[tlhIngan Hol] expressing goddess

Will Martin willmartin2 at mac.com
Tue Apr 13 08:30:15 PDT 2021

It makes sense that this is an unintended side effect of having a vocabulary originally driven by the needs of specific movie scripts. Okrand has often told the story of how he went through the Klingon spoken section and subtitles of ST1 and invented Clipped Klingon grammar and vocabulary to make this scene legitimately mean what the subtitles say it means, then went through the script for ST3 and similarly made sure the language had both vocabulary and grammar to translate anything that any Klingon says in the script in Klingon or in English (since the directory might change his mind as to which a character would speak), and then looked at all the original series TV shows to make sure that anything a Klingon said in English could have been said in Klingon.

Since then, he’s added vocabulary for Star Trek novels, his own books, audio recordings, and the computer game, Friends of Maltz, third party language courses, and other requests. He’s generally made the glosses vague enough to later cover unforeseen vocabulary needs, backfilling from time to time to explain more specific meaning (like whether the subject of {vIH} is the thing in motion or the being causing the thing to be in motion or both — it’s just the thing in motion).

This vocabulary evolved, starting with an urgent need to cover specific expressions and continues expanding to cover random additions based on the sporadic needs of a broad population including die-hard Klingonists who want the capacity to converse without frustration on any topic, to fiction authors who have no interest in the language beyond being cool enough to include a random Klingon noun phrase here and there in their novel, trying to show their Sci-Fi chops by expressing a Klingon concept too alien for human words to express.

Qov, a long-time, dedicated Klingonist became a pilot after learning the language, and now we have pilot words. Someone makes a cut-away poster of a Klingon Bird of Prey, and now we have terms for parts of a spaceship we didn’t have before. Third party language teaching software required Klingon proper nouns for many nation names on Earth.

Okrand didn’t think about goddesses and empresses because nobody asked him to. This says less about Klingon culture or language biases than it does about script writers, novel authors, movie directors {taH pagh taHbe’}, Friends of Maltz, architects, and others who have poked Okrand, asking for words.

Someday, he may give us separate words for "goddess" or “empress” or he may explicitly tell us that the words we already have for the males also apply to the females. For now, the safest guess is to use the words we have, if gender doesn’t really matter all that much, or add context to explain the gender if it’s really necessary. If you just add {be’}, somebody might misinterpret you to mean “emperor that rules over females” or a specific female’s emperor.

In English, we cover this with non-gendered words when we refer to “Captain Janeway”, assuming that people know that she’s female or we might explicitly tell people that Captain Janeway is a woman, if that matters for some reason.

Meanwhile, anyone serving under Janeway should basically respond to the “Captain” part of her name the same way whether it refers to a male or female. Similarly, if a god or goddess told you jump, their gender might not be as important to consider as the answer to “How high?"

charghwI’ ‘utlh
(ghaH, ghaH, -Daj)

> On Apr 13, 2021, at 10:33 AM, De'vID <de.vid.jonpin at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Tue, 13 Apr 2021 at 15:17, SuStel <sustel at trimboli.name <mailto:sustel at trimboli.name>> wrote:
> I do not take Okrand's use of "emperor" for voDleH and ta' to necessarily mean that these words only refer to men. Sexism is often unconscious and culturally driven, and I would find it perfectly plausible to hear that Okrand simply hadn't considered women when he gave us voDleH, and that the word is gender-neutral. On the other hand, if it does only refer to men, then the sexism is in leaving the female version out of the dictionary.
> In TKD, {joH} (and also {jaw}) are defined only as "lord". In KGT, it is explained (p.40) that {joH} can also mean "lady" (as a title). I think Dr. Okrand was primarily motivated by necessity here: when TKD was written, the title {joH} was applied only to Kruge. By the time KGT was written, we saw various upper-class Klingons referred to as "lord" so-and-so as well as "lady" so-and-so, and thus the definition was expanded. The sexism in the vocabulary, if it's there, was accidental.
> Similarly, we have only heard about Klingon emperors on the TV shows and movies. (Are there any screen canon Klingon empresses? Maybe we missed an opportunity with L'Rell.) Undoubtedly, were a Star Trek writer to mention a Klingon empress on the show, Dr. Okrand would reveal that {voDleH}/{ta'} could also mean "empress", or alternatively reveal the correct Klingon term for this title. Until then, we don't know that {voDleH}/{ta'} is gender-neutral like {joH}, although, given the absence of other gendered nouns and titles in the vocabulary, this seems likely.
> -- 
> De'vID
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