[tlhIngan Hol] difference between {ta'} and {voDleH}

Steven Boozer sboozer at uchicago.edu
Mon Jul 1 07:17:55 PDT 2019

That’s a very old question that Okrand has never addressed AFAIK.  Here’s what I know:

{ta'} :

(KGT 14):  Throughout Klingon history, and still today, if the leader of the Empire carries the title {ta'} (Emperor)...

(Lieven < MO, 1/01/2018):  The emperor's castle/palace is simply {ta' jem'IH}. If, however, the emphasis is to be on the elegance or grandeur of the {jem'IH}, there's another word that can be used: {DuHmor}.  A {DuHmor} is a type of {jem'IH}, so it's a good place for the emperor to hang out. For clarify, you can say {ta' DuHmor}.  The emperor's official residence would more likely be referred to as a {DuHmor} than a {jem'IH}, but not necessarily always. Klingon ships, of course, are battle-ready, so any ship designed to be the residence of the emperor might, I suppose, be referred to as a {jem'IH} or {ta' jem'IH}. And if it's a particularly grand place, then {DuHmor} or {ta' DuHmor} could make sense.

ta' tlhIngan Hol                 the Emperor's Klingon (i.e. the standard dialect)
ta' Hol                                 standard dialect (i.e. proper, grammatical Klingon)

(KGT 14f.):  Throughout Klingon history, and still today, if the leader of the Empire carries the title {ta'} (Emperor), the way he speaks Klingon--that is, the dialect used by his family and people from his region--is always considered the best way. The vocabulary and grammatical details typical of the leader's area become the current model for the Empire. The way other people speak, if different, is considered somehow inferior, and the more any given dialect differs from that of the Emperor, the more inferior it is considered. Not only is the way of speaking considered inferior, anyone speaking only a nonstandard dialect is considered to be inferior as well, motivating everyone to learn to speak the way the Emperor does. On the other hand, since a change in leadership tends to bring in an Emperor from a different lineage and different region, the relative status of the different varieties can easily change, with a dialect formerly associated with a certain region becoming the standard dialect spoken by all. As a result, the various dialects of Klingon have persisted, with most Klingons becoming adept at several of them. The system by which the Emperor's dialect is considered the standard dialect stayed in place even during those times when there was no official Emperor, as has been the case, until recently, for the last 300 years. Regardless of the leader's title, the leader's way of speaking is still considered the best. The term used for the standard dialect, however, harks back to the Emperors: {ta' tlhIngan Hol} (literally, "the Emperor's Klingon"), often shortened to {ta' Hol} ("Emperor's language"). It is appropriate to use these terms regardless of the official title of the leader of the Empire.

{voDleH} :

voDleH Ha'DIbaH             emperor's meat (n)

(KGT 90f):  If the meat is somewhat older, a common preparation technique is to {HaH} (marinate) it in any of a wide variety of concoctions containing {'Iw} (blood) and/or {vIychorgh} (sap) as a base, along with assorted animal parts. Meat prepared in this style is also called {voDleH Ha'DIbaH} (emperor's meat), again with the specific animal used instead of {Ha'DIbaH}; for example, {voDleH lIngta'} (emperor's *lingta*). (Presumably there was an emperor at one time who liked his meat prepared in this fashion.)

AFAIK, an emperor is only mentioned once in the paq’batlh using {voDleH}:
Qo'noS tuqmey muvchuqmoH qeylIS
   'ej chaHvaD batlh chutmey nob
   tlhIngan wo' voDleH moj Sughlu’
Kahless united the tribes of Kronos,
   And provided them with the laws of honor,
   He was crowned emperor of the Klingon Empire.  (PB)
Someone once pointed out that {voDleH} might be etymologically related to {betleH}, {meqleH}, {tIqleH}, and {'aqleH} – all types of ancient weapons.  FWIW Kahless created the first {batlh ‘etlh} or {betleH}.

Also {ta’} is phonetically identical to the aspectual suffix {-ta'} “accomplished,  done”, the verb {ta'} “do, accomplish” and the noun {ta'} “deed, accomplishment” - which was associated with Kahless and his family in the paq’batlh:

Dung qo’ pawDI’
   qeylIS qorDu’ je ta’’e’ neH
   bop bommey.

Upon reaching the upper world,
   No one could speak of anything,
   But the deeds of Kahless and his kin. (PB)

Here {bom} recalls the proverb {ta'mey Dun, bommey Dun} “Great deeds, great songs”:

(KGT 70f.):  Warriors have long celebrated great achievements and key events in song, reinforcing the importance of the accomplishments and actually reliving them while singing. Great deeds are "deeds worthy of song," as the Klingon leader Gowron once put it, and part of the appeal of engaging in battle is the prospect that, if the battle is a really good one, it will be fought over and over again in song.

Other than {ta’} being slightly more common, I can’t see any real difference in usage.  Can you?

Ca'Non Master of the Klingons

On Behalf Of mayqel qunen'oS

Is there a difference between {ta'} and {voDleH} ? Is one more "formal" than the other ?
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