tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Nov 24 11:04:07 2009

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RE: Comparatives

Steven Boozer (

Tracy Canfield wrote:
>> For comparatives, TKD uses the construction
>> 	A Q law' B Q puS
>> In all the examples, A and B are nouns.  If you're comparing, for
>> example, "we" and "you", do you have to include the pronouns, or is it
>> okay to just use prefixes on the verbs?
>> Can you say
>> 	maDo' law' SuDo' puS
>> or does it have to be
>> 	maH maDo' law' tlIH SuDo' puS
>> or even
>> 	maH Do' law' tlIH Do' puS
>> without agreement between Do' and what would otherwise be its subject?

>The "A Q" and "B Q" parts are not clauses. Only your last example is
>correct: {maH Do' law' tlhIH Do' puS} "we are more fortunate than you."
>A and B must be noun phrases; Q must be a verb of quality without prefix
>or suffixes. These elements are not related to each other beyond being
>part of the comparative sentence.
>The comparative/superlative construction is rather fixed in structure,
>although some allowed variations are given in KGT. These variations
>don't change the structure of the construction, only the words and order
>Note that when I say "must" above, I mean that out of all of the
>examples, and there are quite a few, none have ever done otherwise
>(except one example in TKW, from ST6, which is noted as being special
>grammar left over from an older version of Klingon).
>The example I know of offhand with a pronoun in a comparison (actually a
>superlative) is
>    qIbDaq SuvwI''e' SoH Dun law' Hoch Dun puS.
>    You would be the greatest warrior in the galaxy. (ST5)


  jIH Doy' law' SoH Doy' puS 
  I am more tired than you are (HQ 13.1:10)

Okrand communicated privately with members of the Klingon Shakespeare Restoration Project (KSRP) that pronouns (being a subset of nouns) could indeed be used with stative verbs. Thus, {SoH po' law' jIH po' puS} is correct.  [Cf. HQ 4.2:3]  


FYI:  Here's a "canon sweep" through my notes on {A Q law' B Q puS} (A is Q-er than B):

"In this formula, A and B are the two things being compared and Q is the quality which is being measured... Any verb expressing a quality or condition may fit into the Q slot." (TKD 70) 

  la' jaq law' yaS jaq puS 
  The commander is bolder than the officer. TKD

  la' jaq law' Hoch jaq puS 
  The commander is boldest of all. TKD 

"... the way to say that something is more or greater than something else. In Klingon, this is expressed by a grammatical formula: {A Q law' B Q puS}, where A and B are the two items being compared as to a specific quality (Q), A having the greater amount of this quality (expressed by {law'}, "be many"), B the lesser (expressed by {puS} "be few"):  {tlhIngan yoH law' verengan yoH puS} ("The Klingon is braver than the Ferengi") ... In the superlative, the noun {Hoch} ("all") fits into the B slot, as in the normal sentence {tlhIngan yoH law' Hoch yoH puS} ("Klingons are the bravest of all")." (KGT 178f.) 

"Another kind of bending of the grammar involves the comparative construction ... As a form of word play, antonyms (that is, words with opposite meanings) other than {law'} and {puS} are sometimes plugged into the formula. The resulting phrases literally make no sense at all, but because of the uniqueness of the {law'/puS} phrases within Klingon grammar, they are always understood. Constructions such as the following might be heard, all meaning, thought not literally, "The Klingon is braver than the Ferengi":  

	  tlhIngan yoH HoS verengan yoH puj
	  tlhIngan yoH pIv verengan yoH rop 
	  tlhIngan yoH Daj verengan yoH qetlh

   "Such fanciful use of words is found with the superlative construction (something is the most or the best) as well. ... It is possible, however, for rhetorical effect, to say such things as {tlhIngan yoH HoS Hoch yoH puj} ... 
   "If one state of affairs is not inherently better or worse than its opposite, the terms may occur in either order. Once again comparing the brave Klingon and the not-so-brave Ferengi: 	

