Maltz's Reward
Part IV

The fourth person who correctly
filled in the missing line of
Frasier's bar mitzvah speech didn't
ask for a word, but instead for a
grammatical construction. Or maybe
it was for the word "as."

The winner said he would like
to know how to express "A is as Q as
B," where A and B are the two things
being compared and Q is a quality.

Maltz said there were a few ways
to say this. (Maltz is answering more
and more questions this way these
days.)

One way to express the notion
of "A is as Q a B" is by attributing
the quality in question to A and
saying that B is the same, that is, Q
A, rap B "A is Q, B is the same" (rap
), though the translation
into English is usually "H is as Q as
A," For example:

ghun 'Iw HIq, rap boqrat chej
the bokrat liver is
as warm as the bloodwine

literally, "The bloodwine is warm,
the bokrat liver is the same" (ghun
'Iw HIq boqrat
chej ).

'ey ro'qegh'Iwchab, rap qagh
the gagh is as delicious
as the rokeg blood pie

literally, "The rokeg blood pie is
delicious, the gagh is the same" ('ey
ro'qegh'Iwchab blood pie,> qagh ).

It is also possible to use nIb identical> rather than rap. For
example:

'ugh ro'qegh'Iwchab, nIb raHta'
the racht is as heavy
as the rokeg blood pie

literally, "The rokeg blood pie is
heavy, the racht is identical" ('ugh
, raHta' ).

Using nIb carries a connotation
of preciseness -- the rokeg blood pie
and the racht are exactly the same
weight. Thus, it might be used when
referring to something that can be
measured, such as weight, but it is
not likely to be used with less
quantifiable qualities where the
assertion of sameness is more a
judgment, such as deliciousness. It is
never improper to use rap even in
cases where the quality is
measurable.

The most common ways to
express "A is as Q as B," however,
involve constructions which parallel
the "law'/puS" construction for
comparatives and superlatives.

The normal way to express
comparatives (A is Q-er than B) is A
Q law', B Q puS (law' puS
), as in:

tlhIngan qu' law' tera'ngan qu' puS
the Klingon is more fierce
than the Terran
(tlhIngan qu'
tera'ngan )

The normal way to express
superlatives (A is the Q-est) is to use
Hoch in the B position:

tlhIngan qu' law' Hoch qu' puS
the Klingon is the fiercest (of all)

If the quality being discussed is
the same for both A and B, that is, if
A and B are the same as far as Q
goes, there are a number of options.
The most frequently heard, and
most neutral, construction is A Q
law' B Q rap, as in:

tlhIngan woch law'
tera'ngan woch rap

the Klingon is as tall as the Terran
(woch )

While, in theory, it is possible to
use the same construction with puS
instead of law' (that is A Q puS B Q
rap), this is seldom done and when
it is done, there is a connotation of
disparagement.

A variant of this construction
uses nIb instead of rap:

tlhIngan woch law'
tera'ngan woch nIb

the Klingon is as tall as the Terran

Again, nIb implies precision
(the Klingon and the Terran are that
exactly as tall as each other) and is
not likely to be used unless the
quality being discussed is
quantifiable or measurable. rap, on
the other hand, may be used
regardless of whether the quality is
quantifiable.

It should be noted that this
restriction on nIb applies only in
this sort of construction It is
perfectly natural to say, for example,
nIb va'nuchDu'chaj "their heels are
identical" (va'nuch -Du' ,
-chaj ) without suggesting in
what way they are identical and
without implying that any precise
measuring has or has not occurred
or could or could not occur.

If the quality being discussed is
a positive one, or if having the
quality is a positive attribute,
another (similar) construction may
be used: A Q law' B Q law'. Likewise,
if the quality is a negative one, or if
having the quality is considered a
negative attribute, one may use the
construction A Q puS B Q puS.
Compare:

ro'qegh'Iwchab 'ey law'
qagh 'ey law'

the rokeg blood pie is
as delicious as the gagh

'Iw HIq bIr puS
chuch bIr puS

the bloodwine is as cold
as the ice is ( the bloodwine
is as cold as ice)
(bIr chuch )

Being delicious is a good thing
as applied to food, so using law'
twice emphasizes just how delicious
the two dishes are. On the other
hand, bloodwine is best when served
warm. Using puS twice emphasizes
how inappropriate the coldness of
the bloodwine is. (It is not likely
even cold bloodwine is really as
cold as ice, but a disgruntled
Klingon is not beyond hyperbole.)

Maltz pointed out that although
these constructions may be used to
form similes, they are generally used
only when comparing similar
things. Commonly, a simile (where
two basically unlike things are
compared) is of the form Q A; B rur
(rur ) (thus, A resembles B
with regard to a particular quality,
Q, though otherwise A and B would
probably not even be compared). For
example:

puj verengan; bIQ rur
the Ferengi is as weak as water
(puj verengan bIQ
)

literally, "The Ferengi is weak;
he/she resembles water."

When the law'/rap, law'/law' or
puS/puS constructions are used to
compare unlike things, they
generally make reference to (or,
better, are recastings of) well-known
similes. For example:

SuvwI' ghung law'
qagh ghung rap

the warrior is as hungry as gagh
(SuvwI' ghung )

Compare:

ghung; qagh rur
hungry as gagh

tlhIngan HoS law', 'Iw HoS law'
the Klingon is as strong as blood
(HoS 'Iw )

Compare:

HoS; 'Iw rur
strong as blood

verengan puj puS, bIQ puj puS
the Ferengi is as weak as water

Compare:

puj; bIQ rur
weak as water

To express the opposite notion,
that is "A is not as Q as B," the most
common locution is A Q law' B Q
pIm (pIm ), as in:

QuchlIj vIl law' QuchwIj vIl pIm
your forehead is not as ridgy
as my forehead
(Quch -lIj vIl
-wIj )

Here is an instance where the
English translation does not
properly capture the Klingon
meaning. The English "your
forehead is not as ridgy as my
forehead" implies (though it does
not explicitly state) that my
forehead is ridgier than yours. This
implication is not in the Klingon.
QuchlIj vIl law' QuchwIj vIl pIm
means only that the ridginess of
your forehead and mine is not the
same. If the intended meaning is
what the English implies, one would
use the normal law'/puS
construction:

QuchwIj vIl law' QuchlIj vIl puS
my forehead is ridgier
than your forehead

To disagree with this notion,
that is, to assert that your forehead
is not ridgier than mine (it may be
less ridgy, or the ridginess may be
the same), one would use the
construction A Q law'be' B Q puSbe'
(A's Q is not many, B's Q is not few)
(-be' ):

QuchlIj vIl law'be'
QuchwIj vIl puSbe'

your forehead isn't ridgier
than my forehead

With that, Maltz said jIH Doy'
law' SoH Doy' puS
( than you are>) and left the room,
muttering something about
considering the next Frasier request
at another time.