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

Steven Boozer sboozer at uchicago.edu
Fri Jul 13 08:20:44 PDT 2018

Klingon word: pabHa'
Part of speech: verb
Definition: misfollow (rules), follow (rules) wrongly

 (KGT 176):  Sometimes words or phrases are coined for a specific occasion, intentionally violating grammatical rules in order to have an impact. Usually these are never heard again, though some gain currency and might as well be classified as slang. Klingon grammarians call such forms {mu'mey ru'} (temporary words). Sometimes, {mu'mey ru'} fill a void--that is, give voice to an idea for which there is no standard (or even slang) expression; sometimes, like slang, they are just more emphatic ways of expressing an idea. A common way to create these constructions is to bend the grammatical rules somewhat, violating the norm in a way that is so obvious that there is no question that it is being done intentionally. To do this is expressed in Klingon as {pabHa'} (misfollow [the rules], follow [the rules] wrongly)." 

(KGT 181):  No one accepts such constructions as grammatical; their inappropriateness, the way they grate on the Klingon ear, is exactly what gives them elocutionary clout. A visitor may hear one of these odd suffixes occasionally, but, as with other intentionally ungrammatical forms, it is best to avoid using them until one is extremely comfortable with the nuances of Klingon style.

(st.klingin 11/1997):  Maltz reports having heard both {quv'eghmoH} "he/she honors him/herself", which follows the expected order (verb-Type 1-Type 4 ...) as well as the weird {quvmoH'egh} "he/she honors him/herself", in which the Type 1 suffix {-'egh} "oneself" follows the Type 4 suffix {-moH} "cause", an impossible formation unless the speaker is considering the verb to be {quvmoH} "honor" and not {quv} "be honored".  Speakers who do this seem to be aware that they are breaking the rules, so they are doing it for rhetorical effect. (It has the same sort of feeling, perhaps, as if someone were to say in English "Don't cellular phone me this afternoon" or "I've been postnasal dripping all morning" or "It's lightninging and thundering outside" or, to follow the Klingon example, "He/she self-honors.") If this sort of thing happens a lot, maybe, in time, the language will undergo some sort of reformation; maybe {-moH} will become a Rover. Or {quvmoH} and similar forms will become simple (though two-syllable) verbs.

(TKD, introduction):  It should be remembered that even though the rules say 'always' and 'never,' when Klingon is actually spoken these rules are sometimes broken. What the rules represent, in other words, is what Klingon grammarians agree on as the 'best' Klingon.
(KGT 172):  Agreeing is not a trait typically associated with Klingon nature, however, and apparently, at least under certain circumstances, this may extend to grammar as well.

(KGT 172):  Except in formal situations, however, the omission of {lu-} in such cases is overlooked. Though technically an error, and jarring to many Klingons' ears, it causes no confusion as to the intended meaning of the sentence. It is important to note that this does not mean that the use of {lu-} is optional; it is left off only under specific conditions.

bIv 		break [rules] (v)
jabHa' 		say the wrong thing, misspeak (v)
SorHa' 		speak metaphorically (v)

The Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund once made a grammatical mistake in his Latin.  When this was pointed out to him he replied, "Ego sum imperator Romanorum, et supra grammaticam."

Ca'Non Master of the Klingons

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