[tlhIngan Hol] nuH / DuH

SuStel sustel at trimboli.name
Wed May 27 10:27:00 PDT 2020


On 5/27/2020 11:22 AM, Lieven L. Litaer wrote:
> I just imagined a pure beginner who looks up the word and memorizes
> {nuH} as "possibility" and then is puzzled with a piece of text talking
> about weapons and wonders why they speak about possibilities. Or the
> other way, a beginner might be asking for a good possibility to do
> something and uses the word {nuH}, which might look strange.

But the beginner /should/ be learning the word *nuH* as both /weapon/ 
and /possibility./ It means both to a Klingon. We don't worry about a 
beginner learning the word *jIH* and then wondering why everyone is 
talking about monitors all the time. It means both, and to learn the 
language is to learn when to use one or the other. Sometimes people do 
mix those two up. We correct them, and life goes on.


> Even thought {nuH} is defined as "possibility" in the list, there still
> is the /regular/ word {DuH}, of which I think it should be preferred in
> usage wherever possible.

If *nuH* can indeed be used outside of the idiom *Hoch nuH qel,* then 
there is no reason to discourage a beginner from using the word *nuH* 
instead of *DuH.* It shouldn't look strange, because it's a correct word 
to use. The only person it will look strange to is the person who hasn't 
learned that the word *nuH* can be used to mean /possibility./ The only 
time it would matter is when a listener might actually not be able to 
distinguish whether a weapon or a possibility is intended.


> And any external word list should label the metaphorical usage of {nuH},
> in my opinion.

Possibly. But if the word can be used interchangeably with *DuH* to mean 
/possibility,/ then it doesn't actually matter whether it's a metaphor 
or not — it means /possibility./

Take, for example, the English word /hog./ It means "a hoofed mammal of 
the family Suidae, order Artiodactyla, comprising boars and swine." But 
it ALSO means "a selfish, gluttonous, or filthy person," and this latter 
definition obviously derives from the swine meaning. (Its first 
attestation as a verb in this sense is in the book /Huckleberry Finn/). 
You don't learn that /hog/ in the selfish, gluttonous, filthy sense is 
slang or only used in certain contexts; it's just a word you can use. It 
doesn't get any special note in a dictionary. Even though one is a 
metaphor of the other, you learn it as its own word that has multiple 
meanings.

-- 
SuStel
http://trimboli.name

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