[tlhIngan Hol] grow and shrink

Lieven L. Litaer levinius at gmx.de
Wed Nov 10 00:13:43 PST 2021

In Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the main character Alice keeps
growing and shrinking back and forth. For the Klingon translation of the
work, Marc Okrand provided some interesting and useful information on
how to say "grow". As usual, the answer is not very straightforward and
makes things quite complicated.

This text is printed in the book on page 234.
It is archived in the Wiki
and on qepHom.de

The word for "grow" (increase in size) is {Qa}. But for animals or
plants growing, that is, maturing (not just increasing in size), use

{QaHa'} would refer to getting smaller after the thing had previously
grown bigger — that is, it's losing (in length or whatever) what it had
gained. So if the balloon is losing air, you could say it {QaHa'}.
Presumably the object is going back towards it's original size (though
it may not get that far or may become even smaller than it once was).

For "get smaller, shrink" (without the notion of having previously
grown), use {qer}. Of course, depending on exactly what you want to say,
you can also use {machchoH}.

The choice depends on whether you're focusing on just the shrinking or
growing, on the one hand, or on the return to or towards the original
size (or beyond!).

So if your main character started at their original size, and then
shrank, that's {qer}. If they then started to grow, that would be {Qa}
if the storyteller is just saying that they grew, but it would be
{qerHa'} if the storyteller was saying that the shrinking was reversing.
If the de-shrinking continued so that the character ended up bigger than
they originally were, that might be {qerHa'} and then — what a surprise!
— {Qa}.

For Pinocchio, if you're saying that after his nose grew he started
telling the truth and his nose got smaller, that's probably {QaHa'}. If
you'd just met the long-nosed Pinocchio for the first time and didn't
know the story of the nose but saw it get smaller, you'd probably say {qer}.

In short, you have four words to choose from, depending on what exactly
you want to say: {qer}, {qerHa'}, {Qa}, {QaHa'}.

For "grow" as in "I grow flowers" or "she grows carrots," use {reS}.
(Weird, right? Maltz wasn't sure if this revealed something about early
Klingons' understanding of how plants grow or if it was just a coincidence.)

And for "grow" as in "grow a mustache," make use of {nargh}, as in
{nargh lochwIj} "I'm growing a mustache." (To indicate that you're doing
it on purpose, you could say {nargh lochwIj 'e' vIchaw'} "I'm letting my
mustache grow" or something similar.)
Lieven L. Litaer
aka the "Klingon Teacher from Germany"

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