tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Feb 02 11:30:08 1999

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RE: Klingon pleasantries

jatlh loD Doq:

> I know that klingons usually get to the point when speaking. 
> They usually will refrain from pleasantries. However, I tried 
> to translate some just because I would like to use them. Here 
> are the one's that I have so far:

I understand your desire to use these sorts of expressions in Klingon - it's
quite awkward to stay silent when you feel like you *should* say something.
Klingon is also difficult because you often feel like you're being rude,
even though you're not.

I do urge you, though, to consciously try *not* to use these sorts of
phrases. If you ever want to really speak Klingon, and not just translate
into English and back, you will have to use the language as it is, and not
try to bend it into the way you think it should work.

> <qay'ha' 'oH> (You're welcome) (Actually: "It is not a problem")

"Conversational Klingon" (I think; it may be "Power Klingon") gives us the
phrase <qay'be'>, which might be used in *some* of the situations where
"you're welcome" is used in English, and I find myself using it that way

> <QaHraj qalaj> (Thank you) (Actually: "I accept your help")

"thank you" would be <qatlho'>, or some variation with a different prefix.
The difference is that in Klingon, it is not used for trivialities like
passing the salt. If you want to show appreciation for something
significant, go ahead and say <qatlho'>. If you just feel like you have to
say something, you should probably remain silent.

> <DuQuchmoHchugh> (Please) (Actually: "If it causes you to be 
> happy")

Please just abandon this one. Any attempt at "please" will turn a nice,
straightforward, easily understandable Klingon sentence into something
confusing. For example:

qagh HInob.
DuQuchmoHchugh, qagh HInob.

With the first sentence, you would get a plate of qagh. With the second, you
would get a blank stare or a puzzled look followed by a hearty laugh at the
silly Terran.

> <bIchegh quvwIj> (Excuse/forgive me) Not a very good 
> translation (Actually: "Return my honor")

This doesn't work grammatically. It's really a sentence - "You return." -
and an extra noun thrown in where the subject normally goes. It can't be the
subject because the verb has the <bI-> prefix, indicating a subject of

In any case, I'm not even sure what "return my honor" means here. "Excuse
me" or "forgive me" would probably be translated as a phrase similar to one
of the following:

QaghmeywIj tIlaj
QaghmeywIj tIlIj

None of these really work for the common uses of a polite "excuse me". Here
are my suggestions for a few of those.

Sneezing - remain silent
Getting someone's attention - a tap on the shoulder, <qaH>, the person's
name, rank or title
Asking somebody to move out of your way - just proceeding, a gentle shove,
<vIH> (clipped form of <yIvIH> or <pevIH>).

> <jItlhIj> (Sorry) (Actually: "I apologize")

This one is fine. The only difference from English is that, like <qatlho'>,
it should not be used for trivialities.

> jIHvaD SoQHommey boghaj'a' tlhIH

This is not a very good use of <ghaj> for the English "have". How about

jIHvaD SoQHommey bochuplaH'a'?

I'm also not sure about <SoQHommey>, but I'll leave that for next time.

Beginners' Grammarian

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