taH pagh taHbe'

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The Tale of the Klingon Phrase

Marc Okrand tells us that during the making of the movie, the directors suddenly thought of the idea of having Chang say his bit about Shakespeare and Klingon, and so turned to him, Okrand, and demanded, "OK, what's the Klingon for 'To be or not to be'?" Dr Okrand was caught quite flatfooted, since Klingon doesn't have infinitives of the type required, and also had no verb "to be" (and he didn't want to give it one). So he came up with yIn pagh yInbe', literally "it lives, or else it doesn't live..." And Christopher Plummer, the actor playing Chang, repeated the line thoughtfully, shaking his head. "No... yIn... just doesn't sound right." So Okrand then created the verb taH/"continue, endure", basically promoting it from a verb suffix.