[tlhIngan Hol] [tlhIngan-Hol] A question on {ngIq}

De'vID de.vid.jonpin at gmail.com
Wed Jun 8 16:54:23 PDT 2016

On 8 June 2016 at 21:23, qurgh lungqIj <qurgh at wizage.net> wrote:
> On Wed, Jun 8, 2016 at 12:46 PM, De'vID <de.vid.jonpin at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Yes. But why can't it be both, just like the English word "move" or
>> "maneuver"?
>> I think you're drawing the distinction between what I'll call an
>> abstract "move-template" and a concrete "move-action" here, so I'll
>> use that terminology below.
> To me it's because the gloss is "fighting technique" not "fighting move". A
> "technique" is a description of how to do something (a move-template), not
> the actual doing of it (move-action). For that we have verbs like {chaQ},
> {ngol}, {lev}, {pup}, etc. Those are words for the "move-actions".

I think of those as basic actions, of which named "techniques" are
combinations (of one or more). Actually, that's an established
terminology in martial arts.

I don't know to what extent Marc Okrand or you have watched dubbed
Chinese martial arts movies, or read books about martial arts, so I
may be biased to how certain terminology is translated into English.

>> I don't see why these options have to be exclusive? Your character
>> perhaps knows the *{ro' tonSaw'}, *{HoS tonSaw'}, and *{maS tonSaw'}
>> (these are his move templates which he can execute), and as the
>> opening move maybe you execute the *{ro' tonSaw'} (this is the first
>> move-action actually executed).
> The character could use the {ro' tonSaw'} (move-template) to execute a hit
> with the fist (move-action), or a {HoS tonSaw'} (move-template) to send a
> fireball (move-action) at his opponent. He used the knowledge gained from
> learning the {tonSaw'} to make his limbs move but he didn't DO the
> {tonSaw'}. (After he learned a fighting technique, he used the fighting
> technique to do X, he didn't do the fighting technique). In English you can
> both learn a move and do a move (learn a technique and take an action based
> on it), but I don't see why this slang meaning of "move" should be carried
> over to Klingon.

I think the connection between the move-template and the move-action
is quite natural. When a person {ro' tonSaw' lo'}, what else are they
doing if not performing the action specified by the template?

So, actually, I'm completely biased by translated martial arts
terminology here, because I suspect that {tonSaw'} is some kind of pun
or reference to a Chinese term.

The Chinese word 手, meaning hand and pronounced sau2 in Cantonese, is
the last character of (almost?) all hand-based martial arts
techniques. For example, here are the so-called 18-hand technique
names from Wing Chun kung fu:
- Notice that all of them are named something-sau.

There's even a specific Wing Chun technique called 攤手 (taan1 sau2).
It's not close enough to {tonSaw'} for me to say that that must be the
origin of the Klingon word. But it's not out of the realm of
possibility that there is some fighting technique called "ton sau" in
a Chinese martial art from which Okrand picked up the term. As a
captioner, perhaps Okrand had worked on some martial arts movie and
the term stuck with him. But that's just speculation on my part.
(Quick, someone with spare time investigate if Marc Okrand has ever
captioned any Chinese martial arts movies!)

>> The source for how I've interpreted {tonSaw'} comes from you,
>> actually. You reported that Maltz suggested {tonSaw' Qav} for "The
>> Final Reflection" under the belief that a "reflection" is a type of
>> move (move-template) in the game of klin zha. But if it's important to
>> preserve the "mirror" connotation of this move, he suggested {neSlo'
>> tonSaw' Qav}. The fact that you can use {Qav} to describe a {tonSaw'}
>> suggests that, under this meaning, it is a "move" in the move-action
>> sense.
> To me this is "the final mirror fighting technique", it's the last technique
> (move-template) that people playing the Reflective game would use to win it.
> It's not the physical action of picking up a piece and placing it
> (move-action). {tonSaw'} are used during fighting/playing, but the
> "move-actions" done while following the techniques are not the techniques
> themselves, they are the results of the techniques. It's like how knowing
> how to plant a tree (move-template) and planting a tree (move-action) are
> not the same thing in my mind.

