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  5. "jentu' 'oH'a'?"

"jentu' 'oH'a'?"

Translation:Is that a jentu?

May 27, 2019



I did this one using word tiles. Wouldn't it make more sense to translate this as "Is it a jentu?"


I'm going to start with a tentative "yes" to that question. It is accepted as a correct answer and is certainly the most direct and literal translation. But I'll explain why this "best translation" isn't using that most direct and literal translation.

Imagine you are at a zoo and a Human asks, "What is that animal?" Think for a moment how you would answer in English. You might say, "That animal is a jentu," or, "it is a jentu," or, "that is a jentu." I actually think the last version is the most common way of answering in English.

Now imagine a Klingon asks nuq 'oH Ha'DIbaHvetlh'e'? You can answer jentu' 'oH Ha'DIbaHvetlh'e' or jentu' 'oH, but there's no way to answer with simple "that" since Klingon has to attach it to a noun (like in the first answer - though you could use Doch as a generic noun). So while using "that" is probably the most common way to answer in English, using 'oH would be the proper way to answer in Klingon.

Similarly, the variation on this question where a guess is being made (as in this exercise) would most likely use "that" in English, and 'oH in Klingon (as in this exercise).

We have included a few of these sentences in the course where the direct translation is not the most likely correlation. We are trying to break the habit beginners develope of using the most direct translation all the time. And trying to show that sometimes the best translation will have to be a little different in Klingon.


In this case, shouldn't "Is this a jentu?" also be accepted?


When would you say, "this" instead of "that"? If you were holding the jentu? How likely are you to be holding a jentu and asking this question? I would think you'd be much more likely to be pointing at one and asking if "that" is a jentu. But maybe it's some chachki at someone's home and you've picked up their stuff and are asking them what it is. We hadn't considered that possability. I'll add it.

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