[tlhIngan Hol] teH vs {-na'}

SuStel sustel at trimboli.name
Wed Aug 14 07:32:39 PDT 2019

On 8/14/2019 10:17 AM, Will Martin wrote:
> For many years I’ve argued about the use of {qamuSHa’} for “I love 
> you.” The problem is that “I love you,” is completely dependent upon 
> context to give it meaning.
> A mother means one thing when saying it to her child, a different 
> thing when saying it to her husband, a different thing when saying it 
> to a sibling, a different thing when saying it to HER mother, a 
> different thing when saying it to a childhood friend, a different 
> thing when saying it to her dog, a different thing when saying it to 
> her favorite TV star… etc.
> The relationship and the circumstance give meaning to an otherwise 
> uselessly vague statement.

/I love you/ is not uselessly vague, as you have just demonstrated. It 
is a phrase that has many meanings, given the context. When your spouse 
does something nice for you and you feel gratitude and say /I love you,/ 
it means a very specific thing. The words themselves don't convey the 
specificity, but both of you know the exact meaning.

So who says this doesn't happen in Klingon? Why is Klingon 
ultra-specific in your mind? I mean, sure, there's the bit in /Power 
Klingon/ about Klingon being accurate, not approximate, but this doesn't 
have to apply to intimate moments like this. The stuff in /PK/ is all 
about how to maintain the respect of the people and animals around you, 
not the finer points of Klingon subtlety.

I don't necessarily think that *qamuSHa'* has a one-to-one relationship 
with /I love you,/ but if Jadzia does something really nice for Worf, 
who feels gratitude, why can't he say *qamuSHa'* and both of them know 
exactly what he is talking about?

Klingon actually has a lot of scope to be vague in very useful ways. I 
once wrote a story in Klingon and when I was done I realized I had not 
given a single clue to the reader about the sex of any of the 
characters. Then I thought, /does it matter?/ My story wasn't really 
focused on character development. The Klingons were just performing 
their duties.

Being specific is nice when you need to do it, but if you're translating 
something that is already vague in the source language, then it's 
perfectly fine — maybe even more faithful — to keep it vague in the 
target language.


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