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  5. "'IH yopwaH SuD tuQtaHbogh ma…

"'IH yopwaH SuD tuQtaHbogh martaq, qar'a'?"

Translation:The green pants that Martok is wearing are handsome, aren't they?

July 30, 2018



How do you know that the sentence is not instead, "Martok who is wearing the green pants is handsome"?


You can't; without -'e', it's ambiguous.

I've added "Martok, who is wearing the green pants, is handsome" to the accepted alternatives. (I think it has to be a non-restrictive relative clause, since "Martok" - a proper name - identifies a single person; thus I set it off with commas in the English translation.)


Yeah, it is a restrictive clause. I had it that way then deleted my comment then thought, nah, I want to ask this and retyped it and didn't put in the commas out of pure laziness.

Thank you. I thought I understood -bogh finally then when my sentence was wrong I thought I had it wrong somehow. I can see how the other one is also correct. But I was thinking that an 'e' was required on either yopwaH (or does it go on suD?) or martaq but not seeing one, I thought that I was not understanding what I thought I did understand.

So in an ambiguous situation, the -'e' is optional? Ah, yeah, I think I remember something about it not being needed if the meaning can be figured out from context.

It is a relief to know I might be on the right track. It is like when you are doing a math problem and you get the wrong answer after you think you have the principles figured out. Then you know your brain is really fubar and major rewiring is required. Always a scary moment.


If I remember correctly, Dr. Okrand has never used the head marker -'e' in any canon -bogh sentence. Klingonists have come up with the idea and it has been approved by Dr. Okrand, but it seems to be always optional and never required - just a good way to help clarify what you mean for your listeners/readers.


He has used it. I haven't looked for all examples, but here's one from paq'batlh:

qeylIS bop Hoch'e' Qoybogh qotar
All he [Kotar] heard was Kahless.

But Okrand has also left off -'e' where it could disambiguate. I don't know if he's done it since he invented the disambiguation rule, but we do have sentences like this one from Power Klingon:

Hov ghajbe'bogh ram rur pegh ghajbe'bogh jaj
A day without secrets is like a night without stars.

You could interpret this as Secrets that a day doesn't have are like stars that a night doesn't have and it might still make sense, but there really is just one given translation of this sentence.

I like to imagine that anyone who insisted to a Klingon that, nonono, you have to use -'e' there to be clear, would get punched in the nose.


Thanks. My head is muddled with things I have read and I am often unclear where I have seen it. I truly MUST read TKD again.


Type-5 noun suffixes such as -'e' go on the adjective-like stative verb if that follows a noun: veng tInDaq "in the big city", yopwaH SuD'e' "the green pants (topic)", Quch 'IHmo' "because of the handsome forehead" etc.

So in an ambiguous situation, the -'e' is optional?

I think so, though I'm not entirely positive.

It is a relief to know I might be on the right track. It is like when you are doing a math problem and you get the wrong answer after you think you have the principles figured out. Then you know your brain is really fubar and major rewiring is required. Always a scary moment.

It doesn't hurt to ask!

If it's a missing alternative, then we can add it an improve the course. If it's an actual mistake, then we can (try to) explain it.


That refreshes my memory-just the type 5 suffixes. I so much need to read TKD one more time because I keep forgetting these kinds of details.


That's right. Types 1 to 4 go on the noun, as in QaghHommeyHeylIj law' "your many apparent minor errors".


The experts may correct me, but I think that that would come out literally as 'IH martaq yopwaH SUD tuQtaHbogh. Modifying clauses tend to follow what they modify in Klingon.

This said, I suspect that more natural way to say your sentence in Klingon would be something like 'IH martaq. ghot yopwaH SuD tuQtaHbogh ghaH ("Martok is handsome. He's the one wearing green pants**).


The first sentence you wrote does not make sense to me because the relative positions of martaq yopwaH SuD would mean martaq's green pants. It is something like "martak's green pants are beautiful" and then the relative clause would be something like "he is wearing martaq's green pants". Together they don't make sense. It appears ungrammatical to me.

Your second sentence does not appear very structurally different than the alternative one I am asking about in terms of where you can place the bogh relative clause. Basically the similarity I am seeing is that in both your sentence and mine is that the relative clause is sandwiched in the middle of two words that make up the main sentence.


Upon review after a good night's sleep, I see you are correct about my first sentence.

Strike that speech from the minutes.



That's not how relative clauses work in Klingon.

You start off with the basic sentence, which has to follow the usual object–verb–subject word order: yopwaH SuD tuQtaH martaq "Martok is wearing green pants."

Adding -bogh turns that into a relative clause, relativising either the subject or the object -- so it can mean either "Martok (who is wearing the green pants)" or "green pants (that Martok is wearing)".

To disambiguate, you can use -'e': yopwaH SuD'e' tuQtaHbogH martaq can only mean "the green pants that Martok is wearing" while yopwaH SuD tuQtaHbogh martaq'e' can only mean "Martok, who is wearing green pants".

If only the subject or only the object is mentioned explicitly (and the other is only implicit through the verb prefix), then it's unambiguous -- for example, ghot leghbogh can only mean "the person whom he/she saw", while leghbogh ghot can only mean "the person who saw him/her/it/them".

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