[tlhIngan Hol] “A warrior’s drink”

Daniel Dadap daniel at dadap.net
Tue Jun 19 05:08:52 PDT 2018

> On Jun 19, 2018, at 00:56, Rhona Fenwick <qeslagh at hotmail.com> wrote:
> Something that nobody seems to have mentioned is that because this is a display on a computer, this could very well just be a transcription of written Klingon from the ship's database. Okrand says explicitly in TKD that "[t]here is a native writing system for Klingon (called {pIqaD}) which seems to be well suited to the various dialects". In what way the writing system is "well suited" to dialectic forms is not explained, but it leaves me in very little doubt that regardless of how Morskans pronounce the ta' Hol word for "gladst", in pIqaD they'd presumably still spell it tlhay-'at-tlhay.

Perhaps it’s as simple as the writing system encoding phonemes rather than allophones (even if a particular phoneme has collided completely with another one such that a particular dialect no longer distinguishes between the two), much in the same way that in English, we always write “wh” at the beginning of question words that start with that sound regardless of how our particular dialect produces it. Or how speakers of dialects that produce words like “glottal” with a glottal stop instead of a /t/ still write a ”t”.

Or perhaps it’s because pIqaD isn’t a phonetic system at all. I don’t remember where I read this, but wasn’t there something along the lines of “little is known about pIqaD, except that it is not an alphabet” somewhere? Maybe in TKD itself? Of course, the KLI pIqaD is precisely an alphabet, but perhaps that wasn’t Okrand’s intention. Written Chinese, being an logographic system, is “well suited” to representing a whole family of spoken languages whose spoken forms are mutually unintelligible.

Anyway, yeah, I expect that {qab} and {qam} are spelled distinctly in written form even when tricks like “nach qam” and “'uS qam” are needed to distinguish them in speech, in much the same way we spell homophones differently in English, often for historical reasons, but nevertheless it does encode a difference that is evident in written, if not spoken English.
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