Date: December 12, 1996
Here's "what I think" about the two sentences in your note.
But since this is a bulletin board, I'd be interested in seeing what
people besides me think also. So if anyone else has other thoughts on
these or any future matters, please feel free to participate. (No reason
to wait for me to go first either. And I'd also be interesting in seeing
analyses that disagree with mine.)
Anyway, the two sentences you wrote raise some interesting points about
Klingon grammar, so they're a great place from which to begin a
Taking them up in order:
(1) You suggested translating "Do you think it's possible for a Klingon to
feel love for a Ferengi?" as:
verenganvaD bang HotmeH tlhIngan qIt 'e' DaQub'a'?
The end of the sentence is fine. The correct way to say "Do you think
that...?" is ... 'e' DaQub'a'? ('e' is "that," referring to something that
precedes it in the sentence or in the discussion; DaQub'a' is "do you
Then it gets a little murky -- mostly because you're talking about a topic
Klingons don't talk about much, namely love.
First, the word HotmeH means "in order to feel," (Hot "feel," -meH "in
order to"), but Hot means "feel, touch," not "feel emotions."
Second, the word bang is indeed a noun meaning "love," but it refers to
the object of one's affection, that is, "beloved one." (In Star Trek III,
Kruge refers to Valkris as bangwI' "my love" in this sense.)
So we need another way to say "feel love" for your sentence. We do know
that there is a Klingon word for "love," meaning something like what we
mean by the word. It is parmaq. We heard this word for the first time in
a recent episode of Deep Space Nine where Dax says that parmaq is "the
Klingon word for 'love,' but with more aggressive overtones." She accuses
Worf of having a "bad case" of parmaq, which suggests it's a noun. (The
episode is called "Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places"; there
may be a good historical reason for the Federation choosing the spelling
"par'Mach," but, regardless, the pronunciation of the word is parmaq.)
Unfortunately, so far, that's about all we know about the Klingon word for
"love." I'll have to do some additional research to find out how the word
is used correctly in a sentence. Since it's Klingon love we're talking
about here, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that it doesn't work in at
all the same way as the Federation Standard word "love." I'll get back to
you on this in the future. Whether it's appropriate to express "for a
Ferengi" by using the noun suffix -vaD "for" awaits further research as
well, since it depends on how the verb used for "feel love" works.
Finally, you use the word qIt to mean "it's possible." qIt is a verb
meaning "be possible." In your sentence, however, it's used in an odd
way. As you know, in Klingon, objects precede the verb and subjects
follow. Since qIt is a verb, what precedes it should be the object (here,
"a Klingon feels love for a Ferengi," regardless of how you say that);
what follows should be the subject. But nothing follows. ('e' DaQub'a' is
something else, and 'e' is the object of DaQub'a'.) It's possible that
the subject of qIt is "it" (presumably 'oH) and that the pronoun is just
not uttered (not impossible); but what is "it"? It has to refer to
something, but, in this case, it refers to nothing, making the entire
construct suspect. I'd suggest recasting the sentence by making use of
the verb suffix -laH 'can, able,' so it would mean something like "...a
Klingon is able to feel love for a Ferengi." Of course, until we know how
to say "feel love" we don't know what to attach the -laH to.
I realize this doesn't help much; it raises more questions than it
answers. But when it comes to matters of the heart...
(2) You suggested translating "What is your favorite month?" as:
jarlIj qaq nuq?
This one's a little easier to deal with. Your sentence literally means
"What is your preferable month?" The basic syntax is correct. Question
words (in this case, nuq "what?") function the same way pronouns do in
questions with "to be" in the English translations. Thus, the question
yIH nuq? "What is a tribble?" is exactly parallel the statement yIH 'oH
"It is a tribble" (where yIH is "tribble" and 'oH is "it"). The answer to
the question yIH nuq? ("What is a tribble?") would presumably be a
definition or description of a tribble. This being the case, then, the
answer to the question jarlIj qaq nuq? ("What is your preferable month?")
would presumably be a definition of "your favorite month." But this is not
what you want to find out by asking your question. What you really mean
to ask is something like "Of all the months, which one do you prefer?"
The first word in your sentence, jarlIj, means "your month" (jar "month,"
-lIj "your"). But given that what you're really asking is "Which month do
you prefer?" it's not really "your month" at all. The "you" should go
with the verb, not with "month."
Which brings us to the verb. You use qIb, "be preferable," adjectivally
(jarlIj qIb is "your preferable month"). I think what you mean is better
expressed by using the verb maS "prefer" with "you" as the subject: jar
DamaS "you prefer the month." If you want to highlight the notion of
"most prefer," you can use the emphatic suffix -qu': jar DamaSqu' "you
very much prefer the month." (In this case, since "prefer" involves
making a choice, the one chosen is automatically the one that is "most"
So what about the "what" (or "which") of your original question
("What/which is your favorite month?")? When asking someone a question of
this type, you are really asking him or her to make a choice. So just be
a Klingon and order them to do so: "Identify the month that you very much
jar DamaSqu'bogh yIngu'
DamaSqu'bogh "that you very much prefer" (DamaSqu' "you very much prefer
it" plus -bogh "which," the relative-clause marker) modifies jar "month"
and the whole phrase jar DamaSqu'bogh "the month that you very much
prefer" is the object of the verb ngu' ("identify"), which is preceded by
the imperative prefix yI- ("do something to it!").
Given that there's an awful lot about Klingon grammar that's not yet known,
you did a good job coming up with the translations you came up with. I hope
my explanations and clarifications make sense.