Re: E-Prime and Klingon

Subject: Re: E-Prime and Klingon
From: Randy Allen Harris <raha -at- WATARTS -dot- UWATERLOO -dot- CA>
Date: Fri, 11 Feb 1994 14:54:29 -0500

>I recall reading that the person who developed the Klingon language for
>the Star Trek series and movies designed it to be an E-prime style language
>with no words for the "to be" verb -- that is until he was asked to translate
>"To be or not to be?" into Klingon for a recent Star Trek movie.

I'm not sure what Mark Okrand (the inventor of tlhIngan Hol, commonly know
as "Klingon") knows about E-Prime, but he is a specialist in Amerindian
languages, many of which have neither copulas nor adjectives (rather than
"Homer is stupid", for instance, the equivalent would be something like
"Homer stupids", where there is no copular "be" and the thing that
corresponds to an adjective in English is a verb). It is more likely that
Okrand's model for tlhIngan Hol, which has neither copulas nor adjectives,
was an amalgam of Amerindian languages than E-Prime. As for the
Shakespearean "be" problem of the movie, I think it was solved not by
inventing a word for "be", but by lexicalizing an affix (as in the English
use of "pros and cons", "various -isms", or "my ex") to predicate
existence, but I don't know for sure.

-------======= * =======-------
Randy Allen Harris
raha -at- watarts -dot- uwaterloo -dot- ca

Rhetoric and Professional Writing, Department of English, University of
Waterloo, Waterloo ON N2L 3G1, CANADA; 519 885-1211, x5362; FAX: 519 884-8995

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