tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Fri Oct 30 09:48:25 2009

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RE: Translations of type 2 suffixes with -be'

Steven Boozer (

Some relevant comments from Okrand you may not be aware of:

st.klingon 11/97:  Since the negative suffixes are Rovers, they follow different rules...  The Rover {-be'} comes right after whatever it is negating.  Both {Qochbe'nIS} "he/she/they need to not disagree" (that is, he/she/they need to agree) and {QochnISbe'} "he/she/they do not need to disagree" are acceptable Klingon formations. The fact that the Dictionary lists {Qochbe'} "agree" (that is, literally, "not disagree") does not mean that no suffix may precede the {-be'}.  It's in there so that someone can easily look up how to say "agree".)

Krankor asked Okrand at qep'a' loSDIch whether {-be'} can be inserted between {-taH} and {-vIS} for a suffix combination {-taHbe'vIS} (meaning something like "while discontinuously").  The answer was: "That's an interesting question." 

And a few more examples:

  ghob tIvnISbe'lu' 
  One need not enjoy virtue. TKW

TKW 48:  The Klingon construction {tIvnISbe'} means "does not need to enjoy";  {tIvbe'nIS} would mean "needs to not enjoy", an utterly different concept.

  ngongmeH wa' DujDaq nuHmey nISbe'bogh So'wI' jomlu'pu' 
  [A cloaking device which didn't disrupt weaponry was installed in one
   experimental ship. (untranslated)]  S33

  batlh Heghlu'chugh noDnISbe' vay' 
  An honorable death requires no vengeance. TKW

Canon Master of the Klingons

Tracy wrote:
>As TKD demonstrates, the translation of a verb with -be' depends on where
>it occurs with regard to root and the other suffixes*:
>  choHoHbe'vIp
>  "You are afraid not to kill me."
>  choHoHvIpbe'
>  "You are not afraid to kill me."
>When we look at the other type 2 suffixes, though, the English translations
>don't seem as obvious.  I'm interested in hearing what others have done
>with these.  Consider
>  jIDoy'be' 'ej jIQongnISbe'
>  "I am not tired and I don't need to sleep."
>That seems straightforward enough (I am sure someone will let me know if
>it isn't).  Now contrast it with
>  jIDoy' 'ach jIQongbe'nIS
>  "I am tired but I need to not sleep."  
>(Presumably the speaker has other responsibilities that cannot be abandoned.)
>The general sense of the sentence is clear, but "I need to not sleep" is
>awkward in English.  We just don't say it that way.  English speakers
>would probably say something along the lines of
>"... but I shouldn't sleep."
>"... but I mustn't sleep."
>"... but I can't sleep."  
>(Even though this uses the word "can't", the speaker wouldn't mean 
>"I am unable to sleep"; the _meaning_ is that sleeping is inadvisable,
>not that it's impossible.)
>The difference between the possibe translations is mostly a matter of
>strength - someone who says "I shouldn't sleep" might decide to do it
>anyway, but someone who says "I mustn't sleep" is going to try not to.
>In general, what would be the preferred English translation of verbs with
>-be'nIS?  I'm not trying to translate a specific phrase so much as I'm
>looking for general patterns.
>-qang seems to have a similar translation problem:
>  qaja'qang
>  "I am willing to tell you."
>  qaja'qangbe'
>  "I am not willing to tell you."
>  ?qaja'be'qang
>  ?"I am willing to not tell you."
>The English seems possible, but odd - I wouldn't expect to hear it without
>extra stress on the "not", and even then it would probably only be produced
>in certain specific contexts.  "I am willing to refrain from telling you"
>would sound less awkward - is that an acceptable translation?
>-rup is tricky too:
>  baHrupbe'
>  "They are not prepared to fire." "They are not ready to fire."
>  ?baHbe'rup
>  ?"They are prepared to not fire." "They are ready to not fire."
>To my ear, the English  "ready to" and "prepared to" really need to be
>followed by some kind of action that will be taken.  "Prepared to not
>..." and "Ready to not ..." sound extremely awkward.  Is there a better
>Some of the possibilities with -beH seem even weirder.
>  pojbeHbe' De'wI'
>  The computer is not set up to analyze it.
>  ?pojbe'beH De'wI'
>  ?The computer is set up not to analyze it.
>That sounds like a Dilbert cartoon - we generally configure devices to do
>something, rather than to not do something.
>In fairness, the English sentences with -rup and -beH sound a lot better
>when you add a subordinate clause:
>  baHbe'rup Sujeghchugh
>  They're prepared to not fire if you surrender.
>  pojbe'beH DewI' ra'pa' QeDpIn
>  The computer is set up not to analyze it before the science officer
>  commands.
>Any insight is appreciated.  Thank you!
>* "The scope of negation" if you'd like some jargon with that

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