matlh juppu' mu'mey

Marc Okrand

At the qep'a' chorghDIch Robyn
Stewart and Eric Andeen were
honored for their continuing service
to the KLI and inducted into the
venerable Order of the Friends of
Maltz. As such, each was entitled to
select one word which would be
conveyed to Maltz himself, who
would in turn reveal the nearest
tlhIngan Hol equivalent, and
perhaps more. As of the time of this
writing, Maltz had only received a
request from one of his new friends
(the other has since submitted her
word through the appropriate
Federation channels and Maltz's
response is still pending). That word
was "bird," and here is Maltz's reply

"On the Klingon home planet,
there are a number of different kinds
of flying creatures. One large group
of them bears a closer resemblance
to Earth birds than do other types.
They have feathers (as distinct from
fur, scales, or other outer covering),
have a bill or beak, and have wings
(as opposed to something
resembling arms). Most, but not all,
can fly, but all can also walk --- some
even run --- on their two legs. Some
can swim and spend a great deal of
time in (rather, on) water. The
females lay eggs. They range in size
from rather small (an adult could
easily be held in the palm of a
Klingon's hand) to quite large
(rivaling a good-sized Klingon
warrior). An expert can distinguish
one species from another by its
distinctive cry or song."

The most general Klingon word
for a creature of this type is
bo'Degh, and this is the Klingon
word Maltz would use to translate
"bird." Though not a birdwatcher by
any means, Maltz said he was
familiar with a few types of Klingon
bo'Deghmey. Here are some of them.

a very small bird whose eggs are
considered quite tasty

a bird noted for its speed

(Maltz wasn't sure what kind
of a bird this was, but he was very
familiar with the word)

a small bird which digs up bugs to eat

a bird noted for its song

a bird with a noisy, repetitive cry

Da'vI' and Da'nal
two very similar birds,
both characterized by erratic,
unpredictable behavior

a nocturnal bird

a bird that swoops
into the water in order to catch food,
but cannot swim

a large, black bird (nowhere near as
large as a qa'rol, which is really big)

a mid-sized bird with particularly
garish coloring (at least from
a Klingon point of view)

another bird known for its song

an aquatic bird with colorful plumage

a bird of prey

a bird that feeds almost exclusively on
the serpent worm from which qagh is
made (Klingons are not particularly
fond of the vem'eq)

a bird with a very long beak

a gray (sometimes white) bird that can
travel particularly long distances
without pausing

There are a few animals that
make a particular ruckus at dawn.
One of these, the 'uSgheb, is a bird
which is particularly noisy and has
been likened to a rooster (though it
is much fiercer). Another, though
not a bird, is the Qa', specifically the
jajlo' Qa' (dawn Qa'). (The Qa'Hom,
an animal similar to a Qa' but
smaller, has been confused with a
bird by some; Maltz does not know
why, especially since it is the jajlo'
, not the Qa'Hom, that makes a
fuss in the morning like the 'uSgheb
does.) Maltz said he has also heard
the phrase po Ha'DIbaH, literally
morning animal, used to refer to the
'uSgheb. He thinks po Ha'DIbaH
has some sort of literary source,
since it is used in operas and plays
but not often in everyday speech.
Maltz supposed that po Ha'DIbaH
could refer to a jajlo' Qa' as well.

It is not known whether the fact
that a number of these words for
different types of birds begin with
the syllable cha'- (and two with
Da'-) is meaningful or a
coincidence. There is no word cha'
(or Da') that has anything in
particular to do with birds.

The plural suffix for birds is
usually -mey, the general plural
suffix, as would be expected. There
is a difference of opinion, however,
about which plural suffix to use for a
few birds capable of mimicking
speech, such as the vIlInHoD and
the qaryoq (and the larger
qaryoq'a'), with some Klingons
using -mey but others preferring
-pu', the plural suffix for beings
capable of using language. Maltz is a
member of the former camp; he said
he was never able to engage a
qaryoq in a conversation that made
any sense.

Some other words associated
with birds are the nouns QIm egg,
pach claw, talon, tel wing, neb beak,
bill, and bo feather; and the verbs
puv fly, qaj soar, wom peck (used for
both eating and attacking by
pecking), ngun perch (the verb Saq is
used if the bird alights on the
ground, tlhot if it lands on the
water), and laq flap. Regarding the
last word, Maltz pointed out that, in
flight, a bird's wings laq (the bird is
said to laqmoH its wings), but when
a banner or sail flaps, the correct
word to use is joq flap, flutter, wave.

Though admittedly off topic,
Maltz volunteered that the most
general word for "fish" was ghotI',
and that there were different kinds
of animals that lived in the water,
but he didn't provide additional

Finally, when he heard that his
new friend had considered asking
for "mirror" before deciding on
asking for "bird," Maltz blurted out
that there are two common words
for "mirror": SIla' and neSlo'. He
said that a SIla' was typically larger
than a neSlo', but he wasn't sure if
there was any other difference.