tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Thu Jan 15 11:12:35 2015

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Re: [Tlhingan-hol] Klingon Word of the Day: pegh

De'vID (

> I'm not Marc Okrand, but I do maintain {boQwI'}, which is basically
> exactly what you've just described.

lojmIt tI'wI' nuv:
> Each of us maintains a dictionary that attempts to complete the materials
> provided to us by
> Paramount/ViaCom/whatever-the-current-corporate-structure-may-be. That you
> hand yours out doesn’t make it any more official or legitimate than the ones
> maintained by everyone else,

You provided a list of requirements, many of which {boQwI'} fulfills
(the only exceptions are being official and accessible on all
platforms). I think that there is a better chance of getting what you
want by working in the direction of making it accessible on all
platforms and having the KLI officially maintain it than anything else
you can do.

There are many more people who are in Klingon-themed clubs (KAG,
Khemorex Klinzhai, etc.) who want to use the language for dressing
than there are people who are interested in speaking the language as a
language, and casual Star Trek fans outnumber both by orders of
magnitude. CBS/Paramount will never release something that fulfills
your requirements, because the effort they'd have to put in to do it
could be put to better use (from their perspective) by appealing to
the other two groups.

lojmIt tI'wI' nuv:
> since you are singularly the author, without
> the kind of feedback I got from the group when I maintained the New Words
> List.

As I've said, I receive feedback in my email about it regularly. I
don't know how much feedback you received about the New Words List,
but I believe I probably receive a comparable amount. I wish the
feedback was public, and discussed among the community of speakers,
but as things are, I end up having to make arbitrary decisions that
I'm sometimes not sure about (see my recent questions to the list
about extended canon and KLI folklore terms, which were prompted by
questions, directed privately to me, about why some such terms were
not found in {boQwI'}). Also, the German translations are Lieven's

lojmIt tI'wI' nuv:
> 1. It's electronic (though it's available only on Android, and with
> some effort on Windows, OS X, and Chrome OS).
> This restriction alone makes it a non-starter.

It's also a restriction that doesn't have to exist. The database is in
plain-text XML format. Anyone can write a user interface to it for any
platform, including the web.

In fact, since the source files can be searched using Google, you
*can* use the data on any platform (even if the way to do it is
inconvenient and ugly):

lojmIt tI'wI' nuv:
> At least Lieven’s list is
> Web-based so that it is not platform-specific. I don’t use Windows or
> Android or ChromeOS devices, and I’m not alone. Do I have to go out and buy
> hardware that I don’t have any other use for so that I can use your
> software, since you’d like it to become the only standard lexicon? That’s
> cheeky.

I don't have any wish to make anything into "the only standard
lexicon". You provided a list of requirements. I just pointed out that
most of them are, or can be with some effort, fulfilled by {boQwI'}.
It seems that, for you, the overriding requirement is that it must be
"official", in which case I can't help you.

Just to put things into context, {boQwI'} currently has just over 36
000 installs on the Google Play Store, with over 30 new installs a
day. (I don't have stats on other Android app markets, or how many
people have installed it on Windows, ChromeOS, or OS X, but the
numbers are probably insignificant in comparison.) That means that,
30+ times a day, someone who has probably never looked up a Klingon
word or phrase wanted to do so, pulled out their Android phone or
tablet, found {boQwI'}, and installed it. (However, the majority also
uninstall it afterwards, which is a typical pattern for mobile apps.)

I'd be curious to know what the visitor stats are on KLI, Lieven's web
site, Klingonska Akademien, or KAG's language section, and how they
compare. The accepted wisdom in the computer industry is that most
users have moved to mobile (phone, tablets), and that apps usage
dwarfs web usage:

I think having a lexicon which is web-based so it's
platform-independent is a nice idea in principle. But, in practice,
the best way to make such a lexicon the most widely available would
actually be to make it into an iOS app. Perhaps that violates some
kind of ideal for you, but nevertheless, it's how the world is at this

lojmIt tI'wI' nuv:
> I’ve kept my lexicon in MS Word, on Palm OS devices in a J-File database, in
> MS Access, in Bento, and now in TapForms. Each of these has been useful to
> me, and I could have shared them with those with the necessary hardware and
> software, but in all cases, it would have been a subset of the community.

But so what? {pojwI'} by d'Armond Speers is only available on Windows.
Other Klingon language tools have been released which are
platform-dependent. Even official software, like "Star Trek: Klingon"
and "Talk Now! Klingon", are available exclusively on certain
platforms. Klingon Monopoly and available only in certain countries
(though, of course, you can get anything if you're willing to pay).

