tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Fri Dec 04 10:07:49 2009

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Re: Comments sought on Klingon poem

Christopher Doty (

Thanks for your comments! Responses throughout.

On Fri, Dec 4, 2009 at 06:29, Agnieszka Solska <> wrote:
>>1. tlhingan tiq  luchenmoHpu' Qunpu',
> Someone has already mentioned capitalizing the I's.

I intentionally left the I's lower-case.  As someone new to Klingon, I
find it very hard to parse when you end up with capital I's and l's
next to each other; I left them lower case for my sanity while working
with it, and just forgot to find and replace before posting.

> Since the original does not say that the gods *had* or *have*
> forged the Klingon heart, I'm a little surprised to see the
> perfective suffix {-pu'} here.

Well, <-pu'> indicates a completed action, and the creation of the
hearts is complete.  Nonetheless, I played a bit fast and loose with
the aspect suffixes to fit the meter.

>>3. nom moq'egh.
> Frankly, to make out this line out I had to read the English
> text first. I know that in many languages, including English,
> hearts *beat*. Webster dictionary explains this meaning of
> "beat" as "to throb, pulsate." I'm a little doubtful if the
> Klingon {moq}, which refers to beating an object with an implement,
> can capture this idea.
> Okrand comments on the word {moq} in KGT in two places.
> First, when describing the specialized vocabulary used in duels:
> [snip]
> Neither description seems to have anything to do with pulsating.
> I am also puzzled by the use of the reflexive suffix {-egh}. Why
> would a heart "beat *itself*? Is pulsating the same as beating
> oneself? Maybe the problem simply lies in my insufficient knowledge
> of English. Anyway, not having a idea what the right collocation
> might be in Klingon, I would go for plain {Qap}, whose many
> senses include "work, function, be in operation." As for {moq},
> I suppose it might be used as a metaphor, though one which I
> personally find unclear...

I debated this a lot, and couldn't find anything I liked--I didn't
particularly like this translation, but wasn't sure what else to use.
But maybe <Qap> is it.

>>4. Dun tiq wab.
>>5. 'ej jach Qun:  <DaHjaj tiq
> Another way to render "this day" could be {jajvam}, as in
>   "Today is a good day to die"
>    Heghlu'meH QaQ jajvam
>>6. wIchenmoHbogh HoS law' Hoch HoS puS.
> Since the English text says "we *have* brought forth," I would
> expect to see {-pu'} on {wIchenmoHbogh}. I understand though
> that this would ruin the meter.

Again, playing fast and loose :p

>>1. HoSDajDaq Qamvip Hoch.> 'ach pujchoH
>>2. tlhingan tiq. roD moq'egh
>>3. rintaH, 'ej
> According to TKD, {rIntaH} is used to indicate finality,
> in other words to indicate that an action is done and
> cannot be undone. That is why I personally wouldn't put it
> after a sentence containing {roD}. After all, if some action
> is performed "customarily, habitually, regularly", as indicated
> by {roD}, you can hardly call it an accomplished deed.


>   The English translations of {rIntaH} and {-ta'} are usually
>   the same. The notion of absolute finality implied by {rIntaH}
>   seldom comes across. It should be noted that {rIntaH} is
>   sometimes used for [p.42] dramatic effect, even in cases
>   when the action could be undone.

Yeah, I was aiming for a bit of poetic license here, labeling the
beating as something which, metaphorically, cannot be undone.  This
was also in part for purposes of the meter, which I can rethink when i
replace the <moq'egh>.

>>4. jatlh Qun: <qatlh
>>5. bIpujchoH?  pIchenmoH
>>6. 'ej SoH HoS  law' Hoch HoS  puS.> <jImob>
>>1. jatlh tiq. bachHa'pu' 'e'  luSov Qun.
> Using {bachHa'} for "err, make a mistake" is fine, except it is
> supposed to be a slang expression (KGT, p. 145). One might argue
> that slang is out of place in a text of this sort.

I'll look at that.  I just got KGT, and didn't know this was a slang term.

>>2. qulDaq chegh Qun, 'ej pa'
> Like other verbs of motion, {chegh} can have the noun indicating
> the destination as its direct object, so you might consider
> rephrasing {qulDaq chegh Qun} as {qul luchegh}.
> Verbs which behave in this manner were described in an
> interview with Marc Okrand, published in one of the HolQeDs.
> I don't have the HolQeDs at hand so I can't give you the exact
> reference, nor can I give you a complete list of verbs of this
> sort. I believe one of the examples given was:
>   lupDujHomDaq Qo'noS vIleng.
>   I travel to Kronos on a shuttlcraft.

Ah, interesting!  I will look at this, too...

