Seeing the difference between "l" and "I" with Duo's sans-serif font will probably be a continuing pain in this course...
Yes -- at least there is a slight curve at the bottom of the small L to make them different! Some fonts (e.g. Arial) have even less difference.
The more you're exposed to Klingon, though, the more the relatively constrained CV(C) syllable structure helps you figure out that a given letter can only be a small L or a big i. (Except in pathological cases such as lIlIllI'.)
But at the beginning, it's tough!
Why on earth was a capital 'I' chosen when there is no lowercase 'i'? It would seem to make much more sense to choose a capital 'L' and a lowercase 'i'.
That decision was made decades ago when Dr. Okrand was first working on the language. In Earth languages there is a common grouping of 5 vowel sounds that many language learners are familiar with. Written in IPA, these sounds are a, e, i, o, and u. Klingon uses the same a, e, o, and u, but instead uses the fifth vowel sound ɪ. Early on Dr. Okrand created a system of marking letters that are pronounced differently than one might expect by capitalizing them. Thus he used a capital I for the unusual vowel sound. When used with font with good serifs, it is very easy to tell the I and l apart, do it did not occur to Dr. Okrand until much later that this could be a problem. He has admitted now that if he knew what Klingon would become, he probably would have done it differently. However, at this point all the Klingon that has already been produced uses this system and students should learn to read it.
I suppose I can see that he was writing lines for actors and wanted them not lazily to pronounce the sounds as they might expect them to be pronounced, but I must agree that there is no reason not simply to say that the Klingon i is short, the d and s are retroflex, and the h represents the sound of the Greek χ. The Q would, of course, have to be kept, since there is another q. All of this would be no different than pointing out that in Dutch the g is pronounced like the Greek χ and in Turkish the c is pronounced like the English j.
If you wanted to make Klingon unicase, you could map q to k and then Q could be q.
In fact, you could even remove digraphs, using c g x f for ch gh tlh ng, resulting in what is sometimes called xifan hol (after the keyboard mapping in some pIqaD fonts).
But that's water under the bridge -- the spelling system is what it is now.
Even better, but as you say, that will have to wait for some other constructed language.
Wouldn't that be redundant though? I thought nuq means "what is" in the question format and I thought 'oH is the verb "to be"
When used as a verb nuq means "What is". However, when used as a pronoun with another verb, it just means "what (thing)". In the question ponglIj nuq, nuq is acting as the verb, so the question means, "What is your name?" In the question nuq 'oH ponglIj'e', ;oH is acting as the verb, so nuq is just acting as the question word, "what?" and the question still means, "What is your name?" (Or more accurately, "Your name is what?", but that seems like a weird way to say it in English so we don't include that in the translations.)
Thank you for explaining this.
nuq is one of the "verb-pronouns" which means it's a verb in a sentence like this.