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  5. "tlhIngan wo'Daq be''e' jIH v…

"tlhIngan wo'Daq be''e' jIH val law' Hoch val puS."

Translation:I am the smartest woman in the Klingon empire.

January 9, 2019



The fact that there are two verbs or two subjects right next to each other in "be''e' jIH" and "jIH val" confuses me. Can somebody explain the structure, please?


I think this is supposed to be:

  • tlhIngan wo'Daq "In the Klingon empire, ..."
  • be''e' "as for women...; on the topic of women..."
  • jIH val law' Hoch val puS "I am the smartest"

(I'm not confident with these T'e' A Q law' B Q puS sentences myself so perhaps someone else can explain better.)


That is the proper breakdown. One thing to note is that -'e' does not indicate that the word is a subject. It indicates that the word is a topic or the focus of the clause. You may want to mark the subject as the focus or the object as the focus or you might even want to indicate a noun that is neither subject nor object as the topic, which is what is happening here.

The secret to breaking this down when you encounter a sentence like this in writing is to recognize the law'/puS construction and then recognize which parts are outside that construction and just additional information.


One related concept I've been thinking about in regard to one translation project of mine: We seem to be able to talk about bragging and exaggeration easily enough, but how would you handle the opposite? e.g. "I am the most modest woman in the Klingon Empire"


We tried to translate the values of my company into an indigenous language, and were met with a bit of confusion because the bragging words like "Excellence" just didn't translate. It didn't make sense to say that in a way that was supposed to be positive. I think the same might be said of Klingons and modesty. You might have to talk about a lack of self-confidence or boldness.

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