[tlhIngan Hol] chan

SuStel sustel at trimboli.name
Wed Mar 17 09:31:38 PDT 2021

On 3/17/2021 11:36 AM, Will Martin wrote:
> It occurs to me that likely humans navigated by the stars long before 
> they noticed that suspended/floating magnets pointed north/south.

This is correct.

> Likely, for the traveling populations of the northern hemisphere (most 
> of the early navigating humans),

You think so? I doubt that assertion. Early humans spread out from 
equatorial Africa. Some went south, some went north. We know more about 
the ones who went north because they eventually founded civilizations 
which kept records. But there's plenty of evidence that humans spread 
out in all directions and learned to navigate by many  means. Land 
navigation by landmark, and sailing by hugging the coastline, are 
undoubtedly much older than celestial navigation.

> the significance of the North Star was noticed because of its 
> stability in the sky regardless of time of night long before anybody 
> had a concept of magnetic North. I’m not sure there is a parallel 
> navigational reference in the southern hemisphere, since I’ve never 
> heard of anything referred to as the South Star.

There is no "South Star," but the Southern Cross points at the southern 
celestial pole.

> Likely, once someone noticed that suspended magnets pointed in the 
> same direction, consistently, they probably looked at one magnetic 
> target and didn’t see anything in the sky of any significance, and 
> then looked the other way and said (in whatever native language) the 
> equivalent of “Well, darn. This thing is pointing at the North Star!”

More likely, someone noticed that suspended magnets pointed north and 
south, and they already knew about Polaris or the southern celestial pole.

> And so, North became the dominant reference point on the compass.

No, that's not why. In fact, I have read that most early maps put east 
at the top, since the sun rises in the east. Cultures tend to make their 
maps reflect their homes as the dominant or top of a map. Modern 
compasses come from Western and Northern culture, so North gets put on top.

> Meanwhile, on Qo’noS, maybe they don’t have a North Star or a South 
> Star. Maybe they never noticed that magnets have a subtle tendency to 
> point north/south, or maybe Qo’noS doesn’t have a magnetic field like 
> Earth does, or maybe instead of switching North/South magnetic fields 
> every few million years, it happens with much greater frequency, 
> rendering magnetic compasses less than reliable on Qo'noS.

We are told explicitly that the Klingon word *chan* "actually refers to 
that part of the landscape in the direction of the sunrise." Their 
dominant direction appears to be just like those early Earth cultures 
who put east at the tops of their maps because east is where the sun rises.

> So, what’s the thing you can rely on to always happen in one 
> direction? The Sun (or whatever they call it) rises in the {chan}. 
> Look toward this {chan}. Standing, facing {chan} look over your left 
> shoulder. That’s {‘ev}. Look over your right shoulder. That’s {tIng}. 
> Why prefer the East over the West as the primary point of the compass?

We're not told where *'ev* and *tIng* come from. I doubt it comes from 
looking over your shoulder.

> The human numbering system for time was initially created for use with 
> Sun Dials. Noon was the easiest thing to nail down anywhere, so our 
> system has two 12:00 readings with midnight derived from noon.

That's not why we do that. Sun dials only work during the day, so they 
only only mark time during the day. They mark the arc of the sun as it 
passes through the day. Deciding that the day started at midnight, when 
the sun was exactly opposite your position is arbitrary. Many cultures 
begin the day at sunrise or sunset, which strikes me as more sensible.

> We arbitrarily set the boundary between one day and the next based on 
> midnight, placing sunrise and sunset equally between noon and 
> midnight. Neither gets greater significance.
> Meanwhile, we know that Klingons place the boundary between one day 
> and the next at sunrise.

A perfectly common decision in many cultures today.

> This suggests a greater significance for sunrise over sunset. They 
> could have just as easily put the boundary at sunset, but they didn’t. 
> Likely, this is because most Klingons probably don’t wake up 
> significantly before sunrise, but most stay awake beyond sunset, so 
> the active part of every day starts closer to sunrise and extends well 
> beyond sunset.

I see absolutely no reason that this is likely, or indeed even 
reasonable to suppose.

> So, sunrise has a higher significance in the measurements of Klingon 
> time, and it would be natural for this to extend to East having a 
> directional significance over West.

Or it could be that a new sunrise is a hopeful thing, while a sunset is 
like the death of the day. And many Earth cultures have interpreted it 
symbolically this way.

> Sunrise is the time we awaken and arise. Sunset is some vague thing 
> that happens sometime well before we go to sleep.

Depends on your culture and latitude. Many cultures throughout history 
have taken sunset, or the end of dusk after sunset, to be the end of 

> When we awaken, we are well aware of the direction of the Sun. In the 
> evening, we are probably too busy doing stuff to bother noticing the 
> direction of the setting Sun.

This is a very ethnocentric analysis.

> We surrender to sleep after sunset, and we don’t really like 
> surrendering. Sunrise is when we conquer sleep once again. We might be 
> aware of the direction of sunset as individuals, but collectively, it 
> is the beginning of the day when we unite the face the coming day.
> We have no reason to place any importance on 90º from {chan} in either 
> direction.

Yes we do. The simplest coordinate system is one built from right 
angles. That's a reason.

That's not to say that every culture must use the simplest coordinate 
system. But it is a reason that we do.

> Our early number system was based on three. Standing, facing in one 
> direction, the three most significant directions are straight forward, 
> and what our neck and eyes can scan to the left and right.

You don't know that.

> Likely, Klingon maps show East as “up” or perhaps “down”, if early 
> Klingons recognized that all horizons eventually lead down, and the 
> Eastern Sun is coming from “down”.
> If the Klingon emblem (designed by Matt Jefferies, after whom the 
> Jefferies Tubes are named) also functions as compass points, that 
> would suggest that the most significant pointer points up, suggesting 
> that’s where {chan} is on a map, though the emblem doesn’t have 
> equi-angular pointers, so {tIng} would be very close to South, while 
> {‘ev} would be much more West than North, so perhaps the emblem isn’t 
> literally used as a compass rose. It hints at {chan} being up, but 
> this, like most of this argument, is speculative.

Except on ships the Klingon trefoil points forward, not up. And the 
Starfleet emblem points forward on ships but up on uniforms.

> A compass becomes useless at the North Pole on Earth, where the North 
> Star is straight up and the compass goes nuts because every direction 
> is South.

Ignoring the difference between geographic north and magnetic north for 
a moment, a compass only useless in so much as at the north pole there 
is only one direction you can go. No matter where the compass decides to 
point, that is correctly pointing out south.

> Similarly, on Qo’noS, on either pole, {chan} varies depending on time 
> of day.

It might vary depending on the time of year, but not the time of day. 
*chan* is the direction of the sunrise, not the direction of the sun. 
And I would imagine that if the Kronos tilts on its axis, Klingons would 
have quickly learned to chart the changing positions of the sun with 
each sunrise.

> … or maybe Klingons just don’t go to the poles because it’s cold 
> there, and Klingons notoriously detest the cold. If aliens who like 
> cold better than Klingons do land there and set up bases, leave them 
> to it, unless they start heading toward the equator, and if that 
> happens, fumigate with a few photon torpedoes and be done with it. You 
> don’t have to worry about residual radiation because you don’t intend 
> to go there after clearing it of nuisance aliens, and hey, radiation 
> might discourage other alien settlements there, so it’s all good.

Have you SEEN the shots of Rura Pente?


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