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  5. "Cook! I want to eat Blue Steā€¦

"Cook! I want to eat Blue Stew!"

Translation:vutwI'! chatlh SuD vI'ep vIneH!

August 12, 2019



Curious: If there is a dish (i.e. menu item/recipe) called "Blue Stew" wouldn't the word order work like "Romulan Ale" where the Klingon word for Romulan comes before the Klingon word for liquor/beer/wine? If so, shouldn't the word "Blue" (capital B) in the example sentence above be "blue" (lower case b) indicating it is an adjective - instead of "Blue Stew" which makes it look like a title/proper name? I ask because the translation "vutwI'! SuD chatlh vI'ep vIneH!" was not accepted.


No. There is no such thing as an adjective in Klingon, so there is no one proper way to represent an English adjective in Klingon. In Klingon, some nouns can be used in an adjectival manner by placing them in front of the noun they are describing (like romuluSngan HIq or tlhIngan Hol). Other English adjectives are represented by verbs in Klingon, like Quch ("be happy") and all the color words, like SuD ("be cool colored/blue/green/yellow"). To use these types of words in an adjectival manner, we place them after the noun they describe, as in, targh Quch ("a happy targ") or chatlh SuD ("blue soup"). Making it into a proper noun does not change this order. This also means you can wind up with phrases like tlhIngan Duj SuD ("the blue Klingon ship").


Okay so you caught me red-handed shortening the expression "word being used as an adjective" to "adjective" for brevity's sake. All that aside, how does one know which is which? In the example you provided "tlhIngan Duj SuD" in which the noun "tlhIngan" is being used as an adjective and the verb "SuD" is being used as an adjective, what is the grammatical rule/convention being deployed here? Is it that nouns-being-used-as-adjectives precede the noun-being-used-as-a-noun yet verbs-being-used-as-adjectives follow the noun-being-used-as-a-noun that the verb-being-used-as-an-adjective describes? (For example, let's say I was offering you two soups. One was blue in appearance, and the other was a recipe I was trying out for the first time so I wanted to refer to it as "SuD" in the verbal sense of "taking a risk or gamble" - would they both be rendered as "chatlh SuD" in Klingon?)


We have tried to introduce the nouns as nouns first and the verbs as verbs first. I admit that I can't be 100% certain that the software has presented them to you that way. You should have already been using tlhIngan as a noun and be aware that it is not a verb. Also, I hope that the software has made it clear that SuD is a verb and not a noun. Thus your version of the grammatical rule that "nouns-being-used-as-adjectives precede the noun-being-used-as-a-noun yet verbs-being-used-as-adjectives follow the noun-being-used-as-a-noun that the verb-being-used-as-an-adjective describes" should work just fine.

However, only "be" verbs can be used in this adjectival fashion. When you use SuD to mean "take a risk/gamble", it is not a "be" verb and you can't use it adjectivally like that. In that case you would have to use the -bogh suffix. I don't know if you've encountered that suffix yet, but it is taught in this course. Thus SuDbogh chatlh would be "soup which takes a risk". This sentence however, does have two possible meanings since "be" verbs can also be used in this way and this sentence can also mean, "soup which is blue".


As it turns out I am perfectly fine with simultaneously knowing that Klingon does not have a class of words called adjectives, and using the word "adjective" in discussing translation between Klingon and English. In my first post I did this in way that turned out to be far too casual for this community and for that I both apologize and promise to make a concerted effort to eschew the word "adjective" in favor of the clunkier but much more accurate "noun-being-used-as-an-adjective" and "to-be-verb-being-used-as-a-adjective."

My study of Klingon is not exclusive to Duolingo (KLI, boQwi', the TKD, and working on a gloss of each line of the ghIlghameS text), so I honestly can't recall the order in which things were presented in Duolingo.

I've since been hunting for a Klingon word (specifically a noun) that would function as a translation of the English words risk/chance/gamble. Let's say a Klingon warrior was admonishing a worrywort and wanted to tell them they needed to "take more risks!" or wanted to express the fact that "Life is a gamble!" Is there really no Klingon noun for this? Furthermore, are we completely certain that Klingons are universally such "grammar dogmatists" that they wouldn't do what the majority of language users do when confronted with a language's inability to express a concept effectively: they make something up on the fly - often shifting a word's part-of-speech to do so and failing that, borrowing from another language!

Your suggestion of using the type 9 verbal suffix "-bogh" to construct SuDbogh chatlh is perfect! I'd apparently gotten stuck thinking of this suffix in its role as syntactic marker for more complex relative clauses that I forgot it could be used this way. Thank you so much!


