[tlhIngan Hol] Klingon Word of the Day: voDleH

Steven Boozer sboozer at uchicago.edu
Tue Oct 15 09:00:35 PDT 2019

Klingon word: voDleH
Part of speech: noun
Definition: emperor
Source: TKD

  tlhIngan wo' voDleH moj Sughlu’ 
  He [i.e. Kahless] was crowned emperor of the Klingon Empire (PB)

voDleH Ha'DIbaH  	emperor's meat (n)

(KGT 90f):  If the meat is somewhat older, a common preparation technique is to {HaH} (marinate) it in any of a wide variety of concoctions containing {'Iw} (blood) and/or {vIychorgh} (sap) as a base, along with assorted animal parts. Meat prepared in this style is also called {voDleH Ha'DIbaH} (emperor's meat), again with the specific animal used instead of {Ha'DIbaH}; for example, {voDleH lIngta'} (emperor's *lingta*). (Presumably there was an emperor at one time who liked his meat prepared in this fashion.) 

ta'  			emperor (n)

 (Lieven < MO, 1/01/2018):  The emperor's castle/palace is simply {ta' jem'IH}. If, however, the emphasis is to be on the elegance or grandeur of the {jem'IH}, there's another word that can be used: {DuHmor}.  A {DuHmor} is a type of {jem'IH}, so it's a good place for the emperor to hang out. For clarify, you can say {ta' DuHmor}. The emperor's official residence would more likely be referred to as a {DuHmor} than a {jem'IH}, but not necessarily always. Klingon ships, of course, are battle-ready, so any ship designed to be the residence of the emperor might, I suppose, be referred to as a {jem'IH} or {ta' jem'IH}. And if it's a particularly grand place, then {DuHmor} or {ta' DuHmor} could make sense.

ta' tlhIngan Hol  	the Emperor's Klingon (i.e. the standard dialect)
ta' Hol  			standard dialect (i.e. proper, grammatical Klingon)

(KGT 14f.):  Throughout Klingon history, and still today, if the leader of the Empire carries the title {ta'} (Emperor), the way he speaks Klingon--that is, the dialect used by his family and people from his region--is always considered the best way. The vocabulary and grammatical details typical of the leader's area become the current model for the Empire. The way other people speak, if different, is considered somehow inferior, and the more any given dialect differs from that of the Emperor, the more inferior it is considered. Not only is the way of speaking considered inferior, anyone speaking only a nonstandard dialect is considered to be inferior as well, motivating everyone to learn to speak the way the Emperor does. On the other hand, since a change in leadership tends to bring in an Emperor from a different lineage and different region, the relative status of the different varieties can easily change, with a dialect formerly associated with a certain region becoming the standard dialect spoken by all. As a result, the various dialects of Klingon have persisted, with most Klingons becoming adept at several of them. The system by which the Emperor's dialect is considered the standard dialect stayed in place even during those times when there was no official Emperor, as has been the case, until recently, for the last 300 years. Regardless of the leader's title, the leader's way of speaking is still considered the best. The term used for the standard dialect, however, harks back to the Emperors: {ta' tlhIngan Hol} (literally, "the Emperor's Klingon"), often shortened to {ta' Hol} ("Emperor's language"). It is appropriate to use these terms regardless of the official title of the leader of the Empire.

ta'puq  		prince (n) (TLP < TKH)
 -  ta'puq mach 	"The Little Prince" (TLP)

voD  		drill,  bore (v)
leH  		maintain (v)
leH  		maintenance (n)
mIv'a' 		crown (n)
(KGT 58):   (... literally, big helmet or great helmet), a ceremonial headpiece worn by some Klingon emperors.

So after all these years do we know any more about the difference between {ta'} and {voDleH}?  

 (Lieven, 7/3/2019):  I know it's based on nothing and just my feeling: I think that due to its length, {voDleH} sounds a lot more "majestic", more formal. The word {ta'} sounds like an everyday speech word, that is probably used more often in daily speech. All of this is just theory of course. I probably feel the same in English, where "King" sounds less important to me than "The Emperor". Since I liked the sound and the uniqueness of the word, I translated "King" with {voDleH} in The Little Prince.

Someone once noticed the resemblance of {voDleH} to {betleH} bat’leth, {meqleH} mek'leth, {tIqleH} tik'leth, and {'aqleH}, all types of ancient bladed weapons.  Could this have been a type of weapon or implement reserved for ancient emperors and came to be a reference to the emperor (in the same way that "the Crown" sometimes refers to the monarch in English, as well as the office of the monarch, the Palace, etc.)?  Or could {voDleH} have been an old military term (e.g. however grand it means today, "emperor" comes from Latin *imperator* originally meaning a "military commander", derived from *imperare* "to command").

AFAIK {voDleH} has only been used when Kahless became {voDleH} of the Klingon empire {wo'} and for an (old?) style of cooking.  I believe {voDleH} is the only word used in the paq'batlh, and then only once in the line quoted at the beginning of this post.  

I wonder if the clue might be in Okrand's comment on {ta' Hol}:

(KGT 14):  Throughout Klingon history, and still today, if the leader of the Empire carries the title {ta'} (Emperor)...

... that is, {ta'} term for the emperor himself and his person and property, while {voDleH} is an older title still used for things "imperial".

Has anyone ever asked Okrand at any of the various qep'a'mey, qepHommey, e-mail consultations, etc. over the years since TKD was published in 1985?

Ca'Non Master of the Klingons

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