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Author Topic: Happy Birthday song in Klingon  (Read 24510 times)
Pok
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« on: 08 09, 2010, 12:25: PM »

Would anyone know how to translate the Happy Birthday song in Klingon?

"Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday dear [anonymous]
Happy Birthday to you" 
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chalvatlh
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« Reply #1 on: 08 09, 2010, 02:03: PM »

If Worf is anything to go by, the concept of a "happy birthday" is a very un-Klingon concept, but I might suggest something like

DuQuchmoHjaj qoSlIj.
DuQuchmoHjaj qoSlIj.
DaHjaj bIQuchjaj
[name].
DuQuchmoHjaj qoSlIj.


May your birthday cause you to be happy.
May your birthday cause you to be happy.
May you be happy today,
[name]
May your birthday cause you to be happy.


Alternatively:

qoSlIj DatIvqu'jaj.
qoSlIj DatIvqu'jaj.
qoSlIj DatIvjaj
[name].
qoSlIj DatIvqu'jaj.


{May you enjoy your birthday greatly.  May you enjoy your birthday greatly.  May you enjoy your birthday, [name].  May you enjoy your birthday greatly.}
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« Reply #2 on: 08 09, 2010, 03:22: PM »

Thanks!
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« Reply #3 on: 08 10, 2010, 10:21: AM »

qoSlIj Quch DatIvjaj
qoSlIj Quch DatIvjaj.
qoSlIj Quch yItIv {pong yIchel}
qoSlIj Quch DatIvjaj.


qoS 'birthday'
-lIj 'your'
Quch 'happy'
Da- 'you-it'
tIv 'enjoy'
-jaj friendly wish
pong 'name'
yI- 'you-it' (command)
chel 'add'
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chalvatlh
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« Reply #4 on: 08 10, 2010, 10:47: AM »

Hmm, can the word Quch be used in this sense?  I know it menas "(verb) to be happy", or "(adj) happy", but I've always interpreted it as carrying only the meaning of being in a happy emotional state, not of bringing joy.

Quchjaj jajvam. ("May this day be happy.") just doesn't strike me as being as correct as QuchmoHjaj jajvam. ("May this day cause happiness.").
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« Reply #5 on: 08 10, 2010, 03:09: PM »

Hmm, can the word Quch be used in this sense?  I know it menas "(verb) to be happy", or "(adj) happy", but I've always interpreted it as carrying only the meaning of being in a happy emotional state, not of bringing joy.

Quchjaj jajvam. ("May this day be happy.") just doesn't strike me as being as correct as QuchmoHjaj jajvam. ("May this day cause happiness.").

Those are two different things:

Quchjaj jajvam = May the day itself be happy (ie full of happy events and occurrences)

QuchmoHjaj jajvam = May the day cause (him/her/it) to be happy (ie the act of going through the day causes a person to become happy)

Both phrases are correct, they just apply to different situations. In the case of the "Happy Birthday" song, is it asking for the day to be happy or for the day to cause you to be happy? Depending on how you answer that question the Klingon will be different. That's why translating songs with idioms is difficult.
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chalvatlh
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« Reply #6 on: 08 10, 2010, 03:47: PM »

Quchjaj jajvam = May the day itself be happy (ie full of happy events and occurrences)
This is the part I don't feel sure about; do Klingons even have a concept of what it means for a day to be "happy", and does it really mean that it is full of happy events and occurences?  Are there any canonical examples of Quch {happy}, or any other emotion-words being used in this way?
I can imagine telling a Klingon jaj Quch 'oH jajvam. {Today is a happy day.}, only to be met with a puzzled look.  nuqjatlh.  montaH'a' jajvam.  HaghtaH'a'.  HIja', jajmey QuchmoH nuq.  qen ngagh'a' jajvam. {What are you saying?  Is this day smiling?  Is it laughing?  Tell me, whay causes days to be happy?  Did this day mate recently?}

One could perhaps sidestep the issue by substituting Dun {great, wonderful} for Quch:

qoS Dunqu' DatIvjaj
qoS Dunqu' DatIvjaj
Dunqu'jaj qoSlIj
[name].
qoS Dunqu' DatIvjaj.


