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  5. "mara yaj'a'?"

"mara yaj'a'?"

Translation:Does he understand Mara?

March 26, 2018



Could someone please explain what the 'a' means, as I'm afraid the grammar sometimes confuses me. I have previously translated this correctly, but got it wrong this time - I translated it as 'Does Mara understand', so am unsure where the 'he' in the correct translation comes from?

Also, what is the difference between "yaj'a' mara" and "mara yaj'a' "?


Remember that Klingon word order in a sentence is object - verb - subject.

So in yaj'a' mara?, Mara is after the verb and so must be the subject. "Does Mara understand?" (Or it could also be "Does Mara understand him / her / it / them?")

While in mara yaj'a'?, Mara is before the verb and so must be the object. "Does he/she/it understand Mara?"

"Does understand Mara?" without a subject is not possible, even if "Does Mara understand?" without an object is.

So mara yaj'a'? has to have some kind of subject -- and from the verb prefix (none at all) combined with the singular object mara, we can see that the subject must be a third-person singular subject: "he", "she", or "it". This subject, understood in Klingon, has to be stated explicitly in English.

As for the ending -'a', can you understand its meaning yourself by comparing these pairs of sentences?

  • yaj mara. "Mara understands."
  • yaj'a' mara? "Does Mara understand?"
  • jIyajbe'. "I don't understand."
  • jIyajbe''a'? "Do I not understand?"
  • bIyaj. "You understand."
  • bIyaj'a'? "Do you understand?"


Thank you so much for replying. Your explanation was very clear, and I understand the difference a lot better now! The little excercise you set me was useful too - I would now translate 'a' as an interrogative "do" based on what you and jdmcowan both said. Have I got the right idea?


That's right -- -'a' is used for making yes–no questions.

Not always "do"; it could also be past or future tense -- yaj'a' mara? could also be "Did Mara understand?" or "Will Mara understand?".


Ah, I see. The tense is not specified, and so relies on context of the statement. Thanks again for the help! :)


The -'a' is an interrogative marker - it turns a statement into a yes or no question asking if the statement it is tagged on is true. yaj mara means "Mara understands." yaj'a' mara means, "Does mara understand?"

There are many ways in which Klingon is different than English. One of the ways they are similar is that there is a strict order to where words can go most of the time and the meaning changes if you change the order of the words. There are languages on Earth where the order doesn't matter and there are other ways to tell what function the word is performing in the sentence. But English and Klingon both base it on word order. However, they differ in what order the words have to go in. In fact most of the time the order is the exact opposite from each other. In English you first say who is doing the action and then you put who the action is done to at the end. "I see you." "I" am doing the action and "you" are having the action done to you. In Klingon we reverse that order: SoH qalegh jIH. SoH is "you" and goes at the beginning to say who the action is done to. jIH is "I" and goes at the end to say who did the action.

When we say yaj mara, mara appears at the end and so is telling us who did the action of understanding. So we translate that into English as "Mara understands." Or possibly "Mara understands it." And when we add the interrogative marker it becomes yaj'a' mara? "Does Mara understand it?" When we say mara yaj, mara appears at the beginning and so is telling us who the action was done to. So we translate that into English as "He/she/it understands Mara. And when we add the interrogative marker it becomes mara yaj'a'? "Does he/she/it understand Mara?"

I hope that was helpful, but feel free to ask more questions.


Thank you so much - this was a great explanation and really helpful!


Just so I get this straight: I wrote "Do you understand Mara?" but got "Does he understand Mara?" He/she/it is the implied default and to say "Do you understand Mara?" it would be "mara bIyaj'a'"?


If there is no verb prefix on a verb, then the subject is "he", "she", or "it", or sometimes(*) "they".

The subject can be explicitly named (e.g. yaj mara "Mara understands"; yaj ghaH "she understands") or left out (e.g. yaj "she understands").

If you want to say "Do you understand Mara?", it would be mara Dayaj'a'?.

bIyaj'a'? "Do you understand?" has the prefix bI- which indicates that the subject is "you" (one person) and that there is no object.

In "Do you understand Mara?", there is an object, though -- a third-person singular one ("him/her/it"). The combination of "subject = you (one person), object = him/her/it" requires the prefix Da-.

(*) The exception is if the subject is "they" and the object is "him/her/it" -- that combination does require a prefix. But a subject of "they" and no object, or a subject of "they" and an object of "them", has no prefix.


jIyaj. I think. ;)


Just to confirm, in the sentence "mara Dayaj'a'?" You say that there IS a third-person singular object (he/she/it). But is Mara not the direct object here?

Is Mara an indirect object (dative case)? Or, is "she" the direct object, and "Mara" is just a further clarification of who or what that object is?

(Sorry - I've been away from Klingon for a couple of weeks, and didn't get very far, so I'm reviewing. I'm also trying to remember what we learned about whether there are any suffixes or other indicators to denote direct and indirect objects at all in Klingon, or if we haven't gotten that far yet - I'm still on Lesson 3, Phrases.)

Thank you!


Just to confirm, in the sentence "mara Dayaj'a'?" You say that there IS a third-person singular object (he/she/it). But is Mara not the direct object here?

Yes, there is a third-person singular object: mara.

Singular nouns are third-person singular grammatically just as the pronouns "he, she, it" would be. So if the object is a singular noun (such as a person's name), then the verb prefixes have to be used that show a third-person singular object.

Indirect objects are not indicated by verb prefixes -- they use a suffix on the noun, -vaD, which can be translated as "for" or "to", e.g. torghvaD paq nob mara "Mara gives a book for Torg = Mara gives Torg a book".


No, in the sentence mara Dayaj'a', the prefix Da- indicates a second-person subject (you, singular): Do you understand Mara?

There is a third-person singular object in the sentence, namely mara. There's no he/she/it involved. That would be mara yah'a': Does he/she/it understand Mara?

(And, of course, everywhere above where it says "understand" may as well be "will understand" or "understood".)


Translation was "does he understand Mara?"

I was marked wrong for "Was Mara understood?" Is there something that makes this about a specific person understanding? I felt that with it phrased this way, it would be more generic than what was given.


Yes -- the verb prefix shows what the subject is.

In this case, there is "no prefix" -- a null prefix or empty prefix -- and that means that

  • the subject is "he, she, it, they" and there is no object
  • the subject is "he, she, it, they" and the object is third person plural ("they")
  • the subject is "he, she, it" and the object is third person singular ("him, her, it")

The object is mentioned in this sentence and it's singular (Mara), which means that the subject has to be "he", "she", or "it".

Things that can understand are usually animate, so the most natural translations are "Does he understand Mara?" or "Does she understand Mara?"

If the subject were non-specific, you would use the suffix -lu' which is introduced later in the course -- mara yajlu''a'? "Did someone understand Mara? Was Mara understood?".

Or you could use the pronoun vay' "someone, something": mara yaj'a' vay'? "Did someone understand Mara?"


hanspersson what is does mara yaj'a'?" in EINGLISH


The English translation is at the top of the page.


Ok, i havent watched a lot of star trek, and i dont get how to pronounce the words. In fact i just saw big bang theory where sheldon and leonard use it and im like, so that's how its supposed to sound! Halp!


There is a pronunciation skill in this course after you have been introduced to a little bit of the grammar. Unfortunately it also lacks audio.

For some other online resources see this discussion thread: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/26605745

And to hear extended good Klingon listen to: https://soundcloud.com/cartweel/klingon-advanced-speakers-chat


Спрашивоетса как руско язычному человеку изучить всё это!


Google Translate between English and Russian, perhaps? Google Translate is quite good these days.

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