[tlhIngan Hol] {petaQ} normally takes {-pu'}, using {-mey} adds a further layer of insult

Steven Boozer sboozer at uchicago.edu
Fri May 27 11:13:11 PDT 2022

      petaQ  petaQ  petaQ
      I will hunt you down!
      P'takh!  P'takh!  P'takh! (PB)

AFAIK there are no other examples of {petaQpu’} or {petaQmey} known.  nItlhejbogh petaQmey tInuD} is the only example of someone referring to multiple p’taks *in Klingon* I could find -- there may be a few in the English subtitles and captions I don’t know about.  I wonder whether this is the usual way, giving another little jab to your targets?  Klingons are not subtle; in fact, I don’t think they even have a word for it.

The only variant I know of is {petaQ’a’} :
   petaQ'a' SoH
    You dirty p'takh. PB

Voragh, Ca'Non Master of the Klingons

From: tlhIngan-Hol On Behalf Of De'vID
Sent: Thursday, May 26, 2022 11:28 PM
(p. 143, lines 4-6) {nItlhejbogh petaQmey / tInuD chaHvaD / nIb yan wIjwI' jan je}

TKD says that {-mey} on beings capable of language conveys the idea of "all over the place", but here it says {nItlhejbogh petaQmey} "p'takhs at your side", and if they're at Kahless' side, they are not scattered about. is {-mey} the usual suffix for {petaQ} (because {petaQ} are considered incapable of language)? Or is the {-mey} an additional layer of insult (similar to using {-wIj} instead of {-wI'}, as described in TKD)? Or is this an error?

>>> {-mey} is used here in the insulting sense.

Why does it have an insulting sense here?

>>> Short answer: Not only is Molor insulting Kahless’s troops by referring to them as p’takhs, he’s further insulting them by saying they’re not capable of language. (And maybe he’s implying that they’re disorganized — scattered about — as well.)

(end of message)

In a related note, someone (not Dr. Okrand) had added a footnote on p.70 of the 1st edition of the paq'batlh where they speculated that the word was derived from {taQ} "be weird". The 2nd edition will change this footnote to read: "P'takh ({petaQ}) is an insulting Klingon epithet. Its resemblance to the verb {taQ}, meaning "be weird", preceded by the you (plural) imperative prefix ({pe-}) is coincidental, and the claim that they are related is not supported by research."

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