Natural Gender in Klingon

Warning: Non-linguist talking about linguistics ahead.

Recently I started putting some time into learning Klingon, though I’m not capable of conversing in it and reading it is also very difficult still. My reason for wanting to learn it, more than anything else, is that it’s there.

Klingon is a language designed by linguist Marc Okrand for the Star Trek films, based essentially on a dialog written for the first film by James Doohan. It was deliberately written to be as unlike English as possible, and many of its features are also very unusual for human languages: for example its Object-Verb-Subject syntax is rare, though not unheard of. At the same time, none of its features are completely alien to human language, either.

One of the more common human-like characteristics of Klingon is the existence of gender. It’s important to note, however, that grammatical gender has nothing to do with masculinity and femininity per se. The word “gender” is ultimately derived from a Latin word that simply meant “class” or “category,” and has the same root as “genus.” While this root did have a reproductive meaning, this does not seem to be the meaning when applied to Latin words. Latin writers would talk about the “genera” of nouns but also the “genera” of verbs, by which they just meant “type,” since Latin verbs are not affected by gender, linguistic or colloquial.

From what I have read, mainly in the World Atlas of Language Structures (an extremely helpful resource for conlangers), the linguistic definition of a gender is a class of nouns with bearing on the inflection of other parts of speech (pronouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.). A language may distinguish between rational nouns (humans and gods) and non-rational nouns; or between animate nouns and inanimate nouns; or between 10 or more  categories such as plants, animals, concepts, etc. These are all genders, despite them saying nothing about masculinity and femininity. Not being a linguist, I am using the definition given by the World Atlas of Language Structures, but it’s controversial whether pronouns count. According to WALS, English has gender due to the effect that nouns have on the pronouns he, she, and it. It’s uncontroversial to say that English has natural gender, and so does Klingon.

Klingon distinguishes between (1) beings capable of using language; (2) everything else. The second gender is further differentiated into two classes: (1) body parts; (2) everything else, but this only has bearing on the inflection of the nouns themselves, specifically the formation of the plural. ghaH is the independent pronoun referring to any being capable of using language, while ‘oH is the independent pronoun referring to things and to beings incapable of language. There are also possessive pronominal suffixes, like in Hungarian, Hebrew, Arabic, and many other languages, which are influenced by the gender of the possessed noun. For example, to say “you are my loved one” you say “bangwI’ SoH.”  To say “it is my home,” you say “juHwIj ‘oH.”

It’s interesting to think about how the separation between beings capable of language and not capable of language conforms to the speciesism of Klingons, who have been shown on the series to dislike unintelligent animals such as tribbles and cats. It’s also interesting to consider the parallels this might have to the commonality of masculine and feminine genders in human languages.

Obviously this is all science fiction, but it’s interesting to think about. It also shows the many potentials for gender in conlangs beyond just masculine and feminine. It’s worth mentioning that, according to WALS, a little over half of the world’s languages have absolutely no gender distinctions in pronouns… which is interesting in the context of the debate over pronouns in international auxiliary languages. It’s interesting how many such languages distinguish some form of natural gender, even Lingua Franca Nova (people and things), despite gender’s lack of universality.

Sorry if this post rambled a bit, and if you read it, then thanks for reading.

Being Kindhearted in the Conlang World

Raye Chell Mahela

If there’s one thing that burns me out on conlangs super fast, it’s people being shitty to each other. It can be about anything – inter-conlang insulting, sexist comic strips translated into that conlang, insulting other peoples’ religions, anything.

Conlangs are spoken by human beings, and there will always be trouble when human beings are involved, but when your conlang’s thesis is around world peace, I’m always disappointed to find this kind of shit posted:

Various religious guys looking afraid of a brain

Really? We have this auxlang and many hope that it will be spoken around the world, and you’re a speaker of this language for whatever reason, but post shit like this?

This is why I’m an Atheist who generally doesn’t bother telling people I’m Atheist; because so many Atheists can be so “holier-than-thou” (ironic) than gigantic populations of people.

And even then – it doesn’t matter if this is what you think about these things, but to blatantly lack any sort of respect for other human beings by actively shitting on them just pisses me off.

Stop it.


 

bonkora

Be kind and be respectful towards each other.

Fojfoje necesas eliri la realon

Lastajare mi konsideris forlasi Esperanton (ne temus pri “kabeo,” ĉar mi neniam sufiĉe aktivis), kaj ĉiajn aliajn planlingvojn, pro tio, ke mi devas zorgi pri multe pli seriozaj aferoj. Nu, kompreneble, tio neniam okazis. Kvankam internacia helplingvo estas plej optimisme revo iom post iom realiĝanta, plej pesimisme fantazio nekredebla, tio tamen ne estas, per si mem, malbona. La realo ofte iĝas, ĉe marĝenuloj, tro kruela por ĉiam pensadi pri ĝi. Tiam oni bezonas dumtempan eliron, sciante ke oni ne restos tie tro longe kaj reiros al la realo laŭ eble plej frue. Verŝajne tial homoj havas la kapablon imagi nekredeblaĵojn.

