[tlhIngan Hol] Klingon Word of the Day: batlh

Steven Boozer sboozer at uchicago.edu
Tue Aug 16 07:14:50 PDT 2016

> Klingon Word of the Day for Tuesday, August 16, 2016
> Klingon word: batlh
> Part of speech: noun
> Definition: honor

yIntaHvIS qeylIS'e' lIjlaHbe'bogh vay' batlh 'etlhvam chenmoHlu'pu' 
this sword of honor descends from the time of Kahless the Unforgettable. S8

batlh potlh law' yIn potlh puS 
Honor is more important than life. TKW

batlh qelDI' tlhIngan, lumbe' 
A Klingon does not postpone a matter of honor. TKW

potlhmo' batlh, vIqawba'. 'ej chIvo' neH chIw vum'e'. 
Because you care about honor. And this man has none. STID

(HQ 12.3:9):  All this talk of pseudo-honor and non-honor logically led to a discussion of honor itself, normally expressed by the nouns {quv} and {batlh}, both usually defined as simply "honor". When asked to distinguish between the two, Maltz said, "{tlhIngan Soj 'oH--not bIyaj}," literally, "It is Klingon food--you will not understand," using {Soj} "food" in its idiomatic sense of "matter, concern, affair". Nevertheless, he then went on, though a bit begrudgingly, to say that {quv} was a sort of personal honor, the kind over which, by one's behavior, one has some control. This sort of Honor is earned, can be bestowed on one, and is associated with reputation, dignity, and respect. {batlh}, on the other hand, is a grander, more general, more philosophical concept, associated with integrity, rectitude, scruples, and principles. Unfortunately, he didn't give examples or elaborate any further. He did add, however, that neither {quv} nor {batlh} was the same as {pop}, usually translated "reward" but sometimes translated "honor" in the sense of "token of esteem", that is, formal recognition of an accomplishment or accomplishments.

(HQ 12.3:9):  Maltz mentioned one noun associated with these verbs, {DavHam}, which he defined simply as "false honor", but which really covers the same semantic ground as both {HoQ} and {Qaq} (but not really {mIl}).

(KGT 61):  By the same token, a blade not designed as a weapon may be used as a weapon if need be, though to be attacked by a warrior wielding something that is normally classified as a tool is considered by some to be an insult to one's honor.

"The Borg have neither honor nor courage. That is our greatest advantage." (Worf, TNG "The Best of Both Worlds, Pt. I")

"The honor is to serve." (Worf to Riker upon being asked to join the latter's team in war games [TNG "Peak Performance"])

See James Bowman's book "Honor: A History" (New York: Encounter Books, 2006) for a good general discussion of the topic.


N.B. Don't confuse with the adverbial {batlh} "honored, with honor, honorably, in an honorable fashion".


batlh 'etlh  	Sword of Honor (i.e. Kahless' famous blade) (n)
batlhHa'  		dishonorably (adv)

quv 		[personal] honor (n)
ngay' 	glory (n)
DavHam 	false honor (n)
tIgh		custom (n) 

  "You outsiders see only our fierceness, our love of battle. You do
   not see the {tIgh}, the honor, that shapes our every act."
   [Gowron, KCD novel, p.10]

quv		be honored (v)
HoQ		be honored falsely, be falsely honorable (v)
Qaq		behave falsely honorably, behave in a falsely honorable manner (v)
mIl		be formerly honored (v)

GARAK:   "It's the honorable thing to do."
WORF:    "You use that word, but you have no idea what it means."
GARAK:   "Perhaps not, but you do."     [DS9 "In Purgatory's Shadow"]

tlhIngan ghantoH pIn'a'
Ca'Non Master of the Klingons

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