[tlhIngan Hol] How would you express "root of a tree" ?

De'vID de.vid.jonpin at gmail.com
Sat Jul 13 15:18:20 PDT 2019

On Sat, 13 Jul 2019 at 23:13, mayqel qunen'oS <mihkoun at gmail.com> wrote:

> De'vID:
> > Why? What reason is there to believe that
> > the "serpent" in the definition of {ghargh}
> > means anything other than that a serpent
> > would be referred to generically as a
> > {ghargh} in Klingon?
> Let me ask you.
> If I say {muSujpu' ghargh mIllogh}, what am I saying ?
> The picture of a serpent disturbed me, or the picture of a worm disturbed
> me ?

A picture of a {ghargh} disturbed you.

> Since {ghargh} can mean both, how could someone say that I don't need to
> specify further ?

If you absolutely *had* to distinguish between a serpent and a worm, by all
means do so, but it's not strictly necessary in all cases.

> There is a line in matthew, where jesus says something like (I don't have
> the original text at hand now):
> "who of you, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a serpent ?"
> Suppose I wrote:
> {‘ej ghotI’ HevmeH wa’ nuv puqloD, tlhobchugh puqvam, puqvamvaD ghargh nob
> vay’ ?}
> Can't the reader here assume that the {ghargh} could mean "worm" instead ?

This is what footnotes are for. The intent of the question is to ask
whether someone would, when asked by someone close (their son) for
something beneficial (a fish), they would instead give him something
dangerous (a serpent). Since Jesus' audience has many fishermen (St. Peter
for example), and come from a culture where serpents are considered evil
(because of the story in Genesis), that particular question carries with it
certain connotations. When the Bible is introduced into a language/culture
where there isn't a positive association between fish and survival, or
between snakes and danger, the translators have to use footnotes to explain
the cultural relevance of fish and snakes.

Even if you had a Klingon word which meant "serpent" exclusively, you'd
still have the problem that a Klingon reader might not culturally associate
serpents as being something undesirable to give to someone. Perhaps
Klingons view serpents and worms the same way, and giving someone {ghargh}
(whether serpents or worms) is a good thing. (Everyone loves qagh.) Maybe
fish have a negative connotation in Klingon culture (water does, and fish
live in water). Jesus' question, when taken literally, might seem
completely backwards to a Klingon reader without an explanation of the
context. Whether the word you use to translate "serpent" here is {ghargh}
or something else, you'd have to explain what it means here. The fact that
there isn't a word which means "serpent" but not "worm" therefore doesn't

Imagine reading the following:
"Who of you, if your son asks for a weak, disgusting water creature, would
give him serpents or worms instead, which everyone loves?"

The reader assuming that {ghargh} means "worm" and not "serpent" here is
the least problematic thing about this interpretation.

Now, don't tell me "it wouldn't make for a big difference in meaning", or
> "to a klingon it would be the same".
> Because it would make a *major* difference in meaning, and klingons as
> well as their understanding of things, can burn in hell for all I care.

If Klingons can burn in hell for all you care, why are you translating the
Bible into Klingon? ;-)

> De'vID:
> > Does anyone else on the mailing list have
> > any reservation about using {ghargh} to
> > mean "serpent"?
> You misunderstood me. I'm not saying {ghargh} can't be used to mean
> "serpent". I *am* saying though, that since it can mean worm too, one needs
> to specify what he's talking about.

I understood you just fine. I'm wondering whether anyone else thinks it's
always necessary to specifically differentiate between serpents and worms.

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