[tlhIngan Hol] Klingon Word of the Day: puS

SuStel sustel at trimboli.name
Sat May 22 10:24:35 PDT 2021

On 5/22/2021 12:57 PM, Will Martin wrote:
> Whenever my wife hears someone say something like, “There are less 
> people at this party than the last one,” she cringes and points out 
> that one should say “fewer” instead of “less”. The proper use of 
> “less” is something like “The left front tire on that car has less air 
> in it than the right front tire.”
> Meanwhile, the Klingon gloss of {puS} covers “few”, but not “less”. Is 
> its meaning limited to the gloss?
> In the {law’/puS} construction, we say things like {jIH tIn law’ SoH 
> tIn puS} without implying that we are talking about more inches (in 
> which direction?) or square inches of surface area, or cubic inches of 
> volume, so that we could be talking about my “many” cubic inches and 
> your “few” cubic inches. We commonly use it for “more” and “less” in 
> the non-numeric comparison of quantity, lacking any integer value.

It's the difference between countable and uncountable nouns. You use 
/fewer/ with countable nouns and /less/ with uncountable nouns. /Fewer 
people, fewer attacks, fewer ideas,/ but /less water, less time, less 

> I mean, am I really saying, “I have many bigs; you have few bigs,”? It 
> feels more like, “I have much bigness; you have less bigness."
> Is there anywhere outside of the definition gloss where the definition 
> includes the “less” meaning in addition to the stated “few” meaning?

I can't directly answer this question, but I can point out that 
*vItlh*/be high, be great (in quantity, size, intensity)/ is used for 
uncountable nouns, while *law'* /be many, be numerous/ is used for 
countable nouns. And *law'* is used in comparatives and superlatives 
even if they've got uncountable nouns, so I wouldn't go trying to 
analyze *puS* directly as used in those types of sentences.

Maybe there's an uncountable counterpart to *puS* that we just haven't 
learned yet. Or maybe *puS* does both. We really can't tell, and I don't 
think it would be safe to rely too much on the English grammar of the 
gloss for the Klingon grammar.


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