[12] in tlhIngan-Hol

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From the Grammarian's desk (long)

Sun Feb 16 15:15:32 1992

Resent-From: tlhIngan-Hol-request@village.boston.ma.us
From: ima.ima.isc.com!krankor@village.boston.ma.us (Captain Krankor)
To: tlhIngan-Hol@IMA.ISC.COM
Date:    Wed, 14 Aug 91 04:45:28 EDT
Errors-To: tlhIngan-Hol-request@village.boston.ma.us
Resent-To: tlhIngan-Hol-subscribers@IMA.ISC.COM

VarSan asked for corrections/suggestions on his recent letter.
Your Humble Grammarian is glad to oblige. {{:-)

Here is the original:

tlhIngan Hol mu'ghom'e' lungeHlaHchugh mechbogh paqpa'pu'
'e' tlhobqangchugh Hoch, 'e'mo' Dat tera'vaD yay'bej paqpa'wI'mey!

Here is his literal translation (*very* literal):

>>Klingon's language's dictionary-topic if-they-can-send-it those-which-trade
>>book-room-s if-they-would-ask-them everyone, due-to-this everywhere on-Terra
>>they-are-doubtless-astonished book-room-er-s!

And here is what he is trying to say:

'If everyone pesters their interlibrary loan departments for a copy of the
Klingon dictionary, librarians all over the world will be astonished!'

First, let us address some of the problems presented by this sentence,
and consider what the best ways to address them might be.

The most obvious problem is one of vocabulary.  While our mu'ghom is a
laudable accomplishment, it remains a fact that the Klingon vocabulary
we have available to us is very much a subset of the English vocabulary
at our command.  Key words and phrases we are lacking are 'pester',
'librarian', and the notorious 'interlibrary loan departments'.

I must confess, I'm not even sure what an 'interlibrary loan department' is
in English, let alone Klingon, although I could hazard a guess.  VarSan
has tried to create something for this: mechbogh paqpa'pu', which comes
off literally as "bookrooms that trade".  Not a bad attempt, all in all,
though I would dispute the use of the plural suffix pu' (mey is more
appropriate.  A department is not a sentient being).  The problem is that
even the most clever such attempt is still going to leave readers in
the dark, because, while you might be able to get "bookrooms that trade"
out of "interlibrary loan department", you will never be able to get
"interlibrary loan department" out of "bookrooms that trade", even if
you manage to convey a rough sense of it.  Therefore, the only sane thing
to do, and I propose this as a protocol, is to include the english word
or phrase after the Klingon, in quotes and parens.  Thus, here is how I
would render the sentence 'I see the librarian' (in which I also give my
own version of 'librarian' for your viewing pleasure):

paqghom QorghwI' ("librarian") vIlegh

Obviously, if you go on to use such a word or phrase multiple times
throughout a posting, there's no reason to provide the translation
each time.

So the moral of the story is, if you have to 'invent' a word, provide
your intended translation the first time.  This will be particularly
true of nouns.  Verbs, on the other hand, provide a bit more leeway.
You can often snuggle up pretty close to your desired meaning with
just the tools at hand.  Consider 'pester'.  I think that, at least
in this context, pester could be rendered as tlhobqu'.  There's not
gonna be a real good literal translation, but I'd say it more or less
gets the concept across.

By now the original sentence has scrolled off your screen, so let's
bring it back again, incorporating what we've said so far:

tlhIngan Hol mu'ghom'e' lungeHlaHchugh mechbogh paqpa'mey ("interlibrary
loan departments") 'e' tlhobqu'qangchugh Hoch, 'e'mo' Dat tera'vaD yay'bej
paqghom QorghwI'mey ("librarians")!

Note that I have used my own translation of "librarians" instead of the
original paqpa'wI'mey.  A noteworthy problem with this translation involves
the use of the suffix wI'.  The literal translation is given as book-room-ers,
clearly showing the intent to use the verb suffix wI', one which does.
However, the word to which this suffix is being applied is paqpa', bookroom,
or more loosely, library.  Clearly, this is a noun, not a verb, and you
cannot put a verb suffix on a noun.  It doesn't even make much sense in
English (one who bookrooms?), except in a slang kind of way, and I *seriously*
think we'd best avoid slang at this point (we've already got enough work
just learning the language proper).  What's worse, since paqpa' is a noun,
a reader would be perfectly within his rights to assume therefore that
wI' was the *noun* suffix wI', which means 'mine' for sentient beings.
Thus, paqpa'wI'mey could easily be translated as "my (sentient) libraries
(scattered all about [note the use of mey on a supposedly sentient noun])"
Moral of the story:  make sure that the suffix you apply is legal for
the word you are applying it to.

Wow, I've run on this long and haven't even gotten to the syntactic
issues!  Oh well, so it goes.

The syntax of the sentence is going to change rather significantly once
we note that the verb tlhob, to ask, is a special case.  Consider section
6.2.5, page 67, regarding verbs of saying, of which tlhob is clearly one.
We see that 'e' is not used, and that which is being said (or in this
case asked) is spelled out somewhat more literally as if it were being
said.  So let's bring back the first clause of the English original
and see how it might be constructed in light of this:

'If everyone pesters their interlibrary loan departments for a copy of the
Klingon dictionary...'

Here's what I get for it:

jIHvaD tlhIngan Hol mu'ghom yISuq mechbogh paqpa'meymaj ("our interlibrary loan
departments") DItlhobqu'chugh Hoch maH

Literally, this is:

If all of us emphatically ask our interlibrary loan departments "get me
the Klingon dictionary"...

Smoothed out, it yields the desired translation.  Note that I have changed
VarSan's Hoch (all or everyone) to Hoch maH (all of us).  Using Hoch as
a third person subject is perfectly fine grammatically; I changed it only
because I think my way comes closer to the intended meaning.

Now the second clause:

'...librarians all over the world will be astonished!'

VarSan starts this clause with 'e'mo' and translates it as because-of-this.
It is easy to see how he came up with this, and it is a very interesting
construction.  In fact, we could have a whole grammatical discussion
about this alone (and probably will at some point), but for now we should
really try to stick to the rules as much as possible, and strictly speaking,
'e' is not a noun, it is a leftover, and it is debatable whether or not a
noun suffix like mo' can be added to it.  Particularly since it isn't
really that necessary; vaj will work perfectly fine for the job.

So here's what I get:

vaj Dat tera'Daq yay'bej paqghom QorghwI'mey ("librarians")!

It is very similar to what VarSan got.  Note that I have carried over
his use of mey on librarians, which, used on a sentient noun like this,
carries the subtle implication of 'all over the place'.

So, finally putting it all together, we get:

jIHvaD tlhIngan Hol mu'ghom yISuq mechbogh paqpa'meymaj ("our interlibrary loan
departments") DItlhobqu'chugh Hoch maH, vaj Dat tera'Daq yay'bej
paqghom QorghwI'mey ("librarians")!

Well, I want to thank VarSan for coming up with such a challenging and
interesting sentence!  He did a laudable job with it; I myself spent
the better part of an hour wrestling with it, not counting writing all
this up!  I don't normally intend to disect every posting with such
care, but he did ask... {{:-)

			From the Grammarian's desk,


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