tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue May 26 09:27:58 2009

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RE: nuq bach?

Steven Boozer (

>>> So, what you are saying is that to ask "Who did the officer shoot?"
>>> the translation really should use the question word {nuqDaq}.
>>>   {nuqDaq bachchu' yaS?}

Hmm... "Where did the officer shoot?" (i.e. where did the shooting occur?) or "At what did the officer shoot?"

lay'tel Sivten:
>> I would expect it to be {'IvDaq bachchu' yaS}.

>Mostly, I like it because it reflects on the idea that Klingon doesn't
>really have a word for "where". Instead, it's just a location of the
>question words for "what" or "who". {nuq} and {'Iv} become landmarks
>for the question concerning location.

One quibble... {'IvDaq bachchu' yaS} feels odd/hyper-correct, a bit like "(At) Whom did the officer shoot" does in 21st century American English.  Grammatically correct, yet stilted.

Question:  Can question words like {nuq} and {'Iv} even take noun suffixes?  I can find only one example:

  Sojvetlh 'oH nuq'e' 
  What is that food?  (PK)

and this comment by Okrand:

  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 to the statement
  {yIH 'oH} "It is a tribble" [...] [st.k (12/12/1996)]

{nuq} and {'Iv} are somewhat eccentric in Klingon.  My gut feeling - based on nothing but my own *{HolDuj} (Sprachgefuehl?) - is that they generally don't take noun suffixes, at least not in colloquial spoken Klingon, possibly because "what" and "who" questions are so common.  If so, my original "hmm" might be colloquially disambiguated:

  nuqDaq bachchu' yaS?
  "Where did the officer shoot?"
  (i.e. where did the shooting occur?)

  nuq bachchu' yaS?
  What did the officer shoot?
  (i.e. what did the officer shoot at?)

If you don't like the latter, you can use {ngu'} and say:

  DoSDaq bachchu'bogh yaS yIngu' 
  "Identify the target at which the officer shot!")

But since you can't use two Type 5 suffixes - i.e. *{DoSDaq'e'} - this is still ambiguous as it could possibly mean "Identify the officer who shot at the target!"  

Canon Master of the Klingons

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