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"Mara and the child"

Translation:mara puq je

June 2, 2019



As jdmcowan says, Klingon is not read from right to left. Rather, Klingon has its own sentence order, and the parts that are object, subject, and verb are in an order opposite from the usual English order.

English usually uses the order SUBJECT - VERB - OBJECT. I see the bird. I (subject), see (verb), the bird (object). Klingon uses the order OBJECT - VERB - SUBJECT: bo'Degh vIlegh jIH. bo'Degh (object) vIlegh (verb) jIH (subject).

But both Klingon and English are more than just subjects, objects, and verbs. All the other stuff has the correct places to be, and Klingon is not just backwards English in these respects. The basic Klingon sentence order is:

{time expressions} {adverbials and syntactic noun phrases} {objects} {verb} {subjects}

wa'Hu' ghaytan vaS'a' DungDaq bo'Degh leghpu' Qang
Yesterday the chancellor probably saw a bird above the Great Hall.

wa'Hu' (yesterday, time expression)
ghaytan (probably, adverbial)
vaS'a' DungDaq (above the Great hall, locative noun phrase)
bo'Degh (bird, object)
leghpu' (saw, verb)
Qang (chancellor, subject)

You can turn basic Klingon sentences into complex Klingon sentences by adding dependent clauses, purpose clauses, relative clauses, sentences as object, and so on. None of these things are read right to left.


Why is it Mara puq je, and not puq Mara je? I thought klingon sentences were read from the right to the left? So puq Mara je would be read as Mara and the child. Can anyone explain?


No! Klingon sentences are not read from right to left! Please do not get in that habit. When reading, it can be a convenient cheat to read the sentence backwards, but in spoken language you will not be able to hear the sentence spoken backwards. While many elements of a Klingon sentence seem to be in reverse order from their placement in English, others are not.

Take adjectives for instance. There are no adjectives in Klingon and some English adjectives are represented by verbs in Klingon and some adjectives are represented by nouns in Klingon. Adjectives that are represented by verbs in Klingon follow the noun the are describing (ex: Duj tIn "big ship"), so the reverse order as English. However adjectives that are represented by nouns in Klingon go before the noun they are describing (ex: tlhIngan Duj "Klingon ship"), so the same order as English. Thus, "a big Klingon ship" is tlhIngan Duj tIn.

Some parts of the sentence can occur in either order in both languages. In English we can say "Mara and the child" or we can say "the child and Mara". There really is not much difference between the two but on rare occasions you may surgically choose to put one of the words first four some kind of subtle effect. In Klingon too, you can choose either order: Mara puq je or puq Mara je. The same considerations apply in Klingon. Because of this, we ask you to keep the order the same in both languages when translating. Unless the is a grammatical reason why a specific order is needed, if Mara's name appears first in one language, then it should also appear first in the other language.


It's a good comment, and you'll probably help a number of people who are also reversing entire sentences instead of just putting words in the proper Klingon order. Thanks for taking the time to ask and learn.

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