From: Marc Okrand [email protected]
Newsgroups: startrek.klingon
Date: Mon, 23 Feb 1998 23:47:30 -0500
Subject: Re: For Dr Okrand

Marc Paige wrote in message [email protected]...
I have always wondered about this:

Is the word chenmoH a verb on its own or is it a compound of the verb
chen plus the type 4 suffix -moH. I have recently used this in a
sentence that stated:
not Qaghvetlh vIchenmoHqa'
I have been told that this should be
not Qaghvetlh vIchenqa'moH
Please help me on this.

Thanks in advance
Marc Paige
"tired and shagged out from a prolonged squawk"

The short answer is: chenmoH "form, make, create" is the
verb chen "build up, take form" plus the Type 4 suffix
-moH "cause." To say "make again," the Type 3 suffix
-qa' "do again" should come before the Type 4 suffix.
Thus, you should say vIchenqa'moH "I make again"
(vI- "I he/she/it/them").

But, of course, there's a longer answer. Actually, this
came up in the old MSN forum. Here's what I wrote then
(and the question I was responding to).

- Marc

-----Original Message-----

Date: Sunday, November 30, 1997 11:23 PM
Subject: Re: chenmoH, ja'chuq, etc.

Neal wrote in message #[email protected]...

Are entries in the dictionaries which are verbs with an attatched suffix,
such as chenmoH=create (v) and ja'chuq=discuss (v), words in themselves?
Or are they merely examples of usage, as I suspect? (With the exception of

In other words, do we say *vIchenmoHnIS or vIchennISmoH for "I need to
create it"? Can we say ja'chuqlu' and if so, what does it mean?
(Considering that -chuq and -lu' have contradictory prefix requirements,
it seems unlikely if ja'chuq is merely ja' plus -chuq.)

This is one of those answers that starts off being simple
and then gets hairy.

For the most part, entries in The Klingon Dictionary (and
also in the addendum in Klingon For the Galactic Traveler)
that consist of verb + suffix are indeed just that, verb +
suffix. For example, one entry in the Dictionary is pujmoH
"weaken." This is really puj "be weak" and the suffix -moH
"cause" (thus "weaken" is "cause to be weak"). Since -moH
is a Type 4 suffix, if a suffix of Type 1, 2, or 3 is to be
used (such as -chuq "each other" or
-nIS "need" ), it would precede the Type 4 -moH;
for example, pujchuqmoH "they weaken each other" or
pujnISmoH "he/she needs to weaken ."

It is, of course, possible to add the suffix -moH to lots
of verbs; not all of the verb + -moH combinations are
listed in the Dictionary as distinct entries. The ones
that are listed are there as much as a matter of
convenience for the user as anything else. For example,
there is an entry for "commit suicide" just in case anyone
wants to look that word up; but the Klingon equivalent is
simply HoH'egh, literally "kill oneself" (HoH "kill" plus
Type 1 verb suffix -'egh "oneself"). The absence of a verb
+ -moH entry in the Dictionary lists does not mean that
that particular formation cannot be made.

The same goes for the negative suffixes -Ha' and -be'
which, along with -moH, are the most common verb suffixes
found in the Dictionary lists (except for -wI' "one who
is/does," but that doesn't enter into any of this since
it's always last in a string of verb suffixes). Since the
negative suffixes are Rovers, they follow different rules.
(Well, actually, since -Ha' always occurs right after the
verb and can never be preceded by suffixes anyway, it can
be excluded from this discussion.) The Rover -be' comes
right after whatever it is negating. Both Qochbe'nIS
"he/she/they need to not disagree" (that is, "he/she/they
need to agree") and QochnISbe' "he/she/they do not need to
disagree" are acceptable Klingon formations. The fact that
the Dictionary lists Qochbe' "agree" (that is, literally,
"not disagree") does not mean that no suffix may precede
the -be'. It's in there so that someone can easily look up
how to say "agree."

So far so good, I think.

A problem comes in because some of these forms (that is,
some of these verb + suffix combinations) are so common,
they seem to, in the minds of some Klingons anyway, act as
if they were simply verb and not verb + suffix at all.
This seems to happen only when the suffix in question
is -moH "cause." Maltz reports having heard both
quv'eghmoH "he/she honors him/herself," which follows the
expected order (verb-Type 1-Type 4: quv "be honored," -'egh
"oneself," -moH "cause") as well as the weird quvmoH'egh
"he/she honors him/herself," in which the Type 1
suffix -'egh "oneself" follows the Type 4 suffix -moH
"cause," an impossible formation unless the speaker is
considering the verb to be quvmoH "honor" and not quv "be
honored." Speakers who do this seem to be aware that they
are breaking the rules, so they are doing it for rhetorical
effect. (It has the same sort of feeling, perhaps, as if
someone were to say in English "Don't cellular phone me
this afternoon" or "I've been postnasal dripping all
morning" or "It's lightninging and thundering outside" or,
to follow the Klingon example, "He/she self-honors.") If
this sort of thing happens a lot, maybe, in time, the
language will undergo some sort of reformation; maybe -moH
will become a Rover. Or quvmoH and similar forms will
become simple (though two-syllable) verbs. But neither is
the case yet, and while some speakers of Klingon may treat
them as such, the wisest course is to leave such things to
the poets and keep -moH in its Type 4 position.

On the other hand, you're right about lo'laH "be valuable."
It is a simple verb in its own right (though it's an
unusual two-syllable one), not the verb lo' "use" plus Type
5 suffix -laH "can." It is likely that there is some sort
of historical connection to the verb + suffix form, but, if
so, it is just that -- historical.

Thus, finally and at long last, to answer your first
specific question, say vIchennISmoH for "I need to create

I'll try to answer your second question, about ja'chuq, in
a separate posting.