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In the second season Star Trek TNG episode "The Icarus Factor" Worf went through an ordeal where he admitted his deepest (read blood-thirstiest) feelings while being tormented with pain sticks. He said some things in English and other things presumably in the Klingon language. Since Klingon was long ago developed into semi-usable language perhaps the Klingon parts of the ceremony were not simple gibberish and could be translated to English. Is there an official translation somewhere? Is anyone here conversant enough in Klingon to produce one?

What did Worf say during the Klingon parts of the ceremony?

There is a online script but it doesn't quite match the episode. Bing's translator groks only some of the language.

  • I'd be surprised if it wasn't gibberish. The writers didn't base the language on the translator but rather the other way around. – Valorum Apr 13 '14 at 8:21
  • Bing translator is inaccurate, but if you have an Android device, there is an app called boQwI' (disclosure: I wrote it) in the Play Store which you can use to analyse the meaning of the Klingon. (It's not a true translator, but going from Klingon to English it should be pretty clear what the meaning is.) – De'vID Apr 27 '14 at 20:50
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As Richard said in his answer, the first three lines are given in both English and Klingon. These three lines are translated and explained in The Klingon Way by Marc Okrand on p. 203:

DaHjaj SuvwI''e' jIH. = Today I am a warrior.

tIqwIj Sa'angnIS. = I must show you my heart.

'Iw bIQtIqDaq jIjaH. = I travel the river of blood.

These phrases are accompanied by this explanation:

Upon reaching a certain age, the Age of Ascension, a young Klingon undergoes a rite of passage symbolizing the attainment of a certain spiritual level. After intoning the three ancient and sacred phrases recorded above, the initiate, while walking along a path lined by painstik-wielding warriors, expresses his or her deepest feelings.

Marc Okrand is the inventor of the Klingon language and was a language consultant on many (though not all) of the Star Trek movies and episodes where Klingon was used. The above sentences are not only not gibberish, but are in fact real grammatical sentences comprehensible to anyone who has read the 2nd edition of The Klingon Dictionary. (The 2nd edition was amended to include words used in TNG and Star Trek VI.)

The first sentence breaks down as follows:

DaHjaj = today (DaH = now, jaj = day)

SuvwI' = warrior (Suv = fight, -wI' = one who does)

-'e' = topic marker

jIH = I am

The second sentence uses:

tIq = heart

-wIj = my

Sa- = verb prefix meaning I-you (plural)

'ang = show

-nIS = need, must

As I noted in the other comment, there are two typos in the linked transcripts: tIq ends in "q" not "g", and -nIS has a lower-case "n". The transcription system devised by Okrand for Klingon is case-sensitive, and those are fairly obvious typos made by an English-speaker unfamiliar with the system. (In English, "q" is always followed by "u", so an English speaker can easily misread "t-I-q" as "t-I-g". Also, someone can hit the shift key too early when typing "-n-I-S", if they didn't understand that "n" must be lower-cased while "I" must be upper-cased.)

Finally, the third sentence has:

'Iw = blood

bIQtIq = river

-Daq = locative suffix

jI- = verb prefix meaning I

jaH = go, travel

So that's that. As for the sentences which were left untranslated in the episode:

jI- = verb prefix meaning I (same as above)

bech = suffer

-rup = be ready or prepared to

Thus, jIbechrup means "I am ready to suffer".

may' = battle

vI- = verb prefix meaning I-it

loS = await, wait for

Thus, may' vIloS means "I await battle".

HI- = imperative prefix, ordering someone to do something to me

HIv = attack

-qa' = suffix meaning to resume, do again

Thus, HIHIvqa' means "Attack me again!" Note that Worf gives this command to the final pair of Klingons.

As with the other sentences, these three sentences use only words from The Klingon Dictionary, and would be readily understood by anyone who's familiar with the content of that book.

I don't know why they (the writers or producers or whoever) decided to give both Klingon and English versions for only the first three sentences but not the rest. Perhaps they didn't want the audience to be completely lost if they didn't understand Klingon, but still wanted to provide an air of authenticity. Perhaps memorising so many lines in Klingon was too much for Michael Dorn. But it seems that Marc Okrand did translate these sentences into Klingon also, since the vocabulary exists to express them. In particular, the expression involving the "bile of the vanquished" appears in a slightly altered form in Power Klingon, where it is given as a wish spoken to someone who had just undergone the Rite of Ascension:

jagh lucharghlu'ta'bogh HuH ghopDu'lIj lungaSjaj. = May the bile of the vanquished fill your hands.

