[tlhIngan Hol] Time elements and *qaStaHvIS*, continuous and perfective aspect

Will Martin lojmitti7wi7nuv at gmail.com
Wed Mar 2 07:58:26 PST 2022

If you think about the meaning, you’ll know that the eating and the going home must have been completed (meaning that you will be fed and in your home) before 2:00pm. You don’t {ghoHpu’} until you have arrived at your destination. Until then, you {ghoHlI’}.

Meanwhile, I don’t buy the argument that your skill at writing in Klingon is not good enough to write what you write in more numerous, simple sentences instead of longer, more complex ones. That’s a matter of personal discipline, not skill. It requires LESS skill with the language to write in more numerous, simpler sentences.

The only challenge is to give up the idea that one sentence in one language must always be translated into one sentence in the other language in order to be an “authentic” translation. Stop looking at each word and each phrase and each clause in one language and bulldoze your way through translating each element into the other language. Back up and consider what the whole sentence means, and instead of figuring out how to translate the words, think about how to express the meaning of the words, as simply and clearly as possible in the other language.

In TKD Okrand clearly states that one sentence in English is often translated into multiple sentences in Klingon. People skip over this advice too often and get tangled up in knots trying to bulldoze their way through translating all the elements of an English sentence into THE EQUIVALENT Klingon sentence, as if such a thing existed.

In one of my very few victorious moments with the language, we were arguing about how to say, “Which pie do you want?” People argued for *nuq chab DaneH?* and I pointed out that just because in English you might say, “What pie do you want?”, the English word “What” in that sentence is not a noun, but {nuq} IS a noun, so that doesn’t work.

Meanwhile, going back to what the sentence “Which pie do you want?” actually means, there is no Klingon question word for “Which”, so the best way to express the meaning of the sentence is to change the grammar entirely: {chabDaj yIwIv!} “Choose your pie!”

Asking for your choice and demanding that you choose is really the same thing, in terms of the communication between two people. Okrand approved this translation; said it was probably the best way to translate it.

That doesn’t mean it’s the only way to say this. It’s the only way I could think of and it works pretty well. Maybe someone else will come up with a way that is as good or better, or at least good enough to use an an alternative. There are reasons that out there in the real world considering other languages, books are often translated more than once by different authors, each of whom provide insights into the meaning of the original text that might be importantly different from the earlier translations, and why anyone interested in the original text, without knowing the original language might want to read more than one translation of the work.

There is no perfect translation, except for the very simplest original texts. When a complex idea is expressed in one language, odds increase that there won’t be one right way to translate it into another because as one is better in one language at expressing nuance, it gets harder to point to that same nuance in another language without implying nuance in other areas that are vague or missing entirely in the original language.

An English sentence can be very vague about aspect, and when you translate it, you have to make a choice as to what aspect you will give it. English might allude to a level of respect that forces you to choose to use {-neS} or not, and someone else might disagree, and neither of you will be “wrong".

As a translator, you have to decide what parts of the meaning are important and what parts are not. You can add nuance that was missing from the original, or drop nuance if it is less essential to the meaning or to the story than it is simply something more characteristic of the original language than it is in the target language.

You are retelling the original story in a new language. As the original story becomes more complex and nuanced, it becomes less and less possible to “perfectly” translate it without having to step in with your own interpretation and decisions about focus and detail.

If you focus too much on each detail, trying to force Klingon to be more “authentic” to the original English or Spanish or whatever, then the resulting story will be poorly told when you look at it as a whole. You’ll wreck the flow of the story in the service of making every word “right”.


charghwI’ ‘utlh
(ghaH, ghaH, -Daj)

> On Mar 2, 2022, at 8:27 AM, luis.chaparro at web.de wrote:
> SuStel:
> > > Maybe I've found the source of misunderstanding. When you say in English *Yesterday I ate at 2 pm*, does it mean that at 2 pm you have already eaten?
> > No. It means that the eating occurred at 2 pm, but doesn't say anything
> > about when eating was completed. Without any further context, one would
> > assume that the eating /started/ at 2 pm, but it's not literally saying
> > that. You're taking your finger, pointing at 2 pm, and saying that that
> > is when you ate. You're not discussing how long it took you to eat it or
> > when you started or stopped eating. 2 pm is treated like a durationless
> > point in which the action occurred, even if the action is not literally
> > instantaneous.
> That's exactly what I was postulating for the future: For a sentence like *wa'leS rep wa'maH loS jISoppu' 'ej juH vIjaHpu'*, in addition to the interpretation in which the eating and the going home happen *before* 2 pm (*At 2 pm I will have eaten and gone home*), there is maybe an interpretation in which Klingons point at 2 pm and say that tomorrow at this durationless point the eating and the going home take place (i.e., the actions don't occur *before* 2 pm), and these actions are presented as completed wholes, without showing its internal structure or flow.
> But experienced Klingon speakers are saying to me that that's not the case in Klingon, so I will forget it and continue learning :-)
> Iikka Hauhio:
> > I think it would be useful if we used long texts like this as examples instead of individual sentences.
> You're totally right, but unfortunately my Klingon is not that good that I can write without problem complex sentences. Anyway, I will try!
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