tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Wed Jun 24 02:06:45 2009

Back to archive top level

To this year's listing

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]

Re: Klingon orthography

Michael Everson (

On 24 Jun 2009, at 04:09, ghunchu'wI' wrote:

> On Jun 23, 2009, at 6:07 PM, Michael Everson wrote:
>> Hm. I would say that Standard Klingon has a phoneme /b/ which is  
>> realized as [b] or [mb], but that in some dialects the phoneme /b/  
>> has fallen together with /m/.
> TKD says the speakers of the variant dialect need to remember how to  
> spell the different words that sound the same.  I consider that to be
> evidence that the phonemes remain distinct even in those dialects  
> where they are voiced alike.

I'm afraid that's mistaken. The phonemes /b/ and /m/ are distinct in  
Standard Klingon, even though speakers of the Tak'ev dialect may  
realize /b/ as [mb], it is still distinct from /m/ which is [m].

Because the phonemes /b/ and /m/ fall together as /m/ in the Krotmag  
dialect, the speakers only have the one phoneme. Because they live in  
an empire where other speakers (Standard and Tak'ev) distinguish the  
two phonemes, they have to remember which words have orthographic "b"  
and which have orthographic "m" even though for them there is only "m".

It's like being colour blind. My friend Adger years ago said he had  
some T-shirts which were a kind of pinkish colour and oddly most of us  
called one of them red and one of them green. It seemed arbitrary to  
him. For him, the colours green and red fell together as a sort of red.

Michael Everson *

Back to archive top level