Maltz Online

commentary and insight from his
discussions with Maltz to the internet's
bulletin boards and electronic mailing
lists. The following selections are
reprinted with his permission. -LMS>

What we call "brown" would be
described in Klingon by using the
verb Doq . If the
context is dear (such as contrasting
a brown thing with a thing that
cannot be described as Doq, such as
something that's SuD yellow>), Doq alone is good enough.
Thus, if there are two drinking cups,
one brown and one blue, one might

HIvje' Doq vIneH
I want the Doq cup

Only the brown cup could be
described as Doq; the blue cup is
definitely not Doq since it is SuD.

On the other hand, to be more
precise when talking about the color
(when, for example, there's a brown
cup and a red cup), Klingons would
typically use the phrase:

Doq 'ej wovbe'
be orange, red and not be bright

To get even more specific (to be able
to refer to different kinds of browns)
would involve comparisons. For

Doq 'ej Qaj wuS rur
be orange, red and
resemble kradge lips

The lips of the kradge are
presumably a particular shade of


In English, the preposition "in"
is sometimes locative (that is,
referring to location) in meaning
(e.g., "in the house," "on the table")
but sometimes not ("trust in God,"
"believe in magic"). In fact, in
English, "in" frequently doesn't
have a literally locative sense. We
use it all over the place: "in debt,"
"work in television," "in preparing
this report," "speaking in Klingon,"
and so on. Likewise, in addition to
the locative uses of the English
preposition "from" ("run from the
burning house," "traveled from
Paris"), there are non-locative uses
("know right from wrong," "stop me
from eating"). The story's the same
for other English prepositions (for
example, locative "on the table,"
non-locative "go on with your
story;" locative "under the table,"
non-locative "under discussion").

In Klingon, however, the noun
suffixes -Daq (the general locative)
and -vo' express only notions
related to space ("to a place," "in a
place," "from a place," and so on).
They are thus not the same as
English prepositions, which have a
wider range of usage.


As far as I know, 'ej means
"and" in the sense of "in addition,"
"also," "as well as," and the like. It
does not have any temporal or
sequential implications, That is, it
does not (by itself) mean "and then."

For example, Klingon jISop 'ej
means "I
eat and also I drink." It could refer
to events that occur in
alternating fashion (eat some, drink some, eat
some, drink some more) or,
especially in the case of some
Klingons, events that occur pretty
much simultaneously. It could also
mean "I eat and then I drink," but it
does not necessarily mean that. If
that is the intended meaning (and if
being a little vague or ambiguous or
unclear will cause misunderstanding
and hence discomfort), additional
stuff must be added or the whole
thing must be rephrased to make the
meaning explicit (such as
jItlhutlhpa' jISop eat>).

Similarly, the most likely
interpretation of jItlhutlh 'ej jIQong
is not that I drink
in my sleep (though it could be used
for that if I really did it), but rather
simply "I drink and also I sleep," a
listing of two things I do,
presumably (but not explicitly) not
at the same time.

Then there's qaDuQ 'ej bIregh stab you and you bleed>. It probably
would be used when the stabbing
precedes (and is the direct cause of)
the bleeding. But it doesn't explicitly
say that; it only says "I stab you"
and it also says "you bleed." The
sequential interpretation (and/or the
cause-and-effect interpretation) is
due to the way the world works. Or
some worlds.

Since it is possible to say either
jISop, jItlhutlh or jISop
'ej jItlhutlh
to refer
to the same thing, it might seem as
though 'ej is optional.
Grammatically, that's fair to say. In
terms of meaning, however, when
'ej is used, it adds something; it
emphasizes or points out some sort
of connection between the two
events -- though not necessarily a
temporal one.

Finally, although I've been
referring to "events," the same holds
for states and conditions and the
like. Thus, jIghung 'ej jIQeH hungry and I'm angry> could be used if
first I'm hungry and then (whether
as a result of the pangs or not) I get
angry, or if I'm hungry and angry at
the same time, or if I waver between
the two.

In short, 'ej is neutral as to time.

The verb for "write" in the sense
of "compose" is qon, literally .
This is used for songs and also for
literary works (poems, plays,
romance novels, and so on). As has
been pointed out, it's as if the song
or story is somehow out there and
the "writer" comes into contact with
it, extracts it, and records it.

The verb usually translated
"write," ghItlh, refers to the
physical activity of writing (moving
the pencil around, chiseling, etc.)

