[tlhIngan Hol] Expressing exterior

Will Martin willmartin2 at mac.com
Thu Mar 14 10:21:49 PDT 2019

As it happens, I’m personally responsible for us having the word for the bottom surface of the underside of a table.

As a Friend of Maltz, I was granted an opportunity to ask for a word. At the time, Klingon didn’t have any words for “top” or “bottom”. So, I asked for those two words.

Instead, Maltz came back with a whole pile of words relating to the concept of top, bottom, maximum, minimum, exterior top and top of an interior space, etc.

I return to what I said about houses, however. Basically, our experience of things is with surfaces. If we speak of a thing, we most often are speaking of surfaces. We say that a woman is beautiful. We aren’t talking about her spleen or intestines, or her general constitution of body mass. We are talking about her surfaces, clothing included. We pick up a baseball. We touch only the surface. If you paint a baseball, you paint only the surface.

I honestly believe that surfaces are so generically important that it’s pretty rare that you need to differentiate them from the objects which they engulf. The Klingon words we have for surfaces highlight exceptional cases where the surface really is separately important. If you are trying to land an aircraft or spacecraft, the surface of the planet becomes REALLY IMPORTANT to you. If you are specifying how full to fill a fuel tank, the top surface of the interior of the gas tank is of special significance. If you are low on fuel, the bottom interior surface of the fuel tank is special.

These surfaces really deserve identities differentiated from the objects they are surfaces of. It’s done with vocabulary, not with prepositions, in English, and it’s done with vocabulary, not area-nouns (which have the function of prepositions in English) in Klingon.

It’s not perfect, but I think it’s good enough. If you have a specific example where there isn’t a word like {reD}, let’s work with it. Such an example deserves attention, but this half-effort to force {Hur} to mean something it doesn’t mean isn’t going to get the attention that you want to bring to the problem with what you see as a deficiency of this language.

charghwI’ vaghnerya’ngan

rInpa’ bomnIS be’’a’ pI’.

> On Mar 14, 2019, at 12:24 PM, mayqel qunen'oS <mihkoun at gmail.com> wrote:
> charghwI':
> > I, for one, wonder why you bother with Hur  
> > at all 
> The purpose of this thread was to find a way to express the exterior of an object.
> Using "I paint the house", is just an example I selected, which obviously I shouldn't have, because it would raise the question why I don't use reD.
> For a house we have reD. But what if I want to describe the exterior surface of an object in general ?
> This is one of the classic problems with klingon..
> Some definitions tend to be so specific, that in the end we are being left holding our d***s, unable to express some things which one would expect them to be specified when these words were given.
> We have "surface of water", we have "surface of a planet", and the "bottom surface of a table, ceiling".
> But we don't have a word for "surface" in general.
> It was sooo damn important to have a word for the bottom surface of a table though..
> Because, surely, each day there are sooo many times we need to talk about the bottom surface of a table..
> 'a qay'be'.. jISaHQbe' jay'.. I should have learned by now..
> ~ changan qIj
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