Ring B: 9/20: Klingon

Philip Newton
[ Relay 13 | Ring A | Ring B | Ring C | Conlangs | Participants ]
[ Klingon | Smooth English | From Kamakawi | Orthography | Grammar | Vocabulary | Abbrevs. ]

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loDHom Del lutvam. loDHomvam QuchmoHmeH ghaHvaD poH bIr nge'lu'pu'.

qaStaHvIS nI'bogh poH bIr, ghaH ghoStaH chuch Duj 'e' legh ghojwI'. yotlh Dab ghojwI'; Sum reD. loDHom volchaHDaq ngun machbogh 'ej qIjbogh notqa'. notqa' mejmoH pe'vIl 'e' nID ghaH, 'ach ghoStaHbogh ghojmoHwI' chuch Duj leghmeH loDHom volchaH 'uch notqa'.

jotHa'choH ghojwI' ghoStaHmo' chuch Duj. ghopDaj pep 'ej reD Hot, 'ach bIrqu' 'oH. tep 'elmeH notqa' jotchoH ghojwI'.

pawDI' ghojmoHwI' chuch Duj, Quchqu' ghojwI'.

Smooth Translation

This story describes a boy. In order to make this boy happy, someone took away winter.

During a long winter, a student saw that an ice ship was approaching him. The student dwelled in a field; there was a wall nearby. A small, black {notqa'} perched on his shoulder. He tried forcefully to make the {notqa'} leave, but the {notqa'} grasped the shoulder of the boy in order to see the teacher's ice ship which was coming.

The student began to be uneasy because the ice ship was arriving. He raised his hand and touched the wall, but it was very cold. He began to calm down again, so that the {notqa'} would enter the cargo.

When the teacher's ice ship arrived, the student was very happy.

Translation from Kamakawi

This is the story about a youth for whom the winter of sorrow was removed.

During a long winter, a student saw a sleigh which had come to him. He stayed in the garden near the wall of snow. A small, black crow sat down on his shoulder. He tried very, very hard to get rid of the crow which was on his shoulder, but the crow held onto his shoulder in order to see the teacher's sleigh, which had come.

The student started to worry because the sleigh had come. He touched the wall with his hand, but it was very cold. The student remained still so that the crow would go into his backpack. However, from the time when the teacher's sleigh arrived, the student was forevermore happy.


Note that capitalisation matters in Klingon; 'q' is not the same sounds as 'Q'. If a word beginning with a lower-case letter comes at the beginning of a sentence, the word is nevertheless written with that letter in lower-case.

Beware also of the letters 'l' (lower-case ell) and 'I' (upper-case eye), which look similar in some fonts; you may wish to use a font that distinguishes them in order to read this.


- Klingon uses OVS word order. Noun-noun combinations are head-final;
{X Y} is "the X's Y" or "the Y of the X". (Combinations of more than
one noun can branch in any way: {X Y Z} can by {(X Y) Z} or {X (Y Z)},
etc. Use context to disambiguate.) A locative {-Daq} is attached to
the last noun (the head noun) in such a combination and applies to the
entire combination.

- There are no articles, definite or indefinite; a noun such as {Sor}
can mean "tree", "a tree", or "the tree". (Or even "trees" or "the
trees", since plural-marking is optional.)

- Adjectives in Klingon are really verbs. When used predicatively,
they occur in the normal verbal position, with the subject following
them ({tIn Sor} "the tree is big"; {tIn} "be big", {Sor} "tree"); when
used attributively, they follow the noun they describe ({Sor tIn}
"the/a big tree").

- Relative clauses do not use a special particle but merely add the
verbal suffix {-bogh} to the verb of the relative clause. The verb
itself stands in the ordinary position -- that is, before its subject
and after its object (if any). If the verb has both a subject and an
object, the head of the clause may be optionally marked; however, this
relay text uses {-bogh} only on intransitive verbs, where the head
must be the subject of the relative clause.

- Relative clauses are also used to apply two or more adjectives to a
noun; in this case, one or more adjectives is used as a verb and used
in a relative clause. For example, {Dojbogh veng tIn} "a large,
impressive city" (literally, "a large city which is impressive"; {Doj}
"be impressive", {veng} "city", {tIn} "be big") or {tInbogh 'ej
Dojbogh veng} "a large, impressive city" (literally, "a city which is
large and which is impressive"). Such multiple relative clauses are
joined together with sentence conjunctions such as {'ej} "and" or
{'ach} "but".

- Adverbs always occur at the beginning of a clause, as do locative
expressions (generally involving {-Daq}) and benefactive expressions
with {-vaD}.

- The special pronoun {'e'} refers to the preceding sentence and goes
into the object slot. For example, {Sor legh tlhIngan 'e' Sov SuvwI'}
"The warrior knows that the Klingon sees the tree" ({Sor} "tree",
{legh} "see", {tlhIngan} "Klingon", {'e'} "that (referring to a
previous sentence)", {Sov} "know", {SuvwI'} "warrior" -- literally,
"The Klingon sees the tree; the warrior knows that"). Adverbs or
locative expressions in the second sentence, if any, precede the

- The verb suffix {-lu'} indicates that the subject is unknown,
indefinite, and/or general. It can sometimes be translated with the
passive voice. For example, {Sor leghlu'} "Someone sees the tree; the
tree is seen" ({Sor} "tree", {legh} "see"). Note that {Sor} still
comes before the verb since it is an object; it's not promoted to
subject as in an English passive sentence.

- The verb suffix {-moH} is causative and increases the valency; that
is, it turns intransitive verbs into transitive ones. Compare {vIH
Sor} "the tree is moving; the tree is in motion" with {Sor vIHmoH
SuvwI'} "the warrior makes the tree move; the warrior moves the tree"
({Sor} "tree", {vIH} "move, be in motion", {SuvwI'} "warrior"). The
subject of the intransitive verb becomes the object of the transitive,
causative verb.

