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Subject: Re: And then...? And then...? (And then along came Jones...) - For MO


the word ngugh and the idiom pumDI'


Newsgroup: Klingon Usenet Forum
Date: Friday, November 05, 1999 01:39 AM


There is an adverbial which means "then" in the sense of "at that time" (as opposed to "subsequently"). And there is also an idiom meaning something like "by that time".

The adverbial is ngugh. It is used mainly to emphasize that a particular event occurred at the same time as something else, though ngugh doesn't indicate what that time is. Something else in the discussion makes that clear. ngugh does not mean at some (vague) time in the past or at some (unknown) time in the future.

For example: (1) vagh SanID ben buDbe' wamwI'pu'. ngugh Ho'Du'chaj lo' chaH, 'ach DaH tajmey lo'.

5,000 years ago, hunters were not lazy. Then (at that time) they used their teeth, but now they use knives.

(vagh SanID 5,000, ben years ago, buD be lazy, -be' not, wamwI'pu' hunters; ngugh then, Ho'Du'chaj their teeth, chaH they, 'ach but, DaH now, tajmey knives, lo' they use)

(2) DungluQ tIHIv. ngugh Qongbe' chaH.

Attack them at noon! They won't be sleeping then. (or: Attack them at noon. They're not sleeping then.)

(DungluQ noon, tIHIv attack them! [imperative]; ngugh then, Qong they sleep, -be' not, chaH they)

Note that in each case ngugh then refers to a time specified earlier in the discussion (here, 5,000 years ago and noon). In the second example, the adverbial ngugh could be left out, and the basic meaning could still be the same (Attack them at noon! They won't be sleeping.) With ngugh, however, the speaker is emphasizing the time element. The first example also could be recast without ngugh (for example, the second sentence could be two: Ho'Du'chaj lo' chaH. DaH tajmey lo'. They used their teeth. Now they use knives.). With ngugh, however, the contrast between then and now is highlighted.

The time reference need not occur in the immediately preceding sentence or clause (as it does in the examples above); it could be earlier in the discourse.

Since ngugh points to or refers back to a previously established time reference, if that time reference is not clear (or is missing), an utterance containing ngugh would not make much sense. If someone asks When? after hearing a sentence containing ngugh, unless the question resulted from inattentiveness, ngugh was probably used inappropriately.

In addition to ngugh, there is an idiomatic expression involving the suffix -DI' when, as soon as used to mean by that time, by the time that [something] occurred (or will occur). The event that has occurred (or will occur) is typically expressed in the immediately preceding sentence or clause, though it could have been uttered earlier.

The idiom is found in two forms. The shorter (and more frequently heard) version is the single word pumDI' when it falls (pum fall [that is, fall down or fall off of something_], -DI' _when). The longer version consists of pumDI' followed by a subject noun specifying what falls. The most common noun heard is 'etlh sword, blade (thus: pumDI' 'etlh, literally when the blade falls). Presumably the expression originally referred to a fight between two combatants wielding bladed weapons. The time at which one of them dropped the weapon and was thus defeated (or was as good as defeated) was a significant moment.

Some speakers, however, are rather creative and use nouns other than 'etlh. For example: pumDI' DaS when the boot falls, pumDI' 'obmaQ when the ax falls, pumDI' nagh when the stone falls, pumDI' rutlh when the wheel falls. There seems to be no restriction on what noun may be used here, as long as it is something that could possibly fall. (Thus pumDI' QoQ when the music falls would not be used.)

Choosing one noun or another to use in the idiomatic phrase is a form of word play. Depending on the topic being discussed, the noun could add a touch of irony or even humor. In any event, the choice of noun does not change the idiomatic meaning of the phrase. pumDI' X, where X is the subject noun, is used to mean by then, by that time.

The idiom might be used when talking about a feast that had taken place a few nights ago. If a guest arrived late – after the eating had already begun – one might say something like:

tagha' pawpu' meb 'ach pumDI' Heghpu' qagh.
tagha' pawpu' meb 'ach pumDI' 'etlh Heghpu' qagh.

The guest finally arrived, but by then the gagh had died.

(tagha' finally, at last, pawpu' he/she has arrived, meb guest, 'ach but, pumDI' ('etlh) by then, Heghpu' it has died, qagh gagh)

Unlike subordinate clauses in general, pumDI' X, when used idiomatically, always precedes the main clause (Heghpu' qagh in the example above). When idiomatic usage is not involved, subordinate clauses may either precede or follow the main clause.

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