[tlhIngan Hol] Klingon Word of the Day: laq

Steven Boozer sboozer at uchicago.edu
Thu Aug 29 08:19:13 PDT 2019

All Klingons are not alike. […] By the same token, all Klingons do not speak alike.
  — Marc Okrand, Klingon for the Galactic Traveller (p.7)

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.
  — Marc Okrand, Klingon for the Galactic Traveller (p.172)

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."
  — Marc Okrand, The Klingon Dictionary (introduction)
[...] the course to follow for a student probably falls somewhere between. You don't want to go too fast and loose or too far afield because then nobody will understand what you are doing. You won't have any rules at all. You don't want to be too rigorous, either. It's not math. One of the things that I think about when I read what people have to say about Klingon sometimes is when someone argues that things have to be one way, I think, "No, it shouldn't always be like that." It should be like that in maybe 75% or 80% of the cases, but not 100%. Languages don't work that way.
  — Interview with Marc Okrand (HolQeD 7.4)

Marc Okrand was trying to make {tlhIngan Hol} a natural-sounding artificial language, not an artificially rigid and logical language (suitable for programming).  So yes, ambiguities and multiple meanings are a feature, not a bug.  Or as I said earlier this week:  Klingon isn’t Vulcan -- although Okrand may have designed both of them.

Ca'Non Master of the Klingons

Any fool can make a rule.  And every fool will mind it.
  — Henry David Thoreau

It is astonishing how much enjoyment one can get out of a language that one understands imperfectly.
  — Basil L. Gildersleeve  (in re ancient Greek)

Damage control is easy.  Reading Klingon—that's hard!
  — Montgomery Scott to James Kirk (STIV: The Voyage Home)

From: tlhIngan-Hol <tlhingan-hol-bounces at lists.kli.org> On Behalf Of nIqolay Q
On Thu, Aug 29, 2019 at 9:14 AM mayqel qunen'oS <mihkoun at gmail.com<mailto:mihkoun at gmail.com>> wrote:
And I often wonder.. Why do I need to go through this, trying to find
all the ways the meaning of a word has been expended, while we could
have a new word instead and be done with it ?

It helps the language feel more natural to have words that have multiple related meanings. In English, for example, "cell" can mean a prison cell, a biological cell, or a cell phone, all of which derive from the original notion of a small chamber. It does make things a little more complicated, but that's languages for you. (At least no word in Klingon has as many meanings as something like the German "Zug<https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Zug#Noun>"...) It's also more of a challenge to the language designer to see what existing words could be used to express a concept, and provides an opportunity to think of clever ways to have related words.

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