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"And the blood is sticky and it is surrounding it."

Translation:'ej HumtaH 'ej DechtaH 'Iw.

August 25, 2018



The original English sentence is: And the blood is sticky and it is surrounding it.

The given translation is: 'ej HumtaH 'ej DechtaH 'Iw.

This translation seems off. Why is there a -taH on Hum and Dech? Is it needed? What does it add to the meaning of the sentence? Also, shouldn't 'Iw follow the first sentence not the second one?

Instead of 'ej HumtaH 'ej DechtaH 'Iw wouldn't 'ej Hum 'Iw 'ej Dech be better?

But especially I do not understand what -taH is adding here. Wouldn't it mean that the blood is in progress of surrounding it? As it the object is not yet totally surrounded but is currently being surrounded by the blood? I don't think that is what the English sentence is saying. I think the -taH does not belong on either Hum or on Dech here. Saying that the blood is in progress of being sticky especially seems weird. Is -taH used with state verbs?


It's a line from a Klingon song. The -taH means that the stickiness and the surrounding were ongoing and continuous. The question becomes how to express this concept in the English?

Personally I would prefer to have the subject stated on the first verb and elided on the second, but it is not wrong this way. It is a matter of style, not grammar. Though since this is a song, both style and grammar become more flexible to the demands of the art.


Ah, I see! Thank you.


The suffix -taH does not mean that the state lasts for zero time; it means that the state lasts beyond the viewpoint of the sentence.

Hum 'Iw 'ej 'oH Dech.
Here the viewpoint of the sentence is undefined, but we're IN that period, noticing that the blood is sticky and surrounding something. The stickiness and surrounding don't necessarily extend beyond the period of the viewpoint, though they might.

HumtaH 'Iw 'ej 'oH DechtaH.
Here the stickiness and surrounding action take place before and after whatever period of time we're focusing on. Not only is it sticky at the time we're considering, but it was sticky before that time, and it will continue to be sticky after that time. Likewise, it was surrounding it before the time we're focusing on and it will still be surrounding it after we change our focus.

The song in question is from an episode of Deep Space Nine, and is not Okrandian canon. Its author is unknown. The line 'ej HumtaH 'ej DechtaH 'Iw is Alan Anderson's interpretation of what he hears when it's being sung on screen. Its translation in the original script is "And the blood was ankle deep." You can see the liberties being taken.

There's really no reason for this line to have -taH, except possibly because someone wanted to cram some extra syllables in to match a meter. With the -taH, it reads more like And the blood was still sticky, and it was still surrounding it."

Regarding placement of repeated nouns: the default assumption is that you state a noun as soon as possible, and if the noun is repeated in the same syntactic position (subject following subject, object following object), you can replace it with a pronoun or elide it completely. However, short phrases might be tightly bound together and you put a single subject after the phrase (e.g., we have the canonical wambogh 'ej HoHbogh nejwI').

In this case, the author is assuming an elided 'oH object that has no antecedent in the previous verb clause. There's no "it" in the first sentence (HumtaH) that the second "it" of DechtaH could be referring to. It's sloppy and confusing. But not TECHICALLY wrong.

Best way to say The blood was sticky and surrounded it: Hum 'Iw 'ej 'oH Dech.


Can we talk about -taH at qepHom if there is time?

I agree the last sentence you wrote in Klingon makes the most sense. I had not even noticed that missing object that is surrounded in the first sentence but, yeah, that is sloppy. Adding 'oH in the second sentence cleans it up.


I have made it my personal mission to fix the widespread misunderstanding of aspect in Klingon, never fear!


Good. Because I really need help with this.

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