>>3. tiq cha'Dich
>>4. luqem Qun
> The meaning I'm getting from this is "And the gods brought
> the second heart there, i.e. to the fire {qulDaq}." Is this
> the meaning you intended to convey? Doesn't the English
> "bring forth" mean "create," {chenmoH}? This is in fact
> how you rendered the expression in the first stanza.

Yeah, I could see how that is confusing. Will think about it.

>>5. roD moq'egh tiq cha'Dich,
>>6. 'ej ghaH HoS law' tiq wa'Dich HoS puS.
>>1. HoSDaj ghal tiq wa'Dich. 'ach Do' val
>>2. tiq cha'Dich. <nItebHa'
>>3. maHtaHvIS,
> Even after reading your comments on {nItebHa' maHtaHvIS}
> I fail to understand why you would want to convey the sense
> of "If we join together" by using a Klingon version of
> "While we exist together." Don't the two hearts already
> exist together (alongside lots of other entities,
> including the gods they will kill)? Why would the
> second heart try to persuade the first one to do
> something that is already the case? I'm also not convinced
> that {-taHvIS} really is optimal here. Isn't the second
> heart's argument that the two hearts could achieve great
> things *on condition that* they join together? To me least,
> joining together is an action, merely existing is not.
> Personally, I would use {nItebHa' mavangchugh}.

I've been thinking about this more, and might well revise it...

>>4. wImevlaH
>>5. pagh.> jatlh tiq cha'Dich. 'ej
>>6. nItebHa' moq'egh 'e'  lutaghbej.
>>1. 'ej nItebHa' moq'eghtaHvIS, vaj
>>2. 'u' teb wabchaj qabqu'. not vay''e'
>>3. ghajpu' Qun,
> Typo: {ghIj} not {ghaj}. However, {ghIj} means "to scare" and
> since the text talks of gods not fearing (rather than scaring) \
> anyone, the verb you need is {Haj}, meaning "to dread".

Ah, thank you!  I was having all sorts of issues with how to talk
about being scared, since normally 'afraid' is just a verb prefix.

>>4. 'ach DaH tiq
>>5. ghajchoH Qun. Haw' 'e' nID
>>6. Qun, 'ach HIV 'e' lutagh tlhingan tiq.
> This might be a good place to use the idiom {narghpu' VERB-meH 'eb}. Literally meaning "the opportunity to VERB has/had escaped,"
> the expression carries the idiomatic sense that it is
> too late to perform some action. To find out more
> about this idiom go to:

Ooo, I like that, and thanks to KGT, I have some background on it now.

>>1. chenmoHbogh Qun HoH tlhingan tiqpu'.
>>2. 'ej 'u' lumeQpu' tiq.
>>3. qulvo' Hov
>>4. qIjghach je
>>5. chenmoHpu' tiq. DaHjaj,
> I'm not sure if {qulvo' Hov qIjghach je chenmoHpu' tiq}
> is a good way of expressing the idea that "The Klingon
> hearts turned the heavens to ashes.". Literally, it says
> "From fire, i.e. from where the fire was, the hearts made
> a star and blackation."

I couldn't find anything like ashes or embers or cinders or etc., so I
had to read "through" the text a bit.  By "turning the heavens to
ashes," I assumed that this was a sort of "Why?" story: that is, "Why
is the night sky black with little bits of light?"  "Well, when
Klingons were made..."  Since I went for that interpretation, I
translated it this way.  I'm happy to consider other ideas, though,
especially if someone has a good idea for something like ashes.

A couple of other notes about your retranslation (?): <Hov> here is
plural to my mind, so it's "stars," not star.  And for "blackation," I
would have this as "blackness." The emails about <-ghach> that went
around earlier made me think that "-ness" is an often acceptable
English equivalent for it.  I'll go look at that again, though.

> Naturally, there no reason why you shouldn't claim poetic
> license here. Just bear it in mind that:
> (a) We've never seen the suffix {-vo'} used to indicate
>    the material *from* which something was made. According
>    to TKD (3.3.5):
>      This suffix is similar to {-Daq} but is used only when
>      action is in a direction away from the noun suffixed
>      with {-vo'.}

Ah, I didn't know that.  However, my meaning here is not that the
heavens were made out of fire, but rather something like "out from the
fire, emerging from the fire." E.g., more about remnants that about

> (b) Using {-ghach} on a bare stem results in creating a very
>    marked noun. Again, since I don't have access to my HolQeDs
>    at the moment, I cannot give you a reference. If I remember
>    well, one of the examples Okrand used was {nobghach}, glossed
>    as "givation." There is nothing marked about the English word
>    "ashes," so maybe you don't need to use a marked noun in Klingon
> (c) Without reading the English first, it may be really hard for
>    the reader to work out what you intend to say.
>>6. moq'eghbogh tlhingan tiq qaDlaH pagh.
> Was this your first attempt at translating a longer text? If so, not bad.

Into Klingon? Yes.

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