From: Marc Okrand
Date: Mon, 23 Mar 1998 00:15:57 -0500
Subject: Re: DIrmey pagh DIrDu'
Steven Boozer wrote ...
>On Mon, 2 Mar 1998, Alan Anderson wrote:
>|That said, I prefer DIrDu' when talking about multiple skins, especially
>|multiple layers of skin like a shedding snake.
>As to the plural, in the discussion of the traditional warrior's tunic
>yIvbeH we read, "Accompanying sleeves (tlhaymey) ... were generally
>made of animal pelts (veDDIrmey), skin (DIr), with fur (veD) still
>attached" (KGT p. 58).
Since number is an optional category in Klingon (the plural suffix may be
left off even if the word refers to more than one thing), DIr may refer
to "a skin" or "skins" or "skin" as a material or substance. Likewise for veDDIr "pelt, pelts."
So the problem of which plural suffix to use comes up only when one feels
the need to be very specific.
If I understand Maltz correctly, it works like this:
The general plural suffix -mey is not used with body parts (except by
poets, of course). Thus DIrmey "skins" and veDDIrmey "pelts" are not
(or, perhaps better, are no longer) body parts, but rather are materials
from which things (clothing or blankets, for example) may be made. They've
lost their association with the creatures that originally had them. (This
is kind of like the distinction in English between "beef," which is eaten,
and "cattle," which isn't.)
If there still is that association, that is, if the creatures still have
their skin, or if it's a creature that has multiple skins (maybe layers,
maybe different kinds of skin on different parts of the body), or if the
skin just came off either by natural causes (as with Alan Anderson's
snakes) or by the creatures being, well, skinned, then the body-part plural
suffix -Du' may be used: DIrDu'.
But DIr alone, without a suffix, is heard most often.