tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Dec 08 08:22:26 1999

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Re: Translating the word "Klingon" into other languages?

On 8 Dec 1999 01:11:15 -0000 "Mark E. Shoulson" <> 

> >From: "William H. Martin" <>
> >Date: Tue, 7 Dec 1999 12:15:53 -0500 (Eastern Standard Time)
> >
> >On Mon, 6 Dec 1999 21:40:15 EST wrote:
> >
> >> jatlh mark:
> >> >Hee... we're doing syllable-structure in my Phonology class these
> >> >days... Isn't it notable that "kl", "pl", "gl", "bl", "fl" are all allowed
> >> >as syllable-initials, but "tl", "dl", "thl" aren't?  There's a good
> >> >reason... related to the reason why "tw", "dw", "kw", "gw" are okay but
> >> >"pw" and "bw" aren't.  Think about it.
> >> 
> >> jIQub...'ach jIyajbe'. jIHvaD yIQIj.
> >> 
> >> - DujHoD
> >
> >My guess about these things is that these are okay because the 
> >consonants in the cluster are based in different parts of the 
> >mouth, so the sound moves from one to the other, making it easy 
> >to distinguish the cluster from any normal consonant. Laymen's 
> >terms:
> We have a winnah!

> It's more complicated in some cases, of course, and there are exceptions
> (mainly involving the "s" sound, which apparently breaks so many
> syllabification rules in *many* languages that linguists basically wind up
> saying that it syllabifies differently from everyone else.  "sh" also does
> this, though not in English except in borrowing (shmear, etc); Klingon S
> would fall in the same category... IF there were any reason to suspect
> Klingon syllabification is complex enough to need it, which there is NOT).


Then why no "sb-" "sd-" "sf-" or "sg-" words, etc.?
> >"pw" just lips (unless you are Elmer Fudd saying "Practice, 
> >practice, practice," proving that we can obviously say this 
> >sound combination easily, but convention doesn't allow it.
> Of course, as with the other "forbidden" examples (a) other languages
> permit it, and (b) even English does, between syllables (lapwing, bottle,
> etc).  But yes, it's the fact that English doesn't like syllable-initial
> consonant clusters coming from the same part of the mouth (aside from ones
> with s, of course: stick, slap, etc).
> The more fun question is why is "fl" okay (in fly, flood), but not "vr"? :)

Well, we don't do "vl" or "vr", though we do both "fl" and "fr", 
so I'd guess it has something to do with combining two voiced 
consonants of some subtype.
> Maybe I'll write an article on Klingon syllabification for HolQeD someday,
> now that I've studied it formally.  Maybe I'll even come up with a
> reasonable answer regarding the "long-diphthongized-vowel vs. vowel+glide"
> chestnut (though I *think* phonological theory has a preference to that
> even regardless of the language).  Maybe rules as to WHY the syllables look
> as they do.  And maybe I'll find another buried Okrand joke, breaking
> universals.

I could think of noone else up to the task.
> ~mark


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