Relative clauses are translated into English as phrases beginning with who, which, where, and, most commonly, that. Like adjectives, they describe nouns: the dog which is running, the cat that is sleeping, the child who is playing, the restaurant where we ate. The noun modified by a relative clause is the head noun.

In Klingon, the verb in the relative clause ends with the Type 9 suffix -bogh, which will, for convenience, be translated which.

Whether the head noun follows or precedes the relative clause depends on its relationship to that clause. Compare the following:

qIppu'bogh yaS officer who hit him/her

yaS qIppu'bogh officer whom he/she hit

In both phrases, the relative clause is qIppu'bogh (qIp hit, -pu' perfective, -bogh which), and the head noun is yaS officer. In the first phrase, yaS is the subject of the verb qIp (the officer is doing the hitting), so it follows qIppu'bogh, just as all subjects follow the verb. In the second phrase, yaS is the object (the officer is getting hit), so it precedes qIppu'bogh, just as all objects precede the verb.

The whole construction (relative clause plus head noun), as a unit, is used in a sentence as a noun. Accordingly, this construction follows or precedes the verb of the sentence, depending on whether it is the subject or object.

qIppu'bogh yaS vIlegh I see the officer who hit him/her.

The entire relative construction qIppu'bogh yaS officer who hit him/her is the object of the verb vIlegh I see him/her, so it precedes the verb.

mulegh qIppu'bogh yaS The officer who hit him/her sees me.

Here, qIppu'bogh yaS is the subject of the verb mulegh he/she sees me, so it follows the verb.

This pattern is also followed when the head noun is the object of the verb in the relative clause, such as yaS qIppu'bogh officer whom he/she hit.

yaS qIppu'bogh vIlegh I see the officer whom he/she hit.

mulegh yaS qIppu'bogh The officer whom he/she hit sees me.

In the English translation, the relative pronouns (that, which, etc.) may often be omitted: I see the officer he/she hit, the officer he/she hit sees me. In Klingon, however, -bogh is mandatory.

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This suffix creates a relative clause. In English, a relative clause usually has a relative pronoun (see the list in the translation section below). The relative clause modifies a noun.

Consider the sentence:

  • qet loD - A man runs.

The relative clause is based on this sentence. The phrase "the man who is running" is comprised of a relative clause and a head noun. The relative clause is "who is running" and the head noun is "a man".

In Klingon, the relative clause is formed by adding "-bogh" to the verb to give "qetbogh".

So we have:

  • qetbogh loD - a man who is running

This phrase, relative clause and head noun, together function in a sentence as a noun. This noun can occur as either subject or object.

So, as subject:

  • HoH qetbogh loD - A man who is running kills.

Or as object:

  • qetbogh loD HoH - He/she kills a man who is running.

In English, we can also phrase this sentence using a present participle. The present participle functions as an adjective, and there is no relative clause or relative pronoun.

In this example the participle would be "running":

  • qetbogh loD HoH - He/she kills a running man.

If the relative clause itself contains a noun, then the head noun is indicated by -'e':

  • loD HIvbogh be"e' - the woman who attacks the man
  • loD'e' HIvbogh be' - the man who is attacked by the woman

A relative clause can also be used to translate constructions such as "a man in a coat". This can be rendered:

  • wep tuQbogh loD'e' - a man who is wearing a coat