The question is, if you can
ghItlh it, must you also qon it? That
is, is everything that is written down
the result of composition (in the
sense described above)?

The answer is "not necessarily."
There's another verb, gher, which
doesn't have a straightforward
equivalent in English, but which has
sometimes been translated (not
entirely satisfactorily) as "formulate"
or "compile" or "pull together." The
idea seems to be that of bringing
thoughts together into some kind of
reasonably coherent form so that
they can be conveyed to someone

Thus, one would usually say
naD tetlh gher Commendation List> or the Commendation list>. (Maltz
laughed at, but accepted, Soj tetlh
for .)

One would probably gher,
rather than qon, a suggested list of
readings, a gazetteer, a simple menu,
or the instructions for assembling a
toy (assuming the latter is not really
an exercise in creative writing).

One might also say QIn gher
or, more
colloquially, .
But now it begins to get tricky.
Using gher here implies that the
writer of the message was passing
along some information he or she
got elsewhere, such as scribbling
down a telephone message. Saying
QIn qon
or (literally
) suggests that
the writer is presenting some new
information as opposed to merely
passing something along. It may
also imply that the written message
has some sort of literary merit, and
thus be a compliment.

But not always. HIDjolev qon
that the speaker thinks the list of
available fare is written with a
certain literary flair. This is not
likely to be said of menus in Klingon
restaurants (whose menus, if posted
at all, tend to be rather pithy), and
thus could easily be taken as an

Similarly, something like bom
be taken as a disparaging comment
about the song or its composer (and
is, in fact, sometimes heard when
the song in question is of non-
Klingon origin).


Actually, there are several words
referring to :

An interior wall (such as a wall
separating your living room from
your kitchen) is a tlhoy'.

An exterior wall (that is, a wall
which separates the inside of a
building from the outside) is a reD.

For the interior side of an
exterior wall, it is quite common to
use tlhoy', but the phrase pa' reD,
literally (pa'
) is also heard, referring to the
wall in a room which faces outside
(as opposed to the other walls in the
room whose other sides are still

The wall around a city is a
yergho, which is apparently derived
from yer ,
plus gho .

A wall which divides a territory
into parts (such as the Berlin Wall) is
also called a tlhoy', even though
neither side of it is the interior of a
structure. On occasion, for clarity,
such a wall is termed a chevwI'
(chev ,
-wI' ) or a
pIn tlhoy', literally ,
presumably dating back to a time
when each subterritory had a
specific person in charge.

The phrase pa' tlhoy' interior wall> is also heard from time
to time, but usually only when it is
necessary to distinguish the wall> sense of tlhoy' from the

A tlhoy' need not be
vertical. In a multistory structure,
the stories are separated by what
Klingon architects and builders call a
tlhoy' SaS (tlhoy'
, SaS ). The
side of this "wall" which is the
bottom of the upper story is the rav
; the side which is the top of the
lower story is the rav'eq
(based on rav plus 'eq, an
element otherwise unknown ).

rav is also used for the
floor of a room on ground level (or a
basement floor, for that matter),
even though there is no
corresponding rav'eq and no tlhoy'

Similarly, though in general
rav'eq refers to the ceiling of
a room that has a room above it, it
may also be used for the ceiling of a
room on the top floor, even though
there is no corresponding rav and
no tlhoy' SaS. On occasion, though,
the ceiling of the top floor is called
pa' beb, literally (from
pa' plus beb ). The term
beb refers to the covering on top of
a structure.


Actually, there are several ways
to ask "What time is it?" in Klingon.
Here are a couple.

In dealing with time in
interplanetary communication,
Klingons have come to use the 24-
hour system favored by the
Federation. There are 24 hours in a
day (meaning 24 Earth hours in an
Earth day), numbered one through
24. For example:

tera' rep wa'
Earth hour one or one o'clock

tera' rep cha'maH
Earth hour 20 or 20 o'clock
or eight o'clock p.m.

tera' rep loS wejmaH
Earth hour 4:30

If the context is clear, the word
tera' may be left out:

rep cha'maH
20 o'clock, eight o'clock p.m.

When working within this
system, one doesn't inquire as to the
time; one demands that the number
of the current hour be specified.
Thus, the equivalent expression to
'What time is it?" is a command:

rep yIper!
Ascertain the hour!
Specify the hour!

This is literally "Label the hour!
Though the verb per