[tlhIngan Hol] expressing goddess

Will Martin willmartin2 at mac.com
Wed Apr 14 07:29:59 PDT 2021

It’s probably worth noting that English and some, but not all, other human languages have a sex-gender bias that ignores that we are not talking about Klingon grammatical gender. We are talking about Klingon words that do or do not differentiate between the sexes. Gender, in Klingon, is never sex related.

Gender in Klingon separates beings capable of language, body parts, and everything else. There’s nothing there about males or females. That’s grammatical gender.

In English, gender separated males, females, and neuters (everything else).

In French, gender separates males and females, and arbitrarily assigns male and female grammatical gender to everything English would call neuter. A lot of languages do that.

Some languages separate old, more original words from newer or borrowed words with grammatical gender, and they don’t separate male, female, or neuter.

Grammatical gender is just an arbitrary way of grouping nouns that may or may not have anything to do with males, females, and neuter things or beings.

This bias toward sex-gender links is at the root of this discussion, since we are basically asking the question as to whether the English glosses, which have sexual gender, carry that sex-related meaning with it to the Klingon word it is linked to, even though, so far as we know, Klingons just don’t habitually consider sex gender as automatically as we do, every time we parse every single noun we ever use. For us, it is essential. For them, it’s probably, “Meh.”

So, through our language, we are constantly asking ourselves about every noun, “Could I have sex with this?” while Klingons are asking, “Can this thing talk to me, or could I lose it in a battle or eat it if I kill the thing it’s attached to?"

This is one of the fundamental problems with translation. How much context do you assume, given incomplete, imperfect communication? Dictionary glosses are very incomplete and imperfect. The person writing the gloss has to imagine all the contexts in which these words might be used and somehow give you a gloss that will neither fail to identify a context in which you would want to use this word, but not find it when you try to look it up, and also not encourage you to use a word inappropriately because the gloss failed to warn you of ways the Klingon word fails to function all the ways the English word functions.

Unless we eventually learn otherwise, we probably should assume that since you can probably find “god” when looking for “goddess” and you can find “emperor” when looking for “empress”, the gloss is good enough. It probably comes as close to telling us when to use or not use the word as many other definitions come to words that have similarly incomplete definitions. We place an inappropriate significance to the incompleteness of the sexual gender in the glosses because of our language’s sex-gender bias, not because Okrand screwed up on these words any worse than he screwed up on words that are incomplete in some sense other than sex-gender.

charghwI’ ‘utlh
(ghaH, ghaH, -Daj)

> On Apr 14, 2021, at 2:16 AM, Lieven L. Litaer <levinius at gmx.de> wrote:
> On Tue, Apr 13, 2021 at 4:41 PM Will Martin wrote:
>>    Do we have any sex-gendered nouns besides mother, father, and other
>>    blood relatives or spouses?
> You may add to the list {So'chIm} with a question mark:
> Okrand said to this "Even though the only person we know about who is a
> soh-chim happens to be female, I think it's reasonable to assume that
> the individual chosen to be responsible for a child could be of any
> gender." (qepHom 2020) -> full quote on http://klingon.wiki/Word/So-chIm
> I think all words have been answered already, but I have started a list
> of such words on the Klingon Language Wiki:
> http://klingon.wiki/En/Gender
> --
> Lieven L. Litaer
> aka the "Klingon Teacher from Germany"
> http://www.tlhInganHol.com
> http://klingon.wiki/En/Hamletmachine
> _______________________________________________
> tlhIngan-Hol mailing list
> tlhIngan-Hol at lists.kli.org
> http://lists.kli.org/listinfo.cgi/tlhingan-hol-kli.org

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