The last Klingon sentence spoken in Worf's ceremony, given in the transcript as May'pequ' moH, is a bit tricky.

may' = battle (as above)

pe- = imperative prefix, ordering multiple people to do something (no object)

qu' = be fierce; or

-qu' = emphatic suffix

-moH = causative suffix

The sentence, as written, doesn't seem to make sense. Fixing the casing and spacing, it would be may' pequ'moH. Let's start from the back. The causative suffix -moH is perhaps best explained by example. If you had the verb jaq meaning "be bold", then jaqmoH means "embolden". The verb pum means "to fall", so pummoH means "to knock down". So qu'moH would mean something like "en-fierc-en" or "fierc-ify", i.e., to cause someone or something to be fierce. There's no easy way to express this concept in English, but it's just qu'moH in Klingon.

The problem, though, is that the prefix pe- indicates no object (i.e., it is an order for multiple people to do something, but not do it to anyone or anything in particular). And yet the sentence has a word in the object position, namely, may' "battle". Since the punctuation seemed to have been dropped between jIbechrup and may' vIloS, perhaps whoever copied this sentence into the script also dropped the punctuation (or more) here, and it's supposed to be two sentences. (They definitely messed up the spaces.) It's also possible that a verb is missing, since -qu' is also a verb suffix.

But, as given, I'd interpret the sentence as:

may'! pequ'moH! = Battle! Make fierce! (The latter is an order given to multiple people, presumably the Klingon warriors. What they are supposed to make fierce is left unspecified.)

In addition to the above listed sources, I am a Klingon speaker and long-time member of the Klingon Language Institute.

  • Your description of -moH sounds almost like the difference between active and passive voice in English, except that it can be applied to more things.. – Izkata May 4 '14 at 20:34
  • A very detailed answer indeed, verging on overkill. – Valorum May 4 '14 at 20:43
  • Excellent. All I was hoping for and more. – Kyle Jones May 5 '14 at 2:28
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Looking over the transcript and original script, there's actually a pretty reasonable translation provided by Worf himself;

DaHjaj SuvwI''e' jIH. tIgwIj Sa'angNIS. 'Iw bIQtIqDaq jIjaH. = Today I am a Warrior. I must show you my heart. I travel the river of blood.

jIbechrup may' vIlos = The battle is mine. I crave only the blood of the enemy.

HIHIvqa' = The bile of the vanquished flows over my hands.

It's worth noting that in the episode itself, they've reversed the order of these sentences but kept the meaning the same.

Only the final sentence (may'pequ' moH) isn't explained in the script and seems to simply be him thanking the Klingons and observers for their attendance.

  • Actually, in that transcript only the first three lines are translations. Also, the second line has two typos: it's {q} not {g}, and {n} not {N}. Klingon is case sensitive. {jIbechrup. may' vIloS.} = "I am ready to suffer. I await battle." {HIHIvqa'} = "Attack me again" The three translated lines are explained in a book called The Klingon Way, p. 203. The Klingon version of the line about the bile of the vanquished appears in Power Klingon. – De'vID Apr 27 '14 at 20:43
  • @De'vID - Where the Klingon language books differ from the original scripts, I'm inclined to let the script trump the book. You can argue canonicity but original scripts are about as high as you can go. – Valorum Apr 27 '14 at 22:22
  • The books are written by Marc Okrand, who provided the Klingon lines for the scripts and laid out the transcription rules. It's pretty clear that whomever copied the lines from Okrand (whether into the original script or from the printed script to the online versions), being unfamiliar with the language, made two very obvious typos. (An English speaker doesn't expect a "q" without a following "g", and since the small "n" is before the capital "IS" it's easy to hit the shift key a bit early.) Why is an online script more trustworthy than a published work by the author of the lines? – De'vID Apr 28 '14 at 9:33
  • @De'vID - If you feel you've got more knowledge to share, (complete with canon quotes to back it up) I'd advise you to write your own answer, which I'll happily upvote if it's better than mine. Failing that, feel free to edit my answer. – Valorum Apr 28 '14 at 9:49
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As Grammarian for the Klingon Language Institute, I'd like to point out that De'vID has gotten it all exactly correct. The only thing I'd add is that the troublesome sentence "may' pequ'moH" may best be explained as a simple grammatic error. pe- may have been a mistaken verb prefix, where bo- was actually what was intended. Had the sentence been "may' boqu'moH", then the sentence would be perfectly good Klingon for "You (all) have made the battle fierce.", an appropriate thing to say in thanks at the end of the ritual. (bo- is the verb prefix for "you (plural)" as subject and a third person object, for which may' would readily qualify). It happens that among modern human Klingon speakers, the "you (plural)" prefixes aren't used that often (it just works out that way, they don't come up that much in regular conversation) and even skilled speakers sometimes make mistakes. So it's rather near-fetched to me that pe- could have been used where bo- was really meant.

--Captain Krankor, KLI Grammarian

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    The idea that the show erred (in-universe) and that the subsequent (out of universe) translation is what's correct seems pretty dumb to me. – Valorum May 23 '15 at 13:07

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