[tlhIngan Hol] Klingon Word of the Day: yItlhHa'

De'vID de.vid.jonpin at gmail.com
Fri Mar 22 02:28:23 PDT 2019

On Thu, 21 Mar 2019 at 23:03, DloraH <seruq at bellsouth.net> wrote:

> Why do you think that jotlhHa' *cannot* be "take down wrongly"?
> "He took down the tapestry wrongly and tore it."
> "He took down the flag wrongly and dishonored it."
> I'm not saying this is what jotlhHa' means, I'm just questioning the
> "cannot" part of the argument.

For that *particular* verb, primarily because Okrand essentially said so,
by omission. Okrand was asked specifically about {jotlhHa'}, which means he
had the opportunity to point out that it *could* also mean "take down
wrongly", but he didn't do so.

Now, he could've just forgotten about that sense of {-Ha'} in that one
instance, but he was also asked about {molHa'}, and he defined that as "dig
up" and not "bury wrongly". He's done this not once, not twice, but dozens
of times. Looking at all the {-Ha'} verbs in canon, there seems to be a
fairly clear pattern.

Verbs of quality ("be verbs"):

{baw'Ha'} "be uncomfortable, be worried, be hesitant"
{belHa'} "be displeased"
{churHa'} "be comfortable (physically)"
{DochHa'} "be polite, civil, courteous"
{ghanHa'} "peaceful, calm"
{jaQHa'} "be shallow"
{jejHa'} "be dull, be blunt (of blades)"
{jotHa'} "be uneasy"
{matlhHa'} "be disloyal"
{mobHa'} "be even (used in math)"
{pIlHa'} "be unmotivated" [not defined, but used to translate "apathy" for
{pIQHa'} "be indirect, be roundabout, be devious"
{quvHa'} "be dishonored"
{QeyHa'} "be loose"
{rIjHa'} "be adrift"
{ru'Ha'} "be permanent"
{varHa'} "be generous"
{vey'Ha'} "be uncomfortable, be meager"
{yepHa'} "be careless"
{yItlhHa'} "be lenient, indulgent"
{yuDHa'} "be honest"
{'umHa'} "be unqualified"

Note that none of the above are defined as "be wrongly [whatever]". Every
single one is just the opposite quality. In the following cases, we're
specifically told that the state is a reversal:

{Do'Ha'} "be unfortunate" (suggests turn of luck from good to bad)
{ghungHa'} "be satiated (no longer hungry)"
{QuchHa'} "be unhappy" (suggests change from being happy to not being happy)
{'ojHa'} "be quenched (no longer thirsty)"
{'eyHa'} "be undelicious" (someone caused it to cease being delicious)
{tlhorghHa'} "be bland (referring to food)" (someone caused it to cease
being pungent)

Possibly this reversal applies to some of the verbs in the first list, but
we can't tell unless we're told. But in any case, {DochHa'} means "be
polite" and not, say, "wrongly rude", and so on.

Action verbs which are opposites or reversals of other actions:

{baghHa'} "crack a code"
{boqHa'} "subtract (used in math)"
{buSHa'} "ignore"
{chenHa'} "untake form"
{chu'Ha'} "disengage, deactivate (a device)"
{ghomHa'} "scatter, disperse"
{jonHa'} "release"
{jotlhHa'} "put back up"
{lay'Ha'} "break one's word"
{lInHa'} "go offline"
{lItHa'} "get off (of)"
{lobHa'} "disobey"
{molHa'} "dig up"
{muSHa'} "love"
{naDHa'} "discommend, disapprove"
{nobHa'} "give back, return"
{parHa'} "like"
{polHa'} "discard"
{qeHHa'} "forgive, unresent"
{qImHa'} "disregard"
{SaHHa'} "be unconcerned (about)"
{SorHa'} "speak metaphorically"
{So'Ha'} "unhide, decloak; decrypt"
{tungHa'} "encourage"
{vIbHa'} "move through time toward the past"
{voqHa'} "distrust"
{wuqHa'} "commute (a judicial sentence)"
{'otHa'} "disclose, divulge"
{'uchHa'} "let go of"

Again, none of the above are defined as "do [whatever] wrongly".

Action verbs which are erroneous actions:

{bachHa'} "err, make a mistake" (literally, to "misfire")
{jatlhHa'} "misspeak, speak wrongly"
{pabHa'} "misfollow [the rules], follow [the rules] wrongly"
{qawHa'} "misremember, remember incorrectly"
{yajHa'} "misinterpret"

None of *these* are defined as "undo [whatever]". {jatlhHa'}, for example,
is not "take back one's words", and {yajHa'} is not "no longer understand".
{qawHa'} is slightly subtle in that one might think it means "forget", but
the opposite or reversal of bringing a memory to mind is not to fail to
bring it to mind in the first place (for which we have {lIj}).

I think one way to think about this is that if a verb is at 1 on the number
line, then verb+{-be'} is at 0, and verb+{-Ha'} is at -1. For each verb,
verb+{-Ha'} is the most opposite state or action of that verb, and that
depends on the verb (or the class of verb). For states or qualities, it's
the opposite. For actions, it's the opposite or reversed action in cases
where such a thing exists, and an erroneous action otherwise.

If you think about it, while {-Ha'} can mean both "undo" and "do wrongly",
it doesn't really make sense for it to be possible to have both meanings on
the same verb. If it did, then how would I know if you meant "be
unmotivated" or "be wrongly motivated" (be motivated but in a bad way, or
for the wrong reason)? How would I say that the judge has commuted
({wuqHa'}) my sentence, rather than that he had wrongly decided upon my
sentence (a rather important legal distinction)? Of course, language *can*
be ambiguous, but in this case, I think the dozens of examples from canon
strongly suggests a pattern. I think this is one of those cases where TKD
offers a bare sketch, but we actually have a lot of canon examples to
justifiably derive something which is almost a rule.

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