[tlhIngan Hol] Klingon Word of the Day: veStay

Steven Boozer sboozer at uchicago.edu
Tue Jun 21 07:40:00 PDT 2016

> Klingon Word of the Day for Tuesday, June 21, 2016
> Klingon word: veStay
> Part of speech: noun
> Definition: vestai (honorific)
> Source: qepHom 2014

[De'vID (or Lieven?) posted sometime in November 2014:]

There exist a handful of honorific titles used by many Klingon fan groups, such as the German Khemorex Klinzhai and also the Klingon Assault Group, KAG. These five words come from John M. Ford's 1984 novel The Final Reflection and are the following, from lowest to highest: *tai*, *sutai*, *vestai*, *zantai*, and *epetai*. The meaning of these words is based in John Ford's *klingonaase* language and can roughly be explained as follows: *tai* is a symbol of honor. The syllable *zan* is another title of respect, but it's not clear if those two syllables mean anything else when combined.

Now, at this point, Marc Okrand was asked if there is a Klingon spelling known for these titles, since many people use them. He did not say anything about the literal meaning, or if there is a relationship between {tlhIngan Hol} and *Klingonaase*. But he said that there is no problem with using the word {tay} as an honorific title. The word itself means "ceremony" in the Klingon we speak, but there won't be any misunderstanding when somebody says

  bIl tay jo'rIj jIH 
  "I am Bill ceremony George". 

That would make no sense at all.

Okrand then confirmed the Klingon spelling for those words:


We can now safely use the Klingon honorifics ranks, and should not think about any literal meaning or any conflict with the *klingonaase* language. Maybe these words are merely names for these ranks or they come from an unknown dialect of the Klingon Empire.

I'll send Maltz' comment in another email.

[From Marc Okrand, to the qepHom 2014]:

Maltz actually had a bit more to add (though he didn't answer all questions). He said he knew something about all of the titles but one. Whether his understanding of them is based on what they really mean (or, more correctly, historically meant) or are just "folk etymologies" (etymologies made up after the fact that "make sense" to speakers but don't really have anything to do with where the words come from) is not clear. He didn't provide any information on how these titles are used or the like, but he said he had heard all of them. In any case, here's what he said:

{Sutay} was the one honorific he wasn't sure about. He said he'd heard it had something to do with readiness or preparedness, as reflected in {Su'} and {SuH}, alternate forms of an exclamation meaning "Ready!" or "Standing by!" But he really didn't know.

{veStay} is related to {veS} "war, warfare", so it's clearly a fitting honorific for a Klingon.

{Santay}, he said, is related to {SanID} "thousand". Maltz said that he heard that an older form of this honorific was {SanIDtay} but over time, it was shortened. But he also heard that {Santay} really comes from the Krotmag dialect's pronunciation of {SaD}, an alternate form for thousand, which sounds to most non-Krotmag Klingons more like {San} (though the final consonant is not quite an /n/). He noted that because of the changes in pronunciation, many Klingons aren't aware of the connection to thousand and think that the title has something to do with San fate. Maltz said this wasn't correct. Despite all of that, he wasn't sure about the significance of "thousand". He thought it might just be a high number, reflecting a high rank, but the fact that the other honorifics have nothing to do with numbers casts doubt on his theory.

{'Iptay} is related to {'Ip} "oath" (and there's also a verb {'Ip} meaning "swear, vow"). One's honor is at stake when making a vow or swearing an oath, so he thought this also was a very appropriate honorific.


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

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