[tlhIngan Hol] expressing "unguent"

Will Martin willmartin2 at mac.com
Thu Nov 4 20:11:03 PDT 2021

Man, that’s familiar.

My wife, who is “better read” than me and probably has a wider vocabulary than I do often says things like, “Could you get me the thing from the place under the stuff in the closet?” to which I start off by asking which closet, what stuff, and what thing?

But in this case with the word “unguent", I got no context. Just that the word he was looking for was “unguent”, followed by a word search for something in the vocabulary which would plug in to replace that word.

The first idea I had was to suggest that instead of searching for a word that might not be there, describe the thing you need to express. Then, as I read more of what he wrote, I wondered about the context. Either of two cases might exist:

1. Context makes it obvious that “medicine” would come in the form of ointment. In that case the word “medicine” would be enough.

2. Within the context of the English expression, maybe “unguent” was remarkably more specific than it needed to be. In that case, the word “medicine” would be enough.

So, seeing two different cases where “medicine” might be enough, I thought it might be worth mentioning the option. I wasn’t saying that I know that “medicine” is enough. I obviously don’t know the context. He does. So I honestly wanted to know if the context might be satisfied by the word “medicine” potentially two different ways. I was trying to be concise (not my superpower).

If, indeed, the word “medicine” is not specific enough for the expression, and more specificity as to the type of medicine really is important here, then all he has to do is provide a little context and I’d probably go back to “Since we don’t seem to have a single word that says what you need to say, instead of looking for something like “cream” to drop in to the translation and pretending that that works, you should describe the stuff that you need to convey the original message."

> On Nov 4, 2021, at 4:41 PM, SuStel <sustel at trimboli.name> wrote:
> On 11/4/2021 4:30 PM, Will Martin wrote:
>> You might also just consider {Hergh}. Sometimes, you don’t need to be as specific in your translation as in the original, unless there’s a reason that the specificity is important. Basically, if a Klingon wanted to say what you are saying, would he care about the physical features that the medicine has as an ointment as contrasted to some other form of medicine? Is the spreading on skin or the sensations of spreading it or any of the other features of the substance more important than the medicinal features?
> Why does anyone say anything specific? Because specificity is helpful and sometimes indispensible. I could say "Give me the allergy medicine," but if I want the nose spray instead of the pills, I'm going to say "Give me the allergy nasal spray."
> My wife is vague like this all the time. She'll say things like, "Bring me my, uh, medicine," because she's busy doing three other things at the same time and she can't think of the name of it. Does she want her thyroid medicine? Antacid? Acetaminophen? I have to ask what medicine she wants, and she gets annoyed at me for not already knowing what she's talking about and making her stop thinking about what she's doing in order to remember the word for what she wants.
> So no, the answer to the question isn't to dodge the question, because sooner or later you're going to need to name the stuff you want. Most likely, you'll want to name it the first time you mention it and only refer to it as "medicine" on subsequent mentions, so you'll still need to know the answer.
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> SuStel
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