tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Aug 07 06:51:33 2002

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Klingon WOTD: betleH (n)

This is the Klingon Word Of The Day for Wednesday, August 7, 2002.

Klingon word:   betleH
Part of Speech: noun
Definition:     type of hand weapon

Additional Notes:
TKD Addendum.
From Okrand, startrek.klingon, 10/20/98:
From the point of view of the Klingon language, the word is {betleH}.  This is not an official "spelling" (the only official spelling would be in Klingon characters); it's just a standardized transcription of spoken Klingon that tells the reader how to pronounce the word (or at least gives a close approximation.)

When the word was originally written down by Federation scouts (or whoever the first Federation folks were to tried to write it down), the details of the Klingon language were unknown and there were undoubtedly some mishearings and/or mistranscriptions.  Some early transcriber(s) apparently wrote {bat'telh" while another (or others) write "bat'leth."  The first may have been a mishearing of (or been influenced by) Klingon {batlh 'etlh}, literally "sword of honor," while the second may have been an attempt to write {betleH}, with its decidedly non-Federation Standard final consonant.

The spelling "bat'telh" apparently got passed around a lot and became a common way to write the word.  Since almost no one in the Federation, at that time, had heard the word spoken by a Klingon, they would have no way to know whether "bat'telh" was the best choice.  For some reason, later on, the alternate spelling, "bat'leth," came to be used more frequently than "bat'telh" and eventually it came to be the accepted one for use in the Federation.

As a result of the spelling "bat'leth," many non-Klingons call the weapon by a name that resembles that spelling (they say "BAT-leth") rather than by something closer to the actual Klingon {betleH}.  This (sort of) parallels referring to the Russian capital as Moscow in English rather than using the Russian pronunciation "moskva."  The point is that "Moscow" is an acceptable English way to pronounce the name of the city, but it's not the Russian way.  Similarly, "bat'leth" is an acceptable Federation Standard way to pronounce the name of the weapon, but it's not the Klingon way.

MSN: Klingon bladed weapon, curved with two bladed ends. 

The first was forgd by Kahless from a lock ofhis own hair which he placed in the lava from the Kri'stak volcano.  He then plunged the burning lock into the lake of Lursor, twisted it into a blade and killed the evil tyrant Molor with it.  According to Klingon legend, when honed sharp enough it can separate a man from his soul.  The betleH wielded by the lord of a great house is called an "Honor Blade" and is considered the repository of the heart and soul of his or her entire clan.
TKW p. 79
{bImejDI' reH betleHlIj yItlhap}
Never leave without your bet'telh
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