tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Mar 13 18:45:51 2002

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

jatlh Sean:

>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 
>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).

Hmmm... perhaps <<Qun'a'>> could mean "one true god" (that is, one god among 
many false gods).

>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.

English does differentiate between "god" (one god among many) and "God" (the 
biblical one): we capitalise the word. But it also behaves differently 
because it's not really a common noun, but a name: you don't say "I saw god" 
unless you are talking about the Jewish/Muslim/Christian god, you'd say "I 
saw a god" or "I saw the god". In that sense, we DO grammatically 
differentiate between the two, and in a similar way to the Arabic. It's just 
that the reverse process happens; instead of taking a definite article, we 
leave it out.

If I see <<Qun'a'>>, odds are I would probably understand it, but I would 
personally use something different. I've seen <<joH'a'>> used many a time, 
and that's the one I am used to using. Perhaps <<Qun'a'>> would be fine for 
Zeus, Jupiter, P'an Ku or Vishnu, where there is one god deemed to be one of 
the greater gods among many, but in a monotheistic system, I'd use 
<<joH'a'>> or similar.

Qapla' 'ej Satlho'


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