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The Height of Objects that are Longer than Tall

A follow-up to this discussion (https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/27798616) on how to say something like "The ship is 4 ujes tall", the outcome of which was recorded in the Tips & Notes for the "Lengths" unit (https://www.duolingo.com/skill/kl/Lengths-and-Measurements/tips-and-notes):

I referred this question today to the Grammarians' Panel at the annual qep'a'. The consensus view was that you can use 'ab for the height of the ship as well as its length. If context does not make clear which dimension is meant, a compound sentence can be used, such as:

woch Duj, loS 'uj 'ab (literally, The ship is tall, it is 4 ujes high.).

In reaching this answer, reference was made to a bird of prey poster that uses 'ab in the sense of height.

July 21, 2018



Hold on, the Bird of Prey poster shows how to measure both length and height. It uses 'ab for various height measurements, and 'aD for the ship's length.

The way 'ab has been defined might be slightly confusing since it refers to both height and length, but it really measures height. It's used for the "length" of long items, but the right way to think about this is that whereas English speakers think of sticks as being "long", Klingon speakers think of sticks as being "tall".

See the first link for an explanation, and the second link for an additional example:


I have updated the description of 'ab in the Tips & Notes to read as such:

A note on the word 'ab. This word means "to have a height of ...", but may sometimes be translated as "to have a length of ...".

For something that effectively has only one measurement or at least has a significantly greater measure in one dimension than in the other two (such as a pole or a rope), 'ab will give you the length of that greatest dimension. Klingons apparently imaging measuring such long objects standing on end, instead of lying down. Even for something that is never stood on end, if it is much longer than tall (such as a fence), you could use 'ab to give the length.


I don't believe that's true, based on the canon examples. I think 'ab has to be used to measure the height of the fence. I also think that 'ab cannot be used to measure the length (fore to aft) of a ship, which is 'aD.

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