I read "The Final Reflection" many years ago, but don't have the book
any more, and don't remember much of it. I'm interpreting "the final
reflection" as the last move made in a game, and perhaps I'm mistaken
about that. But if that's what it means, then I can't see how {tonSaw'
Qav} could be interpreted in this context as other than "final
move-action". (Also, klin zha is a turn-based game, right? If that's
the case, perhaps the last "move" in this sense isn't necessarily
atomic, but may consist of multiple individual moves, perhaps even
spread over multiple turns.)

The difference between the move-template and move-action meaning is
this: If, for example, the move-templates are in order of difficulty,
and students typically learn them in order, then I can see how
{tonSaw' Qav} could mean the final, most difficult move-template to
learn. But I don't think that's what's being described by the title of
the book?

We are definitely interpreting the word "technique" differently,
because when I read "the final mirror fighting technique", I do read
it as being the last move-action in the context of a game. Like I
said, "technique" is established martial arts terminology for a move
or series of moves (and also the template behind that).

>> > Moving a piece in Chess could be considered a {tonSaw'}?
>> I would think so, if making "the final reflection" (the finishing move
>> in a game of klin zha) is to use {[neSlo'] tonSaw' Qav}, then moving a
>> piece in chess seems to me to be exactly a {tonSaw'}.
> I'd argue that the way in which the pieces move would be {tonSaw'mey}
> (move-templates), but physically moving a piece isn't (move-action). In
> Monopoly the verbs {HeD} and {jaH} are used to refer to physically moving
> the playing pieces (go back 3 spaces, move to go). Those would be
> "move-actions".

Those move-actions are the basic building blocks, but they are not
necessarily the "techniques", though they could be.

I don't know enough about (Western) chess terminology, but Chinese
chess is very similar and hopefully this will make sense. There's a
"technique" in Chinese chess called 馬後俥 (literally, chariot behind
horse). Horse is basically the "knight" piece in Western chess, and
moves the same way (two in one direction, then one in the
perpendicular direction). Chariot is basically the rook (moves in a
straight line). The way a 馬後俥 works is the knight attacks a piece,
such that if it stood still it would be killed by the knight's next
move, but if it tried to escape it would be killed by the rook's next
move. I'm sure the analogous setup exists in Western chess.

But that's a "technique" in the martial arts sense: a move or series
of moves put together in a certain way, and named so it can be learned
and practised. (A single move is probably too simple to earn a name,
unless the technique is about using that move in the right way or

In fact, the same term is used in both Chinese chess and Chinese
martial arts to describe this sense of "technique" (series of moves):

Okay, so I have to partially retract/revise what I wrote above: moving
a piece in chess may be a {tonSaw'} by itself in some contexts, or it
may not; or it may be part of a more complicated {tonSaw'} consisting
of several smaller atomic moves, spread over several turns.

>> {notlh tonSaw'lIj} suggests that that meaning might also work, i.e.,
>> "the technique you're trying to use (your move-template) is obsolete".
>> Although, I suppose that this also makes sense under the other
>> interpretation, i.e., "the actual thing you're doing (your
>> move-action) is obsolete". They effectively amount to the same thing.
> If your action is based on an obsolete technique, then I could see how
> people would extend the obsoleteness to the action too, although I'd wrinkle
> my nose at that usage. This is all very subjective though, as something that
> is obsolete for one person may be new for someone else. When it comes to
> fighting, it would mean that I know techniques that can be used to nullify
> the techniques you know without you knowing the new techniques I know.

The very funny thing about martial arts novels or movies is that the
characters are generally in agreement that, given any two techniques,
one will defeat the other when both are executed perfectly. (There is
no "best" technique because there are rock-paper-scissors situations.)
Characters will have discussions about how to counter an enemy who
knows techniques A, B, and C, by saying that you counter A with X, B
with Y, and C with Z. Actually, that may be very similar to Street
Fighter-style fighting games.

