From: Marc Okrand
Date: Tue, 20 Oct 1998 23:26:00 -0400
Subject: Re: Just curious...
Though there is no question that medical services are sometimes necessary,
Klingons have a feeling of uneasiness when it comes to anything associated
with medicine. Furthermore, to a Klingon, finding oneself in need of the
care of a doctor is often considered a disgraceful state of affairs.
Nevertheless, Klingon doctors do exist, as do various sorts of aides, but the
division of labor in Klingon hospitals, sick bays, and the like is not quite
parallel to that in the Federation. As a result, the vocabulary associated
with medical practitioners is not quite parallel to its Federation
The general word for "doctor" or "physician" is /Qel/. A doctor who performs
surgery is a /HaqwI'/ "surgeon." The two terms are not mutually exclusive;
that is, the same individual may be referred to as both a /Qel/ and a
/HaqwI'/. It is reasonable to say /HaqwI' po' ghaH Qel'e'/ "the doctor is a
skilled surgeon" (/po'/ "be skilled," /ghaH/ "he/she," /-'e'/ topic suffix).
There is no single term for "nurse," as distinguished from "physician's
assistant." Voragh's suggestions (/Qel boQ/ "doctor's aide," /HaqwI' boQ/
"surgeon's aide") are fine and both could be used. Qov's suggestion,
/QelHom/, consisting of /Qel/ "doctor" plus the diminutive suffix /-Hom/, is
also an acceptable form (and is an excellent illustration of the diminutive
suffix -- the word means "not quite a doctor" or "lesser doctor" or the
Another word sometimes applied to the person a Federation patient might refer
to as a "nurse" is /rachwI'/. The verb /rach/ has been translated variously
as "invigorate," "fortify," and "strengthen." Thus /rachwI'/ (/rach/ plus
the suffix /-wI'/ "one who does") is an "invigorator, fortifier,
strengthener." When used in reference to a person, the verb /rach/ suggests
an improvement in health; when used in reference to an inanimate object,
say, a mechanical device or the hull of a ship, /rach/ also implies
improvement or betterment.
/rach/ is to be distinguished from /tI'/ "repair" in two ways: (1) /tI'/ is
generally not applied to living beings; (2) /tI'/ suggests restoration to a
previous state, not necessarily improvement. /rach/ is also to be
distinguished from /Dub/ "improve," which seems to be used primarily when
what is being enhanced is of a more abstract nature (as when one improves or
increases one's status, skill, understanding, etc.).