tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Fri Jun 26 09:01:47 2009

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Re: Klingon translation

ghunchu'wI' 'utlh (

On Thu, Jun 25, 2009 at 7:07 PM, Michael Everson<> wrote:
> I am doing a short translation. The text is well-known, but is
> syntactically complex in English. I have made a stab at the first
> sentence; my rendering of it came to two separate sentences in Klingon.

Translating sentence-by-sentence is definitely preferable to doing it
word-for-word. Better yet would be to just retell the story in
Klingon; that way the English syntactic complexity is a total

> How about if I give my translation here, without the original (which
> is well-known, but let's forget that) and see if it makes sense.

That's usually not a good idea. What you give might make sense as
something other than what you intended. Without knowing what you want
to say, we might not know that you didn't do it correctly.

> Here it is:
> ’Iv HoS law’ ’Iv HoS puS, ’e’ ghoHtaHvIS SuS bIr Hov je, ghoSpu’
> lengwI’. wep tuj tuqtaH ghaH.
> What do you make of it?

I recognize it, so I know what you're going for. That'll help. I also
read a rather good translation of it this morning, so that's going to
strongly color my analysis.

The comparative formula looks *very* weird with the same noun in both
halves. I addressed this in my earlier note. You then go on to use the
unattested "question as object" construction. Rather than analyze the
rest of it, I should throw out the first part entirely, but it's a
good opportunity to talk about some common errors and unsupported

SuStel already pointed out that you can't say {'e' ghoHtaHvIS}. It is
a silly rule, and Marc Okrand himself has broken it on occasion, but
it is a rule nonetheless.

Do we know that the object of {ghoH} is the topic of the argument? Do
we even know that {ghoH} can have an object?

Knowing where this story is going, I think {Hov} alone is a poor
choice to represent a source of warmth. Perhaps {Hov tuj} "hot star"
to contrast with {SuS bIr} "cold wind" would work well enough.

You used the perfective on {ghoS}, implying that the traveler's
journey was finished while the two were arguing. It does superficially
follow the {yIntaHvIS qeylIS...chenmoHlu'pu'} example from Skybox card
S8, but I think your intent is different, and I think the aspect
suffix here is more confusing than helpful.

Does the {ghoHtaHvIS...ghoS} need to be a single sentence? You can
simplify the syntactic complexity by separating them: {ghoH [chaH].
ghoS [ghaH].}

Is there any reason to think that {wep tuj} refers to anything but a
jacket which is at a high temperature? Perhaps you could say {tujmeH
wep} or {tujmoHmeH wep} "jacket for being hot/heating". The relatively
recently revealed verb {ghun} "be warm" is probably a better word than
{tuj} here, especially if you have {Hov tuj} as one of the main
entities. You might also just call it a {wep vaQ} "effective jacket".

SuStel has corrected the misspelled {tuQ}.

I really, really like how the first part of the story was translated
in the version I have, which I probably obtained in 1996. Does anyone
claim it, or recognize it? My first thought was HoD Qanqor, but the
{pemHov} is leading me to think it might be the work of nIchyon. The
last line being approximately in iambic pentameter might be another
clue. :)

>             ghoH pemHov SuS je
> pemHov HoS law' SuS HoS puS 'e' maq pemHov
>  SuS HoS law' pemHov HoS puS 'e' maq SuS

-- ghunchu'wI'

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