[tlhIngan Hol] maS'e' loQ So'be'bogh QIb

Will Martin willmartin2 at mac.com
Fri Jun 11 06:38:46 PDT 2021

One of the confusing elements of the Klingon language is that the noun suffix {-‘e’} is apparently used several different ways. You are interpreting it as presented in TKD as it is typically applied to a main clause. That is, itself confusing, because Okrand has used the term “Topic” for something that is apparently called “Focus” among linguists, and in canon has used it for something Linguists wouldn’t call focus…

Meanwhile, the noun suffix {-‘e’} has yet another purpose specific to Relative Clauses. It marks the head noun of a Relative Clause in cases where that might be ambiguous.

In this case, without the {-‘e’}, {maS loQ So’be’bogh QIb} could either mean “The shadow which a little bit doesn’t hide the Moon” or it could mean “The Moon, which is a little bit hidden by shadow.” The {-‘e’} disambiguates it, making it mean "The Moon, which the shadow a little bit hides”. Yes, the word order is odd.

We’d usually put the adverbial before the object, but Klingon is a little squishy when it comes to what order things that come before the verb appear, and this particular order clarifies that the adverbial applies to the Relative Clause and not to any Main Clause that might contain the Relative Clause.

Of course, it means that {maS’e’} could ambiguously apply to this Relative Clause or to a Main Clause that uses this Relative Clause as its Object…

We could even suspect that if {-‘e’} is on the object of a Relative Clause, then generally it gets placed as the “Topic” (using Okrand’s term) of the mini-sentence and generalize this word order, though I suspect there’s a canon example out there that puts an adverbial in front of an object of the Relative Clause marked by {-‘e’} as the Head Noun… but I’m no expert in canon. I’ll leave that to others. We don’t reposition the subject of a Relative Clause if we mark it with {-‘e’}, so it would be quite peculiar to do so as a general rule with Head Nouns as Objects of Relative Clauses. [sigh]

But in any case, the whole point here is that in English, we have the noun phrase “Crescent Moon”, sometimes referred to as “The Moon in Crescent”, while in Klingon, we have the fossilized Relative Clause {maS’e’ loQ So’be’bogh QIb} to have that same meaning. I don’t know if we’ll get similar clauses for “Waxing Quarter”, “Waning Quarter”, “Waxing Gibbous”, “Waning Gibbous”, “Full Moon”, New Moon”, etc. but since many English speakers are clueless about these terms, they can be categorized as astronomical jargon, and as such Maltz might not be sufficiently familiar with them to include them in the vocabulary. Also, I don’t know whether Klingons would consider a Full Moon to be {maS naQ} or just {maS}. Likely, a New Moon would be {maS’e’ So’chu’bogh QIb}, unless it is simply never referred to because it’s basically a hole in the star field of a night sky, so why talk about something that doesn’t matter?

After all, Maltz was a career man on a space ship. He might not spend enough time on a planet with a moon to be all that familiar with moon phases.

charghwI’ vaghnerya’ngan

rInpa’ bomnIS be’’a’ pI’.

> On Jun 11, 2021, at 8:23 AM, mayqel qunen'oS <mihkoun at gmail.com> wrote:
> There's the {maS'e' loQ So'be'bogh QIb} for the meaning of "crescent
> moon". In this construction however, I can't understand the rationale
> (*if* there's one to start with..), as a result of which the {maS'e'}
> precedes the {loQ}.
> Since a {-bogh} phrase is essentially a baby-sentence, it follows the
> rules of the grown-up sentences; in tkd we read: "The adverbial may
> actually follow the object noun (but still precede the verb) when the
> object noun is topicalized by means of the noun suffix {-'e'}". And
> then it proceeds by the example of {HaqwI' 'e' DaH yISam} "Find the
> SURGEON now!"
> As a result of this example, I was under the impression that the
> "adverbial following the object noun" is something usually taking
> place in cases of emergency/distress. But what's the
> emergency/distress in a moon that is crescent?
> ~ Dana'an
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