the verb Qoch disagree plus a negative suffix. Parallel to the example above with yaj understand, Qochbe' implies an absence of disagreeing (hence agree); QochHa' implies that any disagreeing was misplaced or misconstrued or perhaps has been undone. English lacks a simple way to say this. (At least I couldn't think of one; if anyone has any suggestions, I'd be interested in seeing them.) Made-up words like misdisagree or undisagree may get the idea across, but they're hardly elegant (unlike Klingon QochHa', which is elegance itself).

Now this raises another question, slightly different from the original one: If both Qochbe' and QochHa' are acceptable Klingon words, why is one in the Dictionary and the other not? For better or worse, the Dictionary is a one size fits all sort of work. It's for those who want to study the language in depth (though it is far from exhaustive), but also for those who want a quick reference (How do you say agree?). Since agree (that is, not disagree) is probably going to be said more frequently that misdisagree (or a more felicitous equivalent), it got to be listed. Similarly, naDHa' discommend is listed due to its importance in Klingon culture, though naDbe' not commend is a properly formed word.

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