Klingon Birds - Marc Okrand

"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). Must, 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-size 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

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 p.5

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 down. 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 qaqlo' Qa', 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 other 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 details.

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.