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

SuStel sustel at trimboli.name
Fri Feb 8 17:56:00 PST 2019

On 2/8/2019 7:22 PM, nIqolay Q wrote:
> On Fri, Feb 8, 2019 at 6:08 PM Will Martin <willmartin2 at mac.com 
> <mailto:willmartin2 at mac.com>> wrote:
>     Remember that Worf told us, “Klingons may be inaccurate, but they
>     are never approximate.”
> *Dochmey law' jatlhpu' wo'rIv. *This information was provided in CK in 
> the context of Klingon punctuality and telling hourly time. There, it 
> makes sense in the context that if a Klingon tells you they'll meet 
> you at 1500 hours, they will meet you at 1500 hours, not 1455 or 1505. 
> It makes less sense to generalize it to all Klingon behavior all the 
> time. Thanks to this collection of Star Trek shooting scripts 
> <http://www.st-minutiae.com/resources/scripts/>, I /know/ it doesn't 
> apply to Klingon behavior all the time:
>     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.
> The existence of the words *DISjaj* and *qoS* suggests otherwise.

Thanks for the list (snipped). That's exactly what I'm talking about.

Regarding drawing linguistic conclusions based on cultural stereotypes:

The French are a romantic people. French is commonly referred to as the 
language of love. Therefore you can't really say "I hate you" in French. 
In a culture of love, why would anyone want to say that? What does it 
bring to the conversation?

Russians are a blunt and serious people. When you speak Russian, you 
can't really express joy or subtlety; it just doesn't fit, culturally. 
Expressions of happiness will just make Russians look at you like you're 

The Japanese prize politeness to a degree not seen in the Western world. 
When you try to translate Japanese to English, it always sounds 
impossibly polite and formal. When trying to speak Japanese, you always 
have to be polite. There are no insults in Japanese except polite ones.

These are exaggerated examples, but they should make the point: you 
can't determine the grammar or expressions of a language just by citing 
the cultural stereotypes of the people who speak it. Worf says "A 
Klingon may be inaccurate, but he is never approximate." This doesn't 
mean that when telling a story about some time in the past you have to 
tell the exact time or shut up. It means when precision is called for, 
you use it. If you walk into a shop to buy fifty ion triggers, you'd 
better tell the shop owner that you want to buy fifty ion triggers, not 
that you want "some ion whatchamacallits." But if you're telling a story 
about what happened to you last year, if the exact date is not 
important, then it's perfectly fine to say "last year" or "almost a year 
ago." That's not a situation that calls for accuracy. Therefore if you 
can find a way to say it in Klingon, it's sayable.


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