tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Sun Nov 17 15:03:00 2002

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Re: QeD De'wI' ngermey

On Sun, 17 Nov 2002, David Trimboli wrote:
> Did YOU coin the special meanings of the words "stack," "queue," and so
> forth in English?  If you did, I see no reason why you can't do so in
> Klingon too.
> If you didn't, then what makes your decisions for new idioms like that
> binding?  What if *I* wanted to challenge your choices?  I'm a grammarian,
> you're not.  Do I win?

I totally appreciate this point.  And no, I didn't coin the idioms in
English, obviously (wish I had ;)  However...

> That's why we can't do it outside individual posts.  We're supposed to be
> studying Klingon, not inventing it.

What of Klingon is there to "study"?  There is very limited source
material to work from.  If you were to really study a language, such as
English, you look into things like etymology and the evolution of the
language over time.  You look into things like "When did the past tense of
'sneak' change from 'sneaked' to 'snuck'?" or "How did the silent e rule
drop from words like 'faire'?"

But these kinds of things impossible to study, because Klingon is an
invented language.  There is no body of work of appreciable size to study,
by any "canon source".  You can't take the Klingon Hamlet and hold it up
as a point of analysis -- not even really the for purposes of examining
Shakespeare's use of alliteration and metaphor, because someone's already
done that analysis and generated the Klingon equivalent.  And even if you
did, Hamlet's not canon, really, because it came from non-canon sources.

I don't want people to think I'm dumping on the Hamlet work -- I picked up
my copy, and I absolutely love it; it makes me think about possibly
working on translating something myself.  But then, that's what has gotten
me here.

But what if I want to translate or author something that includes concepts
not currently covered by the Klingon language?  What am I to do if I
wanted to add a paper on "Software Engineering for Klingons" to the pool
of material available in the language?  It sounds like your opinion is
that I shouldn't write such a thing either because a) there will be no way
for me to translate the various concepts or b) I would have to "invent" my
own idioms to do it.

So what happens now?  I can play nice and not write "Software Engineering
for Klingons".  Or I can go against your direction and do it anyway (and
see what happens).  I don't want to be the rebel, but at the same time, I
think the hardline "don't do anything that isn't directly reflected in the
canon" is unnecessarily limiting the evolution of the language.

If we have no hopes of the language being anything more than a toy for
fans of Star Trek or an amusement for people interested in "secret
languages", the hardline is fine.  But it also means we can't write any
creative fiction that might possibly make use of metaphor (for what is
metaphor but the creation of idioms?) nor can we make reference to
anything outside the scope of the language.  How much can we study
something that doesn't change?  What we're really doing is not studying
Klingon, we're practicing it.  But what future does the language have if
it doesn't grow and adapt?


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            "This above all:  to thine own self be true"
                    -- Hamlet, Act I, Scene III

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