[tlhIngan Hol] number of words

Will Martin willmartin2 at mac.com
Fri Nov 22 05:38:41 PST 2019

I wonder how Klingon vocabulary stacks up against other artificial languages, especially those created and maintained by a single person.

I doubt there are any Tolkien languages that come close. Atlantean didn’t get more than a few dozen words; enough for the movie, but there was no continuing interest, so far as I can tell. Other languages for other movies or TV series probably don’t compete meaningfully.

Add that the affix structure expands on functional vocabulary significantly, making it difficult to actually count the words in Klingon because on one hand, there are words constructed out of affix combinations that we have never discovered yet (and don’t count yet), if you go for greatest number, or you could restrict the count to make {ghoj} and {ghojmoH} only count as one word because the second version is only a suffixed version of the first. Having a different English word for the two versions of the one Klingon word doesn’t really make it two different Klingon words.

That has a parallel in American Sign Language. The English words for “lend” and “borrow” are only one sign in ASL, but you know which one the signer is intending because the directional motion of the sign informs you who is the lender and who is the borrower. The sign is just for the action that happens between a loaner and a borrower. It’s not two different actions. English artificially splits the action into two different words. We could easily eliminate one of the two words and not lose any expressive potential if we just remained consistent about who we identify as the subject and object.

ASL has an entire class of directional and semi-directional signs. And Klingon has {-moH}, while English just has a LOT of words. Every time we get lazy about working with the words we have in English, we make up another one, like “guesstimate”.

charghwI’ vaghnerya’ngan

rInpa’ bomnIS be’’a’ pI’.

> On Nov 22, 2019, at 6:23 AM, mayqel qunen'oS <mihkoun at gmail.com> wrote:
> Still, they're not enough.
> ~ bara'qa'
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