Klingon name genders
Do you think we should require you to learn the genders of our fictional Klingons in order to translate sentences into English?
I think the course makes it clear enough at the beginning that Mara is female and Torg is male, and I think even if tlhIngan Hol is your first exposure to Star Trek that should know that Kahless is male, but what about Turgal and Kargan? In Klingon it doesn't matter, because unless someone is being specifically identified as an aunt or father, there's no grammatical or vocabulary difference, but in English students have to choose he or she. Course constructors made up the names and there is no aspect of the name that reveals gender. Is it okay to get something get marked wrong the first time you see it because you guessed that qarghan HoD was female? Or is it burdensome enough for the students to remember the gender of the made up names, that we should do the work of ensuring that every variety of every sentence works with either of the gendered English pronouns?
What do you think?
By the way not only do I agree with this I also don't think the course should hold you accountable to know the precise spellings of transliterated names since they aren't actually Klingon vocabulary. It would be like forcing someone in German to write "John" when their name is actually "Johann".
We don't even know if Klingons have a concept of male and female names. For all we know, Torg's sister-in-law is also named Torg, and every Empire Union Day the family has a good laugh about what a small galaxy it is. So I don't see why Klingons named in the course should be specifically male or female, even in translation, even if we already know a Klingon with that name. You want to translate HoDDaj qIH torgh as Torg meets her captain? Go for it.
Kahless and Worf are, of course, exceptions, because they're such prominent names in Star Trek, we kind of know which one we're talking about. But even Worf isn't a unique name: his grandfather was also named Worf.
I don't think Klingon names are gender-specific either. I'm just looking for a balance of having to add he or she to every translation of every sentence with ghaH or having students remember that our lurveng is a be' and our qarghan is a loD. Is it an unfair additional cognitive load?
I don't know about an unfair cognitive load, but it's asking the student to know something they have no way of knowing at first. Once they learn it, through frustrating trial and error, what they've learned is THIS COURSE'S characters, not anything actually relevant to the Klingon language.
An easier approach, too late to implement now, would have been to have no made-up characters, and just use established characters with known genders. That way, even if the student didn't already know who QaS is — even dedicated Star Trek fans might not recognize that one, since his name is never uttered on screen — you'd be talking about an actual Star Trek character, and you'd only have to add a single gender for each.
"How was I supposed to know QaS is male?"
"He was the Klingon in 'Friday's Child.'"
"Oh, I didn't know that."
"How was I supposed to know lurveng is female?"
"We made her up that way."
"Is she someone in Star Trek?"
"No, we just made her up."
"Is it a woman's name?"
"We just made it up."
"Could it be a man's name too?"
"I dunno, we just made it up."