tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Dec 07 20:50:03 1993

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You Body-part You!

One thing you learn in pragmatics; languages have impressive taxonomies,
much more so than our -mey/-Du'/-pu', but they really come into their own
when people toy with them to get an effect. Thus Australian Aboriginal
languages have lots of different kinship terms, depending not only on
how you're related to the referent, but also on the addressee: you use
a different term for "my mother" if speaking to your dad, or your kid. What
intrigues me is that you can use the seemingly wrong term to get an effect
--- to be impolite, friendly, deferential, whatever.

(If anyone says "I doubt we will learn anything about Klingon from Australian
Aboriginal languages", I'm going to pick up those "loS betleH jej" I mentioned
in my Klingon 12 Days of Xmas, and... whatever.)

Anyway, it seems a worthwhile pursuit to me to consider such effects in
Klingon. What would it mean if, in a fit of anger not unlike one I had
earlier today, I called people "nuvDu'"? Would it mean "you tools!", since
nothing is less independent and free-willed than a body part? Or would it
be a term of endearment, since nothing is as dear to one as one's body
parts? (Thus the Greek salutation: "Welcome, my eyes twain!" --- meaning
"Hullo there!") Anyone?

"Relax." -- "yIleS." [Three seconds pause.] "Stop Relaxing!" -- "yIleSHa'!"
                                  --- the Conversational Klingon tape.
   Nick "I am not a Klingon. Much." Nicholas.
nIchyon jIH. nIchyon SoHbe'. nIchyon ghaHbe'. nIchyon tlhIHbe'. nIchyon jIHqu'.

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