[tlhIngan Hol] A thought on the irrealis construction

Ed Bailey bellerophon.modeler at gmail.com
Mon Nov 7 08:43:32 PST 2016

> ja' mIp'av:
>> I have the very strong impression that, unlike humans, Klingons don't
>> give a damn about stuff that doesn't happen.

> jang Lieven, jatlh:
> Well, maybe Worf is not the best example-Klingon to show, but the first
> time I struggled with irrealis was when watching Star Trek First contact
> (1996).
> Worf said to Picard:
> "I you were any other man, I would kill you where you stand".
> I always thought it's not right to say:
> {latlh loD SoHchugh, vaj DaH qaHoH}
> AS it does not convey the idea correctly.
> Actually, I'm pretty happy to be able to say now {latlh loD SoH net
> jalchugh, vaj qaHoH.}, but I would have preferred it be done with a
> different kind of suffix. But Okrand told us this weekend, that according
> to Maltz, we should have received nearly all of the existing suffixes - but
> there may be more, perhabs.

Yes, Worf isn't a typical Klingon. If he were, he would likely have killed
Picard, (Also, I forget now which episode of DS9 has Martok gently chiding
Worf for trying too hard to be Klingon.)
Worf is also speaking DIvI' Hol to Picard, a language in which the
counterfactual conditional mood is common and provides an easy formula, a
prefab sentence structure ready to be fleshed out with words to fit any
situation. If he were speaking Klingon, I suspect that he'd be much less
likely to resort to this mood. (Note how often I'm using this mood, and
it's for the reason I just pointed out, not because it's unavoidable for
conveying my meaning.)

I'd expect a Klingon's reaction to this situation to be focused on what
actually does happen:
wo'rIv nab qaDmeH pIqarD, wo'rIv tIch. QeHqu'choH wo'rIv. vaj pIqarD HoH
SIbI' neHchoH wo'rIv. 'a pIqarD vuvqu'mo' wo'rIv, SeH'egh 'ej HoHQo'.
QeHDaj polHa'meH wo'rIv, pIqarDvaD ngoDvam ja'.

Klingon expressions Worf could use in this context that convey his meaning
without reimagining the situation include:
nuch muperchugh latlh loD SIbI' vIHoH.
mu'lIj jatlhchugh latlh loD SIbI' vIHoH
pIqarD HoD SoHmo' neH vIHoHbe'.

I'm not chafing at the lack of other verb suffixes, though there are
situations in which I'm strongly tempted to stick rovers after Type 9
suffixes, not because I'm too lazy to speak Klingon correctly. ;)

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