[tlhIngan Hol] when to {-vaD} and when to {-Daq}

Will Martin willmartin2 at mac.com
Thu Dec 5 13:00:58 PST 2019

I believe that your confusion is rooted in your desire to come up with a word replacement method for translating between English and Klingon. You have the English word “to” and you are trying to figure out whether you should replace it with the suffix {-vaD} or {-Daq}.

Unfortunately, that’s not how translation works.

Consider that in American Sign Language, I have a phone app that shows videos of signs for words. If I look up “lend” I see a video of a person with their hands in the position (both hands have the letter finger spelled letter “p” with the dominant hand stacked on top of the non-dominant hand) of a sign moving both hands outward, away from the person making the sign. If I look up “borrow”, I see the person with hands in exactly the same shape and relative position, except they are moving their hands toward themselves.

You might think that means that each of these two words has a direction, to or from the speaker to differentiate between the signs. You’d be clueless.

In truth, ASL has one sign for both of these verbs, and you do it in the direction from the lender to the borrower. If I’m saying person A to my left lends something to person B to my right, I start out with my hands pointing toward my left and end up with my hands to my right. Also, if I say, “I lend you a book,” the sentence is identical to the sentence “You borrow a book from me.” The one ASL sentence simultaneously states both of these sentences in English. English merely implies one when it states the other, but in ASL, it’s explicitly stating both, because ASL is very visual, and it’s visually clear that lend/borrow has a starting point and an ending point for the thing being loaned/borrowed, and the sign symbolizes what happens to the object being borrowed/loaned.

So, in Klingon {-Daq} is either giving you the location where the action of the verb happens, or it gives you the direction toward which the action progresses. If there is no motion, it’s the location of the action. If there is motion, then maybe the motion is contained within the area one considers to be {-Daq} or maybe the action moves toward {-Daq}. Either could be true.

In Klingon {-vaD} is the beneficiary of the action. The term “beneficiary” here is the linguistic meaning of the word, not the general population use of the word. Maybe it means the entity that benefits from the gift. Maybe it’s the simple indirect object of the verb. Again, context has to help you out here.

So, if you want to translate the English word “to”, you have to consider what it MEANS in your specific English sentence. You can’t just tie it to a single noun suffix in any kind of word replacement scheme of translation.

This is why computers stink at translation. Computers don’t understand the meaning of our words. They just do remarkable pattern recognition of characters. That’s not enough to make translations work very well.

charghwI’ vaghnerya’ngan

rInpa’ bomnIS be’’a’ pI’.

> On Dec 5, 2019, at 10:47 AM, mayqel qunen'oS <mihkoun at gmail.com> wrote:
> There's something which I can't stop wondering, when {-vaD} is being used this way..
> Lets take the sentence {tera'vo' Qo'noSvaD taj vIngeH}, and lets assume that by {Qo'noS} I mean the "people of kronos".
> When we read it as "from earth (for the benefit of) the people of kronos", then can't it mean too something like:
> "I send it from earth, to someone unspecified, but for the benefit of the people of kronos" ?
> Why do the people of kronos *have* to be the recipient ?
> Can't I be sending the knife, lets say to the alien ambassador, of the species which threatens to invade kronos, so that he will cancel their imminent invasion ?
> ~ changan qIj
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