Translation:The inhabitants of this planet are Klingons.
I often make up mnemonics to help me with Klingon vocabulary. For the word Qagh "to err, to make a mistake, an error" I came up with this one: "it is an error (Qagh) not to recognize the qaghwI' as a letter of the Klingon alphabet." (Yes, I realize that the initial letters Q and q are not the same letter, but hey, if it helps me remember ...)
Also, on a side note, I've noticed that the word qagh (with a small initial q) means "to interrupt." Thus, qaghwI' literally means "that which interrupts." It's an interruption of the air stream right at the glottis, thus cutting off all of the sound coming out of the airway. This is why two glottal stops together don't sound any different from one - since the air has completely stopped at the back of the throat, there can be no more sound until a new word or phoneme is uttered.
Theoretically, the lengthening of any doubled consonant makes sense, so I can see the logic behind lengthening the stoppage of air to pronounce a double qaghwI. My original point was that, phonetically speaking, once you have a stoppage of air at the glottis - a glottal stop - there can be no more sound in that particular syllable; it's ended at the back of the mouth. No more air. Hence the other argument, for a single or a double glottal stop sounding exactly the same, is sound as well (pun partially intented). Technically, both arguments make perfect linguistic/phonetic sense, which is probably why you'll hear both pronunciations "out in the field," so to speak. Neither one is wrong. :-)
In fact, Dr. Okrand describes some Klingons as releasing a puff of air after a glottal stop so that it is a type of plosive rather than just a stop. So it would not be unreasonable to whisper the vowel again after the glottal stop only to close the glottis again to start the new syllable.
First question: when you have two apostrophes next to each other in a word (nganpu''e') do you drop one or should they both remain?
Second question: Can someone work me through the word order in this sentence? I get everything fine except for the placement of yuQvam. I would have expected it to be after nganpu''e' as it modifies it but I haven't seen many prepositional phrases yet so I'm not clear on this.
Two nouns next to each other modify each other with the first one being the "owner" or modifier and the second one being the "possession" or modified noun.
For example, bIQ bal "water bottle" (bIQ water, bal bottle), SuvwI' DaS "the warrior's boot; the boot of the warrior" (SuvwI' warrior, DaS boot).
Here, you have yuQvam nganpu' "this planet's inhabitants; the inhabitants of this planet".
Thank you so much for the clarification. So, adjectives come after noun they modify (targh mach - a small targ) but when two nouns are interacting in this manner, one modifying the other in an adjectival or possessive way, the modifying noun comes first, flipping the adjective structure on its head. Am I getting this now?
To answer your first question: letters are not dropped even if identical letters occur next to each other, e.g. juppu' "friends", pIchchuq "they blame one another", maw''a' "is she crazy?".
In Klingon, the apostrophe is a consonant letter like any other; if one syllable ends in an apostrophe and the next one starts with an apostrophe, you have two apostrophes in a row.
In English, when we say a word that starts with a vowel, we typically actually start with a glottal stop, even though we don't mark it in any way. Because of that, English speakers do not have to make any special effort to pronounce a glottal stop at the beginning of a syllable. Just make sure to stop the sound that was before the glottal stop and then start the following vowel and you'll naturally do a glottal stop. Thus, two glottal stops in a row won't really sound any different than a single glottal stop between two vowels.
An apostrophe at the end of a syllable has the tendency, at least for me, of making the vowel short and giving it an abrupt end.
So for example paw'a'? "Did he arrive?" and paw''a'? "Did he collide?" sound differently to me, because the first one has a longer aw sound while the second one has a short aw with an abrupt end due to the syllable-final apostrophe.
As for the apostrophe in jej'a', yes, it is pronounced -- in the almost imperceptible (to English speakers) way that jdmcowan mentions, i.e. the same way that a word starting with a vowel would be pronounced in English.