[tlhIngan Hol] tlhIngan maH

kechpaja at kechpaja.com kechpaja at kechpaja.com
Tue Jun 18 03:23:26 PDT 2019

There may be an official canonical explanation of some sort, but as far
as I'm concerned there isn't any need to hunt for anything particularly
outlandish. I would say that this is what's happening:

{tlhIngan maH} and {tlhInganpu' maH} are both perfectly grammatical ways
of answering the question {'Iv tlhIH?} or {nuq 'oH Seghraj?}. Since
there's no point in wasting syllables on a plural suffix that doesn't
actually add to the meaning of the sentence, it makes sense that
speakers would probably be more likely to say {tlhIngan maH} rather than
{tlhInganpu' maH}, although you'd probably hear the latter as well. 

However, in languages, it's normal for common phrases to become "frozen"
over time, so that saying them differently would sound strange and,
although theoretically having the same literal meaning, would be missing
an additional level of meaning that the frozen expression has acquired.
This, I suspect, is what has happened with {tlhIngan maH} when used as a
slogan — you wouldn't be speaking ungrammatically if you said
{tlhInganpu' maH}, but you also wouldn't be using the same slogan, in
the same way that a Barack Obama supporter probably wouldn't shout "yes
we are able!". 

On Tue, Jun 18, 2019 at 07:36:33AM +0200, Lieven L. Litaer wrote:
>I've just been asked this by a beginner. I know what I could answer, but
>I wondered if there is a canon explanation, and also what your answers
>might be. It has certainly been asked before:
>Why is it {tlhIngan maH} and not {tlhInganpu' maH}?
>Lieven L. Litaer
>aka the "Klingon Teacher from Germany"
>tlhIngan-Hol mailing list
>tlhIngan-Hol at lists.kli.org

More information about the tlhIngan-Hol mailing list