tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Sep 17 10:18:04 2002

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RE: "words, words, words"

qeyS requests:
 > Unfortunately undersigned does not have the Klingon version of
 > Hamlet, though I would be extraordinarily pleased if someone could
 > supply to me the Klingon translation of the "What are you reading
 > my lord. Words, words, words" passage.

       Act II, Scene II (page 58/59 in paperback version)

polonyuS: [pegh'egh] nuqjatlh jay'? puqbe'wI' buStaH qar'a'? 'a
           mughovbe'pu'. verengan jIH 'e' noHHa'. loj, lojqu' yabDaj. 'a
           jIQuptaHvIS je jIH, reH muSHa'qu'bogh tIqwIjmo' jIbechbej ---
           ghaH vIrurba'pu'. vIjatlhqa'. nuq DalaD, joHwI'?
Hamlet:   mu', mu', mu'.
polonyuS: nuq luqel, joHwI'?
Hamlet:   vangmeH qel 'Iv?
polonyuS: 'ach De''e' luqelbogh mu' 'oH nuq'e', joHwI'?

POLONIUS: [Aside] How say you by that? Still harping on my
           daughter: yet he knew me not at first; he said I
           was a fishmonger: he is far gone, far gone: and
           truly in my youth I suffered much extremity for
           love; very near this. I'll speak to him again.
           What do you read, my lord?
HAMLET:   Words, words, words.
POLONIUS: What is the matter, my lord?
HAMLET:   Between who?
POLONIUS: I mean, the matter that you read, my lord.

> > This seems to be bad grammar, or is it one of those things that "just are,
> > so shut up"?  Wouldn't "Words, words, words" be "mu'mey, mu'mey, mu'mey",
> > to indicate the plural?

DloraH quotes TKD section 3.3.2:
>"... the lack of a specific suffix for plural does not always indicate 
>that the noun
>is singular. In Klingon, a noun without a plural suffix may still refer to 
>more than one entity. [...] Under certain circumstances, the only way to 
>know whether the noun refers to one or more than one entity is by context."

DloraH comments (from another thread):
 >The problem is "translating". For symmetry and poetry one needs to create 
 >art using the language, and not translate it from another language.

Indeed.  Translating Shakespeare involves much more than merely translating 
the surface grammar.  In a good translation you also need to render the 
poetry and meter of the original.  If you can't reproduce the original form 
of the English - something which is nearly impossible in a foreign language 
- another approach is to choose a poetical form in the target language 
which provides a similar effect.  The exact wording of a translated line 
has to consider not only vocabulary and grammar, but also syllable count, 
rhyme, meter, alliteration, rhythm and intonation of the line as a whole, 

I admit that I've never been very good at "getting" poetry - I'll leave it 
to those more qualified than me to judge the quality of the Klingon poetry 
- but I imagine that in translating "Hamlet" Nick and Guido were trying to 
reproduce Shakespeare's iambic pentameter.  This would explain why they 
phrased things a certain way:  to achieve a desired pattern of stressed and 
unstressed syllables in the line.

Looking at the passage in question, you'll notice that the original line 
consisted of three stressed words of one-syllable: "Words, words, 
words."  Since use of the plural suffixes is never required in Klingon, 
{mu', mu', mu'} reproduces the feel, if not the plural suffixes, of the 
original.  (Also, the fact that {mu'} is repeated three times hints that 
they refer to plural words.)  *{mu'mey, mu'mey, mu'mey} would have both 
doubled the syllable count as well as using three words of a stressed 
followed by an unstressed syllable.  The rhythm is different.

Ca'Non Master of the Klingons

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