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  5. "Her name is definitely Mara."

"Her name is definitely Mara."

Translation:mara 'oHbej pongDaj'e'.

October 8, 2018



What is the literal word-for-word translation of this sentence, please?


The most literal English translation is As for her name, it is definitely Mara.

The topic of the sentence is marked with -'e'. pongDaj'e' means that her name is the topic of the sentence.

So now that we know that the sentence is all about her name, what are we saying about her name? mara 'oHbej. Ignore the -bej for a moment. mara 'oH is literally Mara it. This is how you link a noun to a pronoun. It means "I'm talking about an 'it,' and the 'it' I'm talking about is the name Mara."

Now add the -bej, which is a suffix meaning you are certain that what you say is true. mara 'oHbej Mara it. Definitely. Put into more natural English, we get It is definitely Mara.

Now combine this with the topic: Regarding the topic of her name, it is definitely Mara. Put into more natural English, we get Her name is definitely Mara.


Klingon sentences will often seem to appear in the reverse order of English ones (though not all elements get reversed, so don't get in the habit of translating from the back). So the first word of the Klingon is mara, which is a name. The second word of the Klingon is 'oHbej, which means "It definitely is ..." The third word of the Klingon is pongDaj'e' which means "as for her name."

The sentences in this first skill are just some sample sentences for you to memorized and as you continue through the course you will learn a lot more about the grammar used in them. Please make sure to read the Tips to find all those grammar explanations. Since Duolingo has hidden the Tips I want to make sure you know about them and where to find them. I would like to ask that you first review those when you have a question so we don’t have to continuously repeat the information that we have explained there.

If you are doing the course on iOS or Android, you cannot currently access the Tips through the app. To access the Tips, 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 and a Tips button.

If you click on the Tips button it will reveal the Tips and give you a detailed explanation of the grammar that is introduced in that Skill. If you have questions after reading the Tips 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.


how do you get her name from pongDaj'e'? how do we know the suffix indicates mara's name?


This unit of the course is designed to give you some initial phrases to memorize. I know it can be tough to memorize complex phrases without understanding, but it's going to take a while for the course to teach you all these details. We know people like to have some useful phrases right from the start, so this unit of the course just gives you a bunch of useful phrases that you can memorize. You will be taught all these details and be able to practice the patterns more later. For now, don't try to understand the grammar - just memorize these phrases. We will start teaching you the patterns and more grammar details in the next unit.

But to give you a sneak preview of some of the grammar details...
The suffix -Daj means the noun belongs to someone or something that is not you nor I. It belongs to some "third person" (or thing, but grammar calls them all "person"). Depending on who or what you are referring to, it might be "his", "her", or "its". I mean, you could name a computer "Mara" and then this Klingon sentence would be translated as, "Its name is Mara."

The phrase "her name" in English and its corresponding Klingon phrase pongDaj could refer to all sorts of names, but the English sentence you are reading is equating "her name" to "Mara". And so your Klingon translation, too, must equate pongDaj to mara. While English uses the connecting verb "to be" for this purpose, Klingon doesn't have a verb that translates as "to be" and instead uses pronouns as connectors in this way. So mara 'oH means, "it is Mara". To add what the "it" refers to in a sentence like this, it follows the pronoun and gets marked with -'e'. We don't have anything like that in English, so there is no translation for -'e' and it's just a required bit of grammar that doesn't match anything in English. Thus we get mara 'oH pongDaj'e' ("Her name is Mara.")

When using a pronoun as a connector like that (like the verb "to be" in English), it pretends to be a verb in that it can take verb suffixes. But it's not really a verb, it is still a pronoun - it is acting like both the subject pronoun and a verb that can take verb suffixes. So we can add the verb suffix -bej to provide the English meaning of "definitely".


Should i finish sounds first before starting phrases. I find phrases quite hard.


I find it helps for me to be able to say the words, so I would recommend finishing the sounds first. But it's not essential and if you need a break from the sounds, you can do some phrases.

The phrases unit might be one of the most difficult, since we have not had a chance to teach the grammar used in some of the phrases. We are planning out a redesign which will replace both of those first two units in a way that will probably make the beginning of the course easier.

Please make sure to read the Tips when you start each unit. The Tips are not available on the apps, so you'll have to use a mobile browser or a computer to read them.

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