[tlhIngan Hol] Morskan and the unidentified “regional dialect” in PK

Will Martin willmartin2 at mac.com
Tue May 14 06:40:38 PDT 2019

When I joined the KLI back when it was forming, during the year before qep’a’ wa’DIch, I thought I was joining an elite corps of nerds who boldly go where no one has gone (or would ever want to have gone) before, and I ranked myself among the boldest. 

Now, I feel outclassed.

All those hours I poured into that first Word .doc file that became the AKD (the Annotated Klingon Dictionary), a copy of which is probably still on Okrand’s bookshelf somewhere, disintegrating… and the hours that I spent entering that same data into my Palm Pilot, writing it into that little touch screen with a stylus using that strange alphabet I had to learn to enter stuff into the Pilot… and the hours I spent putting that same (continually expanded) dictionary into MS Access, and then Excel, and then Bento, and finally into Tap Forms before deciding that boQwI’ is really nice and maybe I don’t have to keep doing this for the rest of my life…

All the hours creating and updating the online New Words List (before eventually handing it over to other capable hands)... All the hours spent rehearsing for the Klingon Barbershop Quartet at qep’a’… for the performance of “Bring out Yer Dead!”… for the death scene in the Klingon Hamlet… 

All the hours on this list, arguing about arcane points of Klingon grammar as BG and then as one of the former BGs… Even after bathing in the glory of being recognized as one of the friends of Maltz...

I am humbled.

Good luck with your Morskan project.

Maybe someday, you’ll even restore Hamlet to its original Morscan manuscript…

You are clearly going where I have never gone before. Frankly, I never even THOUGHT of going there.

When I tell normal people about my odd hobby of speaking Klingon, they ask me why I’ve learned a language that “nobody speaks”. Well, you’ve managed to hollow out an area of expertise that involves even fewer speakers.

Of course, I guess the next emperor could be Morscan…

You might be on the cutting edge. You could be The One the rest of us turn to when the future brings change.

I salute you.

I also suspect that Okrand will once again stand in awe of yet another creative outgrowth of his accidental language that he never anticipated.

He’s often said that he feels an enormous responsibility and a need to be very careful what he says, because, well, one careless comment, and something like this might happen.

charghwI’ vaghnerya’ngan

rInpa’ bomnIS be’’a’ pI’.

