[tlhIngan Hol] info from Maltz on the spellings of Gorkon and B'Elanna

De'vID de.vid.jonpin at gmail.com
Sun Jul 1 13:26:58 PDT 2018

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According to the endnote you cite, the Gorkon in *Hamlet* is "not the
Chancellor who initiated peace with the Federation, but one of his
legendary forebearers."  If this Gorkon was "legendary," we can assume he
existed long ago… maybe in no'Hol times, maybe not as far back.

The first part of *paq'batlh* has some incomplete bits of no'Hol (pages
44-49). It's fragmentary, so one has to be hesitant about drawing
conclusions, but we can see a few things:

Under at least some circumstances, no'Hol /o/ became modern /a/ and no'Hol
/oo/ became modern /aw/. For example:

{tyot} > {cha’}    “two”

{pog’} > {pagh}   “zero, none”

{moy’} > {may’}  “battle”

{tunsroot} > {tonSaw'}  "fighting technique"

Given what's in *paq'batlh*, one might conclude that /o/ > /a/ (and /oo/ >
/aw/) all the time, but we can't be sure about this because we don't have
examples of no'Hol /o/ in all environments. Specifically, we don't have
examples of no'Hol /o/ following /g'/ (the presumed precursor of /gh/) or
preceding /r/, and we don't know what influence, if any, other syllables in
the word may have or if stress plays a role.  Given the other examples, I
somehow doubt that /g'/ would make any difference, but a following /r/
might. Note that no'Hol /e/ usually becomes modern /I/:

{teq} > {tIq}    "heart"
{tlhengon}  >  {tlhIngan}  "Klingon"

But {mu'qberet} > {moQbara'} and not {*moQbIrI'} or the like.

We don't know why this is, and it doesn't really matter right now.  But
given all of this, it's quite possible that {ghorqon} is an old form of the
name "Gorkon" and, over time, the second /o/ became modern /a/ (as in the
examples above), but the first /o/ stayed /o/ for some reason (perhaps
because of the /r/, which may or may not be what's going on in the
{moQbara'} situation, or perhaps not).  Or maybe an earlier form of the
name was something like {ghoorqon} and this became {ghawrqan} and this
became {ghorqan} as triconsonantal clusters like /wrq/ were simplified (to
/rq/ in this case, with /w/ affecting the quality of the preceding vowel).

Short version of all of the above: Since *Hamlet*'s Gorkon and the later
peacemaker Gorkon are not the same person, and since *Hamlet*'s Gorkon is
the older, "legendary" one, we (meaning Maltz and I, and hopefully others)
can be comfortable saying the *Hamlet* Gorkon pronounced his name the old
way (the way it would have been pronounced during his time), namely
{ghorqon}, and the peacemaker Gorkon pronounced his name the modern way:

As for {beylana} —

I, like you, would also have expected the Klingon version of B'Elanna
to be {be'elanna}
or {be'ela'na} or {bI'Ila'na} or something like that. On the other hand,
B'Elanna is half-Klingon, half-Human. Her mother (the Klingon half) and
B'Elanna herself, we're told, were the only Klingons around on a Federation
colony, so she was born into (and, as a little girl, raised in) a very
non-Klingon environment.  Whatever the source/origin of the name (that is,
whether the name is a traditional Klingon name or not), it's very likely
that she (and her family and friends) did not pronounce it in a very
Klingon way. In other words, for her -- and not necessarily for other
people with the same name -- maybe the name is, in fact, pronounced more
like {beylana} than anything else. If we accept that, Duolingo is fine.

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