[tlhIngan Hol] mu' chu' (pab chu' je) chabal tetlh: filling the gaps (concept)

Michael Kúnin netzakh at yahoo.com
Tue Mar 21 06:34:31 PDT 2017

Replying to Lieven:

>> The raw idea is: take the list of 5000 most frequently used English words and see which of them are *really* missing in our knowledge of Klingon.

> That's not always true; many beginners seem to be missing words which are just expressed by other ideas, or just do not exist. Note that there still is no english word for "Kindergarten", but it works anyway.

Nearly all languages have loanwords, so Klingon has {qajunpaQ} and those many Terran {banan} words. However, I would expect that words like "table" and "chair" (which we already have Klingon terms for) would not be loanwords in Klingon unlike they are in English (OK, they might have evolved from loans from other {Qo'noS} languages, but I would not touch Proto-Klingon here---for us we can consider {raS} and {quS} native Klingon).

>> 1.2. By "*really* missing" I mean that there is no adequate translation (e.g., {'IHchoHmoH} for "suit (verb)", which appears in a sentence in TKD, is adequate,

> Indeed. Beginners (and others) should know that since that was proposed in TKD, Okrand certainly thought about it, and hence it makes not sense asking for a verb like suit. Most of the time, there IS a way to express things, and very often, Okrand refuses to create a new word and instead proposes the use of an existing.

My *raw* idea is to take 5000 most frequently used English words; now I elaborate: if a word is not *really* missing, think/invent/suggest how to express it, and create an online resource (or a page in the KLI website) with such suggestions.

As for {'IHchoHmoH} and other words that do not directly occur in the "dictionary" canon but occur in canon sentence translations, I suggest adding them to some extra word list.

However, there are still common (at least here on Earth) words and expressions with no "adequate" translations; for example, in your replay to another user as to expressing speeds, you came up with a {qaStaHviS} construction, but you recognised that it was "a bit awkward"---if someone with your Klingon knowledge considers a translation using what we know "awkward", then it probably indicates that there should be a better way yet to be revealed by Maltz.

>> 1.3. Another important aspect is whether we can reasonably expect that a Klingon word exists. Thus, I would exclude "Terran" words where the {banan naH} approach can be used. For example, if I need to say "oak", I would use {"oak" Sor} (there does not have to be a {Qo'noS} plant >similar to the oak anyway).

> Exactly! I recently had to translate the text for a children's show where the main characters are a mouse and an elephant. Okrand agreed that the word {Qa'Hom} for mouse is fine, but Maltz was not aware of an elephant like animal, so he suggested I just say {'e'levan}. [I did not post this to the list as this is not really a new word]

I would strongly suggest that you report {'e'levan} as a new word: it is not less of one than {banan}, {tarDIghaD}, {DoyIchlan}, or even {tera'}---it is a *canon transliteration* of a Terran term. I really have an impression that more academic approach to canon is needed.

>> For grammar, I would suggest to take a good English grammar for advanced learners (of English as foreign language), and identify which grammatical structures are missing in our knowledge of Klingon.

> And even then, most things can be described somehow. Looking at our own grammar (being english, german or chinese) may be even more confusing than expected. English is very complicated, Klingon is not.

Again, in some cases "somehow" is OK, in others it is not so (how was irrealis expressed before {jal}, let alone {net jalchugh}, was revealed?). Again, some resource with tips as to translating advanced English sentences to Klingon would be really appreciated (I perfectly realise that those tips would be no more than general guidelines). 

For example, even I (who started learning Klingon in 2013) know that "the ship in which I fled" (relative clauses of location) can be approached in several ways: breaking the sentence into several ones, replacing the verb with one having the place as its direct object ({veng vIDabbogh}), using a purpose clause ({jIHaw'meH Duj}), with the way to use depending on the exact context.

> Just my two cents to this :-)

For you, it is two cents. For me, the value of your response is much higher, believe me.


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