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Transcript – Displaying file »2003-06-holqed-12-2.txt«
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Author Marc Okrand
Date June 2003
Publisher Klingon Language Institute, Flourtown, PA, ISSN 1061-2327
Source HolQeD 12:2, pages 6–9
Summary Maltz tell which words to use to refer to ends of physical objects, and periods of time. This is the reward for the first of those who succeeded in solving the “Frasier’s Klingon” challenge in HolQeD 11:4.
Title Maltz’s Reward: Part I
Type article
Maltz's Reward Part I

Maltz recently received what was, for him, an overwhelming number of requests for new vocabulary from those who were able to supply the missing words in Frasier's Klingon bar mitzvah speech. He's resolved to honor all the requests, but has chosen to do so piecemeal rather than all at once. Here is the first of what will be several installments.

     After looking over the list of words, Maltz decided to start with the end. That is, to start with "end."

     The requester of "end" specified that he was looking for "end" as in the end of a stick or the two ends of a piece of string, and noted that, in Klingon, there may be different words for the end of a hallway or the end of the week.

     There are two general words used to refer to the end of an object that has discernible length (like a stick or a piece of string): {megh'an} and {'er'In}. The words seem to be used interchangeably when referring to only one end of the object, but once either {megh'an} or {'er'In} has been used for one end, that is the only word used for that end (within that sentence or conversation or bit of discourse). The speaker or participants in a conversation do not go back and forth between the two. Similarly, if one means either end of the stick and it doesn't make any difference which end, the same rule applies: Either word is fine, but, for that discourse, only the one is used.

     If a distinction is being made between the two ends, then both words are used. It is not the case, however, that, even during the conversation, {megh'an} is used for one specific end and {'er'In} for the other. They may flip-flop, as long as the intent of the speaker is to keep the ends distinct.

     Maltz figured this would be a little confusing, so he provided some examples. Let's say, he said, that there were three commands given in a row. First, one would use either (1) or (2) to give the command "Grasp the end of the stick" when it didn't matter which end.

(1) {naQ megh'an yI'uch}

(2) {naQ 'er'In yI'uch}

({naQ} <stick>, {yI-} <imperative, singular object>, {'uch} <grasp>)

     If the next command were "Let go of the end of the stick," if (1) were used the first time, (3) would be used; if (2) were used the first time, (4) would be used.

(3) {naQ megh'an yI'uchHa'}

(4) {naQ 'er'In yI'uchHa'}

({-Ha'} <undo>)

     If the third command is, once again, "Grasp the end of the stick," (1) would be repeated if it were used the first time, or (2) would be repeated if it were used the first time. It would be inappropriate to use (2) if (1) were used the first time and vice versa. But it does not matter which end of the stick is actually grasped. If the grasper grasped the end other than the one grasped the first time, this would be fine. The word {megh'an} or {'er'In} refers to an end, not to a specific end.

     Contrast this with these three commands, given one after the other:

(5) {naQ megh'an yI'uch} grasp the end of the stick

(6) {naQ megh'an yI'uchHa'} let go of the end of the stick

(7) {naQ 'er'In yI'uch} grasp the (other) end of the stick

     It doesn't matter which end of the stick the grasper grasps first. The point of (7) is to grasp the other end. The speaker is making a distinction between the two ends. Of course, if {'er'In} is used in (5) and (6), {megh'an} would be used in (7).

     Note also:

(8) {naQ megh'an 'er'In je tI'uch}

(9) {naQ 'er'In megh'an je tI'uch}

({je} <and>, {tI-} <imperative, plural object>)

     Both of these would probably be translated "grasp both ends of the stick," but they are literally closer to "grasp the end and the other end of the stick." The notion of "ends" (plural) is normally expressed in this way. {megh'anmey} and {'er'Inmey} (with the plural suffix {-mey} would refer to ends of different things, not to two ends of the same thing.


(10) {naQ megh'an 'er'In ghap yI'uch}

(11) {naQ 'er'In megh'an ghap yI'uch}

({ghap} <either/or>)

     These would probably be translated "grasp either end of the stick," but they are literally closer to "grasp the end or the other end of the stick." We don't know, at this point, whether the grasper will grasp the {megh'an} or the {'er'In}. In the rest of the conversation, the speaker would choose either {megh'an} or {'er'In} and stick with that for the end that the grasper grasps. Though both (10) and (11) are grammatical and perfectly fine, as a practical matter, they mean the same thing as (1) and (2), since the idea is to grasp one end of the stick and it doesn't matter which one.

     Occasionally, there is a specific word for the end of something. For example, the sharp end of a spear is the {QIn} and the top of a cane (whether one used ceremonially or one that is simply a walking aid) is the {chaS}. It would be odd to hear either of these referred to as a {megh'an} or a {'er'In}.

