"His name is Gowron."
Translation:ghawran 'oH pongDaj'e'.
In Klingon, two nouns in a row do not equate those two things. Instead they form what's called a genitive relationship. The first one describes the second one in some way. ghawran pongDaj'e' means something like, "as for his name of Gowron".
To equate two things in Klingon like the verb "to be" does in English, you need to use a pronoun as if it were a verb - in this case 'oH.
Thanks for both quick responses! After reading the comments above again, I now see why the pronoun "it" is necessary. You guys really are spectacular at explaining these nuances clearly!
So is there no copula in Klingon at all, or is it just not used in this sort of "A equals/is B" sentence construction? I thought maybe 'e' was the verb "to be," but apparently it's a topic marker (something I've seen in the form of a suffix in only one other language I've ever studied, incidentally).
Well, there are several Earth languages which, while they do have a copula, don't use in the same way (or rely on it as heavily) as English and most other Western languages do (Russian and Chinese immediately come to mind). And that concept does seem alien to a lot of new language learners! A lot can be accomplished with stative verbs to describe qualities, and possessive structures to show existence. But when it comes right down to it, all languages do need to have SOME sort of copula. Now that I'm beginning to learn the copula in Klingon, I'm seeing certain parallels to Russian and Chinese. So I suspect that Dr. Okrand was aware of them. :-)
Based on conversations I've had with Dr. Okrand (but failure to ask directly), I believe that he had studied a little Chinese, but not Russian. But he has studied linguistics in general and, I'm sure, is aware of a great many features from languages that he hasn't directly studied.
It marks the topic of the sentence. You could translate it As for his name, it is Gowron.
A Klingon "to be" sentence follows a formula that cannot be deduced from the basic Object-Verb-Subject sentence. You just have to follow the formula, and you can't arbitrarily change it.