[tlhIngan Hol] Klingon Word of the Day: rIlwI'

Steven Boozer sboozer at uchicago.edu
Tue Mar 14 08:13:10 PDT 2017

> Klingon Word of the Day for Tuesday, March 14, 2017
> Klingon word: rIlwI'
> Part of speech: noun
> Definition: thumb
> Source: HQ (10:2 p7)

(HQ 10.2:7-8):  the word {nItlh} "finger" means any finger, including the thumb. A hand has {vagh nItlhDu'} (five fingers), not {loS nItlhDu'} (four fingers) and a thumb. There is a specific word referring to each of the five fingers, and these words are nouns derived from verbs by means of the suffix {-wI'} (thing which does); there are two pairs for thumb. The Federation Standard translation of the verbs is a little strained, but they mean something like "use (the specific finger)". The associated 'finger nouns' would be literally, though quite awkwardly, "thing which is used in a thumb-like manner" or perhaps "thing which thumbs" or even "thumber" ... The two sets of words relating to thumb are pretty much interchangeable, though small children usually use {rIl} and {rIlwI'} rather than {Sen} and {SenwI'}. Similarly, adults speaking to or about children tend to use {rIl} and {rIlwI'}. Both words are used together in an idiomatic expression meaning "everybody, everyone": {SenwI'Du' rIlwI'Du' je", literally "thumbs and thumbs". This expression is often heard without the plural suffixes: {SenwI' rIlwI' je}.

(HQ 10.2:8-9):  Similarly, {nujDajDaq rIl'egh ghu}, literally "at his/her mouth, the baby uses at him/herself his/her thumb", is used for "the baby sucks its thumb".

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

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