     When shown a pencil, Maltz said that the sharp end could be called a {QIn}, but if the pencil were new and did not yet have a point, the ready-to-be-sharpened end would be a {megh'an} or {'er'In}.

     For the end of a longish enclosed space that one is typically inside or experiences from the inside, such as a corridor, tunnel, or conduit (say, Jeffries tube or a branch of the sewers of Paris), a different word is used: {qa'rI'}. This is the only word; it's used for both (or all) ends. The open entryway leading into such a space is called a {DIn}. If there's a door there, it's referred to by the usual word for door, {lojmIt}.

     {qa'rI'} is also used for the end of bounded space which is seen as having length even if it is not enclosed space. Thus, it is used for the end of a road, the end of a bridge, the end of a long field. (Maltz didn't think it would mean much of anything to refer to the {qar'I'} of a square field.)

     On the other hand, if a bridge is under construction and lies halfway across a river or gorge or freeway, it may be said to have a {megh'an} (or {'er'In}). One could, in theory, hang a sign or flag from the {megh'an} (or {'er'In}), but one could walk on this incomplete bridge only as far as the {qa'rI'}.

     When dealing with temporal, as opposed to physical, length, the words for the "end" are altogether different.

     Generally, one expresses the end of a stretch of time by using a verb rather than a noun. That is, one says "when the month ends" rather than "at the end of the month." The verb for this kind of "end' is {Dor}. For example:

{DorDI' jar mejpu'} At the end of the month, he/she left

     Literally, this sentence means "When the month ended, he/she left" ({-DI'} <when>, {jar} <month>, {mejpu'} <he/she left>).

     When an event over which one has some control ends (one can't cause a month to end), a different verb is used: {van}. This would apply to such things as voyages, battles, plays, operas, stories, and songs. Here, the event (the voyage, the song) doesn't end; the participant in the event or the perpetrator of the event ends it. For example:

{leng vanDI' SuvwI'pu' 'IQ chaH} At the end of the voyage, the warriors are sad

{bom vanDI' SuvwI'pu' tlhutlh chaH} At the end of the song, the warriors drink

     Literally, these sentences mean "When the warriors end the voyage, they are sad" ({leng} <voyage>, {-DI'} <when>, {SuvwI'pu'} <warriors>, {'IQ} <be sad>, {chaH} they) and "When the warriors end the song, they drink" ({bom} <song>, {tlhutlh} <drink>).

     Another verb, {ghang}, is used to express the idea of a premature ending. If, using the same examples, the voyage is cut short or the song is interrupted before the final part is sung, one would say:

{leng ghangDI' SuvwI'pu' 'IQ chaH} When the warriors end the voyage prematurely, they are sad

{bom ghangDI' SuvwI'pu' tlhutlh chaH} When the warriors end the song prematurely, they drink

Note that the voyage and the song cannot end themselves. Someone has to end them.

     Maltz said he wasn't sure whether {van} <end> and {van} <salute> were really the same word, but he found it interesting that Klingons end things by saluting them. He said there was no connection at all between {Dor} <end> and {Dor} <escort>.

     There is a difference between the end of the performance of a song or opera or play, indicated by making use of the verbs {van} and {ghang}, and the ending, or final portion, of a song or opera or play itself.

     For an opera, play, story speech, and so on, the final portion is its {bertlham}. This word usually refers to the last aria or other musical portion in an opera, last speech in a play, last sentence or so of a story or an address. The {bertlham} of a well-known work is often well-known itself, as is its beginning ({bI'reS}).

     For a song -- but only for a song -- the final portion is its {'o'megh}. Parallel to {bertlham}, {'o'megh} is the final phrase or so of the song, one that brings the song to a definite conclusion. All songs have endings ({'o'meghmey}), some more elaborate or stirring than others. (Maltz noted that there are Federation songs with {'o'meghmey} he has never heard, and he finds this disconcerting. He said that performers of these songs just sort of fade away before the song has ended properly. He referred to the ending of such a song is its {'o'meghqoq} <so-called ending>.) To begin to sing a song is to {lIH} (literally, <introduce>) the song, and that portion of the song that comes at the beginning --- a portion that is often so familiar that listeners know what song it is after hearing just that short portion --- is the {namtun}.

     Finally, for the beginning of a list (of names or words, for example, whether spoken out loud or written on a scroll), one would say simply {pong wa'DIch} <first name> or {mu' wa'DIch} <first word>. For the end, one could say {pong HochDIch} <last name> or {mu' HochDIch} <last word>, but one could also use a special term for the end of the list, {natlIS}.

     There are, of course, other ways to express notions of ends and endings, such as making use of the words {rIn} <be finished>, {mev} <stop>, {baq} <terminate, discontinue> and the perfective suffixes {-pu'} and {-ta'}. But Maltz did not want to get into these. He concluded the discussion by walking out of the room after uttering the single word {pItlh}.