tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Mar 13 10:05:40 2002

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god (was: Re: a word is needed?)

><Qun'a'> "great god" (<Qun> plus <-'a'>, the augmentative suffix) may or 
>not be an appropriate translation for a single supernatural being in a
>monotheistic system, since the <Qun'a'> would still be one among many.

Well, in Arabic, the monotheistic god is called Allah, which means 'the 
God'.  We get along fine in English without a definite article on the noun, 
but some languages seem to need it, even though it implies there are other 
gods.  (I suspect English doesn't have it simply because by the time modern 
English developed, the English were already steeped in a monotheistic 
culture, whereas the Arabs in the time of Mohammed were polytheistic - but I 
can't say for sure, as I don't know whether Old English put a definite 
article on the word god when referring to the Christian god).

In any case, the logic for calling the monotheistic god Allah seems to go 
something like this:
We have all these false gods, so how do we distinguish the one true God?  
We'll call him THE god.

So, since Arabic uses a term that would imply one god among many (or at 
least among more than one), I see no reason Klingon shouldn't.

Then again, perhaps 'THE god' doesn't have the same connotations in Arabic 
as it does in English.  In English, if you say "I saw Robert Redford at the 
grocery store", your friend might ask, "THE Robert Redford", indicating that 
there may be more than one, and they want to make sure it's the one they're 
thinking of.  But as I say, perhaps Arabic doesn't work this way.

In addition, there are indications that primitive Judaism wasn't as 
monotheistic as most people think.  And Muslims certainly don't consider the 
Christian Trinity to be monotheistic.  (I don't have sources for these bits 
of info handy, and it probably would be overkill to post them to this list 
anyway, but if you're really interested, write to me off-list and I'll find 
the sources for you.)

Anyway, for these reasons, I see no problem using {Qun'a'} to refer to the 
Jewish/Christian/Muslim god (the god of Abraham), or indeed any montheistic 
god.  But that's only my opinion.

Then again, maybe we should take a hint from Sulu and say {qIb bo'Degh'a'}.

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