DaHjaj Hol 120104 Knock Knock jokes #tlhIngan #tlh

3 comments Written on January 4th, 2012 by
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Hello, and welcome. You’re listening to DaHjaj Hol, your audio home for Klingon language. I’m your host, Lawrence Schoen.

In 2011 I brought you daily snippets of tlhIngan Hol, walking you through all the prefixes and suffixes, and building your vocabulary.

For 2012 I’ll be bringing you less frequent but more indepth (and longer) segments. The content is likely to vary tremendously, but if there’s something in particular you’d like me to touch on, I encourage you to leave me feedback or comments via my website at lawrencemschoen.com.

Today I’d like to talk about “Knock Knock” jokes in Klingon.

No, seriously. This is an idea I had several years ago, and ran with it back in the pages of HolQeD, the now defunct journal of the Klingon Language Institute.

The premise is simple. Klingon, by virtue of its use of verbal prefixes, is particularly well suited to crafting Knock Knock jokes. This may not be immediately obvious, so let me walk you through it.

Your basic Knock Knock joke as perpetrated by six-year olds throughout the English-speaking world goes like this:

QIb: knock, knock

’angghal: who’s there?

QIb: lettuce

’angghal: lettuce who?

QIb: lettuce in, it’s cold out here

Which is to say, the joke teller sets up an initial semantic expection — in this example, a green leafy plant used in salads — and then through the use of wordplay takes you to a different semantic place.

You could achieve a similar effect in Klingon by coming up with a word that consists of the letters of any of the verbal prefixes, either alone or with another consonant. This is the set-up, or in the example above, the “lettuce” portion.

The punchline comes when instead of following up with more information about that word, you toss in additional letters and change the meaning entirely.

Let’s take the prefix tI– as an example. When serving as the prefix to a Klingon verb, tI– indicates an imperative with a second person, singular or plural subject and a third person, plural object. But those same letters also give us the noun tI which means vegetation.

If I knock at your door and inform you that vegetation is present, when you ask for furher information I can then switch semantic gears and give you a command. It could look something like this:

QIb: lojmItDaq ghaH vay’ / someone is at the door

’angghal: SaH ’Iv / who’s there?

QIb: tI / vegetation

’angghal: tI ’Iv / vegetation who?

QIb: tISopQo’ Ha’DIbaH maS tlhInganpu’ / don’t eat them, Klingons prefer meat

Did you follow that? It’s a classic kid’s joke on playgrounds throughout the Klingon homeworld. Let’s try another one. You don’t have to rely on a prefix being a word all by itself. There are a plenty of perfectly well-formed Klingon words you can create simply by adding another sound to the end of a verbal prefix. Take the prefix ma–. Applied to a verb, ma– indicates a first person, plural subject and no object. So far, so good. But if we add a B to those two letters we get something entirely new, the noun mab which means treaty.

Now you’re able to construct a Knock Knock joke using mab treaty as your set-up, and some verb that begins with B and has the ma– prefix as your punchline. Like so:

QIb: lojmItDaq ghaH vay’ / someone is at the door

’angghal: SaH ’Iv / who’s there?

QIb: mab / a treaty

’angghal: mab ’Iv / a treaty who?

QIb: mabepchugh bImej’a’ / if we complain, will you leave?

There are probably other ways to construct equally pointless Knock Knock jokes in Klingon, but this will keep you busy for a while. After all, there are thirty different verbal prefixes to play with, each of which can be turned into nouns by the addition of another consonant, and no shortage of verbs that begin with that consonant. You’re looking at tens of thousands of possibilities, easy.

In fact, go try your hand at this. Come up with a Knock Knock joke in Klingon and leave it for me in the comments section of this post on my blog. I’ll even give out a prize.

Now, get out of here. That’s all for today’s edition of DaHjaj Hol. We’re done.

pItlh

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3 comments “DaHjaj Hol 120104 Knock Knock jokes #tlhIngan #tlh”

“SaH ‘Iv” – I’ve only got TKD here, but SaH reads “care about” … so that comes out as

A: lojmItDaq ghaH vay’ #someone is as the door#
B: SaH ‘Iv #Who cares?#
#Hagh Hoch#

Both meanings of SaH can be found (one right after the other) in the pages of TKD.

SaH – be present (not absent) (v)
SaH – care (about), be concerned (about) (v)

It’s like Marc Okrand was waiting for us to start telling “Knock Knock” jokes.

I couldn’t resist this one.

QIb:  lojmItDaq ghaH vay’  
’angghal:  SaH ’Iv 
QIb:  yIH 
’angghal:  yIH ‘Iv
QIb:  yIHaw’ 


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