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  5. "mara 'oH'a' tlhIngan pong'e'…

"mara 'oH'a' tlhIngan pong'e'?"

Translation:Is the Klingon's name Mara?

November 9, 2018



I wrote "is Mara a Klingon name" and it was not accepted. Pardon me if my question is related to English grammar (it is not my mother tongue), but why is it "Klingon's name" and not just "Klingon name"? Does "tlhIngan pong" mean that there is a certain Klingon person and we are talking about that certain Klingon person's name? How does one say "Klingon name" in the meaning "any Klingon name"? I mean there is a difference between "English name" and "the name of the Englishman". How should I convey that in Klingon?


tlhIngan pong can mean either Klingon's name or Klingon name. They will typically be distinguished by context.

You got the lesson wrong because you got the translation backward. The subject of the Klingon sentence is tlhIngan pong'e', and the lesson expects you to make the Klingon's name the subject of the English sentence. You made Mara the subject of the English sentence instead.

tlhIngan pong 'oH'a' mara'e'?
Is Mara a Klingon name?
Is Mara a Klingon's name?
Is Mara the Klingon's name?

(It can mean any of these, given the right context.)


Now I see where was my mistake! Thank you very much for your quick reply and especially for examples! I was afraid that I wouldn't be understood, but you not only answered my question, but also clarified important and main thing in this lesson. I am very grateful to you, DavidTrimb3!


Is there any reason why "Is Mara the Klingon's name?" shouldn't be correct?


The subject of the Klingon sentence is tlhIngan pong'e', while the subject of the accepted translation is the Klingon's name. While there is a case to be made that the subject of a Klingon sentence needn't necessarily be the same as the subject of an English sentence, this course only allows both sentences to have the same subject for "to be" sentences.

There is also a case to be made for this strategy. The Klingon sentence can be more fully translated as As for the Klingon's name, it is Mara. The sentence Is Mara the Klingon's name doesn't quite capture this emphasis of the Klingon subject.


For the same reason that "Is Mara the Klingon's name?" is not quite the same question as "Is the Klingon's name Mara?" Those two sentences are different in English and they are different in Klingon. Yes the difference is minimal and in most situations they could be used interchangeably, but none the less, they ARE different questions.


Here 'oH' is marked with 'a' while it needn't be in "nuq 'oH pongDaj'e?" Why is that?


Because this one is a yes/no question while the other one is a WH question.

-'a' is only needed in yes/no questions.


Here there is no question word to turn this into a question.
In that other sentence nuq is a question word, so nuq 'oH pongDaj'e' is a question asking for what should go in the place of nuq.

In this sentence, without the -'a' the sentence would be mara 'oH tlhIngan pong'e' which is a statement: "The Klingon's name is Mara." If we want to ask if that statement is true, then we append the -'a' to the verb and we get, mara 'oH'a' tlhIngan pong'e' "Is the Klingon's name Mara?"


Why isn't it "mara 'oH'a' tlhIngan pongDaj'e'?" ?


Possession, or some other modifier, is already implied by putting two nouns together. This is known as a noun-noun construction.

nuH pegh weapon's secret, secret of the weapon
HoD Duj captain's ship; ship of the captain

Here you have tlhIngan pong, which means Klingon's name, name of the Klingon. If you add a -Daj to that, you're saying Klingon's his name, which doesn't make sense.

(Possession is only a subset of what the noun-noun construction can do. It can allow one noun to narrow the sense of another noun. For instance, SIrlIy yan silver sword. The main noun, or "head noun," is yan, the modifier is SIrlIy. A sword. What kind of sword? A silver sword. But the noun-noun construction isn't doing this in this lesson's Klingon sentence.)


Here you have tlhIngan pong, which means Klingon's name, name of the Klingon. If you add a -Daj to that, you're saying Klingon's his name, which doesn't make sense.

tlhIngan pongDaj could also be interpreted as "his/her/its Klingon name". But that's definitely not what the sentences are asking about in this exercise.


The short answer is "Because Klingon is not Turkish" :)

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