tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Mon Jun 17 12:42:25 2002

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Re: How to translate "I don't know whether <something> or not"

> Hi all,

Hi back.
> I have a question of the least popular kind: a 'how to translate'-question. :-

I see no reason for this to be unpopular, so long as you realize that there's 
no generic single method for asking all questions of this type. You really have 
to think over each instance and cast appropriately.

> I wanted to say "I don't know if we can speak today or not" in Klingon, but 
> {DaHjaj majatlhlaH 'e' vISovchu'be'} doesn't sound right. Any suggestions?

You are right. "I imperfectly know that we can speak today," doesn't quite cut 
it. The weirdest and probably most correct way to say this according to exactly 
one example from Okrand is:

DaHjaj majatlhlaH 'e' vISIv.

In his one example, he said that the verb {SIv} works like this. The first part 
is not a question. It is definitely a statement. It's just that the nature of 
the meaning of the verb {SIv} "wonder" makes this mean, "I wonder if we can 
talk today." That's probably a fine way to translate, "I don't know if we can 
talk today," since, if you wonder about it, you probably don't know whether it 
is true or not.

More recently, however, he has made a big joke about how uncertain he is about 
how {SIv} works. He kept saying, "I wonder about {SIv}," and then he'd grin.

Still, there's that canon example with explanation, so you could go with the 
suggestion above.

If you want to not depend on {SIv}, you can try other approaches. The most 
direct is so simple, you've probably overlooked it:

DaHjaj majatlhlaH'a'?

Why ask the question if you don't know the answer? So, if you are asking the 
question, you obviously don't know whether the two of you can talk or not. 
English tends to add fluff to things like this that are unnecessary in Klingon.

If your statement were intended to be an answer to someone who asked you the 
above question, the answer is simple: jISovbe'. I don't need to say, "I don't 
know if we can talk today or not." There's a LOT of redundancy in that English 
statement. Klingon doesn't tend to be all that redundant.

You can also say something like:

chaq DaHjaj majatlhlaH. jISovchu'be'.

or if you are more doubtful about it:

chaq DaHjaj majatlhlaH. jISovbe'chu'.

Much is accomplished in Klingon with pairings of short, associated sentences. 
It's very characteristic of the common style of speech in the language.

> DOOM_er


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