"May you enjoy a splendid birthday.
May you enjoy a splendid birthday.
May your birthday be splendid, [name].
May you enjoy a splendid birthday."
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« Reply #7 on: 08 11, 2010, 09:49: AM »

Quchjaj jajvam = May the day itself be happy (ie full of happy events and occurrences)
This is the part I don't feel sure about; do Klingons even have a concept of what it means for a day to be "happy", and does it really mean that it is full of happy events and occurences?  Are there any canonical examples of Quch {happy}, or any other emotion-words being used in this way?
I can imagine telling a Klingon jaj Quch 'oH jajvam. {Today is a happy day.}, only to be met with a puzzled look.  nuqjatlh.  montaH'a' jajvam.  HaghtaH'a'.  HIja', jajmey QuchmoH nuq.  qen ngagh'a' jajvam. {What are you saying?  Is this day smiling?  Is it laughing?  Tell me, whay causes days to be happy?  Did this day mate recently?}

If someone said to me jaj Quch 'oH jajvam, I'd reply with qatlh? qaSta''a' wanI' Quch? (Why? Did a happy event occur?). I think you are restricting yourself more than you need to. A day can be Quch, just as it can be Dun or quv or 'IQ.

mejta'DI' qeylIS, jaj 'IQ 'oH - It was a sad day when Kahless left

To me this means that the general feeling of the day was sad for everyone who knew about the leaving of Kahless. Which is different from say:

mejta'DI' qeylIS nu'IQmoH - When Kahless left it caused us to be sad

which says that the group of people, which I'm included in, were made sad by the act of Kahless leaving. While these two phrases convey similar concepts, I don't think they are identical and neither one should be called incorrect.


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« Reply #8 on: 08 11, 2010, 02:16: PM »

I have often thought that people get hyper-precise when trying to decide on the usage of many Klingon words, far more precise than most natural languages, where words typically have very broad usages.  I think that a day can be Quch.  I also think that it makes a nice alliteration with qoS, and, considering the triviality of the song being translated ('Happy Birthday' isn't the Elder Edda), it is perfectly acceptable.
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chalvatlh
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« Reply #9 on: 08 11, 2010, 05:08: PM »

While I'll agree that words in natural languages are seldom precise, but rather have broad ranges of use, it's hard to know exactly what those ranges are.  For instance, the word chenmoH translates as "make/build/form" in many contexts, but most of us woulnd't use the phrase Qagh DachenmoHpu'. {You've made a mistake.}, and I'm not sure about chab yIchenmoH. {Make a pie!}, either, so in that sense the word may be more restricted than in some Terran languages.  However, while DopDaq qul yIchenmoH, QobDI' ghu'. {Set fire on the side when there is danger.} is a canonical sentence, I doubt a direct translation of the phrase "Make a fire!" would make sense in all of Earth's languages, and even in the ones where the phrase makes sense some other phrase may seem more natural ("Light a fire!", for example).

In other words, I'm not saying DIvI' Hol mu'mey lI' law'; tlhIngan Hol mu'mey lI' puS. {Klingon words are less useful than Federation words.}; I'm suggesting DIvI' Hol mu'mey lI' law'; tlhIngan Hol mu'mey lI' pIm. {Klingon words are useful differently than Federation words.}.  Two words can have equally broad ranges, and these ranges may have a non-empty intersection, without the ranges being equivalent.

Of course, since most of what we say is not canon, but merely derived from canon, one could apply this logic to just about every statement we come across (heck, for all I know the word lI' {useful} might not be applicable to words, and the word qoSlIj DatIvjaj {May you enjoy your birthday} might not make any sense to a Klingon); even if Marc Okrand were to sit down and write Klingon texts for the rest of his life, we wouldn't have big enough a corpus to accomodate all of our needs.
The reason I react to the use of Quch {happy} in this way is because I feel that the step - from using a word to describe a mental state to using it to describe something which is conducive to that mental state - is rather a large one; one that wouldn't necessarily take place independently in all languages.  Others may disagree, but unless there's a canonical example of this practice, I'm personally going to avoid using it whenever there's a decent alternative, and if I were to use it in a translation, I'd include a disclaimer telling them that this use of the word may or may not be "correct".

A day can be Quch, just as it can be Dun or quv or 'IQ.
I'd argue that there's a difference between a day being happy/sad and it being great/fantastic, in the sense that happiness and sadness in these cases are things experienced by that which is being described, whereas greatness is something which is perceived by the one doing the describing.  In other words, I'd argue that the former involves anthropomorphizing - or klingonimorphizing - that which is being described, whereas the latter does not.  As for which of these categories (if any) quv {honorable} would fit into, I'm not sure.