We seem to have different goals here. You want an official, unified,
source of truth for Klingon vocabulary accessible by anyone. I want to
make a database which is already widely available (and which
apparently already fulfills most of your requirements) even more
widely available. (I personally just don't care if it has some kind of
"official" status or not.) I don't see why you think our goals are in
conflict, since the easiest (probably the only) way to achieve your
goal is to create something which fulfills most of your requirements,
and then to get it "blessed" by CBS/Paramount, which in practice
probably means making it the responsibility of the KLI.

lojmIt tI'wI' nuv:
> The New Words List was the compromise I made between Viacom’s legitimate
> copyright interests and truly sharable media. You’ve done good work with
> boQwI’, but you’ve begun to take yourself too seriously.

Why are you making this about me? I will happily remove my name from
the app and replace it with the KLI, if it means that the database can
be made more widely available and more useful to more people. Like I
said, I don't consider it a burden to maintain, but I also didn't ask
for the responsibility and would happily leave it to others if I knew
that the database would be kept up to date.

lojmIt tI'wI' nuv:
> If your offering is not platform independent, and it doesn’t deal with the
> issue of copyrighted material, then you really shouldn’t be sharing it. You
> are creating a privileged subset of the speaking community who can benefit
> from your research without effort on their part, and without the necessity
> of buying the published materials that provide royalties for Marc Okrand and
> legitimate income for the publishers of his work. This is not as noble a
> result as you seem to think it is.

In my opinion, you have this exactly backwards. If you are an early
speaker of Klingon who was exposed to the language when the TV shows
and TOS movies were still on, the printed books by Okrand were still
displayed on store shelves (and physical bookstores were still a big
thing), HolQeD was still available for purchase, etc., then you *are*
the privileged subset of the speaking community.

Just think about what it would take to start to learn Klingon today.
You heard some Klingon on The Big Bang Theory or in one of JJ Abrams'
movies (which, for all their flaws, actually have good spoken
Klingon). You know vaguely from pop culture that Klingon is a "real"
language. You don't know that The Klingon Dictionary exists, because
it's not on store shelves, and it's called "The Klingon Dictionary"
and not "Introduction to Klingon Grammar" or "Introduction to the
Klingon Language" or something that someone searching for an
introductory book on a language might search for. Even if you find
"The Klingon Dictionary", it's highly unlikely you'd find out that
books called "Klingon for the Galactic Traveler" and "The Klingon Way"
exist which are essentially for understanding certain aspects of the
language (like slang), or that audiotapes (!) exist which clarify the
grammar of toasts and pet commands. (I believe some of these audio
recordings are now available on iTunes or other electronic music
stores accessible only by a privileged subset of the community.)

You might find the KLI web site, but it looks like it's a site that's
obsolete and out of date (though I'm told this will soon change).
You're more likely to find Bing translator, Omniglot, or some other
not-entirely-reliable source. If you have a Facebook account, you
might stumble upon the Klingon language community there. (Of course,
this means there exists a privileged subset of speakers with Facebook
accounts. Indeed, the Facebook Klingon group has recently become more
active than this mailing list. And even being a member of the KLI
mailing list is a kind of privilege now, because the web form for
joining is no longer working, or so I've been told, and in any case
requires an email address, which many people don't have or regularly
use.) If you're a member of KAG or Khemorex Klinzhai, they'll point
you at their group's language resources (which, while online, are
known primarily only to their members; it's the difference between
being public and publicised). You're unlikely to find Lieven's site (a
beginner doesn't know what a {qepHom} is), or Klingonska Akademien (an
English-speaker can probably guess that means "Klingon academy" if
they run across it, but won't search for that term), unless you're
German or Swedish, respectively, or possibly a linguist, or someone
points you at them. You'll probably find Lieven's YouTube videos,

Multiple people have emailed me to tell me that they didn't know that
all these Klingon language resources existed until they learned about
them through {boQwI'}. (Actually, the reason they email me is to find
out what acronyms like "TKW" and "KGT" mean in the "source(s)" part of
the entries. I used those acronyms everywhere without defining them
because I'd never planned to share the database with people outside
the Klingon speaker community, i.e., people who would already know
what they mean.) The typical newcomer to the Klingon language nowadays
accesses information primarily through their phone or tablet, and
interact with others who share their interests through social networks
like Facebook rather than electronic mailing lists. Many such people
also do not have access to the Internet while on the move, or have to
pay for usage, or have devices which do not display web sites properly
unless they are designed for a mobile experience, and so you can't
assume that a web site is equally accessible to everyone. This may or
may not be ideal, but nevertheless, it is how it is. The best way to
reach and serve new Klingon speakers would, in fact, be to provide the
same lexicon program on multiple platforms which refer to the
published sources. The casual user who wants to say some common phrase
in Klingon would never have bought any of the books that go into
details about grammar anyway (and, without {boQwI'}, would've found
Omniglot or Bing, and I'd rather that they get correct information). A
beginner who is serious about the Klingon language would probably find
the diversity of sources necessary to gain reasonable proficiency in
it somewhat overwhelming, and probably wouldn't even be able to locate
some of the source materials (how would she even find out that the
grammar of {jatlh} is explained in some msn newsgroup posting and in a
HolQeD article?). In order to make full use of {boQwI'}, one really
does need to buy the source materials. (I know this is true, because I
keep getting complaints about it.)

