A Quick Reference to Time Expressions in Klingon
- Telling Time
- Asking for the Time
- Units of Time
- Years and Months
- Days of the Week
- Time of Day
There are several ways of telling time in Klingon, though by far most complete and coherent system is the 24 hour “military time” described in Conversational Klingon (1992) and TalkNow: Klingon (2011):
“Klingons have adopted the way most civilized planets in the galaxy tell time; They have twenty-four hour days. ‘Zero hours’, means midnight; ‘twelve hundred hours’, means noon; ‘nineteen hundred hours’ means seven p.m., and so on. Klingons pride themself on punctuality, so it is important to be precise when referring to time. Though Klingons are sometimes inaccurate, they are never approximate.” [CK]
|cha’maH wejvatlh vaghmaH Hut rep||11:59pm|
The formula is “hour [vatlh] minute rep” where hour is 0–23, and minute is 0–59. If hour is pagh (zero) you drop the vatlh. It looks like this in use:
|pagh rep||(00:00) zero hours, midnight [CK] or twelve p.m.|
|pagh cha’maH vagh rep||(00:25) 12:25 a.m.|
|pagh vaghmaH rep||(00:50) 12:50 a.m.|
|wa’vatlh rep||(01:00) one a.m.|
|wa’vatlh vagh rep||(01:05) five past one a.m.|
|wa’vatlh wa’maH rep||(01:10) ten past one a.m.|
|javvatlh rep||(06:00) six hundred hours, six o’clock in the morning [CK]|
|wa’maH vatlh rep||(10:00) ten a.m.|
|wa’maH wa’vatlh rep||(11:00) eleven a.m.|
|wa’maH cha’vatlh rep||(12:00) twelve hundred hours, noon [CK] 1 or twelve a.m.|
|wa’maH wejvatlh rep||(13:00) one p.m.|
|wa’maH loSvatlh wejmaH rep||(14:30) fourteen hundred thirty hours or 2:30 p.m. [KML] 2|
|wa’maH Hutvatlh rep||(19:00) nineteen hundred hours or seven p.m. [CK]|
|cha’maH wejvatlh rep||(23:00) eleven p.m.
|1||Here assuming that “cha’maH wa’vatlh rep” in Conversational Klingon just got cha’ and wa’ swapped around.|
|2||Alan Anderson <email@example.com> on the tlhIngan-Hol Mailing List, .|
In HolQeD 8:1 (March 1999) two different ways of telling the time were described. The first system, used for interplanetary communication, is exemplified in the following phrases (if the context is clear, the word tera’ Earth may be left out, as in the last example below):
|tera’ rep wa’||Earth hour one or one o’clock|
|tera’ rep cha’maH||Earth hour 20 or 20 o’clock or eight o’clock p.m.|
|tera’ rep loS wejmaH||Earth hour 4:30|
|rep cha’maH||20 o’clock, eight o’clock p.m.|
The second system is an informal way of answering the question ’arlogh Qoylu’pu’? What time is it? (lit. How many times has it been heard?) In direct response to this question one may even drop the verb, and answer only chorghlogh eight o’clock (lit. eight times).
|cha’logh Qoylu’pu’||It’s two o’clock|
|chorghlogh Qoylu’pu’||It’s eight o’clock|
Asking for the Time
Asking what time it is is an idiomatic phrase in almost all languages, and Klingon is no exception in this. There are basically two ways of asking: The one usually used in military contexts is rep yIper! Ascertain the hour! or Specify the hour!
Outside of those situations the expression ’arlogh Qoylu’pu’? is most commonly used (it literally means How many times has [someone] heard [it]? or How many times has it been heard?) [HQ 8:1]
|rep yIper!||Ascertain the hour! Specify the hour! [HQ 8:1]|
|’arlogh Qoylu’pu’?||What time is it? (lit. How many times has it been heard?) [HQ 8:1]|
|mamejDI’ ’arlogh Qoylu’pu’?||What time do we leave? (lit. When we leave, how many times will it have been heard?) [HQ 8:1]|
Units of Time
In a sentence the time expression always come first, even before any adverbials. (Though there are some time words, e.g. qen recently, a short time ago, and tugh soon etc. which themselves are adverbials.)
We don’t know exactly how the Klingon units of time compare our Terran units, but keeping that in mind, here is a list of time units in Klingon (largest first):
|jaj||day (from dawn to dawn)||[TKD]|
The word for now is DaH, and the word for today is DaHjaj. Today can also be expressed as jajvam this day – which actually means this day (that we are talking about) or this day (that is obvious from context) – so jajvam may actually refer to last Thursday, if that happens to be the topic of the conversation.
