[tlhIngan Hol] Klingon Word of the Day: ra'taj

Steven Boozer sboozer at uchicago.edu
Tue Dec 13 07:46:14 PST 2022

Klingon word: 	ra'taj
Part of speech: 	noun
Definition: 	type of beverage, coffee with liquor
Source: 	KGT

First seen in DS9 "The Passenger".

(KGT 95-96):  Though not native to the Empire, Klingons have developed a way to make coffee (qa'vIn) particularly strong, both in flavor and in its effect as a stimulant, and it is a very popular beverage. As a rule, coffee is consumed plain--that is, black--but some Klingons prefer to mix other ingredients in with the coffee. If some kind of {HIq} (liquor) is added to the coffee, the drink is called {ra'taj}. It is said that the drink was originally nicknamed {ra'wI' taj} ("commander's knife", suggestive of its potency), and that the name was shortened over time. This often repeated story cannot be confirmed. In any event, {ra'taj} became one of the few Klingon foods to become popular outside of the Empire, though in an altered form. Instead of containing liquor, as does the genuine Klingon {ra'taj}, the "export" version (which came to be pronounced *raktaj* in Federation Standard) consists of strong Klingon coffee plus a nutlike flavoring. Eventually, a new fashion developed--adding cream to the *raktaj* -- and with this innovation came yet another name, *raktajino*, modeled after the name of another popular coffee drink, cappuccino. Raktajino is now served hot or iced, with or without extra cream, and with or without the rind of some fruit to add even more flavor. Though it is sometimes called "Klingon coffee," it is quite different from both plain {qa'vIn} and the alcoholic {ra'taj}. 

(~mark [DATE?]):  I remember [Okrand] and I actually were discussing raktajino while he was working on the book, as soon as we both found out that it was Klingon coffee... He really hated the -ino ending, since it sounded too obviously like cappuccino, and said he'd have to check with Maltz about raktaj ... and I had the theory that the Klingon wasn't "raktaj" or whatever, but actually raktajin and the -o was added by marketers for similarity with Terran brews. 

(KGT 83):  In fact, {vut} can also be used in reference to making a beverage, whether simply mixing ingredients together (such a putting cream in coffee) or starting from scratch (such as brewing ale). 


WADDLE/DARVIN:  Raktajino! After six months [trapped on Cardassia] I was hoping the Klingons 
                           would invade. At least they know how to make coffee. [DS9 “Trials and Tribble-ations”]

WAITRESS:    What's your pleasure? 
ODO:              I'll have a raktajino. 
WAITRESS:    You're the second person today who's ordered that. What is it? 
ODO:              Klingon coffee. [DS9 “Trials and Tribble-ations”]

qa'vIn 		coffee (n)
HIq 		liquor (n)
qulcher 	cream (n)
‘o’nI’ 		foam, froth (n)

Voragh, Ca'Non Master of the Klingons
    Please contribute relevant vocabulary from recent qep’a’mey 
    or qepHommey. I’ve fallen woefully behind in updating my files.

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