tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Mar 13 18:02:05 2002

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Re: KLBC: Higher numbers

From: <>
> I've explicitly asked Okrand if there was a specific number of 'uj in a
> qelI'qam, saying it was fine if he got back to us later on the number. I
> suggested a number approaching an even number of one in the other that he
> find acceptable. He didn't just say that he didn't know the number yet or
> choose to accept one. He explicitly said that Klingons don't think about
> and qelI'qam as different sizes of the same measurement. There are things
> measure with qelI'qammey and things they measure with 'ujmey and they
> convert from one to the other. There is no conversion number between these
> units of measure. Likely, there would be a fraction of an 'uj left at the
> if someone were to actually measure one against the other, and even then,
> margin of error would likely screw things up.

I think Maltz is playing a practical joke on Okrand.  If both qelI'qammey
and 'ujmey measure length, and 'ujmey are smaller than qelI'qammey, then
there are a certain number of 'ujmey in one qelI'qam, however fractional
that number may be.  That's not linguistics, that's physics.  Yes, I don't
usually convert between centimeters and kilometers, but I CAN.  I can also
convert between inches and miles.  And we CAN express fractional distances
in Klingon, at a variety of scales.

And if the idea is that Klingon science uses measurements as flabby as this,
I don't buy that either.  They wouldn't be able to build computers, ships,
weapons, or any of the other goodies they make.  Heck, you can't even build
a house without precise measuring.  And there are just simply times when you
need to convert things like distances.

> Yep. That's a weird idea, but that's how it was explained to me.

I can accept that Okrand said something like that, but I'm not going to
accept the thing itself without a better explanation from him than that.

> I am
> paraphrasing, so maybe I got it wrong, or maybe he's changed his mind.

batlh juja'ta'.  mu'meylIj vIlaj.

> I'd be as delighted as you if he gave us either a conversion number
> or more precise conversion numbers to metric or English standard,

I wouldn't jump for joy or anything, as imprecise measurements ARE
sufficient for what we usually want to talk about.

> but it seems
> pretty clear that he's not interested in helping us out here. He doesn't
> this to matter.

And this is, of course, the correct answer.  "Dammit, Jim, I'm a linguist,
not a physicist!"

Stardate 2198.4

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