Since -vam above is a type 4 noun suffix (meaning this), it can be used on any time unit: DISvam this year, jarvam this month, Hoghvam this week etc. [TKD 3.3.4] We have no indication that DaH can be used in this way, however, so a word like *DaHtup might be possible to understand, but it is most likely ungrammatical.
|DaH yIDIl!||Pay now! [TKD p.171]|
|DaHjaj jI’oj.||Today I am thirsty. [CK 31:16]|
There are a couple of adverbials related to past time, namely qen recently, a short time ago and ngugh then, at that time.
When one needs to be more specific there one can use ben, wen and Hu’ to count years, months, and days ago. There is also a word ret which is used to express that something happened some arbitrary time units ago. Here are the words:
|ben||years ago (n)||[TKD]|
|wen||months ago (n)||[HQ 8:3]|
|Hu’||days ago (n)||[TKD]|
|ret||time period ago (n)||[HQ 8:3]|
|ngugh||then, at that time (adv)||[News 1999-11-05]|
|qen||recently, a short time ago (adv)||[News 1999-02-02]|
The words ben years ago, wen months ago, and Hu’ days ago can be immediately preceded by any number to form a time expression, while ret time period ago must also be preceded by the name of a time period (e.g. seconds, minutes or somesuch). Here are some examples (underlining the words in the table above):
|cha’vatlh ben||two hundred years ago, two centuries ago|
|Hut wen||nine months ago|
|wa’Hu’ jIghung.||Yesterday I was hungry. [CK 30:59]|
|cha’ tup ret||two minutes ago|
|DungluQ tIHIv. ngugh Qongbe’ chaH.||Attack them at noon! They won’t be sleeping then. or Attack them at noon. They’re not sleeping then. [HQ 8:4; News 1999-11-05]|
It might be added that ret time period ago is not when other words are available; ben years ago, wen months ago, and Hu’ days ago are always preferred.
The adverbial tugh means soon, but you can also specify how long ago it was that something happened using the following words:
|nem||years from now (n)||[TKD]|
|waQ||months from now (n)||[HQ 8:3]|
|leS||days from now (n)||[TKD]|
|pIq||time period from now (n)||[HQ 8:3]|
And here are some examples (with time expressions underlined):
|cha’vatlh nem||two hundred years from now, two centuries from now|
|Hut waQ||nine months from now|
|wa’leS jIDoy’.||Tomorrow I’ll be tired. [CK 31:34]|
|cha’ tup pIq||two minutes from now|
|tugh!||Hurry up! [TKD 5.4]|
As with ret time period ago, pIq time period from now is not used when other words are available; nem years from now, waQ months from now, and leS days from now are always preferred.
Years and Months
We have an example of how to write the year in the form of a copyright notice on the SkyBox trading cards, in which Marc Okrand translated the year 1994 into tera’ DIS wa’-Hut-Hut-loS. This gives a pattern for writing years (which might be useful for large numbers, or series of numbers, as well – e.g. telephone numbers). Saying the digits one after the other is also conveniently shorter than using the numeric elements for multiples of ten (-maH, -vatlh etc.).
As for names of the months, we have no canon examples. Alan Anderson <firstname.lastname@example.org> has suggested to the tlhingan-hol mailing list (in ) that one should apply the same pattern as for years above, thus saying tera’ jar vagh for the Terran month May.
Days of the Week
The Klingon week has six days. When Klingon have encountered cultures where the week is longer than their own, they use their traditional names until they run out and then number any remaining days, thus naming our Sunday jaj wa’ day one.
|ghInjaj or lojmItjaj||Saturday|
The longer form for Saturday, lojmItjaj, is used for formal occasions, on other occasions the two forms are heard about equally often. [qepHom 12]
Time of Day
There exist a bunch of words for describing the time of day:
“Although Klingons tell time the way most of the rest of the galaxy does, the Klingon day really goes from dawn to dawn, rather than from midnight to midnight. You might think this could cause some confusion, but it is really comparable to when a Terran says something like, ‘Thursday night, at three o’clock in the morning’.” [CK]
Well, there are still some time related stuff that haven’t been mentioned. Let’s lump it all together under this heading.
|poH||period of time (n)||[TKD]|
|nI’||be long, lengthy (duration) (v)||[TKD]|
|ngaj||be short (in duration) (v)||[KGT]|
If you want to know more about how to tell time in Klingon, you may want to read the articles “Maltz Online” in HolQeD 8:1 (pp. 7–12) and “matlh juppu’ mu’mey” in HolQeD 8:3 (pp. 2–4) written by Marc Okrand.