DaHjaj Hol 110415 – rotate #tlhIngan #tlh

6 comments Written on April 15th, 2011 by
Categories: Podcasts

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Hello, and welcome. You’re listening to DaHjaj Hol, your daily dose of Klingon language. I’m your host, Lawrence Schoen.

Hard to believe it, but we’re here at the end of another week. Time then to flip through the pages of Marc Okrand’s Klingon for the Galactic Traveler for a special new word:

It’s a verb. jIr that’s J, Capital I, R. jIr means rotate, or twirl. Let’s try it out with some spinning examples:

betleHwIj vIjIrlaH
I can twirl my bat’leth

chojIrqa’chugh qaHoHnISchoH
if you rotate me again, I will need to kill you

HIq vItlhutlhDI’ jIrchoH tachvetlh
when I drink ale, this tavern starts twirling

You can practice nonstop with this word, because it applies to almost everything. Most any noun can rotate, be rotated, or rotate something else. Most any verb can be set up in a phrase to precede or follow a phrase that uses this verb. Now, I know what you’re thinking… couldn’t that be true of just about any noun or verb I give you on any particular day? Well, yeah, you caught me. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t practice all the same. It’s that versatility of language that makes it such a great tool for opening worlds. qo’mey poSmoH Hol.


Today’s podcast is brought to you by
Klingon for the Galactic Traveler,
by Marc Okrand.


6 comments “DaHjaj Hol 110415 – rotate #tlhIngan #tlh”

In this podcast, you use «jIr» both transitively (“I twirl my bat’leth”) and intransitively (“the tavern starts twirling”). Is this a mistake, or does «jIr» have a double use like «meQ»?

Nowhere in Okrand’s TKD does he actually discuss transitivity. Various grammarians have grappled with the question of whether Klingon actually sees the distinction between those verbs which take objects and those which do not, and too if this is even a useful distinction to make.

Further blurring the issue is a much clearer distinction we see in Klingon verbs: actions vs. states of being. It’s easy to see how one might naturally gloss stative verbs as intransitive (e.g., it doesn’t make a lot of sense to say “I happy you”), and indeed the verb suffix -moH appears specifically designed to take such verbs and allow them to be used transitively.

That would be wonderful, except one of the most canonical uses we have of -moH shows up on an otherwise clearly transitive verb. I refer, of course, to ghojmoH teach.

For action verbs, my inclination is to assume that they can be used both transitively and intransitively, unless otherwise noted. No one blinks at accepting both jIHoH and vIHoH. Why then do you flinch at a similar use of jIr?

Perhaps some of the grammarians from the KLI will choose to chime in here and express their own views on this topic.

I believe I may have expressed myself a bit hazily; I suppose it is not so much the transitivity «jIr» that I’m referring to as the different roles of the subjects: In one case, the «jIrwI’» is something that causes something to rotate (betleHwIj vIjIr), and in the other it’s something which is rotated (jIrchoH tach).
Compare with vIH, which is lexicalized as “move”, but in the sense of “be in motion” rather than “move something” (vIHmoH).
It’s been my experience that in Klingon, words seldom possess such dual meanings (although there are exceptions, such as meQ (where we know of the phrases meQtaHbogh qachDaq Suv qoH neH (meQ = to burn, to be on fire) and to’waQ meQ vutwI’ (meQ = to cause to burn))).

Looking through klingonska.org’s canon archives, it looks to me as though jIr means “to be in a state of rotation”, while the separate gloss jIrmoH appears to mean “to cause to rotate”.

I can only surmise that the klingonska.org’s archives are flawed. The citation in Okrand’s Klingon for the Galactic Traveler lists jIr simply as “rotate, twirl (v)” and nothing more. There is no evidence to suggest that it is a stative verb. As such, like most other verbs (e.g., qIch, or qIH, or qIl, or qIp, to name just a few verbs at random — I just started with qI- and kept going) I see no reason not to use it either with or without an object.

Which is not to say I’m right, only that I haven’t yet heard anything to convince me that I’m not.

However, KGT also provides the word *jIrmoH*, and is used to describe the action of twirling one’s bat’leth. This seems to indicate to me that *jIr*, like *vIH*, describes the subject’s motion, rather than the object’s.

I can’t show conclusively that *jIr* can’t mean “to cause to rotate”, but when teaching others I always try to err on the side of caution. This can sometimes be nitpicky, but when the two different interpretations are so very different, I think some caution is warranted.

You have me there!

It’s been too long since I’ve read KGT cover to cover, and when I pulled jIr from its pages for the podcast, it was from the glossary at the back, and not from the more detailed entry on page 60, where it is indeed listed as jIrmoH precisely as you describe.

More compelling (or frustrating, depending on your point of view) evidence for your interpretation is that all the other verbs given in that same section, other action words describing things a warrior can do with a bat’leth, are not presented with -moH.

This is the point in our show where I look around in desperation for a replacement proverb and use it to wipe the egg off my face.

HIvqa’ veqlargh!

Ah, I feel much better now.

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