tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Dec 16 08:32:57 2009

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RE: {-ghach} revisited (yet again!)

Steven Boozer (

>>>> For most of us, this means don't use -ghach except for words found
>>>> in the dictionary, until you have a really good feel for it.

>>> It's funny that you say that, because the sense I got from that
>>> interview (?) with Okrand is that -ghach is ubiquitous and ends 
>>> up on all kinds of words.  Not some (e.g., bare stems), but a 
>>> whole lot.  

>> Whoa... hardly "ubiquitous"!
>>    [snip]
>> Although theoretically productive, {-ghach}'ed nouns are
>> almost never used in "authentic" texts.  Perhaps such
>> nouns strike the average Klingon warrior as recondite,
>> sesquipedalian or even cacophonous [...]

Alex Green:
| Other than the examples given in the books, what examples have occurred
| here among the members of the KLI which have been considered "accepted
| practice?"

A quick check of my notes shows most unremarked examples are those ending in {-Ha'ghach}, {-laHghach} and  {-taHghach}.  Also keep in mind that since {-ghach} is a Type 9 verb suffix, you cannot use any of the other Type 9 suffixes with it:  -bogh, -chugh, -DI', -jaj, -meH, -mo', -pa', -vIS, -wI', -'a' (interrogative).

>So use {-ghach} when you very specifically want to talk about a THING, 
>abstract or otherwise. Where English uses endings to nominalize adjectives,
>Klingon does not have to nominalize verbs with {-ghach}. (E.g., don't
>bother talking about "happiness" in Klingon unless you're actually
>addressing the idea of happiness; stick with "being happy" otherwise.)

Chris's reading of Okrand's interview in HQ 3.3 is a good rule of thumb:  Don't put {-ghach} on the bare verb stem.  Interestingly, Okrand's three examples of such "marked terms" all have simple homophonic noun equivalents:

  belghach  "pleasureness" 
  bel        pleasure, joy 

  quvghach  "honoredness" 
  quv        honor

  nobghach  "givation, one-time donation" 
  nob        gift

though {nobtaHghach} "ongoing giving" was also provided in the interview.

While Okrand doesn't go so far as to say these are out-and-out wrong, he does feel uneasy about them, calling them "marked" and "weird".  No doubt he would consider them examples of {pabHa'}:

KGT 176:  Sometimes words or phrases are coined for a specific occasion, intentionally violating grammatical rules in order to have an impact. Usually these are never heard again, though some gain currency and might as well be classified as slang. Klingon grammarians call such forms {mu'mey ru'} ("temporary words"). [...] A common way to create these constructions is to bend the grammatical rules somewhat, violating the norm in a way that is so obvious that there is no question that it is being done intentionally. To do this is expressed in Klingon as {pabHa'} ("misfollow [the rules], follow [the rules] wrongly").

KGT 181:  No one accepts such constructions as grammatical; their inappropriateness, the way they grate on the Klingon ear, is exactly what gives them elocutionary clout. A visitor may hear one of these odd suffixes occasionally, but, as with other intentionally ungrammatical forms, it is best to avoid using them until one is extremely comfortable with the nuances of Klingon style.

Good advice for us all.

Canon Master of the Klingons

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