tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Aug 27 16:32:25 2002

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Re: telling the time

 >> 'arlogh Qoylu'pu'?
 >> chorghlogh

Quvar wrote:
>What if the time is like half past three, then how many times have you 
>heard it? 1530 times?? 3.5 times?
>BTW: where I live, this expression is not really that old. Almost every 
>church nearby has this huge bell to call the the believers to come. And 
>every hour, it tells the time. And then, sometimes people say "I didn't 
>count. How many times did you hear it?" ---> 'arlogh Qoylu'pu'?

I'm posting the second half of Okrand's st.klingon post on asking the time 
for those interested.

From: Marc Okrand <>
Newsgroups: startrek.klingon
Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999
Subject: Re: wanI' to replace time related relative pronoun


In nonmilitary contexts (as rare as these may be) and in situations where
interplanetary communication is not a concern, the most common way of
asking "What time is it?" in Klingon is quite different.  It is based on
the way the question was asked long ago, in a time before Klingons
traveled around the galaxy and before there was any significant amount of
interaction between Klingons and residents of other planets:

     'arlogh Qoylu'pu'?

This is literally "How many times has (someone) heard (it)?" or "How many
times has it been heard?"  (<'arlogh> "how many times?" a word that
functions adverbially, made up of the question word <'ar> "how much? how
many?" and the special number suffix <-logh> "times" [as in "six times"];
<Qoylu'pu'> "someone has heard (it)," made up of <Qoy> "hear," <-lu'>
"indefinite subject," <-pu'> "perfective,"  that is, the action has been

What is not clear from this locution is what it is that has supposedly
been heard.  In modern Klingon, the "what" in this phrase is never

It appears as though, long ago, at least some Klingons were notified of
the time by some audible signal (though what means were used to calculate
the time in the first place remain to be discovered).  Perhaps this signal
was a specific sound (a person shouting? a beat on a drum? a gong? the
growl of an animal?) and that word was originally part of the expression,
for example, <'arlogh bey Qoylu'pu'?> "How many times has someone heard
the howl? How many times has the howl been heard?" (<bey> "wail, howl").
Or maybe the expression contained a more general word such as <ghum>
"alarm" or <wab> "sound, noise": <'arlogh wab Qoylu'pu'?> "How many times
has someone heard the sound?  How many times has the sound been heard?"

It has also been speculated that there was once a bit more to this
expression, namely an element stating the time period the questioner was
concerned about.  For example, maybe people said:

     DaHjaj 'arlogh Qoylu'pu'?

That is, "Today, how many times has someone heard it?"  (<DaHjaj>
"today"), suggesting that the questioner is concerned about how much time
has gone by "today" (as opposed to, say, "this week").

Or maybe the fuller expression was a little less specific:

     qen 'arlogh Qoylu'pu'?

"Recently, how many times has someone heard it?" (<qen> "recently, a short
time ago").

Regardless of its original full form, the expression comes down to us now
as simply <'arlogh Qoylu'pu'?>.  The phrase is considered an idiom because
what it means ("What time is it?") cannot be understood on the basis of
the meanings of its components ("How many times has someone heard it?").

The answer to the question <'arlogh> "How many times?" is, as might be
expected, <X-logh>, where X is some number.  For example:

     cha'logh Qoylu'pu'.

This is literally "Someone has heard it twice" or "It has been heard
twice" (<cha'logh> "twice," from <cha'> "two"  plus <-logh> "times").
This is the Klingon equivalent to "It's two o'clock."  Originally, this
was a statement of time in the traditional Klingon system, but it is now
also used for the 24-hour system.

The idiomatic <'arlogh Qoylu'pu'> also shows up in such questions as "What
time do we leave?":

     mamejDI' 'arlogh Qoylu'pu'?

This is literally "When we leave, how many times will someone have heard
(it)?" or "When we leave, how many times will it have been heard?"
(<mamejDI'> "when we leave," made up of <ma-> "we," <mej> "leave, depart,"
<-DI'> "when").

An answer might be "We (will) leave at eight o'clock:

     mamejDI' chorghlogh Qoylu'pu'

Literally, "When we leave, someone will have heard (it) eight times"
(<chorghlogh> "eight times," from <chorgh> "eight" plus <-logh> "times").

Since subordinate clauses such as <mamejDI'> "when we leave" can come
before or after the main clause, it's also possible to say:

     'arlogh Qoylu'pu' mamejDI'?
     chorghlogh Qoylu'pu' mamejDI'.

Literally, "How many times will someone have heard (it)  when we leave?
Someone will have heard (it) eight times when we leave."

In actual conversation, of course, it's usually not so repetitive.  You'd
probably hear:

     'arlogh Qoylu'pu' mamejDI'?
     chorghlogh Qoylu'pu'.

"How many times will someone have heard (it) when we leave?  Someone will
have heard (it) eight times."

Or even:

     'arlogh Qoylu'pu' mamejDI'?

"How many times will someone have heard (it) when we leave?  Eight times."


Ca'Non Master of the Klingons

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