[tlhIngan Hol] doubly {-meH}ed nouns

Daniel Dadap daniel at dadap.net
Wed May 15 13:52:29 PDT 2019

> On May 15, 2019, at 14:36, Will Martin <willmartin2 at mac.com> wrote:
> My point is that Klingon is a language, not a code, and ideally, if you want to actually understand it, you should speak it like a language, instead of taking English text and figuring out how to perfectly encode it into the one and only true and correct method to produce the one and only truely correct translation. That’s not how language works. That’s not how translation works.

But that doesn’t really seem to be what’s actually happening most of the time you accuse somebody of producing coded English. Just because somebody wants to explore the possibilities of grammar doesn’t mean that they’re doing so because they can’t think of a way to express a thought without some particular grammatical construction.

> I’m saying this because I genuinely believe that even at early stages, you learn much more by trying to express the same idea in Klingon using different vocabulary and grammar choices than you learn if you pick up a screwdriver and do everything possible that you can think of to do with a screwdriver before picking up a hammer and doing everything you can possibly think of with a hammer, and then pick up a hack saw and do everything you can possibly think of with a hacksaw.
> That’s not really how you learn to fix things with tools. It’s just dicking around.

I agree that experimenting with different ways to say something is a good learning tool. But I don’t think you’re giving people enough credit here. You’re talking to people who already do know how to recast a thought in multiple different ways using different vocabulary and grammar. What I see happening here is not “I want to use grammatical construct X in Klingon; how do I do that?”, but rather “would grammatical construct X be meaningful in Klingon?” There’s a world of difference between the two. Just because people asking questions like that didn’t show their work to prove that they can think of other ways to say the same thing doesn’t mean that they’re incapable of doing so.

Yes, if we want to ensure that our meaning is understood by others we should stick to the grammar that Dr. Okrand has already described. But let us remember the words of TKD:

> The grammatical sketch is intended to be an outline of Klingon grammar, not a complete description. Nevertheless, it should allow the reader to put Klingon words together in an acceptable manner.

Not a complete description. An acceptable manner. We don’t know what rules of Klingon grammar haven’t been described. We probably never will. What we can produce using only the rules that have been described is acceptable, but for all we know, native Klingon speakers often use double {-meH} or other such constructs and would find it weird, though acceptable, not to do so if the situation calls for it. Sure, if we choose to explore the undescribed and unknown areas of grammar, we run the risk of not being understood, of producing text that a native Klingon speaker would find unacceptable, or of violating an unknown rule that hasn’t been revealed yet. There are many reasons one ought to stick to what we know about Klingon. But doing so is not mutually exclusive with asking questions about what we don’t know.

And maybe dicking around isn’t a useful learning strategy for you, but it works very well for many people. There’s nothing wrong with dicking around.

More information about the tlhIngan-Hol mailing list