1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Klingon
  4. >
  5. "Are they Terrans? No. They a…

"Are they Terrans? No. They are not Terrans."

Translation:tera'nganpu' chaH'a'? ghobe'. tera'nganpu' chaHbe'.

January 10, 2020



I'm struggling to see the difference between "chaH" and "bIH". Can someone explain it to me? As I see it, they both mean "they are"


Do you know about the difference between 'oH and ghaH? bIH is for multiple 'oH and chaH is for multiple ghaH.

The confusion comes in that English only uses one "they" and Klingon has two types of "they". Native Klingon speakers would have trouble learning English due to the same difficulty with only having one ghaH, but English having two types of ghaH ("he" and "she").

In English, sexual gender is used to differentiate the third person singular pronouns. You have to decide whether to use "he" or "she" or "it" (the pronoun used for non-beings since they don't have sexual gender in English - though it is becoming an accepted thing in English to also use "they" as a singular pronoun for beings where you don't know or don't want to label the sexual gender of someone).

In English we don't even bother to differentiate sexual gender in the third person plural and we call everyone "they" whether it's a group of guys, a group of gals, a mixed group of persons, a group of "things", or even a mixed group of persons and things.

Klingon differentiates the pronouns based on whether they are sentient beings or not sentient beings. The official description noted as "being capable of language". ghaH is used for a single being capable of language regardless of whether that being is considered female, considered male, or if the sexual gender is not known or does not fall into one of those two categories. chaH is the plural of that and is used when referring to multiple beings capable of language, regardless of the mix of sexual genders.

'oH is used to refer to a single noun which is either not capable of language, or not a being. This could be a being not capable of language (like an animal), something capable of language that is not a being (like a computer), or something that is neither a being, nor capable of language (like a rock). When referring to multiple of such things, you would use bIH.

Klingon does not allow you to combine these two groups together. If you have a group which consists of beings capable of language and nouns that don't qualify for that, you have to use both chaH and bIH. Similar to how English has combination words for combined sexualr genders in "parents", "siblings, "counsins" etc., but we have to always list both sexual genders for "aunts" and "uncles".

An explanation is given in the Tips & Notes, but I know it’s a lot of new information and some details are bound to be difficult to understand or slip through the memory. However, since Duolingo has hidden the Tips & Notes I want to make sure you know about them and where to find them. If you have not been reading the Tips & Notes, I would like to ask that you review those.

If you are doing the course on iOS or Android, you cannot currently access the Tips & Notes through the app. To access the Tips & Notes, you will have to access the course using a web browser at https://www.duolingo.com/. You can still do it on your mobile device, but you will have to use the web browser instead of the app (or you can do it from a computer). When you click on a Skill, it will expand to reveal a Start button, a key, and a light bulb.

If you click on the light bulb it will reveal the Tips & Notes and give you a detailed explanation of the grammar that is introduced in that Skill. Duolingo is testing a new pattern where instead of a light bulb, there is a large button that says "Tips", so some people might see that instead. If you are on the web interface and see neither a lightbulb, nor a "Tips" button, then that specific Skill probably doesn't have any Tips & Notes.

If you have questions after reading the Tips & Notes for any Skills, we are happy to answer your questions, but many of your questions will probably already be answered in the Tips & Notes.

Learn Klingon in just 5 minutes a day. For free.