To use an example from English:  You'd probably give me a weird look if I told you "Today is an excited day!", and point out that I should say "Today is an exciting day!".  After all, excitement is something which thinking creatures experience, and doens't really apply to abstract concepts such as days; they can at most be exciting, or causing excitement.  So, would a Klingon say jaj Sey 'oH jajvam. {Today is an excited day!}, or SeymoHbogh jaj 'oH jajvam. {Today is a day which excites.}?  Or perhaps taHvIS jajvam Seylu'. {While this day lasts, one is excited.}, or DaHjaj Seylu'. {One is exited, today.}?

It may also be worth pointing out that in Swedish, we don't use the same adjectives to describe sad days as we do to describe sad people.  "ledsen" and "sorgsen" mean "sad" in the sense of "experiencing sadness/sorrow", but a day can be neither of these things, nor can a revelation or a movie's ending.  These things can, however, be "sorgliga", or "saddening".
So, while in English we might primarily use the equivalent of jaj 'IQ ("a sad day"), and only more rarely the equivalent of 'IQmoHbogh jaj ("a day which saddens"), this is not the case for all natural languages.



...and while I'm aware that "Happy Birthday" isn't the Elder Edda, I figure "Where's the fun in studying an alien culture if you don't take things way too seriously every now and then?" Wink
« Last Edit: 08 12, 2010, 08:08: AM by Fraek » Logged
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« Reply #10 on: 08 12, 2010, 09:33: AM »

This post may not make sense, I had a late night last night, so I'm still a little bleary eyed Cheesy

While I'll agree that words in natural languages are seldom precise, but rather have broad ranges of use, it's hard to know exactly what those ranges are.  For instance, the word chenmoH translates as "make/build/form" in many contexts, but most of us woulnd't use the phrase Qagh DachenmoHpu'. {You've made a mistake.}, and I'm not sure about chab yIchenmoH. {Make a pie!}, either, so in that sense the word may be more restricted than in some Terran languages.  However, while DopDaq qul yIchenmoH, QobDI' ghu'. {Set fire on the side when there is danger.} is a canonical sentence, I doubt a direct translation of the phrase "Make a fire!" would make sense in all of Earth's languages, and even in the ones where the phrase makes sense some other phrase may seem more natural ("Light a fire!", for example).

Qagh DachenmoH = You cause a mistake to be created (ie you introduced a bug into the code)

But a Klingon would say:

bIQagh = you made a mistake.

chab yIchenmoH is perfectly valid (Cause a pie to take form!). That's 100% correct usage of chenmoH (AFAIK).

DopDaq qul yIchenmoH, QobDI' ghu' is an idiom (replacement proverb). It doesn't make sense when translated back into English (just as English idioms don't make sense when translated into Klingon).

If we look at one of the most common Klingon phrases, we see that days can be "good":

Heghlu'meH QaQ jajvam - In order to die, this day is good (It is a good day to die)

If QaQ (be good) works in there, then we should be able to put any verb of quality in there:

Heghlu'meH qab jajvam - It is a bad day to die
Heghlu'meH Quch jajvam - It is a happy day to die
Heghlu'meH 'IQ jajvam - It is a sad day to die
Heghlu'meH bIr jajvam - It is a cold day to die

Which leads me to believe that jaj QaQ, jaj qab, jaj bIr, jaj Quch, jaj 'IQ are all valid: If a day can be "good", then it can be any number of things!

But, even after all that, the only way we will really know is to ask Marc "Can a jaj be Quch?". Maybe next year I can ask him Cheesy

Quote
...and while I'm aware that "Happy Birthday" isn't the Elder Edda, I figure "Where's the fun in studying an alien culture if you don't take things way too seriously every now and then?" Wink

I used to be like that, but I found it too restrictive. You end up not being able to communicate because you're worrying about weather a word can be used "that way". I suggest focusing on communication more. If the people you are speaking to understand what you are saying, then what you have said is correct.
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« Reply #11 on: 08 12, 2010, 10:47: AM »

