Translation:The doctor had accidentally dropped the scalpel.
Herein lies my biggest gripe with this course. In Klingon, there are no simple or perfect tenses. The Klingon perfective suffix -pu' does not express what English present or past perfect tenses express. Klingon does not mark verbs for tense at all.
bong Haqtaj chaghpu' Qel might accurately be translated as above, or it might be The doctor accidentally dropped the scalpel, or any present or future tense version of either. The distinction between Klingon perfective and non-perfective is entirely different than the distinction between English simple and perfect tenses. The English perfect tenses say that something happened BEFORE the current action; the Klingon perfective aspects say that something is COMPLETED, but not when it happens.
What the chaghpu' expresses is that some kind of drop happens, and that the action I'm describing is describing its completion. -pu' means completed," not happened before.*
Unfortunately, the makers of this course have gotten this wrong through the entire course. They completely ignore perfective suffixes when the sentence clearly calls for such, and they often allow only perfect tense translations into English.
If it's frustrating for us trying to remember that we must always translate the -pu' suffix with "has (verbed)," it must be infinitely more frustrating for you moderators to have to explain the problem every time this question is asked. Our sympathies. :-) I understand what the course creators were trying to accomplish, but I disagree with the way they decided to try to get the completion aspect across in the English translations. Here's hoping that after the Aspect lesson is over, maybe the course creators will lighten up on this constant use of "has (verbed)" a little ...
I think it must be most frustrating for the moderators that I keep bringing it up -- because I am not one!
What you'll find later is that they do indeed lay off the "has (verbed)" a bit, but they constantly use "(verbed)" and no -pu' allowed where a -pu' is clearly required. You'll see sentences like The doctor dropped the scalpel, which is obviously perfective, but you're not allowed to answer Haqtaj chaghpu' Qel. And the reverse translation is similarly problematical.
Ah. I was just getting so used to seeing your excellent explanations that I forgot you weren't a moderator! :)
Come to think of it, they have been rather silent on this particular subject. They haven't contradicted your statements, though, which I assume they would if they strongly disagreed ...
As for the future use of -pu' (or lack thereof) in the course, that's a shame. Seems like a real missed opportunity, assuming you're correct about how they've mishandled it. Correctly understanding an aspect marker is very important, especially when it doesn't translate easily...
David has been a great help here. There are some things where I do not agree with his approach, but those are almost always in controversial areas. Where we agree with him, his participation has been helpful to take some of the load off the moderators. And where we disagree with him we feel it is important for students to have the opportunity to hear another opinion on the subject. I almost never feel the need to "correct" him and those instances where I do jump in are usually when he has stated that this course is factually inaccurate rather than presenting it as a dissenting opinion. I'm sure he does believe there are areas where the course is factually inaccurate, but in those areas, there are Klingonists that disagree with him. We invite you to continue your Klingon studies outside of this course and make your own decisions.