We don't live in the world that existed when TKD was first published.
Then, a person had to purchase the few source materials or have no
information at all. Now, we have to compete with an Internet full of
bad (but free) information about Klingon, where the much larger number
of official sources are impossible for the average person to locate
unless they already know what to look for. (I've purchased TalkNow!
and Klingon Monopoly, for example, but I wouldn't even know where I'd
be able to find the SkyBox cards for purchase.) I doubt that there's
anyone who would've spent money on Klingon materials who decided not
to do so simply because they found {boQwI'}, whereas I know people who
only know the Klingon language products exist because of {boQwI'}.

lojmIt tI'wI' nuv:
> If it’s updatable on independent platforms, then it’s not standardized.

I don't understand what you mean by this. The database is a text file
that anyone can read. The user interface I wrote for accessing the
database is for Android. Anyone can write a user interface for another
platform, including the web. (No one has taken this up, but nothing is
stopping anyone.)

If different interfaces existed for the database for different
platforms, updating the database would update them all, so it would be
standardised. But even if it isn't, so what? That's no different than,
say, some Klingonist who owns TKD but not KGT, etc. The mere fact that
the source materials are in English and published in the United States
already privileges certain people. (There are plenty of Germans who
want to learn Klingon, but have to do so from secondary sources like
translations, or learn it through English.)

lojmIt tI'wI' nuv:
> Okrand saw it and was impressed. He said that he didn’t actually have a single word list, himself. He just had lots of notes on scraps of paper, and he used the published dictionary alongside these scraps of paper. He found it very useful to have one alphabetized list with sources noted, and exceptions marked (for differences between the English->Klingon and Klingon->English sides of the dictionary, as well as folding in the words from other sources than The Klingon Dictionary). He took one. To say I was surprised was an understatement.

I found out some time ago that Marc Okrand is using {boQwI'}, and
quite likes it.

lojmIt tI'wI' nuv:
> I made a mistake, which he apparently caught, giving one definition to an adjacent word, and in one of his later lexicons (Klingon for the Galactic Traveler, I think), he listed my erroneous entry as an official definition. Suddenly, the language had another synonym. I was simultaneously embarrassed and honored by the entry. These are not commonly combined emotions.

Since I found out that Marc Okrand uses {boQwI'}, I'm actually a
little bit worried that there are mistakes in there which he will
accidentally canonise.

lojmIt tI'wI' nuv:
> I don’t think that boQwI’ is an effective replacement.

I don't think it's a replacement. It has quite different goals.

I mentioned {boQwI'} in response to this wish of yours:
"I wish that Okrand and a publisher would provide The Compleat Klingon
Dictionary, perhaps electronically so that we could have updates.
Annotations. Examples of useage. Explicit commitment in the definition
to allow or exclude direct objects.

It would place more of a burden on the author of the book than any
centralized entity has taken on so far, but the truth is, this burden
must be born somewhere, and in this case spreading the burden among
more shoulders doesn’t make the burden born by each shoulder any

What you described is not the New Words List. What you described is
very close to {boQwI'}, except that it's not official (and I'm not
Marc Okrand).

lojmIt tI'wI' nuv:
> People would like to have a servant who simply translates everything for
> them. We should feel no responsibility for providing them with it. Klingon
> is not for sissies. Make your own lexicon. We should provide resources
> pointing back to copyrighted sources that makes the creation of that lexicon
> possible and effective. If Viacom wanted Klingon to be easy to learn and
> widely accepted, they wouldn’t push quite so hard at owning all things
> Klingon. So, we all compromise, and we all evolve, balanced in our
> compromises.

I think that starship has gone to warp. You can already download or
search "Klingon" word lists online which are full of mistakes, or use
a "translator" which produces nonsense. If the new generation of
learners want to download pre-made flash cards for Anki, I say let
them. Such tools can only supplement, but never replace, the source
materials. There's no need for every single learn to do things the
hard way, just because you did.

lojmIt tI'wI' nuv:
> And nothing stops volunteers from taking over The New Words List. Wishing
> volunteers existed doesn’t, however, bend the will of the masses.

Do'Ha'. bIjatlhchu'.


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