[tlhIngan Hol] Klingon Word of the Day: gher

Steven Boozer sboozer at uchicago.edu
Fri Aug 16 08:51:02 PDT 2019

Klingon word: gher
Part of speech: verb
Definition: formulate, compile, pull together
Source: SKNG:09JUL1998

naD tetlh gher 
he/she compiles the Commendation List
he/she writes the Commendation List  (st.k 7/09/98)

Soj tetlh gher 
he/she writes the grocery list (st.k 7/09/98)

QIn gher 
he/she formulates a message
he/she writes a message   (st.k 7/09/98) 

(st.klingon 7/09/1998):  The verb for write in the sense of compose is {qon}, literally "record". This is used for songs and also for literary works (poems, plays, romance novels, and so on). As has been pointed out, it's as if the song or story is somehow out there and the "writer" comes into contact with it, extracts it (to use Qov's nice phrase), and records it. 
     The verb usually translated "write", {ghItlh}, refers to the physical activity of writing (moving the pencil around, chiseling, etc.) The question is, if you can {ghItlh} it, must you also {qon} it? That is, is everything that is written down the result of composition (in the sense described above)? The answer is "not necessarily." 
     There's another verb, {gher}, which doesn't have a straightforward equivalent in English, but which has sometimes been translated (not entirely satisfactorily) as ”formulate" or "compile" or "pull together". The idea seems to be that of bringing thoughts together into some kind of reasonably coherent form so that they can be conveyed to someone else. Thus, one would usually say {naD tetlh gher} "he/she compiles the Commendation List" or "he/she writes the Commendation List". (Maltz laughed at, but accepted, {Soj tetlh gher} for "he/she writes the grocery list".) One would probably {gher}, rather than {qon}, a suggested list of readings, a gazetteer, a simple menu, or the instructions for assembling a toy (assuming the latter is not really an exercise in creative writing). 
     One might also say {QIn gher} "he/she formulates a message" or, more colloquially, "he/she writes a message". But now it begins to get tricky. Using {gher} here implies that the writer of the message was passing along some information he or she got elsewhere, such as scribbling down a telephone message. Saying {QIn qon} "he/she composes a message" or "he/she writes a message" (literally "he/she records a message") suggests that the writer is presenting some new information as opposed to merely passing something along. It may also imply that the written message has some sort of literary merit, and thus be a compliment. But not always. 
     {HIDjolev qon} "he/she composes the menu" suggests that the speaker thinks the list of available fare is written with a certain literary flair. This is not likely to be said of menus in Klingon restaurants (whose menus, if posted at all, tend to be rather pithy), and thus could easily be taken as an insult. Similarly, something like {bom gher} "he/she formulates the song" would be taken as a disparaging comment about the song or its composer (and is, in fact, sometimes heard when the song in question is of non-Klingon origin). 
     This should help somewhat, but it will no doubt raise additional questions about usage. Maltz seems to be willing to try to tackle them as they come along.

buv 		classify (v)
chov 		assess, evaluate, test (v)
patlhmoH 	rank, assign status, sort, compare (v)

mem 		catalog (n)
Se'vIr 		publication (n)
ghItlh 		manuscript (n)
ngav 		writer's cramp (n)

Ca'Non Master of the Klingons

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