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"Where are the plates?"

Translation:nuqDaq 'oHtaH ngop'e'?

June 10, 2018



If ngop is inherently plural, can it take bIH instead of 'oH?


No, because inherently plural nouns are treated as grammatically singular.


If it helps, think of it as grammatically similar to English nouns such as "furniture".

If you are wondering where the couch, table, and armchairs went, you cannot ask, "Where are the furniture?" but have to ask "Where is the furniture?". "furniture" applies to multiple items but is grammatically singular, and Klingon "inherently plural" nouns work similarly.

(Or in German, das Geschirr which means nearly the same thing as ngop and is also grammatically singular.)


Does ngop refer more to a collection of plates, or is it simply the plural of jengva'? That is, would it ever be appropriate to say something like cha' jengva'mey vIlo'nIS.


It is simply the plural of jengva'. Using the intentionally incorrect plural, jengva'mey, winds up having a sort of poetic implication of "plates scattered all about". Saying, "I need to use two plates scattered all over the place," just seems odd, verging on nonsensical.


jengva'mey is not poetic. It simply means plates scattered all about. The only time poetry comes into it is if you use -mey on body parts. It's not allowed grammatically, but Klingon poets will often break the rule. TKD gives the example of tlhonmey noses scattered all about.


The whole concept of "scattered all about" is a bit poetic, so I'm comfortable calling it a "poetic implication" even if Dr. Okrand has only used the word "poetic" with reference to body parts.


I don't think scattered all about is poetic at all. If I toss a bunch of plastic ngop into the air, I get jengva'mey on the floor.

The explanation of scattered all about comes first, then using -mey on body parts comes second, restricting it to Klingon poets, with one of those best-not-to-question-Klingons-on-this jokes at the end. The poetic implication clearly applies only to -mey on body parts.

I mean, you're free to think of that as poetic if you like, but it's probably not accurate to teach it that way.


When you use a plural suffix on a singular noun that has an inherently plural counterpart, the noun gains the connotation of being "scattered about."

So jengva'mey means plates scattered about.

Grammatically, you may never put plural suffixes on inherently plural nouns.

However, Klingon for the Galactic Traveler says that Klingon children frequently break these rules. Children will say jengva'mey to mean plates without any notion of being scattered about and will even sometimes say ngopmey plateses. They will also incorrectly use plural pronouns to refer to ngop, as in nuqDaq bIH ngop'e' Where are the plates?

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