[tlhIngan Hol] vaj and meqvammo' difference

Steven Boozer sboozer at uchicago.edu
Fri Oct 9 08:57:44 PDT 2020

I completely agree with SuStel’s analysis but I do have a small quibble which I don’t think anyone has mentioned yet (I’ve carelessly deleted the thread).  Okrand seems to have expanded the meaning of {meq} from a simple “reason, motive”:

(TKW 143):  Klingons may not care whether a falsehood is intentional, but only whether the information is reliable. As Ambassador Kell admonished Worf, "Motives? Who cares for motives? Humans, perhaps." (TNG "The Mind's Eye") This attitude is reflected in a proverb:  {ram meqmey} "Motives are insignificant".

  DaH naDev jIHtaHbogh meq Saja'
  Now I will tell you why I am here. (PB)

… to the more abstract “reasoning, logical thinking”:

(KGT 154):  This word [i.e. {mo’}] literally means “cage”, suggesting that one's reasons for accomplishing a particular act are somehow restrictive or confining, as if preventing escape into other forms of behavior.  The slang meaning is no doubt also influenced by the noun suffix {-mo'} (due to, as in {HeSmo'}, “due to the crime”) and verb suffix {-mo'} (“because”, as in {HIvmo'} [“because he/she attacks”]).  The slang term {mo'} is used in sentences such as {jaghpu' mo' wIyajnIS} (“We must understand the enemies' motive”; literally, “We must understand the enemies' cage”).  A close standard equivalent is {meq} (“reason”) -- that is, logical thinking.

Note Vulcan philosopher’s T’Plana-Hath’s famous quote “Logic is the cement of our civilization, with which we ascend from chaos using reason as our guide." (ST4 & ENT “The Forge”)

{meq} also appears in {meqba'} *mek'ba*, a type of Klingon legal proceeding:  that portion of a Klingon trial or appeal in which evidence is heard during which all evidence must be heard in open council (cf. TNG "Sins of the Father").

See too the homophonous verb {meq} “reason (TKD)”, i.e. think logically:

(qepHom 2017 p.13):  For logic, use the verb {meq}. It's a verb that means, among other things, think logically.  I think Klingons would use a verb when talking about types of thinking rather than a noun.  For emotions, you can use the verb {tIw}.  This means “react emotionally, behave emotionally."

The progression seems to go from a (minor) reason/motive to (the more abstract) reason/reasoning.  Similar abstract nouns include {ghanroq} "basis, foundation (underlying support for an idea, argument, or process, depending on context, could also be {meq} or {qolqoS})" (qep'a' 2018), {potlh} “consequential thing, something important" and {qangtlhIn} "ideology, beliefs, principles, standards, ethics".

All that being said… though I concur that {meqvammo’} is a bit clumsy, I quite like the sound of the slangy {mo’mo’}.  <g>

Ca'Non Master of the Klingons

From: tlhIngan-Hol <tlhingan-hol-bounces at lists.kli.org> On Behalf Of SuStel
Sent: Friday, October 9, 2020 8:55 AM

I still find the use of meqvammo' extremely clumsy, however. It often doesn't make sense until you squint at a sentence long enough to realize that something has been presented as a reason for something else. With vaj, on the other hand, you don't have to recognize something as a reason. You just have the cue that the sentence is a conclusion of some sort.

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