Most of us are not so strict and pedantic in personal discussions. You have caught us in an open classroom environment and we must answer in detail and in ways that make the distinctions clear for all learners that might come across this discussion. I have no problem if you continue to use the word "adjective", but I, myself, will likely continue to be more specific and detailed in my responses to make sure they are also clear for everyone else.


yInlu'DI' SuDlu'

Life is a gamble

Seek not nouns, but meanings. Klingon uses verbs where English uses nouns or adjectives.


Let me reiterate this. When you find that Klingon lacks a noun your are looking for, but has a verb form of that word, look for a way to talk about that "thing" in a more "action"-like way.

For, "take more risks," you could try something like pIj yISuD! (Note that this is clearly "risk" and not "blue" because imperative "be" verbs should have -'eghmoH).


Before you continue, completely erase the word adjective from your vocabulary when dealing with Klingon. There are no adjectives in Klingon. This course unfortunately has a section on "adjectives," and this has confused a lot of people. There are words that can be used in an adjectival manner, in that they help describe a particular noun they're attached to, but there is no single class of word or grammatical rule that applies to all of them.

There are two separate grammatical rules at work here.

The first regards "be verbs," verbs that describe a state or quality, and have be as the first part of their English translations. These verbs follow the noun they're describing. If the HIvje' cup I have is tIn be big, then I have a HIvje' tIn big cup. There are some special rules that go along with this, but the basic idea is simply that a "be verb" can follow a noun to describe that noun. (So far as we know, only one "be verb" at a time can attach itself to a given noun, so you can't have a HIvje' tIn wagh big, expensive cup. There are ways around this.)

The second regards the so-called "noun-noun construction." You can put two nouns together in a "genitive" relationship, which is one in which one noun narrows the sense of another noun. The noun-noun construction can be used for one noun possessing another, or for one noun specifying the type of another noun. For example:

Possession: HoD Duj captain's ship (the captain possesses the ship) [HoD captain; Duj ship]

Specification: nuH pegh secret of the weapon, weapon's secret (What kind of secret is it? The kind of secret that has to do with a weapon, whether about it or in it.) [nuH weapon; pegh secret]

"Be verbs" describing nouns and the noun-noun construction are two totally separate grammatical devices. They don't match up to the way English splits things into adjectives or prepositions. Sometimes when English uses an adjective, you might need a noun-noun construction in Klingon. Sometimes you'll need a "be verb." Which one you need depends on whether the Klingon word you're using is a noun or verb.

The word SuD take a risk is not a "be verb," so it can't be put after a noun to describe that noun. SuD chatlh means either the soup is blue/green/yellow or the soup takes a risk. chatlh SuD means only blue/green/yellow soup.


Hey, let's not be so hard on the word adjective here! An adjective (whether it's classified as one or not) is a "...word used to qualify, limit, or define a noun or noun-like part of speech." Once a Klingon "to be" verb or noun is used to qualify, limit, or define another noun, it is in fact doing the job of an adjective (i.e. grammatically adjectivial). It would be far more accurate to assert that Klingon does not have a separate set of words that function exclusively as adjectives, instead it uses nouns and some verb as adjectives. Yes, the duolingo course has a section entitled Adjectives and it covers some of those those nouns and "to be" verbs that act as Adjectives by modifying nouns. While it would be more accurate to have named that section "Adjectivials," that's a fairly arcane term, so better to go with a more familiar term that English speakers (who aren't amateur/professional linguists) can easily relate to!

Your spelling out the two grammatical rules at work when using nouns to modify other nouns (in an English adjective-like manner) and "to be" verbs to modify nouns (in an English adjective-like manner) really cleared things up for me!

Thank you DavidTrimb3! I really appreciate it!


I don't mean to say that you couldn't describe these words as acting adjectival. You certainly can. But the word adjective leads to confusion, as most people will assume, with some justification, that you mean a dedicated part of speech. This is why everyone gets confused when they see some "adjectives" come before the noun and some "adjectives" come after.

And there are exceptions that the word adjective doesn't cover. For instance, when a noun-noun construction is used to indicate possession, there is no word acting adjectivally. When the relationship is not possession, there is an adjectival function.

Rather than calling them adjectivals OR adjectives, just call them verbs and nouns, and explain that "be verbs" can describe nouns by following them, and nouns can narrow the senses of other nouns by preceding them.

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