There is: tu'lu'

We've suspected this for a while, given the number of times tu'lu' has been used where lutu'lu' was expected, but Marc Okrand has confirmed that tu'lu' is a set form that is grammatical for singular or plural.

Message from Okrand

excerpt from e-mail to Robyn Stewart, dated 2014-09-02 21:47
You're right about tu'lu'. It's a fixed or set form and it's used whether the object is singular or plural. If the object is plural, the lu- could be used or not -- but the form lacking the lu- is far more common and the form with the lu- sounds a little pedantic. This kind of parallels what's going on in English these days (at least in the US -- I don't know about Canada or the UK) where "there's" is often used regardless of whether what follows is singular or plural:

  • There's some things you need to know.
  • There's no tomatoes in the store.
  • There's more Klingons than Romulans around here.
  • There's a lot of cars on the road today.

This works for the contraction only. "There is some things...", "There is no tomatoes...", "There is more Klingons...", "There is a lot of cars..." are all ungrammatical. (Well, the last one is okay if by "lot" you're referring to a place where they sell cars.)

It's fine to say:
  • There are some things..., There're some things...
  • There are no tomatoes..., There're no tomatoes...
  • There are more Klingons..., There're more Klingons...
  • There are a lot of cars..., There're a lot of cars...

Klingon works the same way. tu'lu' is like "there's" (object can be singular or plural) and lutu'lu' is like "there are/there're" (object must be plural).

My guess here is that a common Clipped Klingon construction crept into everyday Klingon and became the usual way of doing things.

So we can keep being pedantic about lutu'lu' if we want, but that puts us on the level of people (like me) who say “mmm” as we pass the “Who will you share a Coke with?” sign, and not because I like Coca-Cola(1)

See also

The idea of pedantic, overly correct use of the prefix lu- is also discussed in Klingon for the Galactic Traveler, pp. 168-172: "The Changing Rules: Acceptable Deviation". It is explained that it is "important to note that this does not mean that the use of lu- is optional; it is left off only under specific conditions." (2)
See ➞ Intentional Ungrammaticality


1 : Robyn Stewart in a message to the KLI mailing list of Tue, 2 Sep 2014 23:22:06 -0700

2 : Klingon for the Galactic Traveler, p. 172

External Links

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