More on Hoch

Mark Shoulson

While reading the new book from Marc Okrand, The Klingon Way, I
noticed that several sentences used Hoch as a quantifier, for "all of" or
"every." As Captain Krankor has already pointed out elsewhere in this issue,
the use of Hoch has been a topic of some debate in the past. We weren't
sure quite how to use it as a quantifier. Some believed it should be used as a
numeral, and placed before the noun (?Hoch paq for "all the books"),
and some (including this writer) believed that it should be treated as a noun
in a noun-noun construction, since it was listed as a noun in the dictionary
(i.e., paq Hoch). Canon to this point has been mostly ambiguous. But
in TKW we have many examples clearly showing that the supporters of the
first opinion were in fact correct: Hoch comes before, and not after.

In asking Dr. Okrand about this (grumbling slightly, since I had been
shown to be wrong), he told me something else interesting about Hoch. You
may notice that sometimes Hoch is followed by a noun with explicit plural
markings, and sometimes it isn't. This is hardly surprising: Klingon plural
markings are always optional anyway, so an unmarked noun can still be
plural. But apparently in Hoch constructions there is a difference. When
Hoch precedes an explicitly plural noun (he was very careful on this point: by
"explicitly plural" we mean a noun which is either an irregular, inherent
plural or a noun with a stated plural suffix
attached), it means "All the X's" taken collectively. So
Hoch tlhInganpu' is "all Klingons," and Hoch paqmey is "all the books."
But, if the noun is not explicitly plural (i.e., it's a normal noun, not an
irregular plural and not marked with a pluralizing suffix), it means "each X,"
considered individually. So Hoch 'ebmey tIjon (TKW, p.51) is well-
translated by "capture all opportunities" (and not "each opportunity"), but
wo' toy'taHvIS Hegh 'e' tul Hoch tlhIngan (TKW, p. 74) refers (as the
English implies) to "every Klingon," individually. It's a fine shade of
meaning, which may not always be significant, but it's important to
understand that the distinction is available.

It's notable that this shows us that sometimes it does matter if a noun is
pluralized, that unmarked nouns can't totally substitute for plural ones due
to their unspecified nature with respect to number. This isn't completely
surprising, though, since we already have seen examples of how using -mey
instead of an irregular plural or another pluralizing suffix changes the
meaning. We still await clarification as to how Hoch can be applied to
pronouns ("all of us," etc.)