> On May 14, 2019, at 12:24 AM, Daniel Dadap <daniel at dadap.net> wrote:
> I’m planning to make some audio recordings in Morskan and am trying to do my due diligence to make sure that I’m pronouncing things as authentically as possible. With that in mind, I have some questions about Morskan:
> 1. Syllable-initial {tlh} is supposed to become a sound that’s described as being similar to {ghl}: is this a {gh} leading into a {l} (i.e., /ɣl/), or is it actually a voiced lateral fricative like /ɮ/? Or something else?
> 2. Do we have any more examples of uniquely Morskan lexicon besides {qurbuSwI'}? (The notes in boQwI' for this word suggest that it’s based on the name of an architect, but I see it just as a portmanteau of {qur buSwI'}. I suppose it could be both.)
> 3. (This will be very long, sorry…) Earlier when discussing differences between Morskan and Standard Klingon I mentioned an unnamed “regional dialect” from one of the audio tapes that I thought resembled Morskan. I incorrectly remembered this as being on Conversational Klingon; it turns out it was on Power Klingon. I listened to the relevant segment again to compare it to what we know about Morskan and wanted to share my observations and ask some questions.
> First, a transcription of the example sentences from Power Klingon (transcriptions of the regional dialect are based on how I heard the sentences; please chime in if you hear something different):
> Federation Standard: “Have you seen my phaser?”
> Regional Dialect: {PuhIchwij DalegPu}
> Standard Dialect: {pu'HIchwIj Daleghpu'}
> (This example appears to contain an error: either the sentence should be “You have seen my phaser” in Federation Standard, or it’s missing an interrogative marker {-'a'} in both the regional and standard dialects, or it’s meant to illustrate that the interrogative marker {-'a'} is not necessary in the regional dialect, and it was accidentally omitted in the standard dialect version as well)
> Federation Standard: “I want to eat meat.”
> Regional Dialect: {haDba vISoP vIne}
> Standard Dialect: {Ha'DIbaH vISop vIneH}
> Federation Standard: “What food is this?”
> Regional Dialect: {Sojvets 'o nuq}
> Standard Dialect: {Sojvetlh 'oH nuq'e'}
> In the examples above, {P} represents a sound that seemed like an unaspirated /p/ to me, but sounded almost like /b/ in some places, and {i} represents a higher, more fronted {I} (i.e., /i/). {g} is a stop rather than a fricative like {gh}.
> Next, here is what I hear for the Morskan watchman’s lines from the “Uhura speaks Klingon” scene from Star Trek VI (the transcription is based on my own hearing again, and the standard dialect reconstruction is based on my own guesswork.)
> {morsqi qey} - {??? ???}
> {Dujvets 'o nuq rin} - {Dujvetlh 'oH nuq'e' rIn}
> {nuqDaq roS rin} - {nuqDaq (bo)ghoS rIn}
> {'omey SuqHo'} - {ghewmey (tI)SuqQo'}
> Once again, {i} is a different sound than {I}. {nuqDaq roS} might have been something more like {nuqda groS} (where {d} is not retroflex and {g} is a voiced velar stop), and I’m not totally sure about the final glottal stop in the word I’ve transcribed as {SuqHo'}, as it wasn’t particular strongly enunciated, if it was there. The fricative {H} in {SuqHo'} sounded a little more pharyngeal than velar to me, but it was definitely non-glottal. The prefixes in parentheses are the ones that would make sense to use if the sentences weren’t clipped in addition to being in dialect.
> Presumably, the dialog from Star Trek VI was in Morskan, since the watchman identifies the listening post as “Morska” (according to the English subtitles). However, it has a few features that aren’t described in KGT’s description of the Morskan dialect.
> The “regional dialect” in PK has many similarities to Morskan, and there’s no reason to believe that it is indeed Morskan, but I’m not aware of any other dialects that had been shown on screen or described, at the time PK was recorded, besides Morskan. If it is indeed Morskan, there are some additional features that aren’t described in KGT.
> Features that the Star Trek VI dialect has in common with Morskan as described in KGT:
> * {tlh} becomes {ts} in syllable-final position
> * {H} is elided in syllable-final position
> * {-'e'} is not required on the noun following the pronoun in pronoun-copula “to be” sentences
> * {Q} becomes {H} in syllable-initial position
> Features that the PK dialect has in common with Morskan as described in KGT:
> * {H} becomes {h} syllable-initially
> * {H} is elided syllable-finally
> * {tlh} becomes {ts} in syllable-final position
> * {-'e'} is not required on the noun following the pronoun in pronoun-copula “to be” sentences
> Features of the ST VI dialect that don’t occur in the KGT Morskan description:
> * {I} is pronounced like {i}
> * {gh} changes to another sound syllable-initially (it changes to two different sounds in two different words; insufficient data to discern a pattern)
> * The diphthong {ew} sounds more like {o}
> Features of the PK dialect that don’t occur in the KGT Morskan description:
> * {p} appears to be unaspirated; other stops such as {t} may be as well (though it would be more typical of Dr. Okrand to make this another phonetic asymmetry)
> * Syllable-final {'} appears to be elided; in fact, Dr. Okrand makes a point to call this difference out in the tape
> * {I} sounds like {i} sometimes, though not consistently, so the one time it does sound this way might just be a fluke
> * {gh} appears to become a stop syllable-finally
> * It appears to be possible to elide some vowels in some circumstances (e.g. {haDba} - where did the {I} go?)
> Some of all of the differences that fall outside of how Morskan is described in KGT could be limited to specific words, as opposed to being broader patterns. But if we are to assume that the ST VI dialect and perhaps even the PK dialect is Morskan, do we have any other information to explain these additional differences from Standard Klingon that aren’t described in KGT? Is there any description or example of the Morskan dialect outside of KGT?
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