[tlhIngan Hol] bej and na' slang

Steven Boozer sboozer at uchicago.edu
Tue Mar 12 10:30:40 PDT 2019

From: mayqel qunen'oS
> {bej} and {na'} slang are defined as "be sure, be definite, be positive, be certain".
> If I write {jIbej} then does this mean "I'm certain" as in "I'm sure, I have no doubt",
>  or "I am the certain" whatever that means ?
>    [….]
> When we say a fact is certain, we mean that the fact is certain; it is actual, it
> can't be disputed.  When we say {jIbej}, does it mean "I am certain", as in "I'm
> sure", or would it mean "I'm actual, undisputed, etc. ?"

(KGT 145):  The verb {bej} literally means “watch”, though its slang usage is probably influenced by the verb suffix {-bej} (“certainly, undoubtedly”; compare {voq}, “trust”, and {voqbej}, “certainly trust”).  It is used in such forms as {jIbej} (I am positive [about something I just said] - literally, “I watch”) or {bIbej'a'?} (Are you sure? - literally, “Do you watch?”).  Unlike the verb {na'} (“be salty”), which has an identical slang meaning (see below), the verb {bej} may be used when there is an object:  {HIvrup 'e' vIbej} (“I am positive they're ready to attack”; literally, “I watch that they're ready to attack”).  The notions expressed by {bej} can be conveyed without slang with a word such as {Honbe'} (not doubt) or by making use of the verb suffix {-bej}, as in {HIvrupbej} (They're certainly ready to attack).

(KGT 155-57):  The word {na'} literally means "be salty," but its slang usage is probably influenced by the noun suffix {-na'} (definite), which is used when the speaker wants to indicate that he or she is absolutely sure about what is being said (compare {maghwI'}, "traitor," and {maghwI'na'} "definite traitor, without a doubt a traitor").  The slang word, a verb, is used in such constructions as {jIna'} (I am positive [about something I just said]; literally, “I am salty”] and {bIna''a'} (Are you sure?; literally, “Are you salty?”).  These kinds of meanings may be expressed without using slang by employing such verbs as {Honbe'} (not doubt) or {Sovbej} (know for certain).

FYI the noun is {DIch} “certainty” as in:

  SIS 'e' 'aqlu', javmaH vatlhvI' DIch
  It is predicted it will rain, 60% certainty. (qep'a' 2017)

>> Ah, I think I understand your question now. It might help to re-ask it as
>> something like “is the subject of {bej} a {ghot} who has no doubt, or a
>>  {ngoD} which can’t be disputed?
>> To which I don’t know the answer, but my intuition is that it’s a person.

Reading KGT, it seems that Okrand understands the subject of {bej} and {na’} to be a person.


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