[tlhIngan Hol] Special forms of law' puS

nIqolay Q niqolay0 at gmail.com
Fri Aug 4 08:24:54 PDT 2017

On Fri, Aug 4, 2017 at 10:56 AM, mayqel qunenoS <mihkoun at gmail.com> wrote:

> SuStel:
> > connotes negative quality
> > (connotes disparagement, seldom used)
> What is the difference between "connotes negative quality" and "connotes
> disparagement" ? I googled disparagement, (because I didn't know its
> meaning), and I got the synonyms of "devaluation, debasement, derogation".
> The way I understand the "connotes negative quality" and "connotes
> disparagement", with regards to the matter we are discussing is:
> If I want to say that the qagh is as dead as a stone (which is a negative
> quality) then I use {A Q *puS* B Q *puS}. *But if I want to say that the
> forehead of someone's mother is smooth as a peach, and I want the phrase to
> have the maximum insulting effect, then I will use {A Q *puS* B Q *rap}. *And
> maybe, in the qagh example, if I want to insult the chef who ccoked it, I
> will use again {A Q *puS* B Q *rap} *instead of the {A Q *puS* B Q *puS*}
> *. *Or is it that the "disparagement" concerns only the occupant of slot
> A, and not those in direct relation to him as well ?

I think you might be overthinking this. Looking back at the original source
for the constructions ( http://klingonska.org/canon/2004-03-holqed-13-1.txt
), it seems that the primary difference is that {A Q puS B Q puS} puts more
emphasis on the fact that Q is a bad quality to have, whereas in {A Q puS B
Q rap} it's a more general sense of negativity about the situation, rather
than anything specifically negative about Q itself. If I had to think of
some examples:

{tlhIngan yoH puS tera'ngan yoH rap} suggests that the speaker thinks it's
a bad thing that the Klingon is as brave as the Terran. Perhaps they think
Klingons should always be braver than Terrans, and think this particular
Klingon is a disappointment.

{tlhIngan yoH puS tera'ngan yoH puS} makes less sense, though, since being
brave isn't a negative quality.

To say someone's mother's forehead is as smooth as a peach, I think either
construction would work. Since smoothness is a bad thing when applied to
someone's forehead, the {puS/puS} construction makes sense. Likewise, since
deadness is a bad thing when applied to gagh, I think either the {puS/rap}
or the {puS/puS} construction would work. I don't think either one
necessarily singles out the chef, though. They both mean roughly the same
thing: "my gagh is dead as a rock, and that's bad".

> As far as the intentional ungrammaticality of the law' puS construction,
> as it is described in kgt is concerned.. Is someone allowed to make use of
> it regularly, or is it only to be used under special circumstances ?

It's a form of wordplay, which means it's appropriate whenever wordplay is
appropriate. You probably shouldn't do it too often, or when there's the
opportunity for confusion, or at a very formal occasion, or in a situation
where beginners are learning.
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