[tlhIngan Hol] some more from Maltz

SuStel sustel at trimboli.name
Fri Apr 2 14:46:49 PST 2021

On 4/2/2021 3:23 AM, Lieven L. Litaer wrote:
> As a spelling convention, {wab Do} "speed of sound" is written as two
> words. When used as a measurement term ("Mach"), it's written as one
> word (wabDo). The pronunciation (and, for that matter, meaning) is the
> same. (qepHom 2016) 

The difference is whether a Klingon would perceive something as a single 
word or not.

In English we have the word /desktop./ As a noun, it refers to the 
surface of a desk. You /can/ talk about a /desk top/ as two separate 
words, describing the desk's top, but the actual name of the surface is 

Now, English has rules about how to pronounce words that are lexicalized 
compounds versus productive phrases. When someone talks about the desk's 
top as /desk top,/ the word /top/ will be stressed. When talking about 
the name of the surface, /desktop,/ the /desk/ is stressed. This rule is 
regular in English: descriptive and ad-hoc phrases tend to be stressed 
at the end; fixed names tend to be stressed at the beginning. I once 
heard an explanation of this that used a clip from a Seinfeld episode: 
the characters were all talking about /Chinese FOOD//,/ but the 
expression has become fixed since then, and now we say /CHINESE food./ 
We say /ICE cream,/ not /ice CREAM./ This feature of English lets us 
recognize lexicalized words just from hearing them.

The point is that there is a difference between lexicalized phrases and 
simply putting words together to describe a thing. In English we note it 
with stress. In Klingon we note it by spelling convention. Lexicalized 
phrases may be given to us as a single word, in which case we are 
justified in using it that way. But we cannot coin our own single words 
because that is equal to declaring the word as something that you will 
find in the dictionaries of Klingons. We don't have any of those to 
reference, so we cannot make any such assertion.

(I find it very amusing that my spell-checker doesn't have /lexicalized 
/in its database.)


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