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Heads-up: becoming stricter with the vocative

A number of the sentences in the first few sections use vocatives -- they explicitly name the person the speaker is talking to, as in "I like your car, Paul!" or "Mary, do you understand me?".

Sometimes, these vocatives are separated from the rest of the sentence by a comma, sometimes they aren't. This can be confusing.

Over the coming days, I plan to tidy up the sentences so that vocatives are always separated by a comma.

This means that, for example, yaj'a' mara? will only accept "Does Mara understand?" and no longer "Does he understand, Mara?", while the opposite is true for yaj'a', mara? with comma.

Also, please translate vocatives in the same position they are in Klingon -- yaj'a', mara? will accept "Does he understand, Mara?" but not "Mara, does he understand?", while the opposite is true for mara, yaj'a'?.

On the topic of order: please translate nouns or sentences joined by "and", "or", or "but" in the same order that they are in Klingon. torgh mara je will be "Torg and Mara", not "Mara and Torg".


March 24, 2018



On the topic of "and"... sometimes it needs article, sometimes not? "Qapla' batlh je" => "success and honor"; "Hos peng je" => "A language and A name" . :/ Or is there a rule that says when you have the article and when not? (think)


In almost any case, any combination of articles might be true. Sometimes this course unnecessarily restricts you to a certain article, and I've been flagging those when I find them.

For instance, if I gave you the sentence qach 'el HoD, any of the following are legitimate translations (I'll keep everything in the simple present tense and only focus on articles): The captain enters the building. A captain enters the building. The captain enters a building. A captain enters a building. The captains enter the buildings. Captains enter buildings.

Without further context, and none of the Duolingo sentences have any further context, you can't tell which of these are meant. A Klingon speaker might actually mean more than one of them, because the Klingon speaker isn't thinking of specific articles; he or she simply speaks of qach and HoD.

It's a bit like how you can say something is blue without specifically distinguishing whether it's cyan or navy blue or whatever. It means any or all of those, depending on the thing you're talking about. Klingons can talk about HoD entering qach, and not specify whether it's a HoD or the HoD or just HoDpu' in general.


I would like to ask that all of you, please continue to flag sentences that seem to be missing the particular combination of articles that you tried to use, as DavidTrimb3 has been doing. In theory we should have already entered all of the possibilities, but in reality I am completely certain that there are still plenty more that we have missed.


For your particular examples, {Qapla'} "success" and {batlh} "honor" are abstract concepts, whereas {Hol} "language" and {pong} "name" are countable.


Thank you. This was confusing me!


Is there any punctuation in the Klingon writing system? What are the symbols used to punctuate?


When writing Klingon with roman letters, as we do in this course, it is common to use a period at the end of a statement, a question mark at the end of a question, and an exclamation point at the end of an exclamation or imperative. Commas are never required, but can often be used to clarify how parts of a sentence are differentiated.

We do not have any extensive knowledge of an official native Klingon writing system. Until the Discovery series, the writing seen in any of the TV series or movies has not had a discernable match to the Klingon language as described by Dr. Okrand. Nothing in the writing in those shows is clearly a punctuation mark and if there are punctuation marks it is not clear how they are different from the other characters.

In the 1990's, fans began to use a system of Klingon characters that resembled those used in TNG and the movies. It was an alphabetic correlation to the "letters" of Klingon as described by Dr. Okrand. This alphabetic system was used for some communication in Discovery, so can be considered canon as one way to write the Klingon language, but still doesn't match any of the writing we have seen before, so the same level of canon indicates that there must be other writing systems. This alphabetic system has only two punctuation marks: a small triangle with a point up and a flat base facing down and a small triangle with a point down and a flat base facing up. These have been represented by fans both with open triangles and with filled in triangles. The placement has been seen both resting on the bottom line that the other symbols (except the qaghwI') rest on or centered on the height of typical letters. The point up triangle is used as a more complete stop, where the roman type tends to put periods, question marks, exclamation points, and colons. The point down triangle is used as more of an optional separator to clarify how the parts of the sentence are divided, like the roman comma or semi-colon.


Because the prefixes in Klingon usually make it clear whether you are talking to someone or about someone, a comma (or down-pointed triangle) is not really necessary in Klingon. But because beginners have not yet gotten used to the system of prefixes (or perhaps have not even really learned it), using a comma can help beginners see when a name is being used as a vocative or as an object or subject.


That's only true if you happen to be talking about you or me. If one Klingon says to another, mara vIleghpu', is that Klingon saying Mara, I saw him/her/it/them or I saw Mara? There is no way to tell whether mara is being used as a vocative or not if you're not using punctuation.

I would not rely on prefixes to necessarily distinguish vocative from object or subject, even generally.


Good point. If you were speaking directly to Mara, it would be clear because you would have to use a prefix for the second person object if you were talking about her, but Duolingo lacks context and it is not clear from a sentence like that whether you are speaking to Mara or about Mara. So I would agree that in a situation where the context does not make it clear, commas (and triangles) are useful, not just for beginners, but for advanced speakers, too.


You are assuming that we are using "the Klingon writing system." That's not exactly the case.

The writing that we use, using the Latin alphabet to represent Klingon pronunciation, introduced in The Klingon Dictionary, has no prescribed punctuation.

Some of the old Skybox cards had Klingon text using the symbols seen on screen and added two new symbols: an up-turned triangle representing a comma, semi-colon, or colon; and a down-turned triangle representing a full stop, question mark, or exclamation point. These triangles were also, I believe, used in the Klingon script used in Star Trek: Discovery. Note that none of these sources of punctuation are canonical, in that Marc Okrand didn't write or approve them.

So use whatever punctuation you think makes sense. Duolingo doesn't register punctuation, so you can use it or leave it out however you like.


Duolingo doesn't register punctuation

With the exception of "double quotes", which it's pretty particular about, at least in my experience -- He said no and He said "no" are two entirely different sentences for it.


Really? Is that a Klingon-course thing or generally true of Duolingo? Because Klingon always uses quotations, even where English might not:

qaja'pu' HIqaghQo'
HIqaghQo' qaja'pu'
I told you not to interrupt me.
(Literally, I told you, "Don't interrupt me!")

Okrand doesn't use quotation marks for quotations, so requiring them would be wrong.

I don't recall Duolingo ever requiring me to use quotation marks.


The Duolingo engine has a terrible time with quotation marks, even before you consider that their form, placement and spacing varies across languages. So to have a sentence:

jatlh torgh, jIghung

and have the translations be

Torg said, "I'm hungry." and Torg said he was hungry.

is a bit of a wrestling match. Definitely not a Klingon decision, but a Klingon problem. I think most of the sentences that used them have been disabled, either by the creators, or by Duo because the failure rate was too high.

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