"Mara is a great warrior."
Translation:SuvwI' Dun ghaH mara'e'.
Are there any tips on learning how to recognize which word is the topic? This new element keeps tripping me up!
Klingon uses three equivalency formulas. In all cases where I say "noun", noun phrases can also be also used. Here are the basic concepts of these formulas:
1) noun = adjective
2) noun = noun
3) noun = at/in/on/by location
In English we use the connecting verb "to be" for the equals sign:
1) My friend is happy.
2) My friend is a Klingon.
3) My friend is on Kronos.
In English we can substitute a pronoun in place of the noun:
1) He is happy.
2) He is a Klingon.
3) He is on Kronos.
In Klingon, for the first kind of sentence, we don't use a connecting verb like "to be". The adjectives are already verbs and so we just use the verb as a verb. In Klingon we can leave the subject out, put in an explicit pronoun, or put in an explicit noun (we are not allowed to use both a noun and a pronoun at the same time):
1) Quch. ("He is happy.") Quch ghaH. ("He is happy.") Quch jupwI'. ("My friend is happy.")
However, for the other two formulas, Klingon does use a connector, but it doesn't have a verb for "to be". Instead Klingon uses a pronoun where the connecting verb would go. The pronoun also changes depending on who the subject is:
2) tlhIngan ghaH. ("He is a Klingon.") tera'ngan jIH. ("I am a Terran.") SuvwI' chaH. ("They are warriors.")
3) Qo'noSDaq ghaH. ("She is on Kronos.") DujDaq 'oH. ("It is on the ship.") Qe'Daq tlhIH. ("You are at the restaurant.")
In all of those sentences, the pronoun is acting like both the subject and verb. In fact, the pronoun, when used this way, and only when used this way, can actually take some verb suffixes. Since the pronoun is required to act as the connecting verb, you cannot substitute a noun in its place - the connecting "verb" must be a pronoun. You also cannot add a pronoun or a noun where the subject would normally go (like you could with formula 1) since the pronoun is acting as both the subject and the verb and we are not allowed to use both a pronoun and a noun for the subject.
So, if we want to be explicit as to who the "he", "it", "they", etc. are, we are unable to place a normal subject noun in the sentence. Instead we add it in as a topic, using the suffix -'e':
2) tlhIngan ghaH jupwI''e'. ("As for my friend, he is a Klingon." or "My friend is a Klingon.") SuvwI' chaH jaghpu''e'. ("As for the enemies, they are warriors." or "The enemies are warriors.")
3) Qo'noSDaq ghaH jupwI''e'. ("As for my friend, he is on Kronos." or "My friend is on Kronos.") DujDaq 'oH paq'e'. ("As for the book, it is on the ship." or "The book is on the ship.")
Whenever you are using a pronoun as the connecting verb AND you have an explicitly stated subject noun, you are required to use the -'e' suffix on the subject noun (because it's not really grammatically the subject, but rather the topic). That is the only time the -'e' suffix is required. All other uses of -'e' are optional.
If I could give you a million lingots I could, but here's one! Thank you so, so, so much for your detailed explanations of Klingon grammar! A lot of things are now cleared up for me. You're a great teacher and friend! :)
Curiosity question; In the pronouns tips it says: "Pronouns can be left off, since the verb prefix shows what the subject and object are." But, in the practice question leaving out ghaH makes the answer incorrect.
In these forums I heard it is used to emphasize and might be used in loud/noisy places. So, my curiosity is: Would it typically be left off in writing?
Note that when the pronoun is used like a connecting verb in the pronoun-as-"to-be" construction it is acting as both a pronoun and a verb and no prefix is used. Since it is acting as a verb and cannot take a prefix, it is no longer optional. In these types of sentences it is never "left off".
When it is acting purely as a pronoun, then it is optional and is most often left off. There are plenty of situations where using the pronoun might help to clarify what you mean and then it is more common. Also when a statement is perfectly clear without the pronoun, the use of the unnecessary pronoun can have an emphasizing effect - this is done, but infrequently. Leaving the pronoun off when it would purely be acting as a pronoun is always grammatical, but not always clear.