tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Sep 01 12:25:42 2009

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RE: Doctoral project on the Klingon language

Steven Boozer (

Thorwald Peeters writes:
>> QaHlaHlu', QaHlu' (I think... "when one can help, one helps")

lay'tel SIvten:
>pagh: QaHlaHlu'mo' QaHlu'

Unfortunately {-laH} and {-lu'} are both Type 5 suffixes and can't be used together.  There are, of course, the "totally artificial, made-up suffixes" {-luH} or {-la'} (described in TKD p.181) but, as Okrand warns:

  No one accepts such constructions as grammatical; their
  inappropriateness, the way they grate on the Klingon ear,
  is exactly what gives them elocutionary clout. A visitor
  may hear one of these odd suffixes occasionally, but, as
  with other intentionally ungrammatical forms, it is best
  to avoid using them until one is extremely comfortable
  with the nuances of Klingon style.          [TKD 181]

When translating phrases with the indefinite subject "one" I almost always use {bI-} or {Da-}, both of which are commonly seen in Klingon {vIttlheghmey}:

  bI'IQchugh yIvang.
  If you are sad, act! TKW

  bISutlhnISchugh jaghlI' mInDu' tIbej.
  If you must negotiate, watch your enemy's eyes. TKW

  bIlujlaHbe'chugh bIQaplaHbe'.
  If you cannot fail, you cannot succeed. TKW

  bItuHlaHbe'chugh bIquvlaHbe'
  If you cannot be shamed, you cannot be honored. TKW

  bIHeghvIpchugh bIHeghpu'.
  If you are afraid to die, you have already died. TKW

  DabuQlu'DI' yISuv.
  When threatened, fight. TKW

  tlhIngan quv DatIchDI' Seng yIghuH.
  When you insult a Klingon's honor, prepare for trouble. TKW

  bIQapqu'meH tar DaSop 'e' DatIvnIS.
  To really succeed, you must enjoy eating poison. TKW

  vay' DaghIjlaHchugh bIHoSghaj.
  Fear is power.  TKW

In fact, every one of these could easily have been translated "if one [does X]" with no loss in meaning.  And so:

  bIQaHchugh, yIQaH!
  bIQaHmo', yIQaH!

  vay' DaQaHchugh, yIQaH!
  vay' DaQaHmo', yIQaH!

When one can help, one helps.  <g>

Canon Master of the Klingons

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