>> I don't think Kahless used only one move in the entire fight. (Or
>> maybe he did? I don't have the paq'batlh with me right now to check.)
>> It's just that the particular paragraph with {ngIq tonSaw'} is focused
>> on just that one final move (move-action).
> Speaking of paq'batlh, there's more references to {tonSaw'} in it. I don't
> have the English with me though, but I've included my own translations.
> Here's the lines that surround the "Single move" block:
> tugh qaStaHvIS rep wejDIch
>    molor cha' tIqDu' DuQchu' qeylIS
>    'ej lel
> ngIq tonSaw' lo' 'ej tIqDu' lel
>    ngIq tonSaw' lo' 'ej quvqa'
>    ngIq tonSaw' lo' 'ej rIn may'
> (Soon while the third hour is happening, Kahless stabbed molor's two hearts
> and took them out. he used a single technique and he took out the hearts, he
> used a single technique and he became honored again, he used a single
> technique and the battle was finished)
> After looking at this expanded text, this all makes more sense. The
> move-action has been described which is made up of two actions (Stabbing two
> hearts and taking them out), but it then referred to as a single technique
> (which makes sense to be, since a technique could be a collection of
> different physical actions (like a judo lock isn't just X, it's X, then Y,
> then Z done in sequence)). If {tonSaw'} referred to the the "move-actions"
> themselves that Kahless took, it would have to be plural because he stabbed
> and then took out (you can't push in and out at the same time! :D).

I think we've reached an agreement here. The single {tonSaw'} that
Kahless used consists of two smaller actions: stabbing Molor, and
removing his hearts. But the two together form one "technique", say
the "heart-removal technique" {tIqDu' lelmeH tonSaw'}. That's a

But as I see it, in executing it, Kahless was also carrying out a
move-action (which may be a series of smaller actions). The judo lock
example is a good one. A "move" can be a sequence of smaller things.
Kahless stabbing and ripping out Molor's hearts is a single "move".
The {tonSaw' Qav} in Kahless' fight with Molor was the {tIqDu' lelmeH

(Now we're talking Mortal Kombat and not Street Fighter!)

> There's also this (which comes before the above passage), showing that
> {moQbara'} has many {tonSaw'mey} that can be displayed,

I understand that exactly as I would understand "Wing Chun has many
fighting techniques". But it would also make complete sense to me to
say "Master Ip-Man finished the fight with the tan sau technique".

> and that {tonSaw'}
> by itself can be considered plural:

Isn't the plurality thing generally true of regular Klingon nouns?
Plural suffixes are optional.

> maghomchuqqa'DI' SuyInbejmeH
>    DaH moQbara' tonSaw'mey
>    Sa'agh
> (When we once again meet one another, in order that you all certainly live,
> now I will display the techniques of the Mokbara)
> muvchuqmeH yabmaj porghmaj je
>    muvchuqqa'meH porgh qa' je
>    moQbara' tonSaw' DIlo'jaj
> (In order for our body and our mind to join one another, in order for the
> spirit and the body to join one another, may we use the techniques of the
> Mokbara)

The plurality is indicated by the prefix {DI-} here. Is there
something unusual about this? (I don't understand why you drew
specific attention to the lack of plural suffix.)

> I think the rest of the message about cleaning/feeding cats is mainly
> correct. The only thing I would add is that when we talk about having
> multiple items but we only end up doing something to a single one of them,
> {ngIq} most likely shouldn't be used and a number should be used instead
> ({vagh vIghro' vIghaj. wa' vIghro' vISay'moH} - "I have 5 cats. I clean a
> single one").

I would say it's stronger than "most likely". I think if you're doing
something to one thing out of five, and not to the other four, {ngIq}
Dalo'be'nIS. :-)


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