This post may not make sense, I had a late night last night, so I'm still a little bleary eyed Cheesy
I know the feeling Wink
Qagh DachenmoH = You cause a mistake to be created (ie you introduced a bug into the code)

But a Klingon would say:

bIQagh = you made a mistake.
I was able to find a mention by Okrand about Qagh chenmoH {to cause an error to form}, here; judging by his comment, I get the idea that it's a fairly complicated issue, which to me suggests that while chenmoH has about as many uses as the word "make", and while "make" is sometimes a suitable translation of chenmoH, it has uses that "make" does not have and doens't have some uses that "make" does have.  This is what I'm suggesting is also the case for Quch; the dictionary may say "happy, be happy", but there may be cases where that's not a very good translation.

DopDaq qul yIchenmoH, QobDI' ghu' is an idiom (replacement proverb). It doesn't make sense when translated back into English (just as English idioms don't make sense when translated into Klingon).
True; I was assuming that the phrase qul yIchenmoH was a common way to say "Light a fire!", but that could certainly be incorrect.

If we look at one of the most common Klingon phrases, we see that days can be "good":

Heghlu'meH QaQ jajvam - In order to die, this day is good (It is a good day to die)

If QaQ (be good) works in there, then we should be able to put any verb of quality in there:

Heghlu'meH qab jajvam - It is a bad day to die
Heghlu'meH Quch jajvam - It is a happy day to die
Heghlu'meH 'IQ jajvam - It is a sad day to die
Heghlu'meH bIr jajvam - It is a cold day to die
I believe this argument is at the heart of our disagreement; I don't disapprove of moving the QaQ {good} from one side to another, but I do have a problem with exchanging it with, for instance, 'IQ {sad}; I view QaQ as a word that's used in an assessment by the one doing the describing, whereas 'IQ is a word that is used to describe something experienced by that which is being described.  It may also work in the sense that you describe above (as it does in English), or it may not (as is the case in Swedish).

Which leads me to believe that jaj QaQ, jaj qab, jaj bIr, jaj Quch, jaj 'IQ are all valid: If a day can be "good", then it can be any number of things!
Can it be excited?  Can it be depressed?
As I see it, perhaps a day can be all of these things.  Perhaps it can be none of them.
Perhaps in much the same way as "happy day" and "sad day" work in English but "excited day" and "depressed day" do not, perhaps jaj Sey ("excited day") and jaj 'It ("depressed day") work in Klingon while jaj Quch ("happy day") and jaj 'IQ ("sad day") do not.

But, even after all that, the only way we will really know is to ask Marc "Can a jaj be Quch?". Maybe next year I can ask him Cheesy
Indeed!  I'm actually hoping to go to next qep'a', myself, so if you don't, then perhaps I will Wink

I used to be like that, but I found it too restrictive. You end up not being able to communicate because you're worrying about weather a word can be used "that way". I suggest focusing on communication more. If the people you are speaking to understand what you are saying, then what you have said is correct.
Absolutely, one would never get anywhere if one stopped to scrutinize every turn of phrase.  However, since this is a sub-forum dedicated to discussing the Klingon language, rather than a sub-forum dedicated to communicating in the Klingon language, I am more prone to dissect things than I might otherwise be (much the same way as I am much more careful with what expressions I use when writing an essay than I am when writing a forum post).

Furthermore, when working on a translation for somebody, I feel obliged to let them know if there's some expression that I'm not very sure about, so that they can make an informed decision for themselves if they wish to use it or not.  In this case, I feel that it is far enough from obvious that the phrase qoS Quch {a happy birthday} is "correct" that I feel obliged to question it.  If anybody wants to use it, that's completely their decision (and in some situations I might even do so, myself, for the sake of rhyme and meter), but I just want to get it out there that I don't feel that this is an obviously correct expression, and my reasons for this.
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« Reply #12 on: 08 13, 2010, 12:16: PM »

I understand what you're saying and I think we're at a semantic vs grammar stopping point. The phrase:

Heghlu'meH 'IQ jajvam - It is a sad day to die

is grammatically correct, but it may not be semantically correct to a native Klingon speaker. It is semantically correct for a native English speaker, so it works for me. This is the same for jaj 'IQ, jaj Sey, jaj 'It, etc.

Since Swedish has different words for these situations, the semantic difference is more obvious for you.

