[tlhIngan Hol] ordering and scope of adverbials relative to timestamps

Will Martin willmartin2 at mac.com
Fri Feb 8 15:08:24 PST 2019

Remember that Worf told us, “Klingons may be inaccurate, but they are never approximate.”

I honestly believe that “Almost a year ago” is vague and adds very little to the sentence. {qaSpu’. Daqaw’a’?} {qaSpu’ ‘ej vIlIjQo’!} The significance is not that it’s almost a year ago. The significance is that it happened, and you have not forgotten it. How will having it be a year ago add meaning to the occurrence when that time threshold occurs? You are assuming a significance to the concept of an anniversary that may be gibberish to a Klingon.

If you really want to give it a time stamp because the time of the event is important, then put the effort into making your time stamp more accurate. Klingon has no equivalent to English’s rich collection of vague terms, from:

one or two
a couple
a very few
a few
quite a few
more than a few
sort of a lot
a lot
quite a lot
a whole lot
a shitload
almost too many
too many
way too many

Instead, they prefer to just use a number. Nobody cares if the number is exactly correct, so long as it is a specific number that gives them a sense of scope and scale, as in suggesting a number of throats that can be cut in one night by a running man. A Klingon would not say, “Almost a thousand throats can be cut in one night by a running man.”


I know that SuStel, whose opinion and skill I respect, doesn’t like these cultural arguments, but the truth is, language and culture are linked, and as Worf has explained, this specific aversion to vagueness is a core Klingon contrast to human culture. If you want to learn a language, you have to put your head into the culture, at least enough to not suffer angst trying to translate something that really doesn’t fit the language because it doesn’t fit the culture.

What was that early Klingonist quote describing human language? “Vague, wittering, and indecisive.”

This is something you should work on avoiding.

charghwI’ ‘utlh

> On Feb 8, 2019, at 11:43 AM, Alan Anderson <qunchuy at alcaco.net> wrote:
> On Feb 8, 2019, at 9:47 AM, De'vID <de.vid.jonpin at gmail.com <mailto:de.vid.jonpin at gmail.com>> wrote:
> What about {wa' ben tugh [qaSpu' wanI']} "one year ago it will have happened soon"? Or is the combination of {wa' ben} with {tugh} weird? 
> “Weird” is a good word for it. I understand what it is trying to mean, but I’m not convinced it’s doing it properly.
> The other way around doesn’t feel as wrong or strained: {tugh wa'ben [qaSpu']} “soon it will have happened one year ago.” It’s not exactly the same idea, but it describes the same situation. I think that provides my answer to the “ordering and scope” question.
> -- ghunchu'wI'
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