[tlhIngan Hol] pronoun to use for mixed groups still an open question

De'vID de.vid.jonpin at gmail.com
Fri Jun 10 18:11:07 PDT 2022

There was a question about which pronoun {bIH} or {chaH} to use when
referring to a mixed group containing both beings capable of language and
other things. The question is still unresolved.

TKD (p. 51) says:
<The pronoun {chaH} "they" is used when it refers to a group of beings
capable of using language; otherwise, {bIH} "they" is used.>

In the 1st edition of the paq'batlh, there were two places where a pronoun
referred to a mixed group. One of these ({wa' Dol bIH qa''e' porgh'e' je})
has been changed entirely.

There's a second passage in which {chaH} apparently refers to a mixed
group, which survived with some changes. Anticipating that readers might
draw the wrong conclusion, Dr. Okrand offered an analysis of the passage.
(His reference to "the earlier version" is a draft in which {chaH} was
replaced with {Hoch}, which he later decided against.)

The text:
{Hoch tuqmey / Hoch puq poHmey / Hoch loDpu' be'pu' je /
HarghmeH yeq chaH / molor HI''a' luSuv / lughIjlu'be' 'ej pujHa' 'e'
lu'aghmeH Suv}
"All tribes, / All ages, / All sexes, /
United to do battle together! / Against the tyrant Molor! / Against fear
and against weakness!"

MO's comments:
Clearly the subject of {Suv} in lines 5 and 6 (and the subject of {'agh} in
line 6) are Kahless's warriors.

The way the poetry works (and it's poetry, not standard prose) can be, I
think, broken up into three bits:

(1) A shout-out chant to all the tribes, ages, and sexes. What's coming
involves everyone! No one is left out!
(2) They unite to do battle! "They" and {chaH} here refer to the battlers
(Kahless's warriors, including both men and women according to the Klingon
text), not to tribes/ages. Tribes don't fight. Ages don't fight. People
(warriors) do.  (Even in the earlier version {Hoch} meant "everyone" — all
the fighters — not "everything," though the Klingon word {Hoch} itself
doesn't make that distinction.)
(3) They battle Molor! They battle to show they're not afraid or weak! The
unspoken "they" in the English and the unspoken {chaH} in the Klingon,
again, refer to the warriors.

All of this, of course, sheds no light on which third-person plural pronoun
to use when referring to mixed groups. Looking at it now, I see the short
description of {chaH} and {bIH} in TKD can be read in a couple of different
ways regarding mixed groups. It doesn't address clearly how to handle this

(end of message)

What Dr. Okrand is saying here is that the {chaH} in line 4 doesn't refer
to everyone/everything listed in lines 1-3.

Of course, Klingon can do metonymy and synecdoche, so something like the
above can occur outside of poetry, too. It's like when you write in
English, "The family went shopping. They bought..." (The pronoun for
"family" is "it", but "they" refers to the members of the family.)

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