tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Oct 05 04:11:55 1993
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why Klingon is mostly closed syllables: a Terran parallel?
A while ago I theorized that some features of MK (Modern Klingon) are relics
of when pre-industrial Ancient Klingon (AK) had case etc endings and words of
several syllables (many of them open) and far freer word order like Latin and
Greek etc, and that imitating military clippedness of speech as part of a
warrior culture caused massive loss of weak vowels and case etc endings, and
shortening of existing long vowels, causing much language change leading to
the familiar MK.
There may be a Terran analogue to this. Common Germanic as spoken up to
about 400AD in the Germanic world had case etc endings, some of them longish,
like Latin or Greek. This persists into written times in e.g. Old High German.
But some time over a century or two at the start of the Viking period, Common
Germanic as spoken in Scandinavia had a sudden massive loss of short weak
vowels (not as severe as in Klingon, and some case ending vowels survived,
usually those that were long before), causing the characteristic appearance of
the Old Norse language of the Vikings: e.g. ON 'finngalkn' (= a sort of sea
monster) < CG *'finna-galakina-' or similar. It is known that among the Old
Norse population one big fashion was to go "i' Vi'king" (= sailing to raid
etc); sailing in small craft needs, like in the army, a need for quickly-given
orders understood first time, and thus quickness of speech, and a reduction of
any linguistic long-windedness that was around before. Thus, even if a
land-dweller could not go to sea, he often imitated Viking nautical speech
manners including reduction of weak short vowels, until this ran to its finish
in all speakers in the land. Thus the change came in Scandinavia as on Qo'noS.
A comment re my preious theory: Many Klingon suffixes are likeliest
originally separate words whose roles were distinguished by now-vanished case
endings: e.g. in English the suffixes in "happi<ly>" and "friend<ship>" were
once separate words. But some modern '-CVC'-type suffixes may have had a
different origin, and may represent an adherent pair of two old-style
one-consonant suffixes: an English example is '-ness' via CG from the adherent
group Indo-European *'-in-ad-tuu-', three suffixes which separately would
have been lost or confused.