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

SuStel sustel at trimboli.name
Fri Jan 10 05:57:53 PST 2020

On 1/9/2020 11:24 PM, Alan Anderson wrote:
> I believe we have adequate guidance to accept the claim that “Klingons 
> wouldn’t say that” when the suggested phrasing is contrary to the 
> ideals of behavior. It doesn’t mean a Klingon *couldn’t* say it, of 
> course, but it strongly suggests that a Klingon should say it in a 
> different fashion.

Suppose someone asked how to say /It's a beautiful day/ in Klingon. A 
good answer is *'IH jaj.* A bad answer is that a Klingon wouldn't say 
that. But doesn't /Power Klingon/ warn against saying /It's a beautiful 
day?/ No. It warns against starting a business conversation with saying 
that. But the phrase is perfectly good when the topic of the 
conversation actually is the weather.

Now let's go back to what prompted charghwI' to bring all this up again. 
He agreed with my translations, then devoted 887 words to explaining why 
the speaker should have said nothing "if the context was so obvious to 
everyone that your botched attempt to make a statement could be 
interpreted according to your original intent."

mayqel did offer context to his original request. He was "remembering 
one of [his] ex's." He said the sentence he asked about represented what 
he was thinking. There is absolutely nothing here suggesting a context 
that goes against anything we canonically know about Klingon culture or 
its impact on the language. charghwI''s essay was entirely misplaced.

If someone were to ask how to translate /Beautiful day, isn't it? Can we 
talk?/ it would be entirely appropriate to declare that it's not 
something a Klingon would say. We know Klingons don't start 
conversations this way. If someone were to ask how to translate 
/Beautiful day, isn't it?/ OR /Can we talk?/ it would appropriate to 
note that Klingons don't start conversations with those phrases, but it 
would also be necessary to explain how to literally translate those 
phrases, because independently those phrases can be used specifically to 
talk about the things they mention. (A Klingon child has been grumbling 
because of the recent bad weather. The child and parent go outside on a 
nice day and the parent says *'IH jaj, qar'a'?*)

It's perfectly fine to use what are told about Klingon culture to 
estimate whether and how a Klingon would say something. It's not fine to 
force every given context into one of the things we are told about 
Klingon culture. Not every utterance is governed by accuracy, 
straightforwardness, aggressiveness, and strength, and few utterances 
that do touch upon accuracy, straightforwardness, aggressiveness, and 
strength have obvious and unquestionable ways to handle them.

"All Klingons are not alike," says KGT. "[T]here is a great deal of 
variation." "Choice of words" and "use (or avoidance) of certain 
grammatical constructions" vary in "significant" ways among Klingons. 
Let us also remember that /Power Klingon/ is supposed to be a high-level 
overview of Klingon culture and language for the Federation business 
traveler, not an in-depth analysis of it. Our ability to apply the 
lessons of PK are limited.

So while we can sometimes try to figure out what a Klingon would or 
would not say, it is rarely appropriate to rely on cultural norms to 
dictate the only response a Klingon would have. It's halfway to being a 
No True Scotsman argument.


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