tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Fri Jun 05 07:04:19 2009

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RE: Favourite Klingon Proverb

Steven Boozer (sboozer@uchicago.edu)



nughel Fiat Knox:
>tlhIngan vIttlheghmey law' tu'lu'. tlhIngan vIttlhegh QaQ law' Hoch QaQ
>puS 'e' yIngu'.
"Identify that the/a Klingon proverb is best of all!"

A better way to say what I think you're asking is:  

  tlhIngan vIttlhegh DamaSqu'bogh yIngu'
  What is your favorite Klingon proverb? 
  ("Identify the Klingon proverb that you very much prefer!")   

As it happens, Okrand discussed how to say "what is your favorite X?" in detail on startrek.klingon (12/12/1996).  Here's the relevant section from his longer post:

 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
(2) You suggested translating "What is your favorite month?" as: 

    jarlIj qaq nuq?

This one's a little easier to deal with.  Your sentence literally means
"What is your preferable month?"  The basic syntax is correct.  Question
words (in this case, {nuq} "what?") function the same way pronouns do in
questions with "to be" in the English translations.  Thus, the question
{yIH nuq?} "What is a tribble?" is exactly parallel the statement {yIH 'oH}
"It is a tribble" (where {yIH} is "tribble" and {'oH} is "it"). The answer
to the question {yIH nuq?} ("What is a tribble?") would presumably be a
definition or description of a tribble.  This being the case, then, the
answer to the question {jarlIj qaq nuq?} ("What is your preferable month?")
would presumably be a definition of "your favorite month." But this is not
what you want to find out by asking your question.  What you really mean
to ask is something like "Of all the months, which one do you prefer?" 

The first word in your sentence, {jarlIj}, means "your month" ({jar} "month,"
{-lIj} "your").  But given that what you're really asking is "Which month do
you prefer?" it's not really "your month" at all.  The "you" should go
with the verb, not with "month." 

Which brings us to the verb.  You use {qaq}, "be preferable," adjectivally
({jarlIj qaq} is "your preferable month"). I think what you mean is better
expressed by using the verb {maS} "prefer" with "you" as the subject: {jar
DamaS} "you prefer the month."  If you want to highlight the notion of
"most prefer," you can use the emphatic suffix {-qu'}: {jar DamaSqu'} "you
very much prefer the month."  (In this case, since "prefer" involves
making a choice, the one chosen is automatically the one that is "most"
preferred.) 

So what about the "what" (or "which") of your original question
("What/which is your favorite month?")?  When asking someone a question of
this type, you are really asking him or her to make a choice.  So just be
a Klingon and order them to do so: "Identify the month that you very much
prefer!": 

    jar DamaSqu'bogh yIngu' 

{DamaSqu'bogh} "that you very much prefer" ({DamaSqu'} "you very much prefer
it" plus {-bogh} "which," the relative-clause marker) modifies jar "month"
and the whole phrase {jar DamaSqu'bogh} "the month that you very much
prefer" is the object of the verb {ngu'} ("identify"), which is preceded by
the imperative prefix {yI-{ ("do something to it!"). 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

tlhIngan vIttlhegh'e' vImaSqu'bogh... (As for my favorite Klingon proverb...) I'll have to think about that awhile.  There are so many good ones, but one I've always been particularly fond of is:

  DopDaq qul yIchenmoH QobDI' ghu' 
  Set fire on the side when there is danger.


--
Voragh                          
Canon Master of the Klingons




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