tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Feb 09 23:02:47 1999

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RE: KLBC: Bart Simpson

jatlh John Halliday:


Call me a rebel. Despite all warnings to the contrary, I'm still trying
to translate colloquialisms into tlhingan Hol. And, lucky me, I think
I've found one that should translate (relatively) smoothly. Imagine
Bart Simpson, that yellow skinned, spiky haired, juvenile
delinquent-in-training, was tlhingan. How would you translate his
famous tag-line:

I didn't do it vIta'pu'be'
Nobody saw me do it vIleghbe'lu' (?)
You can't prove a thing botobbe'

I have been pounding my head against the keyboard trying to get the
'right' translation for the second line. The closest I could get was 'I
was not seen doing it'. However I'm still having trouble translating
'doing it' and all I could get was 'I was not seen'.

I'm also not sure about the use of {ta'} in the first line. to
accomplish something, one must first set out to do that thing. The
first line is basically a blanket denial of an accusation. Is there a
better (more satisfying) way of saying this?


I won't lecture you on not trying to translate - these are short, simple,
direct phrases. They have a lot of attitude, but they really don't have much
extra cultural meaning that is not apparent in the phrases.

I didn't do it - vIta'pu'be'.

This is "I haven't done it", as in "I have not completed the act of doing
it." <-pu'> does not mean simple past tense; it means completion. Just plain
<vIta'be'> is better here - "I didn't do it." / "I don't do it." / "I won't
do it." Since the event in question has obviously already happened, the only
possible interpretation of <vIta'be'> is the past tense "I didn't do it."
<vIta'pu'be'> would be a valid statement here, and you may want to use it -
just be aware of what it means.

Nobody saw me do it - vIleghbe'lu'

This is "I was not seen" - no connection to the alleged event. What was
really seen here was not you, but *you doing* whatever it was.

This is a good task for the "sentence as object" construction: <vIta' 'e'
legh pagh>. The first sentence here is <vIta'> - "I did it". The second is
<'e' legh pagh> - "Nobody saw that", with "that" referring to the previous

You can't prove anything - botobbe'

Good use of <bo-> as a prefix - since English has the same pronoun for both
singular and plural second person, most people don't think of it.

The English phrase isn't "you haven't proven ..." - it's "you *can't*". The
suffix to use for this is <-laH>.

You've also said "You don't/didn't prove *it*". This is actually OK in the
context here, but you can get closer. "You can't prove anything" is
logically equivalent to "You can prove nothing", and that's much smoother in
Klingon (and, in fact, many other languages), so that's what we'll use:
<pagh botoblaH>.

Here's what you wind up with. This is not the only translation, or even the
best one, but it should help you improve yours.

vIta' 'e' legh pagh
pagh botoblaH

Overall a pretty good attempt. Keep it up.

Beginners' Grammarian

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