1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Klingon
  4. >
  5. "Where are the travelers?"

"Where are the travelers?"

Translation:nuqDaq chaHtaH lengwI'pu''e'?

July 16, 2018



Man this is driving me nuts today....ok, so why is the sentence all of a sudden in a logical forward English order construction? Why is it not in reverse order, phrased like "the travelers they are located where" but instead is "where are the travelers?"?


First of all, get rid of the idea that Klingon is like English in reverse order. It's true that the basic sentence structure, Object-Verb-Subject, is the reverse of English's basic sentence structure, which is Subject-Verb-Object. But aside from that, nothing about Klingon is "backwards English."

The sentence here is not a basic sentence. It is a copula, sometimes called a "to be" sentence, because it is used to do things that in English is done with the verb "to be."

The "to be" sentence uses a completely different order than the basic sentence.

If you want to link a pronoun to a noun, you use this formula:

noun pronoun

For instance,

tlhIngan ghaH He is a Klingon
DujDaq 'oHtaH It is on the ship.

What you're doing is saying that the noun is going to be represented by the pronoun.

If you want to link two nouns together, you make one of them the topic, what the linkage is about, and you follow this formula:

noun pronoun topic'e'

The suffix -'e' turns the noun it's attached to into a topic.

For instance:

HoD ghaH tlhIngan'e' The captain is a Klingon; as for the captain, he is a Klingon.
DujDaq 'oHtaH nuH'e' The weapon is on the ship; as for the weapon, it is on the ship.

You'll notice that I used -taH on the pronoun 'oH a couple of times. In fact, you can use some verb suffixes on pronouns when they're helping to form a copula. It doesn't make the pronouns the same as verbs; they're just allowed to borrow some verb suffixes if needed.

Notice also that while English switches up its word order when asking questions — you don't say The travelers are where? you say Where are the travelers? — Klingon does not do this. You just use the appropriate question word or suffix in the appropriate place, and the sentence becomes a question.

So this sentence, nuqDaq chaHtaH lengwI'pu''e' means *Where are the travelers?; As for the travelers, where are they?; The travelers are where?


Your HoD ghaH tlhIngan'e' sentence has the English reversed.


And thus, the "arguably" point of my previous reply becomes relevant. I would say this would have been a choice of the mods in their selection of a "best" translation, in that it is a more flowing translation. It would be a bit more confusing to say, just like the English, it doesn't matter that much which direction such a sentence is interpreted. Saying "Where are the travellers?", is functionally identical to saying "the travellers are where?". Just choose the easier one for you to use. Such a question could just as easily be {lengwI'pu' chaHtaH nuqDaq'e'?} except for the apparent preference to always have nuqDaq at the start of a sentence.


The nuqDaq in nuqDaq chaHtaH lengwI'pu''e'. isn't the object, though; it's a locative, which comes at the start of a sentence (or at least before the Object-Verb-Subject sequence). To quote The Klingon Dictionary:

The word for where?, nuqDaq, is actually nuq what? followed by the suffix -Daq locative (see section 3.3.5). As would any locative phrase (see section 6.1), it comes at the beginning of the sentence.

nuqDaq So'taH yaS Where is the officer hiding? (So'taH he/she is hiding)

This also means that nuqDaq cannot take the -'e' suffix, as that would involve adding two Type-5 suffixes to the same pronoun. (Granted, pronouns do follow slightly different grammar than nouns, being chuvmey, but we've seen nothing to indicate that they are exempt from this rule.)


Oops you are correct. I had it confused with the question words like {Iv} and {nuq}.


Why 'chahtah' and not 'ghahtah'? Is 'chah' plural, or am I missing something?


Yes. chaH is the plural form of ghaH. In this kind of context ghaH is usually translated as "he is" or "she is". chaH is usually translated as "they are". Please revisit the Tips & Notes for the Pronouns Skill.


I am unaware of a Tips & Notes page.


Duolingo has hidden the Tips & Notes so I'm not surprised you don't know where to find them.

If you are doing the course on iOS or Android, you cannot currently access the Tips & Notes through the app. To access the Tips & Notes, you will have to access the course using a web browser at https://www.duolingo.com/. You can still do it on your mobile device, but you will have to use the web browser instead of the app (or you can do it from a computer). When you click on a Skill, it will expand to reveal a Start button, a key, and a light bulb.

If you click on the light bulb it will reveal the Tips & Notes and give you a detailed explanation of the grammar that is introduced in that Skill. If you have questions after reading the Tips & Notes for any Skills, then please return to the forum to ask your question, explaining what you didn’t understand or what seems contradictory to you.


I'm on a PC. Thanks. :)

Learn Klingon in just 5 minutes a day. For free.