Mi komprenas, ke por multaj homoj, Esperanto estas afero tre serioza kaj praktika. Mi ĝojas, ke ili trovas tian utilon en la lingvo. Tio evidente atestas al la diversaj uzoj de ĉi tiu lingvo. Tamen. por mi, Esperanto ne praktike helpas min, nur fantazie. Kaj tio estas bonega, ĉar mi ne povas ĉiam toleradi ĉion, kio okazas ĉirkaŭ mi. Ĉi-jare en Usono, tri aferoj iel iĝis la plej gravaj aferoj por normaluloj: mia rajto ekzisti, la rajto ekzisti de islamanoj, kaj la rajto ekzisti de malriĉaj enmigrantoj. Tute ne interesas min defendi mian ekziston. Prefere mi lernus Volapukon.

Mi komprenas, ke la rezultoj de ĉi tiu disputo materie tuŝegos min. Mi devas defendi min, samkiel ĉiu devas defendi sin. Sed sen fantazio, mi verŝajne ne “materie” ekzistus sufiĉe longe por plibonigi miajn cirkonstancojn.

Esperanto Book Archive on Áya Dan

Raye Chell Mahela

homo kaj kosmo - esperanto revuo 2

japanaj_fabeloj_00

A while ago, a bunch of old Esperanto books and magazines were donated to our local Esperanto group (Esperanto Kansas City).

These books go back as far as the 1930s, and right now they just sit in my apartment. I would like to archive them, so I will try to scan some of them over time.

You can view the first two entries on the Esperanto Book Archive page.

Anyone want to help me parse text files?

Raye Chell Mahela


 

I think that it would be nice to build a dictionary that has translations between many conlangs and natlangs, for use as a single application.

And, let me know if this has already been done, because I don’t want to reinvent the wheel or anything.

I’ve set up a GitHub project here:
https://github.com/RachelJMorris/Conlang-Dictionary
in hopes that I can get some help with this casual project.

Mainly, I’ve pulled dictionaries from around the ‘web, and they need to be parsed. Most of these dictionaries aren’t made with the idea of parsability in mind, only being read by a human. Scraping data from documents like these is always a pain, and I wouldn’t want to do it all solo.

Additionally, it’s always good to have another set of eyes looking over the design so that features that might be really important are added ahead of time, or a bad design is pointed out. I haven’t designed any databases in a while, but I’m hoping what I have makes some sense.

Finfine, after a dictionary has been compiled and made available to everybody as an CopyFree asset, it would be nice to also build some CopyFree dictionary utilities – for web, desktop, and mobile.

Thoughts?

The Cat’s Meal – Anadal Ruloth

Raye Chell Mahela

 

The cat was hungry. Bíide eril yide rul wo.
The cat went to the sea. Eril sháad rul meladi.
The cat found a fish. Eril redeb rul thilith.
The fish said in fear, “Don’t eat me!” Eril di thili, “Bóoya yod ra ne leth!
The cat agreed. Eril zhedi rul.
The cat went to the park. Eril sháad rul heshehothedi.
The cat found a bird. Eril redeb rul babíth.
The bird said in fear, “Don’t eat me!” Eril di babí, “Bóoya yod ra ne leth!”
The cat agreed. Eril zhedi rul.
The cat went to the grocery store. Eril sháad rul anawehedi.
The cat bought a cake from the store. Eril eb rul thuzheth anawehede.
The cat ate the cake. Eril yod rul thuzheth.

Láadan Helper – Offline dictionary and reference

Raye Chell Mahela

I’ve created a Láadan app for Google Play called “Láadan Helper”. It contains:

  • An offline dictionary (no web access needed)
  • Bookshelf (stuff to read)
  • Phrase book
  • Word list
  • Grammar Reference
  • Link to Áyadan, the Láadan WikiBook, and LaadanLanguage.org

I will add lessons later as I expand the lessons section on the WikiBook. Many of these pages simply embed the WikiBook pages for now, since everything will probably change as it is being worked on. In the future, I can make this a totally online version, but with all the potential changes, I’d prefer to only update one location right now.

The dictionary is built into the phone, though. It is pretty simple and will be enhanced later on, but it is good for looking up specific words.


Download it on Google Play for free

Get it on Google Play

Láadan Quick Search Dictionary

Raye Chell Mahela

web dict

I’ve built a new quick-search dictionary for the Láadan language, and it is available through the Láadan page of this site.

It displays all the entries from the LaadanLanguage.org Láadan-to-English dictionary, and then you can enter a search term to filter the list. Any entries where your term shows up will be visible.

You can access it here:
http://ayadan.moosader.com/gadgets/laadan-dictionary/

Or get the source code here:
https://github.com/Ayadan-Laadan/Laadan-Dictionary

The Láadan Classroom – Set 1

Raye Chell Mahela

I created five videos about Láadan last weekend – three lessons, a review, and an extra one on name translation/transliteration. :)

Please check them out! If you post up a video on YouTube to your own work in Láadan (vlog, song, practicing, short story, etc.) then I will link to it in a future lesson video!

Lesson 1: Basic Sentences

Lesson 2: Tenses, Yes/No Questions, and Pronouns

Lesson 3: Conjugations and Objects

Extra – Translating your name into Láadan

Review – Lessons 1 through 3


Know any interesting Láadan links? You should post it on the /r/Laadan subreddit!