[tlhIngan Hol] Klingon Word of the Day: pum

Steven Boozer sboozer at uchicago.edu
Fri Mar 17 07:28:07 PDT 2023

Klingon word: 	pum
Part of speech: 	verb
Definition: 	fall

(st.klingon 11/05/1999 [cf. infra]):  that is, fall down or fall off of something

You fall. (KLS)

Dubotchugh yIpummoH 
If it's in your way, knock it down. (TKW)

may' bI'reS bejtaHvIS mon
   ghIq pum QaSDaj law' 'e' legh 
   ghIq qempa'QeH legh 
First, he watches the battle smiling, 
   Then, he sees many of his troops fall. 
   Then, he sees the *Qempa'keh*  (PB; i.e. Molor)

 (st.klingon 11/05/1999):  In addition to {ngugh} ["then"], there is an idiomatic expression involving the suffix {-DI'} "when, as soon as" used to mean "by that time, by the time that [something] occurred (or will occur)." The event that has occurred (or will occur) is typically expressed in the immediately preceding sentence or clause, though it could have been uttered earlier. 
    The idiom is found in two forms. The shorter (and more frequently heard) version is the single word {pumDI'} "when it falls" ({pum} "fall" [that is, fall down or fall off of something], {-DI'} "when").  The longer version consists of {pumDI'} followed by a subject noun specifying what falls. The most common noun heard is {'etlh} "sword, blade" (thus: {pumDI' 'etlh}, literally "when the blade falls"). Presumably the expression originally referred to a fight between two combatants wielding bladed weapons. The time at which one of them dropped the weapon and was thus defeated (or was as good as defeated) was a significant moment. 
    Some speakers, however, are rather creative and use nouns other than {'etlh}. For example: {pumDI' DaS} "when the boot falls," {pumDI' 'obmaQ} "when the ax falls," {pumDI' nagh} "when the stone falls," {pumDI' rutlh} "when the wheel falls." There seems to be no restriction on what noun may be used here, as long as it is something that could possibly fall. (Thus {pumDI' QoQ} "when the music falls" would not be used.) 
    Choosing one noun or another to use in the idiomatic phrase is a form of word play. Depending on the topic being discussed, the noun could add a touch of irony or even humor. In any event, the choice of noun does not change the idiomatic meaning of the phrase.   {pumDI' X}, where X is the subject noun, is used to mean "by then, by that time." 
    The idiom might be used when talking about a feast that had taken place a few nights ago. If a guest arrived late - after the eating had already begun - one might say something like: 
      tagha' pawpu' meb 'ach pumDI' Heghpu' qagh
      tagha' pawpu' meb 'ach pumDI' 'etlh Heghpu' qagh
      "The guest finally arrived, but by then the *gagh* had died." 
    Unlike subordinate clauses in general, {pumDI' X}, when used idiomatically, always precedes the main clause ({Heghpu' qagh} in the example above). When idiomatic usage is not involved, subordinate clauses may either precede or follow the main clause.

N.B. do not confuse {pum} "fall} with {pum} "accuse".

pummoH  	knock down (v)
(MO, qepHom 2018):  The verb {chagh} "drop" takes an object. If a cat keeps poking at a glass until the glass falls off the table, the proper verb is {pummoH} "cause to fall".  {chagh} would not be appropriate in this case because drop implies that someone is holding on to something and then (accidentally or on purpose) lets it fall.  The cat isn't holding the glass before knocking it off the table.

chagh 		drop (v)
lItHa' 		get off (something) (v)
qaw’ 		tip/flip over (v)
tang 		trip, stumble (v)
ghIr 		descend (v)
Dej 		collapse (v)
lu 		fall (suffer loss of status), fall from power (v)

  “The trigger has been pulled. We have to get there before the hammer falls.” (Kirk, TOS “Errand of Mercy”)

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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