tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Fri Mar 11 00:18:17 1994

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How to speak of existence?

>From: "...Paul" <[email protected]>
>Date: Thu, 10 Mar 1994 21:57:01 -0500

>I was just listening to some Billy Idol (off his Cyberpunk CD), and there
>was a chorus that simply said "No Religion" over and over again, and I
>thought, "I'm bored, what is it in Klingon?".  Religion is easy:  lalDan.
>But how to communicate "the nonexistence of"?

>I consulted the tlhIngan Hol mugwhI' that I'm testing for Steve Baker, and
>he had an extry, "tu'lu'" for "there is".  I couldn't find it in the
>dictionary, but noted that it WAS actually "someone did discover/find/etc".
>But if I were to say "lalDan tu'lu'be'", I don't think it has the right

charghwI' had some good comments on alternate forms.  I just want to add a
small point: "tu'be'lu'" (which I think is a better form than tu'lu'be',
not to mention that I seem to remember it in some canonical phrase) really
*does* have the right connotation, according to the idiomatic use we've
seen in TKD and the tapes.  Oh, I think I remember the phrase: QuvlIjDaq
yIHmey tu'be'lu'jaj.  That right?  Whatever.  Anyway, it's important to
remember that here (for once) we're given *idiomatic* usage in TKD, not
just puzzling it out from the meanings of the elements.  And this makes a
differece.  Consider a similar English usage.  Let's make it positive, so
as not to get confused with negators.  "There is a theory that the Earth is
flat."  "There" is?  OK, then, if it's "there", where is it?  Point it out
to me, or give me an address or co-ordinates in case I want to stop by and
pick it up.  "There are ways of telling whether she is a witch."  I hope
they're not far away.  Obviously, "there" doesn't mean anyplace in
particular, it's an idiomatic expression in which the word lost its normal
meaning.  Similarly, we know that in Klingon "tu'lu'" means "something
locates..."  not that something really exists that goes around finding
these things, but simply that the things are there (heh, ooops) to be

Hmm, maybe your problem was not the "-lu'" aspect (as someone commented
once before, long ago), but the "tu'" verb; i.e. that in Klingon it *does*
imply a location (as opposed to the "there" which I argued doesn't in
English).  I can't offhand think of any canonical phrases using "tu'lu'"
that don't imply a location as well.  Can anyone else?  I still think
"tu'lu'" works for abstract things which aren't "located" anywhere.  Have
we any evidence for "tu'" (not just "tu'lu'") on abstracts like this?

>Then the idea of using pagh struck me.  But pagh is a number, zero, or a
>noun, nothing, none.  I suppose I could say "pagh lalDan" (zero religions),
>but is that grammatically correct to have a non-verb-containing sentence?
>It just seems like a sentence fragment to me.

It is a sentence fragment.  So is the original, of course.  You could also
make use of pagh as "nothing" and do something like "lalDan 'oH pagh'e'" or
"pagh 'oH lalDan'e'" (nothing is religion or religion is nothing, depending
on your interpretation).  Or you could do stuff like charghwI' suggested,
with "I believe no religion" or "no religion is/seems true" using "Har" and
"teH", etc.

>This still doesn't allow for actually representing the existence of 
>something.  I had "abstract algebra" a bit ago, and I always liked (for
>some peculiar reason) the phrase "there exists an x".  How, in Klingon
>would you communicate the idea of "there exists"?

I'd go with "tu'lu'".



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