- Certain syntactical verb suffixes introduce subordinate clauses,
including {-DI'} and {-mo'}. These subordinate clauses can occur
either before or after the main clause. For example, {pawDI' SuvwI'
SISchoH} "When the warrior arrived, it began to rain" or {SISchoH
pawDI' SuvwI'} "It began to rain when the warrior arrived" ({SIS}
"rain", {-choH} "(inchoative)", {paw} "arrive", {-DI'} "when, as soon
as", {SuvwI'} "warrior").

- Verbs with {-meH} are purpose clauses; they state for what purpose
or to what end something is done. A purpose clause can modify a noun
or a sentence, but always precedes that which it describes. For
example, {veng leghmeH jIH chu' SuvwI'} "The warrior activates the
viewing screen in order to see the city" ({veng} "city", {legh} "see",
{jIH} "viewing screen, display", {chu'} "activate, engage (a device)",
{SuvwI'} "warrior").

- {Sum} "be near", in the absence of specific markers, means that
something is near the "obvious" thing (for example, the speaker, or
the subject of the current sentence). For this reason, {Sum Sor} may
mean not only "a tree is near" but also "I am/the subject is near a

- It may be easiest to identify the main verb in a sentence first,
then any adverbials that may be present; the remainder, in a simple
sentence, will be object (before the verb) and/or subject (after the
verb). Note that an intransitive verb following a noun is probably an
adjective, as described below, since a subject must come after its

- Klingon is pro-drop; that is, pronouns for subject or object can be
omitted. Usually, a verb prefix indicates both the subject and the
object; however, for third-person subjects and no object or a
third-person object, the prefix is zero (i.e. no visible prefix).
Nevertheless, the pronoun(s) may be dropped; {legh} could mean both
"he sees" or "he sees it", for example.

- Verbs are not marked for tense, but are optionally marked for
aspect. The two aspect markers used in this text should not be
confused with tense markers; {leghtaH} (with continuous {-taH}) could
be "he is seeing" but also "he was seeing" or "he will be seeing", and
{Soppu'} (with perfective {-pu'}) could be "he has eaten" but also "he
will have eaten".


For convenience, this lexicon is arranged in alphabetical order, ignoring apostrophes (though they're a separate letter in Klingon, usually sorting at the end of the alphabet).

Verb and noun suffixes are sorted in with the remainder of the entries.

* 'ach (conj.) but, however
* bIr (adj.v.) be cold
* -bogh (v.suff.) marks relative clauses; see grammar
* -choH (v.suff.) inchoative suffix; marks a change in state; SUBJECT
begins to do/be VERB
* chuch (n.) ice
* Dab (v.) dwell in/at, reside in/at
* -Daj (n.suff.) his/her/its; possessive suffix for a third person
singular possessor.
* -Daq (n.suff.) generic locative suffix; in/at/on/by
* Del (v.) describe
* -DI' (v.suff.) as soon as, when
* Duj (n.) ship, vessel
* 'e' (pron.) that; refers to a previous sentence; see grammar.
* 'ej (conj.) and
* 'el (v.) enter, go in
* ghaH (pron.) he/she (third person singular, capable of using
* ghojmoHwI' (n.) teacher (literally, person who makes someone else
* ghojwI' (n.) student (literally, person who learns)
* ghop (n.) hand
* ghoS (v.) approach, come (toward)
* Hot (v.) touch, feel
* jot (v.) be calm
* jotHa' (v.) be uneasy (literally, be un-calm)
* legh (v.) see
* loDHom (n.) boy
* -lu' (v.) unspecified subject; "passive" (see grammar)
* lut (n.) story
* mach (adj.v.) be small
* -meH (v.suff.) for, (in order) to, so that; marks purpose clauses
* mej (v.) leave, depart
* -mo' (v.suff.) because
* -moH (v.suff.) causative suffix; increases valency; see grammar
* nge' (v.) take away
* ngun (v.) perch; alight on, land on (e.g. a tree -- not on the
ground or on water)
* nI' (adj.v.) be long, lengthy (in duration)
* nID (v.) try, attempt
* notqa' (n.) a kind of large, black bird
* 'oH (pron.) it (third person singular, not capable of using
* paw (v.) arrive
* pe'vIl (adv.) forcefully, by force
* pep (v.) raise
* poH (n.) period of time
* -pu' (v.suff.) perfective aspect marker
* qaStaHvIS (idiom) while, during (literally, while [something]
continues to occur, from {qaS} "occur, happen", {-taH} "(continuous
aspect marker)", and {-vIS} "while")
* qIj (adj.v.) be black
* -qu' (v.suff.) very, strongly (emphatic marker). Can also occur on
verbs used attributively like adjectives.
* Quch (adj.v.) be happy
* reD (n.) wall; an exterior wall separating an inside from an
outside, e.g. the outer wall of a hosue (as opposed to an interior
wall, e.g. between rooms in a house)
* Sum (adj.v.) be near (see grammar for usage)
* -taH (v.suff.) continuous aspect
* tep (n.) cargo
* 'uch (v.) hold, grasp
* -vaD (n.suff.) for, for the benefit of
* -vam (n.suff.) this (demonstrative)
* volchaH (n.) shoulder
* yotlh (n.) field (of land)


* adj.v. = intransitive verb which can also be used like an adjective
(in which case, it follows the noun it modifies)
* adv. = adverb
* conj. = conjunction
* n. = noun
* n.suff. = suffix for nouns
* v.suff. = suffix for verbs
* OSV = object-verb-subject
* pron. = pronoun
* v. = verb

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March 6th, 2006
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