tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Nov 19 19:41:58 2002

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Creating idiom

lab Paul

>Which gets to the root of my discussion, am I/are we allowed
>to standardize on certain word constructions to mean particular things, or
>to use existing words in subject-specific idiomatic ways?

It isn't a matter of being allowed; it's a matter of what happens.

For example.  I am a pilot.  I fly fixed wing aircraft, which I refer to as 
muD Duj.  Literally "atmospheric vessel/ship," this phrase could, as far as 
we know, equally refer to a balloon, a glider, a B747, a helicopter, the 
Hindenburg, a Cessna or something lowered through the atmosphere on a 
skycrane.  It shouldn't refer to a pressurized tank (what we call in 
English an "atmospheric vessel") because we don't have any evidence that 
Klingons use "Duj" to mean container or "muD" to mean pressure.  Because I 
have been consistently referring to aircraft in this way, many people on 
the list probably look at muD Duj and read "airplane."  Sometimes I just 
say Duj.

When other people (well, other than Holtej) write Duj, I expect it to mean 

We should try to be aware that Duj means vessel/ship, but that's what 
happens.  As BG I was constantly plagued with beginners noting down that 
"Qov says leghqu'moHmeH ghItlhwI' means highlighter pen," or the like.  No 
it doesn't.  You might be understood as meaning that in the correct 
context, is all.

Another example.  We don't have words for buttocks, anus or indeed anything 
identifiable between the legs and the belly.  We do have a word 'o', 
meaning aft.  The similarity between the sound of the English "aft" and 
"ass" combined with the physical shape of the word 'o' and its constant use 
to mean rear end has made it difficult to talk about the back end of a ship 
without snickers.  DermoHwI'wIj yIHotQo'!

If you speak about computer software enough, the people who read your posts 
will understand your metaphors.  The people who don't will think you're 
speaking gibberish, just as non compsci people think you're speaking 
gibberish in English.  I know a compsci major whose co-op work term report 
was marked by an English major who, among other things, told him that "port 
" was not a verb.

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