From: Marc Okrand
Newsgroups: startrek.klingon
Date: Friday, November 05, 1999 01:39 AM
Subject: Re: And then...? And then...? (And then along came Jones...) - For MO

Mark E. Shoulson wrote in message
[email protected]...

We now have ghIq, meaning "then" in the sense of
"subsequently..." That is, after the last thing happened,
this happened; emphasizing the sequential aspect of the
narrative. But having that, what about another kind of
"then"? Something like a temporal analogue to pa':
"then" in the sense of "at that time." We have something
like this with -DI', but that requires a verb or clause
which isn't always necessarily available or convenient.
Maybe there's something idiomatic with -DI'? Or an

Yes and yes. There is an adverbial which means "then" in
the sense of "at that time" (as opposed to "subsequently").
And there is also an idiom meaning something like "by that

The adverbial is (ngugh}. It is used mainly to emphasize
that a particular event occurred at the same time as
something else, though ngugh doesn't indicate what that
time is. Something else in the discussion makes that
clear. ngugh does not mean "at some (vague) time in the
past" or "at some (unknown) time in the future."

For example:

(1) vagh SanID ben buDbe' wamwI'pu'. ngugh Ho'Du'chaj lo'
chaH, 'ach DaH tajmey lo'.

"5,000 years ago, hunters were not lazy. Then (at that
time) they used their teeth, but now they use knives."

(vagh SanID "5,000," ben "years ago," buD "be lazy,"
-be' "not," wamwI'pu' "hunters"; ngugh "then,"
Ho'Du'chaj "their teeth", chaH "they," 'ach "but,"
DaH "now," tajmey "knives," lo' "they use")

(2) DungluQ tIHIv. ngugh Qongbe' chaH.

"Attack them at noon! They won't be sleeping then." (or:
"Attack them at noon. They're not sleeping then.")

(DungluQ "noon," tIHIv "attack them! ";
ngugh "then," Qong "they sleep," -be' "not," chaH

Note that in each case ngugh "then" refers to a time
specified earlier in the discussion (here, "5,000 years
ago" and "noon"). In the second example, the adverbial
ngugh could be left out, and the basic meaning could
still be the same ("Attack them at noon! They won't be
sleeping.") With ngugh, however, the speaker is
emphasizing the time element. The first example also could
be recast without ngugh (for example, the second sentence
could be two: Ho'Du'chaj lo' chaH. DaH tajmey lo'. "They
used their teeth. Now they use knives."). With ngugh,
however, the contrast between "then" and "now" is

The time reference need not occur in the immediately
preceding sentence or clause (as it does in the examples
above); it could be earlier in the discourse.

Since ngugh points to or refers back to a previously
established time reference, if that time reference is not
clear (or is missing), an utterance containing ngugh
would not make much sense. If someone asks "When?" after
hearing a sentence containing ngugh, unless the question
resulted from inattentiveness, ngugh was probably used

In addition to ngugh, there is an idiomatic expression
involving the suffix -DI' "when, as soon as" used to mean
"by that time, by the time that occurred (or
will occur)." The event that has occurred (or will occur)
is typically expressed in the immediately preceding
sentence or clause, though it could have been uttered

The idiom is found in two forms. The shorter (and more
frequently heard) version is the single word pumDI' "when
it falls" (pum "fall" , -DI' "when"). The longer version
consists of pumDI' followed by a subject noun specifying
what falls. The most common noun heard is 'etlh "sword,
blade" (thus: pumDI' 'etlh, literally "when the blade
falls"). Presumably the expression originally referred to
a fight between two combatants wielding bladed weapons.
The time at which one of them dropped the weapon and was
thus defeated (or was as good as defeated) was a
significant moment.

Some speakers, however, are rather creative and use nouns
other than 'etlh. For example: pumDI' DaS "when the
boot falls," pumDI' 'obmaQ "when the ax falls," pumDI'
"when the stone falls," pumDI' rutlh "when the
wheel falls." There seems to be no restriction on what
noun may be used here, as long as it is something that
could possibly fall. (Thus pumDI' QoQ "when the music
falls" would not be used.)

Choosing one noun or another to use in the idiomatic phrase
is a form of word play. Depending on the topic being
discussed, the noun could add a touch of irony or even
humor. In any event, the choice of noun does not change
the idiomatic meaning of the phrase. pumDI' X, where X is
the subject noun, is used to mean "by then, by that time."

The idiom might be used when talking about a feast that had
taken place a few nights ago. If a guest arrived late --
after the eating had already begun -- one might say
something like:

tagha' pawpu' meb 'ach pumDI' Heghpu' qagh.


tagha' pawpu' meb 'ach pumDI' 'etlh Heghpu' qagh.

"The guest finally arrived, but by then the gagh had died."

(tagha' "finally, at last," pawpu' "he/she has
arrived," meb "guest," 'ach "but," pumDI' ('etlh) "by
then," Heghpu' "it has died," qagh "gagh")

Unlike subordinate clauses in general, pumDI' X, when used
idiomatically, always precedes the main clause (Heghpu'
in the example above). When idiomatic usage is not
involved, subordinate clauses may either precede or follow
the main clause.