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

Steven Boozer sboozer at uchicago.edu
Mon Oct 14 06:38:57 PDT 2019

Klingon Word of the Day for Sunday, October 13, 2019

Klingon word: nelchu'
Part of speech: verb
Definition: fit in perfectly, fit perfectly
Source: qepHom 2018

(Lieven, qepHom 2018):  ... like a piece in a jigsaw puzzle

nel  		match,  pair up,  map onto (v) (qep'a' 2018)

(Lieven, qep'a' 2018):  ... like when fingerprints match

(Lieven < MO, 12/02/2018):  {nel} is a verb and means to match up. It does not mean that two things are identical, it means that they match up, such as two pieces of a puzzle match or when you tear off a piece of paper, this is the only piece that will match up with the paper. 

(Lieven, 11/21/2018):  BACKGROUND:  At the qepHom, we played the game where you have to find two matching cards. (In German, we call that "memory", but Okrand told me that in English it's called "concentration".) I wanted to call the game something like {nelwI'} or {tInelmoH}, which Okrand rejected both, as it sounds strange. … So I labeled the game with {chang'engmey}.

(MO, qepHom 2018):  As for {nel} - The more I think about it, {tInel} is not so good. But {tInelmoH} is not so good either. You are correct - {nel} works like {rur}. So you can say {A nel B} "B matches A". You can also say {nelchuq A B je} "A and B match each other". When you say {tInel}, the subject (unspoken, because it's an imperative) is "you," but what is the object? 
    If you say {A yInel}, the subject is "you" and the object, presumably, is A, but this would mean something like "Match A!" (that is, it's a command for you to match A or match up with A).  Similarly, {A B je tInel} is a command for you to be a match with both A and B.
    Let's look at the construction if imperative is not involved (and let's switch to singular). What would {Danel} mean?  {A Danel} is something like "you match A".  {A B je Danel} is "you match both A and B" (that is, you are a match with A and you are also a match with B). That's not what we're trying to say.
    So how about {nelmoH}?  {A DanelmoH} might mean "you cause A to match", but match what?  {A B je DanelmoH} might mean "you cause A and B to match", but that doesn't mean A and B are matching each other - it means you cause A and B to match something else - but what?
    The problem is that {nel} takes a subject and an object (the two things that match each other), but not a third thing. And you can't use the prefix trick with {nelmoH} because there is no non-third-person indirect object.
    So to give the command "Make A match B!", you have to do it periphrastically.

(De'vID < MO, 1/22/2019):   {qoch} is not the word for partner when referring to socks and gloves and the like.  The word for that is {nelwI'}. With {nel}, the subject is one sock (or glove or shoe or whatever) of the pair and the object is the other. To talk about a sock (or glove or …) matching (that is fitting onto) a foot (or hand or …), use the verb {mey}:  {mumey waqmeywIj} my shoes fit (literally, "my shoes fit me"). {torgh lumey waqmey} "the shoes fit Torg".  {waqmeywIj vImey} "I fit my shoes".
    When a piece of a jigsaw puzzle fits into the right spot, you can say:  {Qay'mol mey (Qay'mol) teSra'} "the (puzzle) piece fits (into) the puzzle".  (In this context, you don't have to repeat {Qay'mol}, but it's fine if you do.) or {nelchu' Qay'mol teSra'} "the puzzle piece fits perfectly".  The first focuses on the interlocking of the pieces; the second focuses on the piece in question occupying the identically shaped space where it goes.

rur  		resemble (v)
nIb 		be identical (v)
rap 		be the same (v)

pIm 		be different (v)
Sar 		be varied, various (v)

Ca'Non Master of the Klingons

More information about the tlhIngan-Hol mailing list