	  tlhIngan yoH jen verengan yoH 'eS    or 
	  tlhIngan yoH 'eS verengan yoH jen 

	  tlhIngan yoH ghegh verengan yoH Hab  or 
	  tlhIngan yoH Hab verengan yoH ghegh

   "Some conditions, on the other hand, are more highly regarded than others. In those instances, it is essential to get the terms in the correct order. For example, among Klingons, a task that is difficult ({Qatlh}) is more highly valued than one that is easy ({ngeD}). Accordingly, in these creative comparative and superlative constructions, {Qatlh} is associated with the quality that is "many" and {ngeD} with the quality that is "few". To say "The Klingon is braver than the Ferengi," one would have to say {tlhIngan yoH Qatlh verengan yoH ngeD}. Reversing the order of {Qatlh} and {ngeD} would produce the phrase {tlhIngan yoH ngeD verengan yoH Qatlh}, which, if interpretable at all, would mean "The Klingon is less brave than the Ferengi." Even if one really meant it, uttering such a phrase could lead to unfortunate consequences."  [KGT 178ff.]

jonlu'meH wo'maj pop tIn law' Hoch tIn puS 
Our Empire's highest bounty has been placed on his head. (ST5 notes) 

'IwwIj jeD law' 'IwlIj jeD puS 
My blood is thicker than yours [i.e. I am much stronger than you]. PK

targhlIj yab tIn law' no'lI' Hoch yabDu' tIn puS 
Your targ has a bigger brain than all your ancestors put together! PK

reH latlh qabDaq qul tuj law' Hoch tuj puS 
The fire is always hotter on someone else's face. PK 

qIbDaq SuvwI''e' SoH Dun law' Hoch Dun puS 
You would be the greatest warrior in the galaxy. ST5 

DujvamDaq tlhIngan nuH tu'lu'bogh pov law' Hoch pov puS 'ej DujvamDaq 'op SuvwI' tu'lu'bogh po' law' tlhIngan yo' SuvwI' law' po' puS 
It [IKV Pagh] has the best weapons and some of the finest warriors in the Klingon fleet. S7

tlhIngan qorDu' pong potlh law' Hoch potlh puS 
Above all, the Klingon family name is highly valued. S13 

tlhutlhmeH HIq ngeb qaq law' bIQ qaq puS 
Drinking fake ale is better than drinking water. TKW

batlh potlh law' yIn potlh puS 
Honor is more important than life. TKW

QamvIS Hegh qaq law' torvIS yIn qaq puS 
Better to die on our feet than live on our knees. ST6/TKW
("Dying while standing is preferable to living while kneeling"). TKW

noH ghoblu'DI' yay quv law' Hoch quv puS 
In war there is nothing more honorable than victory. TKW 

tlhIngan wo' yuQmey chovlu'chugh Qo'noS potlh law' Hoch potlh puS 
The principal planet of the Klingon Empire, Qo'noS... S27 

tlhIngan qu' law' tera'ngan qu' puS 
the Klingon is more fierce than the Terran (HQ 13.1:10)

tlhIngan qu' law' Hoch qu' puS 
the Klingon is the fiercest of all (HQ 13.1:10)

QuchwIj vIl law' QuchlIj vIl puS 
my forehead is ridgier than your forehead (HQ 13.1:10)

Finally, in HolQeD 13.1, Okrand discussed substituting different qualities for {puS} which provides a needed set of variations (e.g. responding to the questions:  How do you say "A is not as Q as B?"):


QuchlIj vIl law'be' QuchwIj vIl puSbe' 
your forehead isn't ridgier than my forehead (HQ 13.1:10)


SuvwI' ghung law' qagh ghung rap 
the warrior is as hungry as gagh. 

tlhIngan woch law' tera'ngan woch rap 
the Klingon is as tall as the Terran. (HQ 13.1:9)


ro'qegh'Iwchab 'ey law' qagh 'ey law' 
the rokeg blood pie is as delicious as the gagh. 

tlhIngan HoS law' 'Iw HoS law' 
the Klingon is as strong as blood (HQ 13.1:10)


tlhIngan woch law' tera'ngan woch nIb 
the Klingon is as tall as the Terran (HQ 13.1:9)


QuchlIj vIl law' QuchwIj vIl pIm 
your forehead is not as ridgy as my forehead (HQ 13.1:10)


'Iw HIq bIr puS chuch bIr puS 
the bloodwine is as cold as the ice is
the bloodwine is as cold as ice. 

verengan puj puS, bIQ puj puS 
the Ferengi is as weak as water (HQ 13.1:10) 

(I may have forgotten a couple variations.)

Canon Master of the Klingons

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