[tlhIngan Hol] meaning of an {x-mo' verb-be'} sentence

SuStel sustel at trimboli.name
Thu Jan 9 10:40:52 PST 2020

On 1/9/2020 12:06 PM, Will Martin wrote:
> I think it’s perfectly appropriate to include cultural context when 
> translating to and from Klingon.

You keep wanting to do this, and you keep ignoring the big problem with 
it: Klingons aren't real.

Klingons are whatever the writers say they are in the episodes or movies 
in which they appear. They do what the writers need them to do and say 
what the writers need them to say. We accept what Okrand says about them 
as true because that's the game we're playing, and we can watch shows 
and movies and recognize cultural traits. What we can't do is say 
"Klingons tend to act like X, so in their language they wouldn't say Y."

There are no Klingons that people who aren't Okrand can go and ask to 
confirm or refute their hypotheses. Imagine someone was learning to 
speak American English. They wonder how to say "I don't believe in guns" 
in English. Their friend, who is also studying American English, says, 
"You can't say that in America, because Americans love their guns and 
wouldn't be caught dead not carrying one." Not only does this derive 
from an over-the-top stereotype, it's just not true: the statement /can/ 
be said in English, even by Americans.

While culture and language are clearly and strongly tied together, one's 
culture does not dictate everything that can be said in one's language. 
People violate taboos all the time. Taboos have varying seriousness. 
Monocultures are not real, even for Klingons. Unless Okrand tells us a 
cultural restriction about Klingon, we cannot assume any. When real 
Klingons beam down and start talking to us, we can revise this restriction.


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