From: Marc Okrand [email protected]
Newsgroups: startrek.klingon
Date: Mon, 2 Mar 1998 22:53:45 -0500
Subject: Re: -be', -Ha'

TPO wrote....
par parHa' dislike like
naD naDHa' commend discommend
yuD yuDHa' dishonest honest
yep yepHa' careful careless

etc etc

but then we have:

Qoch Qochbe' disagree agree

why not QochHa'

The short answer is that we *can* have QochHa', it's just not listed in the
Dictionary. As I wrote elsewhere (in the old MSN newsgroup, but repeated
in another thread in this newsgroup), for the most part, words in The
Klingon Dictionary consisting of verb + suffix are there as a matter of
convenience. That is, if you want to look up how to say "misinterpret,"
it's there -- yajHa'. yajHa' consists of yaj "understand" plus the
negative suffix -Ha' "undo," and, even though yajHa' is an entry in the
Dictionary, there is nothing to prevent other suffixes, including the other
negative suffix -be', from following yaj. Thus yajbe' is a perfectly
well-formed word meaning "not understand."

Because there is a meaning difference between the two negative suffixes
(for sake of brevity, -Ha' suggests doing or being something in the wrong
way or undoing something; -be' suggests simply not doing or not being
something), there is a meaning difference between yajbe' and yajHa'.
The first word implies the absence of understanding ("not understand"); the
second implies that any understanding that there may have been was
imprecise or askew or not properly done ("misunderstand, misinterpret").

Which brings us to Qochbe' and QochHa'. Both consist of the verb
Qoch "disagree" plus a negative suffix. Parallel to the example above
with yaj "understand," Qochbe' implies an absence of disagreeing
(hence "agree"); QochHa' implies that any disagreeing was misplaced or
misconstrued or perhaps has been "undone." English lacks a simple way to
say this. (At least I couldn't think of one; if anyone has any
suggestions, I'd be interested in seeing them.) Made-up words like
"misdisagree" or "undisagree" may get the idea across, but they're hardly
elegant (unlike Klingon QochHa', which is elegance itself).

Now this raises another question, slightly different from the original one:
If both Qochbe' and QochHa' are acceptable Klingon words, why is one in
the Dictionary and the other not? For better or worse, the Dictionary is a
"one size fits all" sort of work. It's for those who want to study the
language in depth (though it is far from exhaustive), but also for those
who want a quick reference (How do you say "agree"?). Since "agree" (that
is, "not disagree") is probably going to be said more frequently that
"misdisagree" (or a more felicitous equivalent), it got to be listed.
Similarly, naDHa' "discommend" is listed due to its importance in Klingon
culture, though naDbe' "not commend" is a properly formed word.