tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Mon Nov 30 20:03:38 2009

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need vs. obligation

blake.turner (

Does tlhIngan Hol differentiate between "to need" and "to have to"?  So far I haven't been able to find anything like the latter. I am aware of the suffix {-nIS} being translated as both... but given that most languages I've studied have different means of expressing either, I'm hesitant to throw it all under {-nIS}... unless that's the Klingon way, of course.

Two examples:

{vIleghnIS} "I need to see her" 

{DaH jIbwIj vISay'nISmoH} "I must wash my hair now"

...but I'm not adroit enough to tell whether "must" in the second sentence is a more liberal rendering that sounds more appropriate in the (humorous?) context of a young girl keeping her suitor waiting (which I think is the situation in the Power Klingon program where it occurs?), or if the suffix here actually denotes obligation.

Even if there are no good attested examples of anything expressing obligation (aside from -nIS, I mean), I wonder at interesting additions to the sentence that help to "up the ante" and help deliver a sense of obligation looming over the statement (or at least tip the English translation from "need" over into "must"): more than just a personal need, but an abstract or inescapable obligation.

{wa'loSpa' vIrInnIS} "I need to finish it before tomorrow."

{Qu'mo' wa'loSpa' vIrInnIS } "For honor's sake, I must finish it before tomorrow."

Or even:

{wa'loSpa' vIrIn 'e' mura' Qu'e'} "Duty commands that I finish it before tomorrow" (or, a less literally and more playfully: "I MUST finish it before tomorrow").

Am I taking too much liberty with too little need? Probably, but it's hard to stop once started.

{rupmeywIj jIDIlbe'chugh vaj ghe''orDaq jaH QuchwIj}... or something. Now that I've thought through this out loud (is that all this e-mail was?), having just another suffix for another shade of meaning seems less interesting (and less consonant with Klingon theatricality) than diverse and even personalized expressions for the level of obligation attached to any given task in any given circumstance. Too much speculation?

Okay, that's enough.

Dogh chu' 'e'. (To be new is to be foolish?)



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