If Marc said that words like 'IQ, Sey, 'It, etc can only be used on nouns that can actually feel emotion, we'd know the answer (or at least be a lot closer).

Now if we consider the English phrases happy day, sad day, etc as being idiomatic (being short for "a day that caused me and/or others to be happy/sad/etc") then we can just throw the whole argument out the window and go back to translating the intended meaning for the specific situations.

This is the reason I don't say Quchjaj qoSlIj (may your birthday be happy) and use qoSlIj DatIvjaj/yItIv (May you enjoy/Enjoy your birthday(!)) instead. That way I don't have to deal with this whole sticky mess Cheesy

That being said, I'd probably still say jaj Quch/jaj 'IQ if I was talking to other native English speaking Klingon speakers, since it's easy to understand and quicker to parse (for me at least) than say QuchmoHbogh jaj/'IQmoHbogh jaj (a day that causes X to be happy/sad).

And to quote myself, "That's why translating songs with idioms is difficult." Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: 08 14, 2010, 11:25: AM »

I think you hit the nail on the head with that summary, qurgh!  One statement, in particular, deserves to be quoted for truth:
And to quote myself, "That's why translating songs with idioms is difficult." Smiley
jatlhqa'lu' teHmo'. {Re-said because it is true!}
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« Reply #14 on: 08 14, 2010, 05:37: PM »

I agree with just about everything Fraek said.

I used to go along with qurgh and his pragmatic belief that if a phrase works in English to communicate an idea, a reasonably direct version of the same phrase in Klingon works as well. That was before I met people who spoke Klingon well enough to carry on a conversation but for whom English was not their native language. I can't always rely on what I think is a natural understanding of the ideas; I have to go "by the book" and try not to assume too much.

The way I see it, a day is not obviously a valid subject of Quch be happy. However, it can certainly be the subject of QuchmoH make happy.
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« Reply #15 on: 08 15, 2010, 01:52: AM »

Wow, lots to reply to in this thread.

First, we can assume that Klingons do have a concept of happy/happiness, if for no other reason that they have a word for it. There would be no need for a word with no concept. Thinking back to the old days of klingonaase, language is a tool used to accomplish a goal. Thus to have a word with no concept would be, at least in a cultural sense, un-Klingon.

Now, the idea of a happy day compared with the idea of a good day is interesting, because while both happy and good are adjectives used to qualify/explain/augment the day, they convey very different kinds of concepts. In the case of a good day to die, the adjective is saying that the day is acceptable for the purpose of dying, while the idea of a happy day is more about the events that have occurred on that day, or in the case of a birthday some previous day with the same date, but the day itself has little to do with the happiness.

Now as for our collective habit of over investigating & explaining the Klingon language, this is actually a good thing for at least two reasons that I can think of. First as the language of tlhIngan Hol has fewer words than most natural languages, specifically English, this helps us see if there is a need for newer words. New words often take the form of compound words, simply because none of us have the authority to make new words in any official sense. However for those that are active in the KLI or otherwise have the chance to speak with Dr. Okrand, this need is often the basis for more research, which benefits us all. The second reason, is that by examining the concepts that come up as translation requests, we get the chance to look deeper into the Klingon culture and mindset than we do when looking at other aspects of Klindom. This is why I enjoy these discussions so much, as it helps me better understand Klingons outside of language.
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« Reply #16 on: 09 13, 2010, 05:08: PM »

These are all very good points. Personally, I believe word usage should be more clarified. The way I see it, Klingon, as its own language, needs to have specific parameters for word meaning and usage. Since natural languages are VERY different from each other, Klingon speakers whose native languages are different from each other, will communicate in Klingon differently. However, I feel that Klingon should have more specific rules so that two Klingon speakers aren't confused as to what each other is saying (or at least LESS confused), similar to if a German and a Spaniard both speak French, they have the same (or at least similar) concept of word meaning and usage because French has specific rules governing such things. The Klingon Dictionary often leaves us to guess which of the multiple meanings for English words a particular Klingon word uses, and surely it is the same situation for speakers of other languages who are learning Klingon, but the meanings are different. That means that when two speakers of Klingon who natively speak different languages will use Klingon differently, and the meanings will be different for both speakers. I believe that finding a way to avoid this would be useful. It would not only allow for clarification, but would give Klingon more of a cultural identity, as now people fill in the missing bits with what they are accustomed to using.
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