tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Thu Feb 28 09:41:02 2002

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Re: yaywIj yIngaq!

From: <>
> Remember that in Conversational Klingon, we are told that a Klingon may be
> inaccurate, but he is NEVER approximate. The proverb says "Four thousand
> throats can be slit in one night by a running man." It doesn't say, "A
> lot of throats can be cut in one night by a running man." While I don't
> care how many days ago you did this if you don't have a specific number,
> still rather hear a specific number than {Hu' law'}.

The emphasis on precision over accuracy is nice, but often taken to
unrealistic extremes by people on the list.  Stating a highly precise and
totally imaginary number to represent a real thing seems rather ludicrous.
If you don't KNOW the exact number of something, then your lack of knowledge
should be included in the count as qualification.

If I don't know if something took place six, seven, eight, or nine days ago,
pegging it down at eight days ago isn't inaccurate-but-not-approximate, it's
just plain imaginary.  /Hu' law'/ or even just /Hu'/ will describe the
information you know much better than /chorgh Hu'/.

I have a friend who used to state every measurement or calculation to an
incredibly unrealistic number of decimal places.  "How much longer until the
show starts?"  "Seven point two seven four six three five minutes."  Not
only did he not really measure it, if he looked at the clock he couldn't
have gotten anywhere close to that number of significant digits.  If my
friend had said "seven minutes," he would have been "approximate," but if
he'd said "a little more than seven minutes," he'd be stating something that
I feel would be acceptable to a Klingon.

> While this construction has appeared on this list many times, and many
> will continue to use it, I'd still recommend that you just make up a
> that is on the same order of magnitude as the real, though unknown, number
> say it was that many days ago. If you make up another number later and
> don't match and someone comes along and whines, "But you said it was X
> ago," then the Klingon response is simple: Weed him out of the gene pool.
> if you are trying to comply with local regulations about not killing
> without having a really good reason, just ignore him like the Glob Fly he
> resembles.

Hurting and maiming people is a cute way to think about Klingon grammarians,
but it's hardly linguistic justification.

Stardate 2161.8

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